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What is electrospinning?

Both electrospinning and electrospraying are similar processes. Electrospinning allows for the production of fibers on micro- or nano-scale with the aim of generating nonwoven membranes or thin films (electrospun fabrics).

The electrospinning technique consists of pumping a solution (alternatively, in some cases, this can be an emulsion or even a suspension), a mixture of materials (e.g. polymers, active ingredients, etc.), and solvents from an emitter while an electric field is applied to that emitter.

There is also a collector positioned at a certain distance and connected to earth or to another electric field of the opposite sign. Because of the electric field, the fluid leaving the emitter is transformed into a jet that is directed towards the collector, with the solvents evaporating in transit and the material or materials of the solution being deposited on the collect in fiber form.

The end product obtained with electrospinning is a fiber membrane or thin film that can be randomly deposited or aligned, depending on the machine configuration. In short, the electrospinning technique produces non-wovens.

Interestingly, this process runs at room temperature, and the electrospun fibers of other active ingredients or substances can be charged or encapsulated.

Thus with both electrospinning and electrospraying the encapsulation of materials or ingredients can be done.

The versatility of electrospinning extends to the ability to manipulate the properties of the produced fibrous membranes, such as their porosity, surface area, and mechanical strength. Researchers have been exploring these parameters to optimize electrospun materials for specific applications, including tissue engineering scaffolds, drug delivery systems, coatings on implantable medical devices, novel materials for catalytic membranes or filter media, and protective clothing. Additionally, the technique’s ability to produce ultrathin fibers that mimic the extracellular matrix of tissue makes it particularly valuable in biomedical applications.

Moreover, latest advancements in electrospinning technology introduced the capability for mass production of electrospun fibers, addressing the scalability challenges previously associated with the technique back in time. This development expanded the potential for commercial application of electrospinning in industries such as filtration or cosmetics, where large-scale production of nano-fibrous filters and ultra-porous membranes for delivery of cosmetic ingredients are becoming absolutely feasible.


What is electrospraying?

As we mentioned above, electrospinning and electrospraying are similar in terms of process. However, electrospraying allows for the production of particles on micro- or nano-scale, i.e. production in powder form (electrosprayed particles).

The electrospraying technique also involves pumping a solution (emulsion or suspension in certain cases), a mixture of materials, and solvents from an emitter while applying an electric field to that emitter. In this case, however, the solution has a substantially lower viscosity than the solutions used for electrospinning or fibre production. Therefore, at the emitter outlet, the electrically charged and pumped fluid does not remain sufficiently cohesioned and breaks into small droplets as a result of electrostatic repulsion. This, in turn, breaks up again into smaller droplets as a result of electrostatic repulsion and so on and so on, until the droplets reach the collector (positioned at a certain distance from the emitter and connected to earth or to another electric field of the opposite sign).

Once again, if the electrospraying process is suitably optimised – a correctly produced formula and appropriate process parameters – the solvents are evaporated along the emitter-collector path and the material is deposited on the collector in the form of particles (powder).

As with electrospinning, in addition to being a drying process in the electrospraying process the particles produced can also be encapsulated with other materials such as natural ingredients, active substances or even biological material (because this process occurs at room temperature, heat-sensitive materials can be processed).

We hope this brief overview about electrospinning and electrospraying has been useful to have a more comprehensive understanding of such processes.