Inspired by spiders, and Japanese Startup Make it Happens (Textiles)

Five times stronger than steel, spider silk`s unique qualities were recognized by the Ancient Greeks 

Now, one Japanese startup, Spiber, is exploring how spider webs could transform the textile industry. The biotech company started by making a spider silk replica in the lab and has since spun out its fabric range to include more sustainable alternatives to wool, cashmere and denim. Kenji Higashi (Head of business development at Spiber) 

This proves that theory can be actively inspired and applied into goods that can be used by many people. In the past, scientists often underestimated that their theory of spider webs was a hoax because it was thought to be more powerful than reading.

Namun kin perusahaan dari Jepang dengan trademarked fiber, Brewed Protein, has been used in limited edition collections with brands including Japanese streetwear label Sacai and outdoor apparel specialists The North Face Japan.  Currently scaling up production and getting ready for a full commercial launch of its textiles, Spiber hopes its technology will help to “solve some of the big global challenges that we’re facing,” says Higashi.  

Spiders create webs by spinning liquid protein into silk. Although silkworms have been bred to produce silk for thousands of years, spiders are cannibals which makes them impossible to farm.  Spiber studied “thousands of different spider species,” as well as other silkproducing species, and compiled a database of silk varieties – Higashi.  

Having successfully produced the spider silk alternative, the team went on to develop a range of Brewed Protein fabrics by altering the protein sequence –  Higashi.  Spiber’s fibers are made by fermenting water, sugar and nutrients with specially modified microbes in steel tanks, similar to those used in beer making, to produce protein polymers. 

The polymers are fed through a nozzle and spun into a fiber, says Higashi.  It took four years “to produce a garment that met their standards,” says Higashi. The parkas retailed for ¥150,000 (worth around $1,400 in 2019) and sold out.  Namun ini adalah harga yang pantas untuk sebuah innovasi yang dapat diapresiasi oleh para penggemar fashion dan pengetahuan. 

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. It produces around 2.1 billion metric tons of CO2 every year, according to management consultants McKinsey & Company. Around 70% of that comes from production textiles.  Spiber wants to reduce its environmental impact further, though. 

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The company currently uses sugarcane and corn for its fermentation process — crops that use large volumes of land and divert food resources Higashi.  To solve this problem, Spiber is developing a process called the “biosphere cycle” that converts waste clothing made from natural materials such as cotton into sugar. Approximately 40 million tonnes of textile waste is generated each year, most of which is dumped in landfills and incinerators. 

Continuing to circulate these fibers, Mr. Higashi says, more sustainable alternatives can be created. We hope that this momentum can be used to encourage scientists and developers to become more creative in developing new products in the future.

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