Tissue engineering scaffolds produced by electrospinning are of enormous interest, but still lack a true understanding about the fundamental connection between the outstanding functional properties, the architecture, the mechanical properties, and the process parameters. Fragmentary results from several parametric studies only render some partial insights that are hard to compare and generally miss the role of parameters interactions. To bridge this gap, this article (Part-1 of 2) features a case study on poly-l-lactide scaffolds to demonstrate how statistical methods such as design of experiments can quantitatively identify the correlations existing between key scaffold properties and control parameters, in a systematic, consistent, and comprehensive manner disentangling main effects from interactions. The morphological properties (i.e., fiber distribution and porosity) and mechanical properties (Young's modulus) are "charted" as a function of molecular weight (MW) and other electrospinning process parameters (the Xs), considering the single effect as well as interactions between Xs. For the first time, the major role of the MW emerges clearly in controlling all scaffold properties. The correlation between mechanical and morphological properties is also addressed.
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