This article was published on 17 April 2013
In just a few years, Wellington start-up Kaynemaile has become a flourishing global exporter of a unique, seamless mesh — a modern version of chain mail — using an innovative process that allows solid rings and parts to be moulded together seamlessly.
Designed and manufactured by the company, the product is being used in the international design, architecture and lighting sectors and new applications are constantly being explored.
Inventor and Kaynemaile CEO Kayne Horsham co-founded the company in 2002. His motivation stretches back to the filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As Art Director for Creatures, Armour and Weapons, Horsham was tasked with producing an assortment of props. This included realistic chain mail that looked authentic, was lightweight and would cope with rigorous use.
Teams of technicians cut plastic rings from tubing, hand-assembled the mesh and gave it a metal coating. However, the product had the same drawback chain mail has had for centuries—an inherent weakness because the rings have a join where they are interconnected.
This sparked a train of thought and Horsham set out to develop a method of continuous moulding that would result in a 2D mesh of solid components. Plastic moulders and toolmakers told him it was impossible, but Horsham refused to accept this.
The Government backed the idea, providing four investments totalling $245,000 between 2003 and 2006. This helped Horsham and partner and co-founder Robyn Downham with initial proof of concept and with developing the tools needed to manufacture the seamless mesh.
Horsham says getting government support allowed Kaynemaile to take more risks and be bolder in its research and development (R&D).
“We had challenge after challenge and every time we’d solve one, we’d find another five around the corner. But that’s the nature of doing something that’s truly innovative.”
With the company’s international architecture and design offering established and sales growing by 100% plus per annum, Kaynemaile is investigating new markets, particularly in large scale aquaculture. Trials of the mesh in an operational fish farm have shown it to be an exceptional substitute for the traditional net systems. The company is also researching the use of its mesh in environmental pollution recovery, like oil spills and conservation of natural species in Hydro-dams.
Kaynemaile’s goal is to eventually be the world leader in seamless interlocking moulding systems.