Technical Solutions Case Studies
Technical Solutions: Case Study A
A separations instrument and media company with a major focus on pharmaceutical separations was losing market share to products offering the same results at lower prices. In particular, in the area of open and use sample preparation (which this company had started) their market share was eroding in at double digit percentages yearly.
The main customer complaints were:
- Lack of yield reproducibility for the analyte if the media went dry.
- The need to change media and develop different procedures for different classes of molecules.
- Running only 12 samples at a time.
Application of surface science allowed the main customer complaints about existing technology to be addressed. Separations of acids, bases, neutrals, hydrophobics and hydrophilics on one media was achieved by choosing appropriate blocks for block polymers of the molecule on which the separation was performed. This same material could be built so that its Hydrophile/Lipophile Balance (HLB) would hold water more tightly than normal media so that liquid could go below the top of the media (media going dry) without changing yields of the analyte. Finally since the media could now go dry the use of cumbersome stopcocks were no longer a necessity and this allowed movement toward the 96 sample format.
The result was a revolutionary sample prep media which is protected by 5 patents and was given an R&D 100 award as one of the 100 technically most significant commercial products in 1999. This material allowed reversal of the erosion of market share and the movement to positive, double digit, growth. In 2003 sales grew to > $10 MM/yr.
Technical Solutions: Case Study B
A start up advanced materials company with an exciting new technology was plagued by lack of reproducibility, high variability, and inability to fully develop products. The company took uncured polymers placed them at desired locations within textile structures to yield value added composites.
An understanding of the behavior of the polymer and its interactions with the substrate on a macro, micro and nano scale was generated. Upstream contaminants introduced by the textile producer were identified. These contaminants were affecting the polymer flow (contact angle) and adhesion to the substrate (work of adhesion). The presence, absence and concentration of the contaminants were variable and therefore the performance of the product was variable. This knowledge was used to gain control over raw materials, which allowed the process to be validated and reproducible products built to a specification.
This was carried forward to build 30 commercial products which were used to take sales from $0 to $10MM/year
Technical Solutions: Case Study C
Absorbency is the major physical property for many products in personal care especially disposable consumer products based on forest products. Understanding and being able to control absorbency would allow these companies to modify, improve and gain better control over their products. These modifications could yield better material performance allowing cost savings through use of less or less expensive raw materials. These modifications could also give rise to better performing products which would yield more new products and increased market share.
Reviewed research history and material requirements. Counseled on technical feasibility and business practicality of programs and projects. Designed basic and applied research on chemistry and physics of surfaces for these materials. Conceived, invented and developed creative nanotechnology solutions involving fluid transport and surface modification. Initiated, developed, and/or transferred multiple projects to scale up and commercialization.
This work generated novel new materials and was awarded 10 patents for surface science addressing the number one performance problem of a 2 billion dollar per year business sector. Additionally, the surface modification techniques and chemistries yielded the potential to save $5 million per year in surfactant costs.