Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019 - 37

Creepy, Crawly, Slimy...

iopolymers can be created from the strangest
things: orange peel, mushrooms, pineapple
leaves, spider silk-and even hagfish slime.
Like something out of a science-fiction
movie from the '50s, the hagfish, also known as a
slime eel, looks prehistoric. When threatened or
attacked, it produces prodigious amounts of "slime"
made up of long fibers of glycoprotein that are
stronger than nylon and thinner than human hair,
much like spider silk. The fibers expand rapidly to
envelop and neutralize any attacker.
Scientists believe hagfish slime's strength,
flexibility and expandability could be the basis for
innovative biopolymers that could substitute for nylon
in protective and industrial applications, from safety
vests and helmets to airbags. Hagfish cannot be raised
in captivity, however, so researchers at Canada's
University of Guelph, as well as the U.S. Navy, are
looking into ways of synthesizing slime in the lab.
According to the journal Interesting Engineering, in
2017 Navy biochemist Dr. Josh Kogot and materials
engineer Dr. Ryan Kincer developed a synthetic slime
that mimics the hagfish mucus. The researchers
created the slime by genetically modifying E.coli
bacteria to produce the alpha and gamma proteins
present in hagfish slime.
In the arachnid arena, Bolt Threads uses DNA
and fermentation to create synthetic spider silk,
which can be spun into a fiber called Microsilk™.
The company's latest creation is Mylo™, a synthetic
leather made from mycelium, the root structure of
mushrooms. Both Microsilk and Mylo have been
showcased in products by high-end fashion designer
Stella McCartney.
Japan's Spiber Inc. is also successfully synthesizing
and tailoring spider silk proteins from DNA through
fermentation. The company's protein fiber, called
Qmonos™, is targeted at the automotive industry as
well as the apparel market.

Scientists at the U.S. Navy are synthesizing
hagfish slime. Photo: U.S. Navy.

Mylo bio-based
leather from Bolt
Threads is made
from mycelium.
Driver bag shown is
by Chester Wallace.
Photo: Bolt Threads.

The Lexus Kinetic
Seat Concept uses
Spiber's tough, ecofriendly Qmonos
synthetic spider
silk in the backrest.
Photo: Lexus.

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Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019

Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019 - 1
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Specialty Fabrics Review December 2019 - 3
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