These Ties Are Made of Spider Silk
One day, you could be wearing spider silk clothing—but with synthetic silk made in a lab. A company called Bolt Threads has successfully bioengineered synthetic silk inspired by spider webs and turned it into a tie, as The New Yorker and Co.Design report.
Bolt Threads uses genetically engineered yeast to produce proteins similar to the natural proteins in spider silk, then spins those proteins into fibers. The yarn from those fibers is used to make a limited edition tie that has already sold out. With only 50 ties available for $314 each, the company held a lottery on March 14 to give potential customers the chance to buy one.
You may have missed out on this round, but this is just the beginning of Bolt’s product lines, according to the company. While the tie may have been the first commercial proof-of-concept, Bolt eventually wants to make other clothing—and other textiles. Dan Widmaier, the company’s CEO, told The New Yorker that Bolt hopes to make products from similar synthetic proteins that feel like a whole host of other fabrics, including wool and nylon.
Being able to manufacture silk and other fabrics in the lab could reduce the enormous amount of wastewater produced by the textile industry, and decrease the dependency on petroleum-based fibers like polyester. Right now, the yeast is fermented with sugar, but eventually, Bolt would like to be able to use waste products like paper, sawdust, and sewage instead. The company is also developing a yeast strain that excretes color to reduce the number of dyes textile manufacturers use (and subsequently dump into waterways).
First, they’ll need to make more than 50 ties at a time.
[h/t The New Yorker]