Silver to gold
Adding silver to fabrics kills bacteria and boosts sales.
(FSB Magazine) -- Last year Noble Biomaterials, based in Scranton, Pa., ramped up its efforts to sell its silver-laced antibacterial fiber to medical-supply outfits. The move helped double revenues - to nearly $55 million in 2005.
Since 1997, Noble has sold its fiber - which attacks the ammonia that causes body odor - to apparel manufacturers, which use it to make socks for the U.S. military and shirts for pro athletes. The fiber also kills bacteria that cause diseases, and in April Noble received FDA approval for five new wound-care products. "Silver's benefits align very well with the medical issues of today," says CEO Jeff Keane, 48. "There's a whole bacteria-management area emerging in the health-care community."
Today the company has found a niche in the $4-billion-a-year wound-care market working with Johnson & Johnson (Charts) and medical technology company Kinetic Concepts (Charts) to weave silver-based bandages. Next year it plans to boost medical-supply sales to more than $25 million when it develops a line of fabric for antimicrobial bed sheets, pajamas, and surgical masks.