Pluck a hair from your head and take a close look. Now imagine a fibre 500 times thinner. ThatÕs what Revolution Fibres create on a daily basis, right here in New Zealand.
Revolution Fibres Ltd has developed its own technologies for the industrial production of nanofibre. Using its proprietary ‘Sonic Electrospinning Technology’, it creates continuous nanofibre in the form of non-woven mats with enormous surface area, high porosity and incredibly strong-yet-thin and lightweight structures.
Revolution Fibres unique nanofibre technology is already in market in air filters (through ventilation company HRV). They have also launched a skincare range using collagen fibres to deliver plant extracts into the skin; and carbon fibre reinforcement products (Xantu.Layrª) – which have recently been included in a range of fishing rods through Kilwell.
“Xantulayr is an especially exciting product”, says Iain Hosie, Technical Director of Revolution Fibres. “It is used as reinforcement in composite materials, making them tougher and less prone to cracks and de-lamination. We’ve seen amazing results in fishing rods and load-bearing fibreglass parts”.
In Kilwell’s words “The polymer hybrid of continuous nanofibres forms a non-woven web that bonds with resin and carbon fibre to create a rod blank, giving a dramatic increase in flexural lifting power without increasing weight.”
Nanofibre for composite reinforcement has been well researched, but not commercialized as there are very few manufacturers capable of making nanofibre at a scale and price that is attractive to the composites industry. Until now.
“We are the only commercial producer of electrospun nanofibre in Australasia and only a handful worldwide” explains Hosie. “There’s a gap for contract manufacturers and product development in the nanofibre market. New Zealand companies have a fantastic opportunity to integrate this technology into their products before anyone else.”
NZ companies better act fast. Many more products are under development in what is a rapidly expanding market. Nanofibre is currently the fastest growing (34%) area of nanotechnology with the industry expected to grow from current US$183M to $2.2 billion in 2020. Winners of the 2012 NZ Innovators Awards, and the Manufacturing Award at the NZ Engineering Awards, Revolution Fibres is a great example of what can be achieved when scientific ‘know-how’ and commercial ‘can do’ combine.