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Applied DNA Deal Brings CertainT to Pillar’s Textile-Related PPE

Under the terms of a new agreement with ITW Pillar Technologies, Applied DNA Sciences Inc. will incorporate its CertainT technology platform into the Illinois Tool Works’ division’s personal protective equipment (PPE) products.

The deal stipulates that Applied DNA will supply SigNature molecular tags and SigNify in-field authentication devices to Pillar for use on materials and products treated with Pillar’s patented plasma deposition technology. These materials and products will carry Applied DNA’s CertainT trademark, representing authenticity, origin, traceability, sustainability and quality.

Rory Wolf, CEO of ITW Pillar Technologies, told Sourcing Journal this will bring transparency to Pillar’s customers’ supply chains and enable these customers to promote traceability and trust in the materials used in their products. Wolf said the system and materials are in place for commercial viability, have been discussed and demonstrated to customers, and are awaiting government approval,

Pillar’s systems are utilized by many of the leading manufacturers of PPE such as N95 masks, gowns and other equipment used by frontline healthcare practitioners. Wolf said that plasma deposition technology allows for the finishing of textiles that imparts varying enhanced characteristics–wickability, breathability, ink and dye uptake, anti-microbial and hydrophobicity–that are ecofriendly to apply relative to traditional wet-chemical processes.

The agreement supports Pillar’s strategy to combat the growing issue of counterfeit PPE entering the healthcare supply chain as the Covid-19 pandemic increases demand and has grown to include other materials and products manufactured by Pillar’s customers.

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Applied DNA Sciences has entered into a supply agreement for its CertainT platform to be applied to PPE produced by Pillar Technologies.
Pillar’s pilot line Courtesy

Pillar personnel will be fully trained in the application of the molecular tags and in the use of the in-field authentication systems. Pillar will incorporate SigNature molecular tags into textiles, including polypropylene, cotton, recycled polyester, nylon, wool and viscose for the manufacture of products, including those used in the manufacture of PPE. All tagged materials and products will be tracked via CertainT’s cloud-based portal for ease of access by Pillar and its customers.

“We believe our partnership with Applied DNA in the deployment of its CertainT platform across our manufacturing lines provides brands and manufacturers the most advanced and secure plasma-based systems available on the market globally,” Wolf said. “As the standard of proof and need for greater transparency continues to increase, so too does the need to have a scientific basis to support sustainability goals and ongoing commercial programs…We are especially pleased to offer definitive proof of the authenticity of PPE materials to customers at a time when COVID-19-fueled demand has led to an influx of substandard and falsified product in the healthcare supply chain.”

He said Pillar has customers that are directly being impacted by the issue of counterfeit PPE being imported into the country that are not up to health and safety standards. The CertainT process can “go a long way” toward eradicating this problem.

MeiLin Wan, vice president of textiles at Applied DNA, said Pillar represents further adoption of the company’s CertainT platform and another avenue for the commercialization of its supply chain security solutions.

“Having validated and proven that our CertainT platform can work on a wide range of substrates with Pillar, the advancement in portable testing together with advancements in non-chemical applications for textiles and other materials provides a compelling solution for branded and proprietary products that require a trusted, market-ready solution,” Wan told Sourcing Journal. “This has real relevance as to sustainability for textiles. The ability to use the gases [on] the fabrics and nonwoven material helps with initiatives to use less chemicals, to have safer and cleaner performance attributes on the fabrics.”

The CertainT platform has three technology pillars–tag, test, track–that allow raw materials and products to be tagged with a unique molecular identifier. This identifier can then be tested for its presence as it travels throughout a global supply chain. Wan noted that the new system allows for onsite sample testing, which is a “big leap” in such authenticity testing.

All the data points associated to tagging and testing are tracked by uploading to a secure cloud database. The platform can be used across industries such as textiles, cannabis, military, leather, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals and personal care.

Pillar Technologies specializes in new product development for the packaging, converting and plastic film-printing marketplace. The company has operations in 55 countries that employ more than 48,000 people.