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Stronger Than Metal — Spider Silk Nears Debut

There aren’t a ton of elements with properties stronger than metal, so prepare to meet an unlikely competitor in the market — spider silk.

You probably wouldn’t expect to see spider silk on the list of future replacements for metal, and you wouldn’t be alone in your disbelief. It’s a relatively new concept, but one that has many lasting and important meanings for the manufacturing world.

Spider silk is naturally resilient, and 25 times stronger than steel. It’s extremely difficult to farm spiders, though, which is why it’s taken researchers so long to reach this milestone in their journey to bring the substance to market.

Some of the benefits provided by spider silk include better prosthetics and body implants, such as knee joints, which would replace the necessity of knee surgery. Because it’s all natural, the process behind manufacturing commercial spider silk is much cleaner than that of steel. We’ll also be able to use spider silk in body armor, construction, bio-medical healthcare products, and much more.

Check out this TED Talks explanation of the benefits of spider silk and where the market is trending towards in the near future:

Scientists had previously started using silkworms for producing materials for houses and furniture, much like the direction 3-D printing is going, but found that it wasn’t as strong as they’d wished. When they turned to spider silk, the results were incredible, and lead to the commercialization we’ll be seeing very soon.

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