QMILK - The Material of the Future
Anke Domaske, a German entrepreneur, has developed a patented-technique to create fibers from milk proteins. Her quest began seven years ago when her step-father was diagnosed with cancer. While caring for him, she was unable to find hypoallergenic clothing needed to protect his vulnerable immune system. She quickly took to the internet to find an answer. After stumbling across an old YouTube video highlighting the manufacturing of regenerated protein fibers in the 1930’s she was inspired to recreate the process, but without the combination of chemical components. She wanted her product to be so natural that you could eat it. Her solution: create sustainable textile fibers from milk.
With a limited-background in microbiology and a degree in bacteria, she purchased $200 of supplies from a local supermarket and began experimenting in a small kitchen to solve her personal fiber crisis. In 2015, she created the first commercial applications for her patented-milk fibers. These products were paper, paper tissues, and toilet paper. This breakthrough was significant considering 80 million rolls of toilet paper are produced every day. Shortly after her discovery, Anke re-engineered the production process to create two fibers for fashion applications: yarn and felt. These materials have a silky fee’, are naturally anti-bacterial due to the properties of amino acids found in casein, climate regulating, and moisture repellent. Her fibers offer unique material combinations with varieties of wool cotton, cellulose, and viscose. The QMILK technology also strengthens and softens the natural fibers found in wool.
“When milk turns sour, you have whey at the bottom and a solid at the top. Remove the whey and you have cottage cheese, which we dry to a protein powder. Then we put this in a sort of noodle machine, add water and make a sort of cookie dough. Then we work it through to produce fine fibers.” – Anke Domaske
Her one-of-kind system collects the milk, churns it, and then upcycles the thick milk curds for production. Follow the process in the video below (translation-enabled).
The company currently purchases 1,000 tons of waste-milk per year at $.04 per liter. Germany alone disposes over 1 million tons of waste milk per year. QMILK defines waste milk as milk that was either never sold or contaminated. QMILK’s products have gained a lot of transaction towards the end of 2017 with large purchase orders tracing back to the United States. The material has also been presented at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, Germany. Here their fibers were incorporated into a collection by VAUDE, which featured backpacks and street shoes. QMILK is showing no signs of retreat for 2018 and plans to find new ways to combine their milk-based fabrics with other materials for use in fashion.