Some in the medical device field know us as inventors.
If a combination medical device (such as a patch pump, or prefilled syringe) failure originated from the industry standard lubricant, silicone oil, there wasn't much you could do about it. And yet, lubricant-triggered problems such as inconsistent syringe forces or sub-visible particles can cost in millions of dollars in delayed launches, recalls, and manufacturing costs.
So, with funding assistance from U.S. National Institutes of Health through its Small Business Innovation Research program, TriboFilm collaborated with industry leaders to develop two alternative coatings to silicone oil: TriboGlide-DS® and TriboLink-Si®.
Now, pharmaceutical companies and medical device startups come to TriboFilm early in the design process to mitigate this risk. We use a very unique data-driven process called the Battle of the Lubricants so that we can scientifically test silicone oil (or a lubricant of your choice) against our more advanced 'Tribo-Inside' lubricant systems.
We let the best lubricant win!
If you’re struggling with
problems such as protein aggregation, dose
forces, consider setting up a free consultation with us. We do not believe in selling - we provide value and let you decide if it's right for your needs.
Over the years, we have partnered with Big Pharma to solve perplexing materials science challenges – we are known in the industry as surface engineers who never give up.
Though our recent focus has been on reducing friction and sub-visible particles in pharmaceutical containers, including glass and plastic prefilled syringes and insulin infusion pumps, at our core, we are material scientists who love to take intractable research problems and solve them.
Over the past eighteen years, we have partnered with Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies in addition to early-stage medical device entrepreneurs to improve the performance of drug delivery systems.
At TriboFilm, we leverage a data-driven approach to solving complex research & development questions. Our solutions are easy to industrialize and manufacture.
Over the years, we've had the privilege of working with some of the smartest and most innovative companies in the world.
VP of TECHNOLOGY
My job: To nurture client relationships and lead R&D innovation at TriboFilm Research, Inc.
Biggest Asset: A team that I can count on. All of us are NC State alumni. Go Wolfpack!
Founder Story: As a Master degree student in Materials Science & Engineering at NC State University, my mentor was no ordinary professor. Jerome (Jerry) Cuomo, a 30-year veteran of IBM Research, and National Medal of Technology laureate had over 100 patents to his name. He inspired me to become an inventor and an entrepreneur (Read the story here). We started TriboFilm Research in 1997 to combine my polymer materials and chemistry roots with Jerry’s semiconductor processing expertise. Eighteen years later, I still relish how our technical team, now strengthened by Dan, Jackson, and Tony, brings ideas together from different industries to solve problems.
Funding Model: Research in the biomaterials field is expensive, and developing TriboGlide-DS® and TriboLink-Si® took many years of experimentation. To fund our research, we applied for, and were awarded, multiple Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants from the National Institutes of Health. This has allowed us to commercialize technology from an idea in the lab to a market-ready product without venture capital or outside investors. The bootstrapped funding model we chose wasn’t easy, but in hindsight, it was the best thing we did as entrepreneurs. We keep our clients front and center, and do right by them because we aren’t juggling multiple agendas.
Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vinaysakhrani
VINAY’S TIP – DON’T BE SHY ABOUT CALLING US!
“Our clients see us as partners they can trust. They call us to get our advice all the time. So regardless of whether our technology is right for your application, if you walk away feeling we added value to your business, we have succeeded. This is why all our client engagements begin a ‘no-strings-attached’ conversation around your specific challenges. We have been known to recommend our competitors’ products or invent new products — we see ourselves as problem solvers first. So don’t be shy about calling us! We are good listeners and we hold all client’s proprietary information and data confidential.”
JACKSON THORNTON, PH.D
Associate Director of Research
I earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science from North Carolina State University, where my research focused on plasma chemistry, surface modification, and materials testing.
My job: At TriboFilm, I’m fortunate to help some of the largest pharma companies in the world – as well as startup biotech / medical device makers reduce stiction (yes, that is a word!) and sub-visible particles. This in turn reduces product recall risk and improves patient safety. When your work directly impacts medical devices that save lives, it’s easy to be motivated!
Current focus: I’m helping a client reduce glide forces and break-loose forces for an auto-injector device, as well as improving the dose accuracy of numerous insulin infusion pumps.
Another topic is to evaluate the effect of agitation on generation of sub-visible particles in protein formulations packaged in glass and plastic pre-fillable syringes.
“At a client’s request, we recently initiated research to reduce sub-visible particulates from syringe plungers. Using our already proven TriboLink-Si® platform, we are running tests to reduce the amount of extractable silicone oil particles from the syringe plunger, which can be a significant contributor of sub-visible particles in a container closure system. If you are struggling with this same problem, or would like to be notified when our research data is available, contact us.”
Key Insight: I’ve learned that while lubricant selection is only a small part of the overall device development cycle, it can derail an entire project if it isn’t identified and managed early.
DR. JACKSON THORNTON’S TIP ON DRUG PACKAGING SELECTION
“It’s frustrating for drug companies developing pre-filled devices when they are forced to modify a drug formulation because of packaging limitations. Everyone in the supply chain has a bias based on the technologies they are familiar with. We can connect you with syringe, plunger, and other packaging providers that might prove useful.”
JEROME J. CUOMO PH.D.
Chairman, Board of Directors and President - Member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Medal of Technology Laureate
After 30 years at IBM, I came to North Carolina to start a new phase in my life as a Distinguished Research Professor in the Materials Science & Engineering Department at North Carolina State University. There, I met Vinay Sakhrani, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Though I co-invented and helped commercialized multi-million dollar projects at IBM, this was my first time as a start-up entrepreneur. Almost two decades later, I’m so proud of what TriboFilm Research has achieved, and the impact we are having in the medical device industry.
“When I explain our technology, the reaction I often get is “so TriboGlide-DS® is the ‘intel inside’ for medical devices and pre-filled containers that cannot use silicone oil.” After you see our demo, I would love to know how you would describe it!
Want to Know Our Origin Story? Click Here to Read the Entire Article!
This is the 20 year behind-the-scenes story of how innovation really happens. ‘Innovation’ is only glamorous-sounding when you’re attending a panel discussion at a conference. In the real world, it is a squiggly, messy path with so many wrong turns.
It was the summer of 1996, and I was a Material Science Master’s student at NC State eating a whole lot of ramen noodles.... [More]
DAN JONSEN, PH.D.
For over 20 years, I have been designing, constructing, optimizing and automating equipment and processes for multiple advanced surface engineering applications in the medical device, semiconductor, aerospace, pharmaceutical, packaging, and many other industries.
My core expertise includes subject mastery of multiple surface engineering techniques, including thin film deposition, ion beam and plasma processing, and ion implantation.
At TriboFilm, I also oversee our quality management system for any small-scale manufacturing services we provide to prospective licensees.
“At TriboFilm, we take a cross-disciplinary approach to solving problems in the medical field. I have used my experience in semiconductor processing and automotive applications to develop coatings that can reduce leachables and extractables from pharmaceutical containers. Get in touch if you would like to know how to reduce the propensity for glass delamination in your medical device.”
CHARLES TOMASINO, PH.D.
Board of Directors
I am a Professor Emeritus in Polymer and Textile Chemistry after 20 years at North Carolina State University. I also bring an additional 18 years’ experience in chemistry research as a lead researcher, manager, and director at Burlington Industries. My patents include a process for the plasma treatment of polymers.
“Clients reach out to us because they have an urgent need either to stabilize forces or to reduce particles in their devices. We have collaborated with and helped insulin pump makers and wearable medical device manufacturers improve dose accuracy for their delivery systems. We have also developed and patented functional coatings for ophthalmic devices. Do you have ideas for other applications? We would love to hear from you!”
We credit our success to our relationships in the industry. Here are just a handful of them. Over the years, we have partnered with many companies and consultants, and these collaborations have contributed greatly to our success.
Tier 1 Partners directly engaged with TriboFilm’s patented lubrication technologies include:
Nye Lubricants – Exclusive lubricant supplier. The TriboGlideDS technology utilizes a perfluoropolyether PFPE lubricant as the starting raw material as an alternative to silicone oil. Nye Lubricants sources this material from the manufacturer and then performs the necessary filtration steps and testing for impurities per USP standards to certify compliance to TriboGlideDS specifications.
IVEK Corporation – Exclusive equipment supplier. The critical equipment including the lubricant spray module and the atmospheric gas plasma modules are exclusively sourced from IVEK Corporation to maintain quality control. These critical modules can be further integrated by any machine integrator to maintain process flow in continuous manufacturing for various applications.
ZebraSci – Quality Control Implementation. Depending on the application it may be critical to perform 100% parts inspection to ensure uniform lubricant distribution as well as plasma treatment along the inner walls of the pharmaceutical container. This can have a big impact on the uniformity of the force profile and in turn dosage accuracy as well as particulate burden in a pharmaceutical container. ZebraSci’s optical detection technology, which was originally developed for standard silicone lubrication, can work equally well with TriboGlideDS and TriboLink-Si.
Machine Integrators – Over the years TriboFilm has worked with several machine integrators worldwide who have implemented the TriboGlideDS and TriboLink-Si lubrication technologies for several pharmaceutical
container products. A partial list of these players include:
Besides TriboFilm’s core lubrication technologies we collaborate with component manufacturers that play a big role in product development for pharmaceutical containers. TriboFilm has worked with several of these component manufactures and can leverage these partnerships into your product development strategy. For example:
We have been fortunate to forge relationships with many experts ranging from drug formulation scientists, to testing laboratories and equipment manufacturers. If you need an introduction or a referral, please fill out this form, and we would be happy to connect you to the right partner. For example, a company developing a new artificial pancreas device in search of the right container solution came to us, and we connected them to one of our partners who specializes exclusively on combination devices.