Joshua L. Manasco, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, NC State University, 3010 Barrymore Street, Unit 108, Raleigh, NC 27603, Juan P. Hinestroza, Department of Textiles and Apparel, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, and Saad A. Khan, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, 911, Partners Way, Raleigh, NC 27695.
While most of the electrospinning reported in the literature is originated from diluted polymer solutions, we report on the melt electrospinning of polycaprolactone. Process parameters including melt flowrate, electrical field strength, spinnerette diameter, melt temperature and polymer molecular weight were investigated. We further correlated the viscoelastic properties of the polymer melt with morphological changes in the resultant electrospun fibers. Experiments were conducted using a commercial ¾” single screw extruder fitted with two different multi-filament spinnerette dies. The use of a customized multi-filament die allowed for low pressure drop as well as high and controlled total flowrate of melt extrudate. Preliminary studies were made on the effect of plasticizers on the operating conditions of the melt electrospinning process as well as on the properties of the electrospun fibers.