Spider silk meets mass production

Kyodo

Spiber Inc., a biotechnology startup, has developed what it says is the world’s first technology for mass-producing a synthetic spider silk, a material tougher than steel of the same dimension and more elastic than nylon.

“A spider’s thread is the world’s most resilient fiber. We can apply it for a variety of industrial uses, including cars and health care,” President Kazuhide Sekiyama said at a recent presentation where a blue dress made of synthetic yarn was unveiled.

Various attempts have been made to produce synthetic spider silk, but cost and safety issues have prevented a breakthrough, the Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture-based firm said.

Spiber’s technology enables production of a large amount of protein identical to that in spider silk using genetically modified microorganisms over a short period of time, the company said.

It also worked out a method to process it into yarn without using costly and toxic chemicals that had been used in previous attempts.