4 RESPONSIBLE FIBERS #2 Unconsumable milk

13 May 2019


Attention to detail, passion, and convictions: these are what led young and talented German microbiologist Anke Domaske to imagine, formulate, and create an innovative fiber: QMilk. Made using casein proteins from milk that’s expired or not fit for consumption, QMilk bring to the textile marketplace a soft fiber with many interesting qualities. It offers a truly sustainable solution for the planet. In an interview with Interfilière Paris, Anke Domaske told us about the story of this fiber and its growth potential.

Anke Domaske, confides in Interfilière Paris about the story of this fiber and development appreach:

Why did you take an interest in milk, when casein fiber has existed since 1930?
Anke Domaske / I was looking for clothing free of chemical products for my father-in-law. Since he had cancer, his immune system was significantly weakened. Milk protein caught my eye.
When I realized that in Germany, producers throw out 2 million liters of unconsumable milk, I said to myself that here was a solution.
With a few friends, we purchased 200 dollars’ worth of milk and equipment, including a large confectionery thermometer to check the temperature of the water. We didn’t want the fabric to dissolve in water. We tested over 3000 recipes in my kitchen!

What is the manufacturing process that you came up with?
A.D. / The process is simple and fast: we make the milk turn in order to separate the protein. We obtain a sort of cottage cheese that we dry out. Then, we insert a protein paste made of powder and water into an extruder, a sort of big spaghetti-making machine equipped with a spout that has extra-thin holes.

Is this process totally eco-friendly?
A.D. / Yes, contrary to chemical processes that, up to now, permitted the extraction of milk protein. QMilk is a fiber that possesses the lowest level of CO2 emissions of them all, and it’s fully bio-compostable. In 5 minutes, with 2 liters of water at 80°C, you can obtain 1 kg of fibers.

What are the performance characteristics of your fiber?
A.D. / QMilk is 100% natural and bio-compostable. This fiber is soft and comfortable, lightweight, non-allergenic, antibacterial, and UV-resistant. It has thermoregulatory properties, absorbs moisture, and allows perspiration to evaporate. It’s highly resistant to heat. The fiber can also be heat bonded.

How do you use QMilk?
A.D. / Currently, and due to production that remains limited, we use the fiber in blends with other natural fibers, such as alpaca, merino wool, cotton, or cellulosic fibers like viscose. QMilk can also be spun with synthetics. Eventually, we will develop 100% QMilk fabrics.

Are you able to produce the fiber in industrial quantities?
A.D. / We’re still working on development, because convincing the fashion market takes time. Projects launched 3 years ago are now coming to market. We’re trying to increase production to bring it up to a level that could at least fulfill the significant demand we’ve seen.
We’re present in the non-wovens market, because the technical applications in that case are quicker to develop.

Who are your main clients at the moment?
A.D. / QMilk is used in hygienic products already on the market from the Carezza di Latte Tenderly company. We’re also in two collections developed by outdoor specialist Vaudé. We’re working on projects with the lingerie market: the properties of our fiber are ideal for a market that’s looking for increasingly natural and ecofriendly materials.

Is QMilk an expensive fiber?
A.D. / The fiber costs 25 € per kilo. This is a similar price level to that of wool or silk.

You’ve launched your own collection of clothing using Q Milk. What’s the latest on this collection?
A.D. / We’re constantly out of stock. It’s a small collection that’s been a big success. We really do need to increase our production capacity!

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