LiquiGlide, Cambridge maker of slippery coatings, signs deal with glue king Elmer’s

You know your packaging is iconic when it doesn't need a label.

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MIT LiquiGlide

LiquiGlide, the Cambridge startup that’s creating a slippery coating to get the stickiest of substances out of bottles, announced a first major partnership Monday that will push its product to the limit. The company signed a licensing agreement with Elmer’s Products; to the delight of every kindergartner in crafts class, it will make it easier for glue to slide out of its tube. 

“It’s notoriously sticky,” Dave Smith, co-founder of LiquiGlide, said of Elmer’s premier product, “That’s what makes it useful and a pain in packaging.”

Though the company won’t disclose the terms of the deal, Smith said it’s the obvious products that will benefit from the partnership.

Founders Smith and MIT professor Kripa Varanasi developed the tech behind LiquiGlide when Smith was enrolled at MIT as a grad student in Varanasi’s lab. Smith was part of a team that entered the MIT 100K Entrepreneurship Contest in 2012, where their demo video of ketchup gliding out of a bottle won them the audience choice award, a moment of fame on the Internet, and the attention of a few thousand curious potential industry partners.

It’s been smooth sailing since then; this month the company announced a $7 million funding investment from Roadmap Capital and a move from the shared NGIN Workplace in Kendall into a 11,000-foot office and lab space on Sidney Street, near Central Square.

It isn’t just glue — ketchup or shampoo or toothpaste — liquids have a tendency to cling to the walls of the containers they’re stored in. That’s just physics. LiquiGlide’s core technology is a sprayable solid-liquid double-layer (the precise recipe differs depending on the target) that prevents those liquids from adhering with their natural tenacity.

Besides eliminating the nuisance of squeezing a toothpaste tube for the last few inches of paste, the company claims to help companies cut down on waste, as well as the time and expense spent on cleaning during industrial processes. Smith has said the company’s first target is the consumer market, creating coatings for products found on pharmacy shelves.

The environmental benefit of reducing waste was among the attributes that caught the attention of Elmer’s, Joe Wetli, director of innovation and business development, said in a release.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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