Synthetic Spider Silk Fabric in the Anvil

May 28, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Fancy this! Silk stronger than steel is a reality now. A Japanese startup has developed technology to manufacture synthetic spider silk fabric, which would be five times stronger than steel.

A firm named Spiber, Inc.  is one of several groups that are looking to produce artificial silk.  This artificial spider silk is called Qmonos – read kumonosu or spider web. That is no misspelling on the company’s name – just look at it as the word spider with a backwards “d” instead.

The company has demonstrated the technology by displaying a dress made by this material at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.

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Spider silk is more flexible and stronger than nylon. But it is difficult to make the fabric like silkworms do, because spiders are highly territorial. Therefore, the scientists have developed a technology that uses synthesized genes, and coaxes small microorganisms to produce the same proteins created by spiders. They have also developed a technology to weave that protein into fabric.

Apart from clothing, this material would be also useful in the making of film, sponges, gels, artificial blood vessels, and nanofibers. The fabric can be used in automobile and medical industries too.

The company has currently teamed up with auto parts maker Kojima Industries to construct a plant that can be capable of turning out about 220 pounds of the synthetic silk a month.

According to Spiber president Kazuhide Sekiyama, the company wishes to kick-start mass production of 10 tons a year, starting 2015. Innovation at its best, right?

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