Sappi's Innovative Textures You Can’t See

Sappi North America produces textured surfaces with extremely small features using proprietary Ultracast® process
Oct 25, 2023 9:00 AM ET

Sappi has a long history of texturing paper and film for use in the production of imitation leather goods and textured panels for interior counters, flooring and cabinet decor. As part of this technology platform, Sappi has produced textured surfaces with extremely small features using our proprietary Ultracast® process for years. These very precise, small features placed in paper or film and provided in roll-to-roll form are just the type of innovation that can benefit the industrial microfluidics markets.

Sappi, in collaboration with the University of Maine’s Dr. Caitlin Howell and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, is studying the use of Sappi Ultracast texturing to build mass-manufactured, low-cost microfluidics that also have a low environmental impact.

The world of microfluidics is the science of repeatedly placing very small doses of fluids with precision into small, specific locations at precisely the right time. By texturing surfaces with small, accurate channel patterns, we can rapidly produce microfluid devices in roll-to-roll form that provide a lower-cost option for testing patterns for commercial use. The National Science Foundation has funded some of this work in the past, and additional funding grants are being sought to help produce commercial devices for testing in medical devices, water purification and general microdroplet generators for drug delivery. One example is the use of these textured surfaces for water treatment to prevent E. coli outbreaks on agricultural sites.

In addition to the work with the University of Maine and the Wyss Institute, we at Sappi continue to innovate with pattern development for water repellent surfaces for apparel, wearable electronics with light-channeling capability and low-cost sensor development. It is an exciting time to find new uses for our unique texturing capability for paper and film.