back to top
My wish lists
Save your wish list
If you want to add more content to your wish list, simply log in. If you do not have a user account, please register for the Hanser Customer Center.

» Do you already have a user account? Please log in here.
» Don't have a user account yet? Please register here.
Your wish lists
If you want to use your wish list during your next visit, simply log in. If you do not have a user account, please register for the Hanser Customer Center.
» Do you already have a user account? Please log in here.
» Don't have a user account yet? Please register here.

« Back

Your advantages at a glance

  • One login for all Hanser portals
  • Individual home page for faster access to preferred content
  • Exclusive access to selected content
  • Personal wish lists on all portals
  • Central management of your personal information and newsletter subscriptions

Register now
Deutsch
Bookmark Bookmarked
12-14-2016

Nature as a Role Model: Artificial Spider Silk for Textiles

Bionic High-Performance Fiber Biosteel

Tough, elastic and resilient: Its outstanding properties make spider silk equally interesting to biologists and product designers. A German company has been successful in producing this fiber artificially. The material is named “Biosteel”, and it is designed for applications in high-tech textiles, for example in the areas of sports, medicine and military.

Spiders are specialized in silk. Each of the 41,000 spider species has its own set of silk threads at its disposal. Spider silks can be stiffer than steel and as elastic as rubber. They are fully recyclable, lightweight and waterproof, even though their reversible water absorption capacity is high.

Biosteel is the first natural-based bionic high-performance fiber. It is designed for textile applications, mainly (© AMSilk)

Biosteel is the first natural-based bionic high-performance fiber. It is designed for textile applications, mainly (© AMSilk)

While spiders are unsuitable as breeding animals, it has long been impossible to generate such threads industrially. Since the 1980ies, scientist have therefore been looking into ways to integrate the genetic information of spider silk into industrially producible microorganisms such as yeasts or bacteria, in order to obtain spider silk proteins in a biotechnological way.

The way in which spiders spin their nets has been a fascinating question, also to Professor Thomas Scheibel. He holds the chair of Biomaterials at the University of Bayreuth and is founder of AMSilk GmbH in Planegg near Munich, Germany. The biochemist set his mind on finding out about the chemical and mechanical processes taking place when the silk threads are produced. He aimed at finding a way to copy them technically and he has reached this target. Together with working groups of the TUM University of Munich - Prof. Andreas Bausch and Horst Kessler of the Institute for Advances Study of the TUM - Scheibel’s team was successful in building an artificial spinning duct for the first time in 2008.

Two years later, the scientists decoded the molecular basis of thread production in the spinneret. In 2011, they were finally able to show the mechanisms leading to the enormous stiffness of the spider silk thread. The first artificial spider silk fiber of the world they eventually presented in 2013, under the name of “Biosteel”. The same year, Scheibel obtained the Dechma-Prize awarded by the Max Buchner Research Foundation.

The Name Says it All

Biosteel fibers are generated in a scalable spinning process. According to AMSilk information, the bionic high-performance fiber is completely biodegradable. The company states that, in addition, the fibers are similar to wool in that they are able to absorb and pass on humidity and have anti-microbacterial properties besides being tough and eudermic.

The fibers are produced in a scalable spinning process (© AMSilk)

The fibers are produced in a scalable spinning process (© AMSilk)

The fiber is up to 15% lighter than conventional synthetic fibers, and the producer claims that at present there is no other natural material available with a higher strength. Its load-bearing capacity is said to be 25 times as high as that of a comparable steel wire. According to the scientists, standard dyeing techniques are sufficient to color the fibers. The artificial fibers’ tensile strength is comparable to that of natural silk and to the filaments of the silkworm, while its load-bearing capacity is as much as twice as high.

Partnership with adidas

From using novelties such as 3-D printing up to processing waste from oceans – adidas AG in Herzogenaurach, Germany, has shown several times that it likes to strike new paths in shoe production. At the Biofabricate conference held in New York in November, the manufacturer of sports equipment presented the first ever performance shoe made of biosteel fibers. The upper of the Futurecraft-Biofabric shoe is 100% artificial silk.

It is uncertain, however, if or when the sneakers will actually be available to customers. For the time being, the shoes are mere prototypes. As part of their cooperation, the two enterprises have agreed to investigate ways of applying the Biosteel fibers at a larger scale.

Melanie Ehrhardt, editorial staff

Additional information
  • Published in Kunststoffe international 2016/12

    Futurecraft Biofabrics

    First 100% Biodegradable Performance Shoe

    adidas has partnered with AMSilk for the first premium innovation footwear made using Biosteel Fiber silk biopolymers.   more

    AMSilk GmbH

Company profile

AMSilk GmbH

Am Klopferspitz 19
DE 82152 Planegg
Tel.: 89 38156-4430
Fax: 89 38156-3859

These articles might be interesting for you
Newsletter

Would you like to subscribe to our Newsletters on plastics technology and profit from the latest information?

Subscribe here

Subscribe here