Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Surface-Selective, Self-Leveling, Self-Spreading Coating Technologies

Request Number
Due Date
Apr 27


Licensing, contract research, joint development, supplier agreement, proof of concept leading to scale-up to manufacturing. Project sponsor expects a long-term collaboration to be developed


Phase 1 – Feasibility evaluation, proof of concept demonstration

Phase 2 – Technology adaptation/optimization


All terms to be negotiated between the Solution Provider(s) and the Client sponsor, as warranted. A successful technology will enable the development of a global consumer product.


RFP was closed on

RFP Title


Surface-Selective, Self-Leveling, Self-Spreading Coating Technologies
RFP Description
NineSigma, representing a Fortune 500 Company, invites proposals for systems and approaches to permit a coating to self-level and selectively adhere to a small, defined surface. Ultimately, the client would like to find an approach that enables a drop of fluid to precisely and evenly spread to the edges of a targeted surface without mechanical manipulation of the liquid on the surface. The project sponsor expects to invest significant resources with suitable partners to develop and adapt promising technologies to its needs.

The ability to coat a small surface with precision and speed has relevance in a variety of industries and applications. In response, the coatings and surface treatment R&D sector abounds with interesting and increasingly versatile technologies for all kinds of substrates and applications ranging from aerospace, textiles, biomedical devices, electronics, optics and others. From liquid glass to self-healing polymers, molecular self-assembly systems, smart materials, self-levelling and self-spreading systems, technology advances in materials, application and curing methods are seemingly made every day for functional or aesthetic needs.


Recognizing it does not have advanced coating expertise in-house, NineSigma’s client seeks to identify organizations with technologies that could be developed or adapted to its commercially very important but very specialized application.  NineSigma’s client sees the development of a final solution as a longer-term collaborative endeavor with mutual benefits for participating parties.

Key Success Criteria

The technology should:

  • Precisely and evenly coat a defined area of approximately 0.5 – 2 cm2 where edges may be bounded by a non-uniform border material
  • Adhere to a surface that is typically smooth, but may present uneven areas such as ridges, cracks, etc. and which has a slight curvature
  • Prohibit or limit the coating to overrun the boundary of the area to be coated.
    • The surface energy of the area to be coated is ~34 mN/m, whereas the boundary surface has a surface energy of ~43.7 mN/m.
  • Cure time for the coated material should preferably be less than 10 minutes at ambient temperature but any curable or non-curable systems are of interest.
  • The coating or coating system must be applicable to a non-conductive, hydrophobic, biofunctional surface, which may be contaminated with a layer of long chain fatty acid or silicon residues (prior to any pre-treatment). Slight to moderate variations in this surface chemistry should be considered.
Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:

  • Coatings technologies from any industry or material science research areas that improve upon speed and precision, smart systems that differentiate between surfaces
  • One step approaches are preferred; however, surface preparation and multi-step systems will be considered if the approach is compelling and improves the performance or experience
  • Cleaning or pretreating the biofunctional surface with relatively mild agents such as water, mild detergents, isopropanol, acetone, and similar agents is acceptable.
  • If needed, functional coatings may also be applied to change the adhesionwettability of the surface prior to final coating
  • The RFP client is open to any technology that can be adapted to fit the listed criteria
Approaches not of Interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • Approaches that require substantial energy draw
  • Vacuum deposition techniques
  • Technologies requiring prolonged high heat exposure
  • Technologies that cannot be modified for potential consumer use (in terms of size, safety, noise, cost, etc.)
Items to be Submitted

Your response should address the following:

  • Non-confidential description of proposed technology and working principle
  • Current application uses
  • Availability of technical data
  • Technical maturity of the approach (concept, reduced to practice, prototype, ready to commercialize, ready to implement, commercialized)
  • Pathway to commercial scale including timing, estimated budget, and capacity for manufacture
  • Position on intellectual property including patent references
  • Desired relationship with sponsor
  • Team description and related experience


Appropriate responses to this Request

Responses from companies (small to large), consultants, entrepreneurs, or inventors are welcome.  For example:


You represent a company or university that has demonstrated a proof of concept.

You represent a company or university that has reduced method to practice at lab scale.

You represent a company or university that has developed a method for use at pilot scale.

You represent a company or university that has demonstrated a method ready for implementation at industrial scale.

You represent a technology transfer agency that represents an inventor or technology holder who can demonstrate an approach to address the request.

You represent a university research department that has a bench-scale demonstration ready to adapt.

You represent a university research department that has an undeveloped pathway with a high probability of success.

Preferred Collaboration Types
Area of Interest