Introduction to Spider Silk, the Product
It has long been known that certain fibers produced in nature possess remarkable mechanical properties in terms of strength, resilience and flexibility. These protein based fibers, exemplified by spider silk, have been the subject of much interest due to spider silk’s incredible toughness. Because of its strength, resilience and flexibility, spider silk holds great promise for commercial and consumer applications. While the superior properties of spider silks are well known, there was no known way to produce spider silk in commercial quantities. Since spiders are cannibalistic, they cannot be raised in concentrated colonies to produce silk.
The production of spider silk in commercial quantities holds the potential of a life-saving ballistic resistant material, which is lighter, thinner, more flexible, and tougher than steel. Other applications of spider silk include use as structural material and for any application in which light weight and high strength are required. Kraig Biocraft Laboratories’ believes that in the near future, genetically engineered spider silk will make significant inroads into the market for high-strength fibers.
Spider Silk Technology
While scientists have been able to replicate the proteins that are the building blocks of spider silk, two technological barriers have (until now) stymied production. These barriers are the inability to form these proteins into a spider silk fiber with the desired mechanical characteristics, and to do this cost effectively.
To solve these problems, Kraig invented a new technology and acquired the exclusive right to use the patented genetic sequences for numerous fundamental spider silk proteins. We have placed ourselves in an advanced position by working collaboratively with the leading universities which developed some of the most relevant genetic engineering technologies. In fact, most of our genetic engineering work takes place inside university laboratories.
Kraig is the world leader in genetically engineered spider silk technologies. We earned that place by applying our proprietary genetic engineering spider silk technology to an organism which is already one of the most efficient commercial producers of silk: The domesticated silkworm.
Kraig’s spider silk technology builds upon the unique advantages of the domesticated silkworm for this application. The silkworm is ideally suited to produce genetically engineered spider silk because it is already an efficient commercial and industrial producer of silk. Forty percent (40%) of the caterpillars’ weight is devoted to the silk glands. The silk glands produce large volumes of protein, called fibroin, which are then spun into a composite protein thread (silk).
We have used genetic engineering technology to create spider silk. A part of Kraig’s intellectual property portfolio is the exclusive right to use the patented spider silk gene sequences in silkworm.
Spider Silk Strength: Stronger Than Steel
Kraig envisions genetically engineered spider silk, with its superior mechanical characteristics, will surpass the current generation of high-performance fiber. We believe that spider silk is in some ways so superior to the materials currently available in the marketplace, that an expansion of demand and market opportunities will follow spider silk’s commercial introduction. For example, the ability of natural spider silk to absorb in excess of 100, 000 joules of kinetic energy makes it a potentially ideal material for structural blast protection. The table below illustrates spider silk’s incredible toughness and strength to weight ratios.
Comparison of the Properties of Natural Spider Silk, Kevlar® and Steel
|Material Toughness||Tensile Strength||Weight|
|Dragline spider silk||120, 000-160, 000||1, 100-2, 900||1.18-1.36|
|Kevlar®||30, 000-50, 000||2, 600-4, 100||1.44|