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Systematic mechanical evaluation of electrospun gelatin meshes

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Butcher, AL 
Koh, CT 
Oyen, ML 


Electrospinning is a simple and efficient process for producing sub-micron fibres. However, the process has many variables, and their effects on the non-woven mesh of fibres is complex. In particular, the effects on the mechanical properties of the fibre meshes are poorly understood. This paper conducts a parametric study, where the concentration and bloom strength of the gelatin solutions are varied, while all electrospinning process parameters are held constant. The effects on the fibrous meshes are monitored using scanning electron microscopy and mechanical testing under uniaxial tension. Mesh mechanical properties are relatively consistent, despite changes to the solutions, demonstrating the robustness of electrospinning. The gel strength of the solution is shown to have a statistically significant effect on the morphology, stiffness and strength of the meshes, while the fibre diameter has surprisingly little influence on the stiffness of the meshes. This experimental finding is supported by finite element analysis, demonstrating that the stiffness of the meshes is controlled by the volume fraction, rather than fibre diameter. Our results demonstrate the importance of understanding how electrospinning parameters influence the pore size of the meshes, as controlling fibre diameter alone is insufficient for consistent mechanical properties.



electrospinning, gelatin, mechanical properties, fibre diameter, pore size

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Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials

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EPSRC (1354760)
This work was supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) via the Doctoral Training Award, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, grant number 1354760.
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