Nanofibers are an enabling technology. Alone they have little value – it’s only when they are integrated into other material or functionalized that they drive better products.
When properly developed, nanofibers can create improvements in industries as diverse as health care, filtration, energy, and a host of others. Before new products are realized, however, each and every application requires a significant, coordinated development approach that links the knowledge of scientists, business executives, intellectual property and commercial markets.
Xanofi is unique – while it owns a distinct platform for manufacturing discrete staple nanofibers, its business model is to partner with global leaders to drive new products. In most cases this results in global product/application exclusivities and intellectual property ownership for clients. Our expertise in rapid prototyping and scale up to commercial processes means that we work with our partners from start to finish.
How We Build Success
Xanofi believes a highly engage partnership with our clients is necessary when taking advanced materials from concept to commercial. When we accept a project, it becomes mission critical – everyone on the team contributes and we adopt a ‘whatever it takes’ approach……we won’t rest until our clients are happy. Solving the myriad of challenges in any given project – technical, production, product efficacy, and a host of others – is what we do best.
Below is our high level, general systematic approach to engagement. Like nanofiber products, every one is different and shaped to meet client expectations/desires.
STEP 1 – THE BRAINSTORM
We like crazy ideas……it’s the lifeblood of our company. We’ve seen great ideas emerge from visiting scientists, casual conversations at conferences, standing in a beer line, through a deliberate discovery process, etc – we are always dreaming of better products. From the idea grows the goal – what does success look like? How do we maximize the research while minimizing the cost? What steps are needed to get from Point A to Point Z? In short, how do we focus our ideation process into a practical development plan? It begins with conversation…..
STEP 2 – INITIAL MEETING(S) and TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT
In most cases the Xanofi team can provide some baseline understanding of our material and its potential ability to address performance goals. We meet with our clients to review items such as:
- Product Concept – the potential for nanofibers to work in the desired application
- Manufacturing Challenges – identify early in the process how these products will be manufactured and the nuances that could impact success
- Materials – which synthetic or natural polymers make sense, and how will mechanical and chemical variations impact success
- Rapid Prototyping – Identify the steps to launch a quick, low cost feasibility assessment.
- Reporting – Xanofi provides an overview of the above items and general roadmap for development.
STEP 3 – RAPID PROTOTYPING
Xanofi excels in Rapid Prototyping – building fast, low cost proof-of-concept samples that generate enough data to drive a go/no-go decision by Xanofi and our client. Rapid Prototyping builds on the recommendations outlined in our Initial Discussions.
Some of the critical components of Rapid Prototyping are:
- Simplified Design of Experiment – ensuring that the data collected is sufficient and meaningful
- Identify Fatal Flaws – realistic assessment of areas that would kill a project
- Financial – early assessment of cost criteria so time/money isn’t wasted on unrealistic solutions
- Reporting – a summary of the data collected, the relative merit against initial goals, and an outline of advancing into a full development project.
STEP 4 – PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
The bulk of work at Xanofi focuses on Product Development. This work is always coordinated with clients to assess how/where various project pieces should be tackled – at our plant in North Carolina or at client labs. Some of the key components of Product Development are:
- Establish Performance Metrics – refine desired product performance targets
- Sample Production – move from Rapid Prototype samples for data collection to actual product versions
- Cost Analysis – understand financial metrics needed for success and supply chain integration issues
- Regulatory – define and measure safety concerns, industry parameters, freedoms to operate, and other
STEP 5 – MANUFACTURING
The process of transitioning from Product Development to Manufacturing (regardless of the initial scale of manufacturing) is complicated and requires a breadth of skills. If adequate planning and discussion occurred from the start of the project, there should be few surprises at this stage.
Xanofi will work with clients to produce the pounds, or tons, of nanofiber needed. This might involve manufacturing at our facility, outsourcing to a chemical plant with one of our XanoShear™ machines, or placement of a machine in a client plant. We also can internally manage the building of components to final products through our established network of service providers and toll manufacturers.
Genius at 10-9
Sample Projects at Xanofi
XanoMatrix™ is our advanced 3D cell scaffold developed in conjunction with university research partners. We started with basic cell growth studies on a variety of loose nanofibers configurations in slurries and soon began rapid prototyping of a wide range of 3D nanofiber/microfiber mats targeting different cell lines.
Through extensive testing narrowed down the substrates that showed greatest efficacy for the broadest range of cells and protocols. Nanofibers specs were developed and materials manufactured at Xanofi. We worked with one of our roll goods partners in South Carolina to produce commercial substrates while we invented a customized workflow and tools for creating accurate well plates without linting and contamination. We partnered with a medical packaging firm for gamma sterilization and final packaging/labeling.
XanoLoft™ is the world’s first integration of sprayed nanofibers into high loft air filters. We were approached by a partner interested in higher performance disposable filters for rail applications. These filters require very high holding capacities and Xanofi achieved MERV 11 particle performance. The filters were also required to meet tough British Standards for flammability and smoke density.