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Spiders Weaving Silk

Spider silk is awesome because of its strength. Darwin's Bark Spiders from Madagascar and Golden Orb Spiders of Australia make silk 10x stronger than kevlar and allow these arachnids to do incredible things. Spiders have been known to lift something as large as a lizard with their super-strength webs (and tiny muscles). Actually, they make a silk pulley system using physics and tension that they can control and use to move their prey. While the process of extracting the silk from the spiders is said to not harm them as they are sedated and then re-released, it’s not exactly true. Keep in mind that the spider relies on their silk for survival and once it’s been extracted, they are left without defense in the real world.

"the world's largest spider silk garment" by Judy Gallagher is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

Additionally, the amount of spider silk needed to produce a usable object is outrageous. According to one source, fourteen thousand spiders (14,000 !!) yield only an ounce of silk.

"Imaging spider silk" by Argonne National Laboratory is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

"Golden Spider Silk" by amandabhslater is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Nature is amazing at innovating. Combining the practices of biology and physics, we humans are able to understand the engineering of spiders and many companies are attempting to replicate the spider silk for its incredible properties in strength.

Check out Bolt Threads, Spiber Inc., and AM Silk; They are producing materials for use in everything from cosmetics to wearable textiles.

In 2017, Bolt Threads collaborated with British fashion designer, Stella McCartney in the design and fabrication of a dress using bio-silk threads. While these materials are not yet on the market for consumption or crafting, we're hoping to have access to them soon.

Bolt Threads; MoMa Dress by Stella McCartney


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