Nanofibrous Structure of Nonwoven Mats of Electrospun Biodegradable Polymer Nanocomposites—A Design of Experiments (DoE) Study
Marras, S. I.
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The morphology of nanofibrous nonwoven mats of an electrospun biodegradable polymer nanocomposite was studied in order to define the material and process parameter settings capable of giving the targeted nanofibrous structure of the mats. The polymer solution concentration, the flow rate of the injected solution, and the organically modified clay content of the polymer matrix were the investigated factors according to a design of experiments (DoE) within the context of response-surface methodology (RSM). Three responses were defined and were estimated by image processing of the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrographs. The first two were the ratio of the average bead-to-fiber diameter Dbead/Dfiber and the number surface density of the beads Nbead and were introduced to indicate the fibrous quality of the mats, while the third, indicative of the fiber thickness, was Dfiber. The developed quadratic models and the individual and coupling effect of the three factors examined are given. The results suggest that the dominant parameter affecting mats’ morphology is polymer solution concentration and that a broader range in the factor settings, especially for concentration, should be used in a subsequent optimization.