NIRI has expanded its services and invested in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to further support clients with advanced materials and chemistry research. In addition to a growing list of services, NIRI has increased its capacity to provide expert advice on topics such as reformulation, characterisation, supply chain validation, and technology transfer. With these new capabilities, NIRI is well-equipped to provide expert guidance and support to clients looking to improve their products and reduce time to market. This expansion comes ahead of NIRI’s move to new premises at the start of next year.
With over 400 years of combined textile science experience, the team at NIRI is led by Co-Founder and Group Technical Director Professor Stephen Russell, a highly regarded expert in nonwovens with over 250 publications and patents to his name. In addition to this, Chief Innovation Officer Steven Neill has over 20 years of experience in commercial development and new product innovation, and manages the innovation process at NIRI to ensure the technical delivery of consultancy services.
Building a world-class team of experts
NIRI has recruited new team members including Innovation Scientists, such as Dr. Daniel Tate who specialises in technology transfer and innovation, particularly in synthetic materials chemistry. Dr. Harrison Cox, an Innovation Engineer with a PhD in Surface Science, also brings expertise in the synthesis and development of functional surfaces and thin-film coatings for real-world applications. NIRI’s advanced materials consultancy services are already helping its client base of over 350 businesses, and its forthcoming expansion into new premises will further enhance the customer offering, allowing even more businesses to develop new products using our R&D expertise and world-class facilities.
Characterisation and evaluating performance gaps
NIRI’s capability in understanding materials and product performance is highly sought after. Accurate characterisation is essential with today’s focus on sustainability and lifecycle assessment through chemical analysis. This can involve failure analysis, tracking degradation pathways and product degradation, examining impurities, and determining the appropriateness of reengineering or synthesis of additives. NIRI’s expertise in these areas is used by clients across a variety of sectors, including hygiene, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, health-related, and filtration technologies and products.
Dr. Daniel Tate highlights the importance of characterisation as part of the research and development phase:
“NIRI has a reputation for its ability to process and evaluate the feasibility of novel and existing materials, and to characterise and evaluate performance gaps – crucial for the translation of R&D into commercial products. The expansion of our chemical consultancy, which continues to focus on chemical analysis to understand chemical processes and transformations between constituent components, further enhances this offering. For example, when looking at reformulation, we can evaluate, hypothesize, and make recommendations, adding value for customers through our ability to offer consultancy based on these findings. This can be especially valuable for the commercialization of new products, where characterisation can improve uniformity. In addition to the growing team of chemistry consultants at NIRI, the move to new premises and ongoing investment in technology and equipment will further expand our in-house testing capabilities and boost our ammonia and butane cabin air filter testing capacities. Our scientists have a strong reputation for characterizing and understanding the limitations of processing PHAs and PLAs, including the design and synthesis of new monomers and polymers. With a growing team of chemists, we can focus expertise in this field, with new pathway studies looking specifically at aspects such as decomposition – crucial for commercializing R&D.”
Technology Transfer – reducing risk and making better decisions
NIRI is the world’s leading consultancy business focusing on nonwoven products and processes, with a strong emphasis on technology transfer. The company’s specialties include pilot-scale manufacturing, which supports companies in developing their products from the laboratory to technology and manufacturing demonstration. NIRI has expertise in a wide range of sectors, including PPE and medical applications, hygiene, automotive, filtration, and defence. This broad range of applications is due in part to NIRI’s capabilities in custom synthesis, which covers additives, dyes, pigments, monomers, and polymers, as well as the ability to formulate dilute binders and additives at scales from 1 litre to 1,000 litres.
Daniel explains the additional opportunities for clients’ development that the growing team of chemists and the new facilities present:
“At NIRI, we focus on product development for commercial clients, including the development of new materials and polymers from the early stages of R&D to commercialisation. We have expertise in working with organic and inorganic materials, such as nanoparticles, nanowires, and alloys. The expansion of our team, including additional expertise and capacity, allows us to support customers in taking their ideas from concept to commercialisation as a single partner. This also enables us to work earlier in the technology readiness levels, helping clients make faster, more informed decisions about risk management, funding, and product development.”
Reverse engineering key to optimising the manufacturing process
One area where NIRI’s chemistry expertise is particularly valuable is reverse engineering. Clients in various sectors consult with NIRI on the ability to strip products down to their constituent parts, characterise and determine the chemical composition of these elements, and evaluate and determine the optimal materials for manufacturing.
Daniel again highlights the benefits of a growing team of chemists and the forthcoming move to larger, new premises with further investment:
“With increased capacity in our team of advanced materials specialists, we are further expanding our capabilities in the full physical and chemical characterisation of constituent components. This is a valuable service for our clients, as we can suggest and develop alternative materials with matched or improved performance. This can be especially useful in cases where potential IP issues are raised. Our facilities, which will be further enhanced in our new premises, enable us to work with clients as their sole partner, using our rapid prototyping and new product development facilities for testing, prototyping, and small-scale production. This allows for the cost-effective development of R&D within commercially viable timescales.”
NIRI’s expanding team of chemical engineers and innovation scientists are helping clients solve real-world development problems and take R&D to market faster through the development of novel products. Continued recruitment and investment in expert team members, along with the catalyst of major investment in new premises in the coming year, keep NIRI at the forefront of commercial consultancy in nonwoven and fibrous products and processes.