Industrial Nanofiber Production with Elmarco
According to a report last year by BCC Research, the global market for nanofiber-based products rose from $128.3 million in 2011 to $151.7 million in 2012, an increase of 18%. While the current market is relatively small, BCC expects it to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.3% from 2012 to 2017, reaching global revenues of $570.2 million by 2017. Last year we highlighted a company, FibeRio, that is selling machines that produce nanofibers at a low cost. One other such company that is selling nanofiber production equipment is Elmarco.
Founded in 2000, Czech Republic based Elmarco claims to be the industry′s first and leading supplier of industrial scale nanofiber production equipment. The Company has a 32,000 square foot R&D facility in the Czech Republic along with two additional offices in Tokyo and North Carolina. In 2006, Elmarco sold their first nanofiber production machine and in 2012 they reached the 100 machine sales mark. As of January 2014, Elmarco had over 130 field installations of their machines. The company employs over 80 people worldwide, including 35 R&D specialists.
Nanofibers have superior properties due to their small size such as low density, large specific surface area, small pore size, good breathability, excellent mechanical properties in proportion to weight, and the possibility to incorporate different additives. To put the small size of nanofibers into perspective, the below photo is magnified at 1000X and shows a human hair and a pollen grain sitting atop a nanofiber mat:
Nanofibers have many applications in medicine, filtration, textiles, and energy. Elmarco has developed a patented process called Nanospider™ which is a high voltage electrospinning process used to produce nanofibers that does not use needles. The process is mechanically simple, allowing for lower equipment and operating costs. The Nanospider™ technology allows processing of a vast variety of polymers to produce nanofibers including organic, inorganic, metallic, and biopolymers. In addition to providing samples for laboratory development, Elmarco has 3 lines of nanofiber machines; the NS Lab (10 square meters per day), the NS Pilot Line (100 square meters per day), and the NS Production Line (1000s of square meters per day). With the anticipated growth of the potential nanofiber market, there are a surprising number of small private companies entering the nanofiber space, and Elmarco seems to be emerging as a market leader.