Electrospinning Image for Wikipedia

This week, there’s a sad story from a SyringePumpPro owner. He blew up his pump and computer – his high voltage setup wasn’t best practice.

What’s Electro-spinning?

Electro-spinning is a fascinating technology which I have personally had no experience with. It’s all about nano-fibres and such – amazing technology.

A syringe pump is used to provide small volumes of fluid which is then drawn from a needle using very high voltages at low currents. The voltages are typically tens of thousands of volts, say 30,000. If you want to know more start on the Wikipedia page.

I do know about high voltages

I have plenty of experience with high voltages, I used to repair aircraft radars for the Royal Australian Air Force, TV’s and computer screens back when they were made from glass.

I know how things can go wrong. My high voltage experience with airborne radar had a lot more current (and a lot of power kW) available than electro spinners typically use. Way more. So when it went wrong boy it went wrong! It only got me once – unforgettable.

Many SyringePumpPro owner’s are working in the field of electro-spinning and electro-spraying. SyringePumpPro let’s them control and monitor their pumps from outside the safety container the electro spinning and spraying is done in. SyringePumpPro is used in Spraybase’s range of products.

  • Much safer for the humans!
  • Many productivity gains from not having to put the rig in a safe condition just to press buttons on the pump. Often the pumps are in an enclosure with the rig for added safety.

The Real Problem is

The electrical safety of the syringe pump and anything connected to it – ie a computer running SyringePumpPro.

A further complication is that often flammable fluids are used. So you have flammables, sparks, humans, and computers all coming together – what could possibly go wrong?

Expensive accidents do happen

I won’t do anything to identify the SyringePumpPro owner, but in this tale, something went wrong or wasn’t set up correctly. Anyway the high voltage found it’s way to the syringe pump and the computer attached to it. Both were seriously damaged. Pump electronics repair and Laptop replacement kind of damaged.

The syringe pump was repaired by installing a replacement controller board and the computer was replaced. An expensive mishap!

How to Correctly Configure Electro-spinning and Electro-spraying for Electrical Safety

So if you are working in the field of electro-spinning, read up on my suggestions for the correct configuration of your equipment, and perhaps do some configuration testing with the computer disconnected, so that only the pump is at risk.

UPDATE: I now have a small collection of electro-spinning articles in my FAQ section. Electrospinning and Spraying FAQ