US-based Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), has secured a new $15 million investment round and forged a strategic relationship with BMW Group, as it continues to scale up production of its Mirum plant-based leather alternative.
BMW has set ambitious sustainability goals, aiming to reduce CO2 emissions across the entire value chain. To do so, the company is looking to use recyclable materials or materials with a lower carbon footprint while maintaining the same high functionality, aesthetics, and premium quality.
Synthetic leather materials are expected to be the largest sector of the automobile upholstery industry, according to a Market Study analysis.
NFW's patented high-performance, plastic-free Mirum is well-suited to replace both animal leather and synthetic leather alternatives because of its durability, quality, and tunability. Mirum uses no plastic binders or coatings, instead of relying on the strength and diversity of virgin and recycled plant materials such as coconut husk, rice hulls, and cork.
Dr. Luke Haverhals, CEO and founder of NFW, said that they’re advancing NFW's aim to remove the need for plastics with their new manufacturing capabilities and the backing of businesses like BMW i Ventures. Because of the extensibility of their platform and the tunability of NFW materials, they can service a wide range of clients in a variety of big, worldwide markets. The dedication of big brands and enterprises to collaborate with NFW energizes them on a daily basis.
NFW stated earlier this year that it will commit 110,000 square feet of industrial space to the production of Mirum. The company's Peoria headquarters presently employs around 130 people, and it is rapidly expanding as it ramps up commercial manufacturing. NFW expects to create up to 240 new employees in the Peoria region as a result of the expansion.
Kasper Sage, Managing partner at BMW i Ventures, said that Natural Fiber Welding has created a unique technique for turning plants into all-natural, 100% recyclable materials that mirror the characteristics of conventional leather, yarns, and foams. Having a scalable, cost-competitive alternative to leather with superior characteristics is critical for furthering the decarbonization of the automotive industry.
Clarus enhanced natural fibers, which are securely held together in yarns and textiles utilizing natural bonding mechanisms for decreased fraying, pilling, and abrasion damage, have also been created by NFW. When compared to standard cotton, the way moisture and perspiration are absorbed and transferred via Clarus textiles may be substantially enhanced by altering the structure and format of natural fibers.
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