Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 14

[ BRIEFS ] swatches
Color by nanocrystal
C
Spinning a new generation
of textiles
S
pider silk is incredibly strong-five times stronger than
steel-and it has been used in far-ranging applications,
including wear-resistant lightweight clothing, ropes,
parachutes, biodegradable bottles, surgical bandages and more.
The problem is that, unlike silkworms, silk spiders are
cannibalistic and nearly impossible to farm for large production.
Now, a Japanese startup called 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 expanded its technology range to include alternatives to
wool, cashmere, denim, synthetic leather and even fur.
Spiber's trademarked fiber, called Brewed Protein, has
been used in limited edition collections with brands including
Japanese streetwear label Sacai and outdoor apparel
specialists The North Face Japan. Spiber is also exploring
opportunities in the automotive industry.
Brewed Protein is molecularly identical to spider silk.
Spiber studied thousands of different spider species, as well
as other silk-producing species, and compiled a database of
silk varieties, says Higashi.
The 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 then fed through a nozzle and
spun into a fiber.
With plans to open plants in both Thailand and the U.S. in
the coming months, Spiber predicts it will be able to produce
thousands of tons of Brewed Protein by the end of 2023.
ABOVE: The Brewed Protein polymer powder is fermented with water,
sugar, and specially designed microbes. After being refined, this powder
can be processed into a variety of fabrics, such as leather, silk or spun yarn.
Photo: Spiber
14 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / July 2022
olorful fabrics are beautiful, but creating them
is one of the world's largest sources of water
pollution. Textile mills have been known to dump
residual dyes and hazardous chemicals into canals,
streams and rivers.
Researchers from North Carolina State
University's College of Natural Resources and the
Wilson College of Textiles have developed a process
that could someday solve this problem-and it
involves the use of nanoscopic particles extracted
from wood.
" Textile mills use dyes and
other coloration agents that
are very toxic, " says Nathalie
Lavoine, an assistant
professor in the Department
of Forest Biomaterials. " We
believe using nanocellulose
is a way forward to
sustainable processing. "
Nanocellulose is
a naturally occurring
substance extracted
from cellulose-the main
substance of a plant's cell
walls. The researchers
have developed a process
that allows them to
use nanocellulose to
produce clothing items
with iridescent features
resembling the rainbowhued
shimmer seen on fish
scales, bird feathers and
insect bodies. Until now
there had been no way to
apply nanocrystal particles to textiles.
Cellulose is extracted from wood chips and is
Using nanocrystals extracted
from wood, Lavoine and
her collaborators can print
iridescent designs on clothing
items. Photo: North Carolina
State University
combined with water, treating the resulting mixture
with acid to uncover nanocrystals. After it is purified,
the researchers add the mixture to frames so that it
can solidify into plastic-like films. Then, using a CAD
table, they cut the films into shapes and patterns that
can be printed onto clothing items. The team is also
testing the application of nanocellulose on a variety
of other items, including phone cases.

Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022

Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 5
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 6
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Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 13
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 14
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Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - cover3
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - cover4
Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - Expo Brochure 1
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