PurThread expands partnership with Kodak

Textile startup PurThread Technnologies has expanded its relationship with tech company Eastman Kodak as part of a concerted effort to expand into new markets.

The two companies announced Tuesday that they have entered into a joint development agreement to expand the use of Kodak’s antimicrobial technology to hard surfaces – for example, countertops and sinks.

PurThread CEO Lisa Grimes said in an interview that the deal will enable the Durham-based company to expand beyond the medical, military and sports apparel markets that it has been targeting with its antimicrobial fabrics into new industries, such as restaurants and hotels.

PurThread announced in November that its antimicrobial fabric relies on a germ-killing agent developed by Kodak. Thanks to an exclusive, worldwide license that allows PurThread to embed that antimicrobial agent into fabric, last year the company began selling its first products for hospitals – privacy curtains, lab coats, scrubs, blankets and sheets. It also sells antimicrobial yarn to manufacturers.

Because the antimicrobial agent is embedded in the fabric, PurThread says it doesn’t wash out after repeated laundering, unlike competing products that feature an antimicrobial agent applied to the fabric.

Financial details of the latest deal with Kodak weren’t disclosed. Kodak emerged from bankruptcy last year after shedding the camera and film businesses that made it a household name. Today it’s a technology company focused on imaging for businesses.

Grimes said that the two companies will independently sell products developed under their joint agreement. PurThread expects to launch its initial products later this year.

Privately held PurThread, which has raised more than $11 million in outside funding, doesn’t disclose revenue. But Grimes said the company is pleased with its sales to date and added that its yarn has attracted interest from “leading household names in the consumer or sports market.”

“Lots of companies are testing our yarns,” she said.

PurThread has eight employees and more than 15 full-time and part-time contractors. Its fabric is produced by contract manufacturers.

Staff writer David Ranii