No assignee for this patent application has been made.
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention generally relates to the field of fiber production. More specifically, the invention relates to production of fibers of micron, sub-micron and nano size diameters using centrifugal forces within a portable device.
"Fibers having small diameters (e.g., micrometer ('micron') to nanometer ('nano')) are useful in a variety of fields from the clothing industry to military applications. For example, in the biomedical field, there is a strong interest in developing structures based on nanofibers that provide scaffolding for tissue growth to effectively support living cells and as agents in wound care such as inducing haemostasis, protecting against infection, accelerating the healing process while offering conformability (e.g., ability to adapt to 3D intricate sections). In the textile field, there is a strong interest in nanofibers because the nanofibers have a high surface area per unit mass that provide light, but highly wear resistant, garments. As a class, carbon nanofibers are being used, for example, in reinforced composites, in heat management, and in reinforcement of elastomers. Many potential applications for small-diameter fibers are being developed as the ability to manufacture and control their chemical and physical properties improves.
"It is well known in fiber manufacturing to produce micro and nano fibers of various materials by electrospinning The process of elecrospinning uses an electrical charge to produce fibers from a liquid. The liquid may be a solution of a material in a suitable solvent, or a melt of the material. Electrospinning requires the use of high voltage to draw out the fibers and is limited to materials that can obtain an electrical charge.
"Centrifugal spinning is a method by which fibers are produced without the use of an electric field. In centrifugal spinning, material is ejected through one or more orifices of a rapidly spinning spinneret to produce fibers. The size and or shape of the orifice that the material is ejected from controls the size of the fibers produced. Using centrifugal spinning, microfibers and/or nanofibers may be produced.
"Typically, spinnerets used in centrifugal spinning are rotated at high speeds. The high rotational speed used to form the fibers creates high energy requirements, due to rotational air resistance at high speeds. It is desirable to create spinnerets that have reduced air resistance to minimize energy requirements. Additionally, spinnerets generally produce fibers in a single plane, which causes fiber entanglement. It would therefore be desirable to create spinnerets that can create fibers in a way that avoids entanglement of the fibers that can maximize yield and enhance uniform fiber deposition if desired, and are easily cleaned."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In an embodiment, a hand held/portable device for the production of microfibers and/or nanofibers includes: one or more motors, a fan coupled to at least one of the one or more motors; and a spinneret comprising a body and one or more openings, the spinneret being coupled to at least one of the one or more motors, wherein the fan and spinneret are, during use, rotated substantially simultaneously. During use, rotation of the spinneret causes material placed in the body of the spinneret to be ejected through one or more of the openings to produce fibers. The fan is positioned with respect to the spinneret such that the fibers produced by the spinneret are blow away from the spinneret by the gas flow produced by the rotating fan. In an embodiment, the device also includes a material reservoir coupled to the body of the spinneret, wherein material disposed in the material reservoir is transferred to the spinneret body during use. The spinneret may be removably coupled to at least one motor through a coupling member.
"The components of the device, for example, the motor, fan and spinneret, may be placed in a molded housing. The molded housing may include a handle. The molded housing may include a tapered outlet, wherein fibers produced by the spinneret are blow away from the spinneret into the tapered outlet. In an embodiment, the fan, the motor, and the spinneret may be aligned along an axial axis of the molded housing.
"In an embodiment, the fan and spinneret are positioned on opposing sides of the one or more motors. The device may include a first motor coupled to the fan and a second motor coupled to the spinneret. The first motor may rotate the fan at a different speed than the second motor rotates the spinneret during use.
"In an embodiment, the spinneret comprises a plurality of outlet elements coupled to the body, wherein one or more openings are formed in the outlet elements, extending through the outlet elements to the body, wherein during use, material in the body passes through the openings formed in the outlet elements. In an embodiment, the spinneret further comprises one or more pellets positioned in the one or more openings, wherein the pellets inhibit the ejection of material from the one or more outlet elements unless the spinneret is rotating. In an embodiment, the device further includes a channeling chamber coupled to the housing, wherein the channeling chamber directs the fibers exiting the fiber producing device during use. The channeling chamber may be coupled to the housing by a hinge, wherein the hinge is configured to allow the channeling chamber to be moved away from the housing during use.
"In an embodiment, a method of producing microfibers and/or nanofibers, includes: placing material in a spinneret as described above; rotating the spinneret at a speed of at least about 1000 rpm, and, substantially simultaneously rotating the fan, wherein rotation of the spinneret causes material in the body to be ejected through one or more openings to produce fibers; and wherein the fibers produced by the spinneret are blow away from the spinneret by the gas flow produced by the rotating fan. In an embodiment, the microfibers and/or nanofibers are created without subjecting the fibers, during their creation, to an externally applied electric field.
"In one embodiment, the method includes heating the material to a temperature sufficient to at least partially melt the material; and placing the heated material in the body of the spinneret. In another embodiment, the method includes mixing the material with a solvent to produce a mixture of the material in a solvent, and placing the mixture in the body of the spinneret.
"The device described herein may be used to apply fibers to a wound. In an embodiment, the method includes directing the fibers produced by the device toward a wound site of a subject. The fibers may be directed toward the wound site for a time sufficient to form a substantial wound dressing over the wound. In an embodiment, a mesh-like material may be applied to a wound site, and the produced fibers may be directed toward the mesh-like material on the wound site. In an embodiment, the material is a polymer capable of accelerating wound healing. The polymer may be a polymer that promotes hemostasis.
"In an embodiment, a kit for treating wounds includes: a hand-held fiber producing device as described above and one or more compositions comprising a polymer disposed in a solvent.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"Advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art with the benefit of the following detailed description of embodiments and upon reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
"FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of a fiber producing device;
"FIG. 2 depicts a schematic diagram of a fiber producing device during use;
"FIG. 3 depicts an embodiment of panels formed on an interior surface of a housing of a fiber producing device;
"FIG. 4 depicts an embodiment of a spinneret;
"FIGS. 5A-C depicts a material reservoir coupled to a spinneret;
"FIG. 6 depicts an embodiment of a fan;
"FIG. 7 depicts an embodiment of a fiber producing device having a channeling chamber coupled to the housing;
"FIG. 8 depicts non-limiting embodiments of channeling chambers that may be used to direct fibers produced by the fiber producing device;
"FIG. 9 depicts various spinneret designs; and
"FIG. 10 depicts various spinnerets (bottom and side views) having outlet elements.
"While the invention may be susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof are shown by way of example in the drawings and will herein be described in detail. The drawings may not be to scale. It should be understood, however, that the drawings and detailed description thereto are not intended to limit the invention to the particular form disclosed, but to the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims."
For additional information on this patent application, see:
Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Nanofiber, Nanotechnology, Emerging Technologies.
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