This story was showcased in our 2019/20 Annual Report

In the past few years, AGMARDT funding has enabled innovative Kiwi wool filter company Lanaco, to explore and develop new solutions and scale-up manufacturing, including high-protection COVID-19 face masks delivered to meet peak need.

Lanaco (formerly Texus Fibre Ltd) is a filter media manufacturer that uses natural wool fibres in the heart of our platform technology. We are able to create different formulation recipes to tailor filers to specific applications, such as filters for ventilation, industrial respirators and face masks.

AGMARDT funding enabled us to explore the many innovative ideas that we have gathered from the market and then come up with solutions to customers’ requests and their feedback, such as developing the technologies to take our filter media and ‘convert’ them into different types of face masks as well as purification systems (such as HELIX™ filter bags that will go into DVS® Home Ventilation systems).

“With AGMARDT co-funding support, we were able to investigate and visit suppliers of specialist tooling and machinery that are based overseas, which enabled us to accelerate our scaling-up program of our manufacturing and conversion processes” says Dr Sam Yu Head of Business and Marketing

“At the same time, we were also able to meet face to face with potential in-market customers too, and establish trust with them for NZ wool, and obtain their real-life feedback, important to improving our product range to a state that they desired and would pay a premium for, rather than second-guessing”

“With the onset of the Australian bushfires, and then the global pandemic COVID now front and centre, the preparatory and investigative work we achieved in the past few years to overcoming challenges in solving scalability, helped us going into COVID” says Dr Yu.

The current and future focus remain heavily on the continual scale-up and quick turnaround of product development and delivery of mask products now vital to everyday life, and in the format that customers want amongst a very interrupted time. This is now the ‘new normal’ of operating in heavily impacted logistics and expensive limited freight. Further investment and focus had been made on getting more and more of what we do to be more indigenous of ‘NZ-sourced and/NZ-made’.

Lanaco have released new range of disposable face masks as well as filters to insert into sewn masks since the beginning of 2020, just amidst the most stressful time in Australasia with bushfires, and then into a global pandemic. To meet a sudden local demand in Australia and NZ, we collaborated with a number of companies (such as Untouched World) to provide filtration protection to consumers to reduce exposure harmful smog and COVID.

HELIX™ Filter Media formulations we created can remove from 80% to over 95% of invisible particle sizes and designed to meet international standards such as N95 and P2.