Processing of Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) Microfibers via Melt Electrowriting

Christoph Böhm, Biranche Tandon, Andrei Hrynevich, Jörg Teßmar, Paul D. Dalton

Published: 2022


Polymers sensitive to thermal degradation include poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), which is not yet processed via melt electrowriting (MEW). After an initial period of instability where mean fiber diameters increase from 20.56 to 27.37 µm in 3.5 h, processing stabilizes through to 24 h. The jet speed, determined using critical translation speed measurements, also reduces slightly in this 3.5 h period from 500 to 433 mm min−1 but generally remains constant. Acetyl triethyl citrate (ATEC) as an additive decreases the glass transition temperature of PLGA from 49 to 4 °C, and the printed ATEC/PLGA fibers exhibits elastomeric behavior upon handling. Fiber bundles tested in cyclic mechanical testing display increased elasticity with increasing ATEC concentration. The processing temperature of PLGA also reduces from 165 to 143 °C with increase in ATEC concentration. This initial window of unstable direct writing seen with neat PLGA can also be impacted through the addition of 10-wt% ATEC, producing fiber diameters of 14.13 ± 1.69 µm for the first 3.5 h of heating. The investigation shows that the initial changes to the PLGA direct-writing outcomes seen in the first 3.5 h are temporary and that longer times result in a more stable MEW process.

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