ILLINOIS – US-based business, Natural Fiber Welding, has announced 110,000 square feet of new manufacturing space for the production of its Mirum plant-based leather. The expansion more than doubles the Peoria start-up’s manufacturing footprint and will see NFW eventually produce tens of millions of square feet of Mirum per year for global brand partners. The new facility will also house some Mirum business and R&D functions. Mirum is made with natural, biodegradable polymers, and NFW’s finished materials are never coated in polyurethane and use no synthetic binders.
“Over the last two years we’ve been collaborating with a substantial number of brands who are ready to bring Mirum into the marketplace,” said Oihana Elizalde, vice president at NFW and head of the Mirum business unit. “We’ve shown that Mirum can perform like conventional leather in several key segments including fashion, footwear, and automotive but without any plastic resins, glues, or coatings other plant-based alternatives rely on.”
Mirum appeared most recently in a new plant-based pouch line by Bellroy. NFW has launched a patch and trim collection through certified converter Medike-Landes and will announce more partners throughout 2021. Its first market-wide SKUs for accessories will be available this Spring.
“This manufacturing facility provides NFW with exceptional capabilities and positions Peoria to become a national textile technology hub,” said Tom Waggoner, chief operating officer for NFW. “The SW Jefferson site provides exceptional value for NFW while also supporting the effort to bring employment opportunities to the most challenged areas of our community,” he said.
“I’m encouraged and excited to see NFW come to the First District,” said Peoria councilwoman Denise Moore. “There’s a lot of talent and tenacity in the people of my district,” said Moore, “and we’re ready to welcome NFW as a potential employer and also as our neighbour and partner in revitalizing our downtown.”
Founded in 2015, NFW has deep roots in Peoria. Founder and CEO, Dr. Luke Haverhals conducted initial academic chemistry research on the company’s ‘fiber welding’ technologies that enable ClarusTM fabrics first at the United States Naval Academy and then on the Bradley University campus as an assistant professor in the Mund-Lagowski Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The company first resided in the Peoria Next Innovation Center. In 2018, NFW graduated to its Galena Road headquarters with, at that time, 30 full time employees. NFW currently has approximately 80 employees and is continuing its rapid expansion.
“This is an exciting step for NFW as we are now firmly in the commercialization and scaling phase of our company,” said Haverhals. “NFW is scaling multiple pluripotent manufacturing platforms that produce highly tunable performance materials using abundant natural raw inputs. NFW is pioneering an entirely new system that will enable humanity to break our addiction to synthetic plastics in major global industries. Making our clothes, shoes, furniture, and automobiles from plants grown by regenerative agriculture is the future.”