The Journal

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Commercializing a new technology

September 6, 2023


David Goldfeld

At Phoam Labs, we are developing brand new products that have never been seen before. New materials run through new processes to make new types of foam. We developed our technology more than 5 years ago at the University of Minnesota, and since then have been in the process of scaling up to a commercial level so that we can supply foam to the world. What exactly does "scale up" entail for a foam company?

One major hurdle is acquisition of raw materials, and not just any raw materials. The resin we use in our products is custom made to meet our specifications. We have had to work with partner companies to make a new, custom material batch by batch. At the university, we used to make our material a few ounces at a time. As we scaled up, we then started making 2-5 pounds at a time. That major step alone took a tremendous amount of work and optimization to get to a solid point. Of course, a pound of material only makes a few bricks of floral foam, so we quickly needed to scale up even more.

For the second scale-up phase, we produced our material on a 2000 lb scale. For the first time, we had enough material to make a lot of foam, which was needed for our research and development efforts. But even 2000 lbs at a time won't be able to supply what we need for full-scale manufacturing. In recent months, we've now produced our custom material 30,000 lbs at a time, which is finally enough material to do full-scale manufacturing trials and start thinking about actual commercial production.

Once we have material, we then have to plan out a system that can use tens of thousands of pounds of material to make hundreds of thousands of bricks of floral foam. That type of production machinery exists, but it has not been tailored to Phoam Labs' needs. That has led to partnerships both with manufacturers that are working with us on production as well as the machine manufacturers who are designing and building custom components so we can construct an economically efficient manufacturing operation. Once we can produce economically at scale, we are finally close to bringing an affordable product to the worldwide market.

After producing our raw material and lining up the manufacturers, we then have to think about how we get our foam products to you, the consumer. We need boxes and pallets and labels. There are logistics including warehousing and shipping, administrative work in accounting and processing orders, and efforts in marketing and promotion so that you know that we are working hard towards bringing this product to our consumers.

All of these processes have to be developed from an early stage–or even fabricated entirely from scratch–but that's why we have a full team of dedicated people diligently working to bring this product to market.

Phoam Labs is planning to bring our floral foam to the market in the coming months. Keep an eye on our blog for updates as we continue to push towards commercialization!

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