By Timothy Hay, VentureWire

February 10, 2012

Noble Biomaterials Inc., a 140-year-old textile company that has found new life as an advanced-materials developer, has raised an $8 million Series B round as it prepares to transform itself once again.

Noble is likely to either go public or be acquired within the next three years, Chief Financial Officer Jim Walsh said.

Operating from the same industrial corridor of Scranton, Pa., since 1880–when its main line of business was spinning silk–the company has changed hands several times over the decades and reinvented itself more than once.

The Series B was provided by return investor TL Ventures and newcomers DuPont Capital Management and Northwater Capital Intellectual Property Fund, the company said.

In 2005, TL Ventures helped transform the company into the advanced-materials player that it is today, company materials said. The firm helped merge Noble–then known as Noble Fiber Technologies–with Sauquoit Silk Co., another established textile company that had found success using synthetic fabrics like nylon.

TL Ventures gave the newly formed entity more than $10 million in Series A funding and owns a significant stake in the company, Managing Director Robert Keith said. He declined to give a valuation for the company.

The company’s core product today is a proprietary manufacturing process that involves bonding silver with nylon, the CFO said. Silver, once exposed to enhanced processing, has anti-microbial properties, meaning it can stave off infection.

Fabrics that can kill germs have potential uses in a variety of industries, from sports to space travel to the military. Noble Biomaterials today has several distinct lines of business. In addition to selling fabrics for clothing and sleeping bags for the U.S. military, the company sells to sporting goods makers and electronics companies.

The company also has its eye on the health-care sector and works with top medical technology companies to produce bandages that feature silver to keep wounds from becoming infected.

The Series B round will help Noble roll out its newest medical product, an antimicrobial fabric that can be made into curtains for hospitals, uniforms for medical personnel and other soft surfaces.

“Sometimes, hospital curtains are not even washed,” said Keith of TL Ventures. “These kinds of soft surfaces are where staph [bacteria] hide, and staph infection is a real concern in hospitals.”

The new medical fabric will need regulatory approval, he added.

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