Spider silk is stronger than steel and tougher than both steel and Kevlar. Scientists postulate that, if used as a reinforcing material in plastic automotive parts, the spider silk's energy absorbing properties maybe great enough so that parts might even regain their shape after an accident. Wonderful factoids, yes, but knowing them has not made it any easier to use the material in the plastics industry. A newly announced development agreement could help change that as it speeds the industrialization of spider silk manufacturing.
The agreement is between AMSilk, which claims to be the first company to produce spider silk biopolymers, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP). The two have joined forces to further development of a spinning process for making high performance fibers from AMSilk's spider silk proteins.
There is no shortage of laboratories keen to replicate spider silk but getting from lab- to industrial scale has been a huge hurdle. To date no industrial spinning process has delivered a fiber that can be compared to natural spider silk as found in a spider web.