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Spinning Artificial Spider Silk Is Now Possible

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posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 01:51 PM

Being able to produce artificial spider silk has long been a dream of many scientists, but all attempts have until now involved harsh chemicals and have resulted in fibers of limited use. Now, a team of researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Karolinska Institutet has, step by step, developed a method that works…

Spider silk is made of proteins that are stored as an aqueous solution in the [spider’s] silk glands, before being spun into a fiber.

A biomimetic spinning process (that mimics nature) is probably the best way to manufacture fibers that resemble real spider silk. Until now, this has not been possible because of difficulties to obtain water soluble spider silk proteins from bacteria and other production systems, and therefore strong solvents has (sic) been used in previously described spinning processes.

[The scientific teams] have previously shown that there is an impressive pH gradient in the spider silk gland, and that this well-regulated pH gradient affects specific parts of the spider silk proteins and ensures that the fiber forms rapidly in a defined place of the silk production apparatus.

This knowledge has now been used to design an artificial spider silk protein that can be produced in large quantities in bacteria

To mimic the spider silk gland, the research team constructed a simple but very efficient and biomimetic spinning apparatus in which they can spin kilometer-long fibers only by lowering the pH., Jan. 9, 2017 - Spinning spider silk is now possible. - Spin doctors say scientists copy spider silk in lab

Creating an artificial version of spider silk has been a dream since spiders cannot be milked like cows for their spider silk (even if they have nipples, lol). By following the steps that spiders actually use to create their silk the scientific teams were able, for the first time, to create an artificial spider silk as detailed above.

In the future this may allow industrial production of artificial spider silk for biomaterial applications or for the manufacture of advanced textiles," says Anna Rising

(Same source)

The uses have been dreamt of for a while. The biomedical use seems a natural fit as spider silk is biodegradable and would well as a suture replacement where suture removal would not be possible. The “advance textiles” always gets mentioned along with body armor (spider silk vs. Kevlar).

A frequent mistake made in the mainstream media is to confuse strength and toughness, when comparing silk to other materials. As shown below in detail [graph], weight for weight, silk is stronger than steel, but not as strong as Kevlar. Silk is, however, tougher than both.

Wikipedia: Spider Silk.

Related: (1504.06751) – Silk reinforced with graphene or carbon nanotubes spun by spiders.
Popular Science (online) – Add Graphene To Spider Silk To Create The Strongest Fiber Yet.

The arXiv paper is the source for the PopSci article. The researchers misted the spiders with water that contained both graphene and carbon nanotubes which the spiders then incorporated into their silk.

That is where it gets interesting! If both can be converged then graphene enhanced artificial spider silk would become the next wonder material.

Well, that is the tech news. I think this is a huge break-through especially if they can vary the diameter of the man-made silk (well, bacteria produced, wet spun by artificial means). I just wonder if it is as sticky as regular stuff!

Thoughts ATS? Anyone else out there know of different uses for spider silk? I am sure there are many. Industrial amounts may be on the horizon!
edit on 10-1-2017 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: cute title at that needs a little props

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 01:56 PM
Im pretty sure i saw a docu about a some guys who genetically modified a goat so the silk proteins were in the milk and they just milked the goat and they pulled out the silk and wound it up on a roller. Think they were in uk?

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 01:58 PM

The march of science continues, we can now have a super strong material to use in all types of advanced applications while simultaneously eliminating every remaining excuse why we should not burn every last damn spider with a can of hairspray and a Bic lighter.

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 02:02 PM
a reply to: Lompyt

That would probably be the next step. Artificially create silk.

Oooh, that was a while ago too!

For instance, due to its strength and elasticity, spider silk fiber could have several medical uses, such as for making artificial ligaments and tendons, for eye sutures, and for jaw repair. The silk could also have applications in bulletproof vests and improved car airbags., 2010 - Scientists breed goats that produce spider silk.

There are some uses right there! Cool. Thanks, must have missed this one.

But the OP guys are making kilometer long strands! That is crazy.


a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

I use WD-40! lol.

Nah, spiders are cool. The ones I can do without are the brown recluses. Even black widows are relatively benign. Typically, if I find one inside (and I do the same with bees), I will use a piece of paper to gather them up and release back to the free range life!

Super strong threads. And eye sutures! "Come back next week and we'll pull those sutures out"... uh, no thanks, this is artificial spider silk and will dissolve in a week or so. Now that is progress!

edit on 10-1-2017 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: add another response

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 03:41 PM
I need this device on my fishing pole- sick of relining my reels. Now I can enjoy being a lousy fisherman instead of bitching about breaking my line.....

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 03:43 PM

originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
Typically, if I find one inside (and I do the same with bees), I will use a piece of paper to gather them up and release back to the free range life!

Keep in mind that most of the ones you find indoors cannot survive outdoors so you might as well burn the eff out of them.

Buuuuuurrrrrrn them!!

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 04:13 PM
a reply to: Natas0114

Never thought of that: artificial spider silk strengthened Stren! Quick, run to the patent office and you can retire and fish as much as you can stand (or your liver can if you fish like I do).

BTW, they are coming out with graphene reinforced fishing rods probably this year. You can go all high tech with one of those. Add in the new Stren and you can pull up halibut and sword fish with your fly rod!


a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

I love the smell of burning spiders in the morning... reminds me of victory!

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 04:34 PM
Probably with the creation of this synthetic spider silk, we could probably weave it as flat sheets, or even better use a 3D printer if possible to create custom shapes.

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 04:40 PM
a reply to: BigEd1

Awesome idea! Additive manufacturing!!!

Congrats for being creative and applying thought! :hi5:

I feel we are on the verge of a material science break through. 2D materials are just the start. Making artificial spider silk (then probably extending I to silk-worm silk), 2D materials, MIT just pressed 2D graphene into a 3D shape (they then realized that it is the shape that matters not the material it is made of), the sandwiched bi-layer 2D materials (Van der Waals heterostructures), and transition-metal dichalcogenides are going to change our world.
edit on 10-1-2017 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: hit repl instead of preview, d'oh!

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 05:19 PM

Actually I was toying with this idea while I read the post, "Iron Man" - synthetic spider silk a factor of x10 times' stronger than steel, has excellent anti ballistic properities and very light weight comparitive to actually steels or alloys.

posted on Jan, 10 2017 @ 06:10 PM
a reply to: BigEd1

TEOT is fine (I hate typing all those letters and if somebody told me I would have to on a smart phone or tablet I would have opted for something else!)

If they can incorporate the carbon nanotube/graphene into that silk then it would be even stronger. I really like the 3D printing idea and if all these come together: CNTs-artificial spider silk-3D printing... well, that just opens up doors!

Another idea I had was to add a few strands into climbing rope and you can reduce the diameter (and over all size/weight). You would be able to carry longer lengths which means you could get to places nobody has been before.

posted on Jan, 12 2017 @ 12:17 PM
a reply to: AugustusMasonicusthen the world would be overrun by the bugs they eat like roaches. i saw a house that was full of roaches when renters moved out i went back into it a year later the whole inside was full of webs but no roaches or spiders. we cleaned out the webs and cleaned it up a little and owners sold it for a tidy profit.

posted on Jan, 12 2017 @ 02:06 PM
a reply to: proteus33

I would nuked the site from orbit.

posted on Jan, 12 2017 @ 03:32 PM

It's great that they can now produce this stuff and are finding applications for the spider silk because lets face it, stuff drinking Spider milk!

posted on Jan, 12 2017 @ 04:04 PM
a reply to: andy06shake

I think there have been a lot of uses envisioned but until now they could only make small amounts in a lab using harsh chemicals at high costs. Take out the harsh chems, the small amount, and the ability to vary the diameter, then you actually are ready to open the manufacturing doors!

I was wondering about something like a tattoo gun with the solution in gun instead of ink. Then when you need some, pull the trigger! Pin point application in a convenient and already proven technology!

Speaking of cockroaches... see the cockroach milk thread? Now that sounds really bad!

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