Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Electrospinning and microextrusion apparatus

ElectrospinningMicro-extrusionMultimaterial manufacturingMultiscale manufacturingRobotic manipulator

Introduction

The object of the invention is a two-in-one CAD/CAM fabrication system which, by combining pneumatic extrusion (with micrometric resolution) with electrospinning (with nanometric resolution) in the same platform, revolutionizes the way to produce multi-scale and multi-material 3D structures.

Technical features

Currently the manufacturing of multi-scale and multi-material 3D structures are produced using more than one manufacturing system, requiring the manual movement of the object from one machine to another until the structure is complete. This approach requires the presence of a dedicated operator, thus yielding structures with low levels of accuracy and precision. 

The invention is about a robotic manipulator with an end effector mounted with a plurality of pneumatic extruders, each of which is equipped with an interchangeable nozzle to extrude one or more materials on a deposition plane in a controlled manner. The extruders are able to operate independently in micro-extrusion or electro-spinning modes for the manufacture of multi-scale and multi-material structures. The invention solves the current need of separate processing stations, reduces space and increases manufacturing speed , without hindering the resolution and accuracy of the product.

The invention allows to process with micrometric and/or nanometric resolution a plurality of materials, both synthetic (e.g. polycaprolactone, polyethylene terephthalate, nylon) and natural (e.g. gelatin, pectin, chitosan) making the platform a tool with broad application perspectives.

Possible Applications

  • Bioengineering: manufacturing of scaffolds for Tissue Engineering;
  • Biotechnology;
  • Manufacturing of microfluidic circuits;
  • Manufacturing of sensors/actuators;
  • Manufacturing of electronic circuits;
  • Manufacturing of packaging products;
  • Manufacturing of membranes for air/water filtration.

Advantages

  • Less purchase and maintenance costs;
  • Controlled deposition of nanofibers space;
  • Combination of 3D printing and electrospinning; 
  • High accurate, precise and reproducible fabrication process with fully automatic and continuous steps;
  • Reduction of manufacturing time;
  • Manufacturing in a control environment; 
  • Compact design;
  • No need of a dedicated operator.