“Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat,” became the mantra of Matt Kolmes, CEO at VOLT, when his company took on the challenge of making CBD-infused socks for pain relief. Kolmes presented the VOLT product development process Oct. 5 at IFAI Virtual Expo 2020.
VOLT, a division of Supreme Corp., has expertise in military and medical textiles, cut-resistant textiles, and conductive yarns and thread. The company, however, had no experience working with CBD oil. This challenge meant finding the right expertise.
“You have to bring in an expert and we were lucky we ran into Rakki,” he said. Rakkiyappan Chandran, Ph.D., is the research and development scientist who came on board and figured out how to convert the VOLT machines to extrude oil onto yarn.
Learning to work with CBD oil was difficult, he said. At one point they had a “big disaster” with the machines, requiring six hours of intensive cleaning. “Eventually, we got one thread line working, and we went from there.”
The process required continuous refinement, with a level acceptance that Murphy’s Law was in full operation: Everything that could go wrong went wrong, but the company kept detailed, daily contemporaneous notes. Over time, the “Lather, rinse, repeat” approach yielded success.
The six-week time frame put added pressure on the team. “We can easily do things in the lab, but starting production is always the challenge,” he said. The CBD oil has to survive 30 washings, so that presented another issue. “At one point we weren’t loading enough oil on the yarn. Then we were loading too much oil, and it turned the yarn a coffee-colored brown. Then we needed to test the washing process.”
In time, VOLT perfected the yarns which went to the Sock Factory to be knitted into a successful end product for consumers seeking pain relief.