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Fluidnatek Technology

Fluidnatek eStretching Tools are designed for the fabrication of small particles and fibers as well as for the creation of thin film coatings. The Fluidnatek tools rely on Bioinicia’s unique eStretching electrospraying and electrospinning technology that provides ultimate control and high-throughput processing.

eStretching is Bioinicia’s proprietary multifunctional mono- and multi-axial electrospinning and electrospraying processes, that are at the core of the Fluidnatek line of equipment. Based on the classic principles of electrostatic electrospinning and electrospraying, eStretching combines novel emitter design and controlled fluid delivery systems to yield a stable and productive size controlled fiber and particle fabrication processes. eStretching overcomes the typical hurdles that has made the scale up and industrial adoption of electrospinning so difficult in the past.
(eSpraying to the left and eSpinning to the right)

The eStrecthing technology can be simply explained as follows: a liquid is flown through a capillary tube that is located in front a counter-electrode acting as a collector. An electrical voltage (V) is applied between the tube and the collector. There is a range of electrical voltages where the meniscus anchored at the tip of the tube turns into a stable cone and a very thin liquid jet is emitted from its apex.

This conical shaped meniscus (called Taylor cone) can only be established for a certain range of flow rates and voltage settings. The diameter of the emitted liquid jet depends mainly on the electrical conductivity of the liquid, ranging from the microscale (for non-conducting liquids) to the submicron and the nanometer range when highly conducting liquids or solutions are used. Downstream, depending on the rheology of the liquid, the jet breaks up into droplets (eSpraying) or undergoes a whip-like motion (eSpinning). See the image above.

When very viscous solutions of polymers (and liquids in general) are used, the electrified liquid jet, at some point, undergoes a whip-like motion, in which its diameter is progressively reduced by the electrical repulsion of the charges carried by the jet. At the same time, due to its small diameter, the solvent evaporates abruptly. If the collector is positioned at a distance, substantially all the solvent evaporates before the jet reaches the collector as solid micro/nanofibers. eSpinning is an exceptional and competitive technique to generate size controlled fibers of many different materials and non-woven mats of fibers. These non-wovens exhibit great potential for their high active area (per unit mass) and porosity (up to 95%). A very relevant benefit of this way of processing materials is that the evaporation of the solvent occurs at room conditions and no heating is needed, which makes this technique very applicable for dealing with thermally labile materials, such as live cells, enzymes, microorganisms and other substances that are used in the areas of Biotechnology, Cosmetics, Food and Pharmacy.

If the liquid viscosity is low, the liquid jet breakup forms a spray of highly charged liquid droplets. These droplets, typically twice the size of the jet, fly to the collector due to the electrical attraction. If the distance between emitter and collector is sufficiently large, the solvent will be evaporated and solid spherical particales may be collected on the collector substrate.
Similarly to electrospinning, electrospraying can control particle generation, ideal for encapsulation purposes. Besides, this eStretching approach is also particularly suitable for the production of very homogeneous functional micro- and nano-sized coatings of adjustable morphology (plain and porous).

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