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Spider Silk Fibers Used to Create First Roll of 100 Percent Woven Silk

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc., a developer of spider silk-based fibers, said it has completed the production of its first roll of pure Dragon Silk fabric, marking the first time that the company’s proprietary recombinant spider silk fibers were used to create a 100 percent woven silk fabric.

The company is now preparing to assemble the Dragon Silk material into finalized ballistic shoot packs based on U.S. Army specifications. This material will be used for ballistic performance testing, under the company’s contract with the U.S. Army, to evaluate its potential for protective apparel applications.

“Dragon Silk, which started as a simple idea in the lab for a better performing silk, is now on the verge of demonstrating its capability to provide lifesaving performance blended with high flexibility and user comfort,” Jon Rice, chief operating officer of Kraig Biocraft, said.

The company had previously developed sample products in pure and blended knit configurations using its Monster Silk materials, including shirts and gloves, but this marks the first time its newer and stronger Dragon Silk will be transitioned into an end product.

Kraig Biocraft has achieved a series of scientific breakthroughs in the area of spider silk technology with implications for the global textile industry. It recently completed more than 2,500 microinjections using new spider silk DNA synthesis methodology. This new method allows for faster creation of larger and more complex spider silk proteins that are believed to produce improved silk strength, toughness and elasticity. These improved recombinant spider silk fibers will allow the company to target an expanded set of end market applications.

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The company is now planning to create new transgenics at its U.S. R&D headquarters in Ann Arbor. Mich., with a shorter development cycle and enhanced materials performance. The transgenics created are expected to be transitioned into the commercial production process at Prodigy Textiles, the company’s new Vietnamese subsidiary.

“Thanks to our lab and production teams’ considerable collaborative effort, this new methodology has already demonstrated the potential to significantly reduce our development timelines,” Rice said. “I look forward to seeing this capability enable the next generation of recombinant spider silk fibers.”

In December, Bolt Threads and Best Made Co. created the Best Made Microsilk Cap of Courage. It was Bolt Thread’s second commercially available product using Microsilk, a bioengineered spider silk.

Bolt Threads engineers fibers from scratch based on proteins found in nature and then develops closed-loop processes for manufacturing using green chemistry practices. Exemplified in the dress co-created with Stella McCartney, Bolt Threads has been able to create silk using yeast.

Last summer, Bolt Threads landed $50 million in funding and partnered with outdoor clothing company Patagonia to continue developing synthetic spider silk for apparel. In March 2017, the company released a limited edition knit necktie made of 100 percent Boltspun spider silk, the first spider silk product ever available for purchase.