Ties made from bioengineered spider silk

Spider silk is an amazing material. While it looks delicate and fragile, it can hold its own in a strength test against steel and Kevlar, which is used for bulletproof vests. Because of these characteristics, many researchers have tried to recreate the material, with various degrees of successes. Last year, Adidas presented a prototype of shoes made from a biodegradable synthetic spider silk. Now, the company Bolt Threads brings unisex ties made of bioengineered spider silk to the market.

One of the reasons that silk isn’t often used for everyday wear is because it is not an easy care fabric. While the bioengineered spider silk combines the best qualities of silk, it looks and feels different, but is also easier to wash and wear than the traditional fabric.

Bolt Threads studied silk proteins found in nature to determine what gives them their properties, such as being lightweight and strength. Inspired by these natural silks, they developed a protein by putting genes into yeast. In a fermentation process using yeast, sugar and water, they are able to produce large quantities of liquid silk protein. Through wet-spinning, they are able to make fibres out of it, which is the same way as fibres like acrylic and rayon are made. The fibres in turn can be knitted or woven into garments.

In the future, Bolt Threads aims to use non-food crops for the production of their silk, such as cellulosic feedstocks.

The finished material is stretchable, strong, water resistant, soft, lightweight and wears comfortable.

While companies like Adidas are also using bioengineered spider silk, Bolt Threads claims to be the first to be able to produce it at a commercial scale, at a cost that makes it viable for widespread use.

Bolt Threads has created unisex ties from the material, “because we wanted to create an iconic product associated with the history of silk,” according to their website. Only 50 were made, which seem to have been sold already. However, the company seems to have other products planned in the future.

Photos: Bolt Threads