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.
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.
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.