This article was published on 14 December 2012
Auckland company Revolution Fibres has developed its own technology for the industrial production of nanofibre. This technology, called electrospinning, can be used for an ever-growing list of commercial applications.
The company’s latest innovation – called the Komodo – won the Manufacturing and Mechanical Category at the 2012 New Zealand Engineering Excellence (NZEE) Awards. Revolution Fibres also won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand Innovators Awards just a few months earlier.
The Komodo is an industrial scale electrospinning machine, which will enable Revolution Fibres to take its state of the art nanotechnology from the lab to industrial scale. The company received $447,085 in research and development (R&D) funding from the Government to develop the machinery.
Iain Hosie, Revolution Fibres’ Technical Director, says: “The development of the Komodo was an ambitious engineering project, not without its complexities, and we’re very honoured to have it recognised by the Innovators Awards and the NZEE judges. Without the support of MBIE, this project would not have been possible. We have made excellent progress, quadrupled our engineering and science staff numbers and are well positioned for exports.”
Currently, Revolution Fibres manufacture biodegradable, anti-bacterial air filters from nano-particle-sized fibres that are ‘electro-spun’ from collagen extracted from discarded hoki fish skins. They have also launched a skincare range using collagen fibres to deliver plant extracts into the skin; and carbon fibre reinforcement products, which were recently included in a range of fishing rods.
With the global market for nanofibre products growing from US$80 million in 2009 to a projected US$2.2 billion by 2020, Revolution Fibres is in the right place at the right time.
“We’re the only commercial producer of electrospun nanofibre in Australasia and only a handful worldwide,” says Mr Hosie. “Most manufacturers focus on one application – like filters; or want to sell electrospinning machines. There’s a gap for contract manufacturers and product development in the nanofibre market – and an ever-growing list of commercial applications. We’re very excited about the future.”