The latest biofabrics technology is in high demand, but there are some companies who have gone one step further and gone all-in with biofabrism.
The technology has gone from being just another manufacturing process into a viable medical tool.
Here’s how to get the most out of it.
Read moreA little over a decade ago, BioFabric Technologies was founded by two brothers, Alex and Stephen.
The brothers were keen to explore new and innovative ways to manufacture medical equipment, and their first step was to use a synthetic fibres.
“The technology was very interesting and a bit of a surprise,” Stephen says.
“It was the first time that I was actually working with real fibres.”
“Biofabric is a technology that’s been around for a very long time,” Alex says.
“It was something that was not really in the mainstream, so we were looking at a few different approaches, and decided to do it our own way.”
We went from synthetic fibre to making it from scratch.
We found out the importance of using the right chemicals to make it from pure fibres,” he says.
That’s how the brothers got their hands on a synthetic fibre that was a bit more expensive and difficult to produce than the traditional method of making fibres by hand.
“What materials could we get, and what chemicals would be required? “
We started by doing a lot of experimentation on what types of biofabruises could be made,” Stephen explains.
“What materials could we get, and what chemicals would be required?
It was quite an interesting journey.”
The next step was we decided to try and make a synthetic version of a standard fibre,” Alex explains.”
That’s the first step, you have to find a good fibre, you need a good catalyst, and you need the right kind of heat.
We had to start from scratch.
“They’ve done a lot in the past to make biofabridics for the healthcare industry, and the first thing that we thought of was making the most efficient, lightest and most flexible material.””
This was the real breakthrough,” Stephen recalls.
“They’ve done a lot in the past to make biofabridics for the healthcare industry, and the first thing that we thought of was making the most efficient, lightest and most flexible material.”
The first version of the BioFabrid made by BioFabrics was a 50-50 mix of polyester and nylon.
This made it ideal for medical applications, as the fabric was relatively cheap to produce, but it was quite heavy.
“That’s where we found our advantage,” Alex recalls.
The company was able to get around this by making the fibre as thin as possible.
The new BioFabrique 2 was a 100-year-old synthetic fibre made from the same material, but with the new technology the price of the fibre dropped from around $200 to $150 per metre.
This reduced the manufacturing cost, and also allowed the company to use the same materials as the traditional fibres to make the product.
The technology wasn’t new at all, but the first production run was an experiment, so the brothers weren’t sure how to use it.
“At first we thought that if we just did one run, then it would be easy,” Alex admits.
“But we thought we could make a few more runs and find out the best ones.”
The brothers decided to start with a very large batch of biofibres, which were ready for testing and then sent to a laboratory to test.
The lab’s carbon-fibre was tested by two different lab-grown fibres, and they all passed the test.
“You can’t really do that in a lab,” Stephen notes.
“You need the exact same conditions as the lab’s fibre, but you need different materials to make each of them.”
The next stage was to make another batch of the same fibre.
This time, the brothers wanted to test the fibre in a different environment, using a different substrate.
“So we made a third batch of fibres and used them in different tests,” Alex notes.
“Our initial tests were very successful,” Stephen adds.
“A lot of people were impressed by what they saw.
The next step is to put them in a test tube and see what happens.”
The new fibre was a very, very strong material, which allowed the brothers to make a very thin fibre, which was then placed on the lab test tube.
“After we put them on the test tube, we saw that they’re actually quite strong, and it was like having a giant metal bar,” Stephen remembers.
“When we put the fibres on the tube, it became like a big metal bar.
It was very strong, but when it hit the fibre, it didn’t break.
The fibre stayed as thin and strong