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Electrospinning uses an electric field to produce fine fibers of nano and micron scale diameters from polymer solutions. Despite innovation in jet initiation, jet path control and fiber collection, it is common to only fabricate planar and tubular-shaped electrospun products. For applications that encapsulate cells and tissues inside a porous container, it is useful to develop biocompatible hollow core-containing devices. To this end, by introducing a 3D-printed framework containing a sodium chloride pellet (sacrificial core) as the collector and through post-electrospinning dissolution of the sacrificial core, we demonstrate that hollow core containing polyamide 66 (nylon 66) devices can be easily fabricated for use as cell encapsulation systems. ATR-FTIR and TG/DTA studies were used to verify that the bulk properties of the electrospun device were not altered by contact with the salt pellet during fiber collection. Protein diffusion investigations demonstrated that the capsule allowed free diffusion of model biomolecules (insulin, albumin and Ig G). Cell encapsulation studies with model cell types (fibroblasts and lymphocytes) revealed that the capsule supports the viability of encapsulated cells inside the capsule whilst compartmentalizing immune cells outside of the capsule. Taken together, the use of a salt pellet as a sacrificial core within a 3D printed framework to support fiber collection, as well as the ability to easily remove this core using aqueous dissolution, results in a biocompatible device that can be tailored for use in cell and tissue encapsulation applications.

Original publication




Journal article


Nanomaterials (Basel, Switzerland)

Publication Date





Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, UK.