Spider Silk

Week 4 Blog Post

Spider Silk, a more frequently mentioned material in the industry comes from nature. Its tensile strength is comparable to steel’s. Yet it is lighter, and can be as stretchy as a rubber band. Those traits in combination make it tougher than Kevlar. It sounds like it would be the future star material for apparel industry and maybe even contributing a lot in architecture, like pop-up architecture, transportable architecture, and so on. However, is spider silk fully qualified to be the “future star”? I think it still has a long way to go.

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The First issue is find a way to mass produce the spider silk. Natural spider cannot be farmed like silkworm due to the spider’s cannibalism. Spiders tend to eat each other when they are close. Now there are several companies found the way to produce synthetic spider silk, which is as strong as natural spider silk, using genetically modified yeast or E. Coli, sugar, and water. Even though these ingredients can be get easily and can help eliminating the producing time, it still cannot be mass produced due to the long process time.

The second issue is the high cost of production. The whole process of production cost a lot so that the products made from manmade spider silk would be marked at a much higher price than conventional material products. This may cause bankruptcy of manmade spider silk manufacturers.

The third is right spinning process to produce high quality of spider silk. Without right spinning process like how spider spins to produce their silk, human cannot produce high quality manmade spider silk to use. It would lose its significance to innovate the material industry.

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All in all, I still believe even in the near future the manmade spider silk would not be appealed on the market, but it will definitely change our vision and blow our mind once it comes out.

 

Source: http://qz.com/708298/synthetic-spider-silk-could-be-the-biggest-technological-advance-in-clothing-since-nylon/

 

 

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2 comments

  1. joypeterson1

    I think that it is interesting that you found a natural not human made material and how it is manufactured in the real world, but is still not quite practical for everyday use like you are suggesting. I agree that it would revolutionize textiles and clothing, but the problem comes with trying to make it affordable.

    I wish that you could have found examples of spider silk being used more instead of focusing on how it is made, but you included enough detail about it, that it almost doesn’t need it. I love the images you selected and how you are making connections past just creating a material, but also how to apply it on such a huge scale across multiple mediums.

    What if for the next blog post you could include any scientific examples or data or statistics that could enhance a well stated opinion and turn it into a well supported argument to try and persuade the reader a little bit more towards what you are writing about.

    I loved this article and thinking about how mother nature has all the materials it needs to survive and how we have researched things such as bio mimicry and synthetic spiders silk to help us not only understand how we see architecture and material, but also how we see the world we live in.

  2. Paul- Comment 2

    Could we be completely certain that even though spider silk is a “frequently mentioned material in the industry” as you’ve stated, that the traits found in Kevlar are truly inferior to the traits found in spider silk? Maybe not. Yes; spider silk maybe lighter, more elastic, and even tougher than Kevlar, but when it comes down to tensile strength Kevlar has spider silk beat by a long shot. Kevlar has many uses, from bicycle tires to being used as a key component in the production of body armor; this is due to its high tensile strength to weight ratio. Kevlar is one of the strongest materials on the planet. It’s a fiber that when weaved together has five times the strength of steel, over powering the strength capacity of spider silk (which is comparable to steel). I think that even though the production of spider silk is on the rise, that maybe Kevlar is still the best choice since the material is also light in weight, durable, and tremendously stronger. Kevlar isn’t as elastic, but can certainly be constructed and manipulated into all shapes of sizes production wise.

    http://www.safeguardarmour.co.uk/articles/kevlar-uses/

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