Scientists Engineer Spider Silk for Performance Apparel

“All natural” just got a bit more interesting. Companies Polartec, provider of sustainable textile solutions, and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, a biotechnology company centered on the development and commercialization of spider silk, said they will bring its recombinant spider silk materials to serve the global market for high-performance textiles and apparel. Its technology was initially developed for specialized military applications, the companies said. The scalability and cost-effective production of spider silk represent a “holy grail of material science,” as the fiber is praised for its unique characteristics, such as extraordinary strength and natural sustainability; it is fully renewable, biodegradable and biocompatible. And its properties are well-received for the performance market: Spider silk is thin, lightweight, flexible and displays “strength-to-weight ratios more comparable to aramid fibers than other current performance fibers,” according to the firms. For the apparel market, the companies noted that “the possibilities of recombinant spider silks are particularly exciting, realizing unprecedented combinations of physical properties such as luxurious feel and breathable comfort with top durability.” Spider silk is one of the strongest natural fibers, they added. And Kraig owns the exclusive right to use patented spider silk gene sequences in silkworms, which is the first way to mass produce these fibers

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