Summer 2019 – Inside Outdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | SUMMER 2019 24 Polartec has partnered with bio- technology company Kraig Biocraft Laboratories on the development and commercialization of fabrics made from spider silk. Initially developed for specialized military applications, these materials made from recombinant spider silk will eventually service the global high- performance textiles and apparel market, said the companies. “This project combines two of our most important innovation missions: providing best-in-class textiles to our nation’s military per- sonnel, and our investment in a fully biodegradable product line,” says Gary Smith, Polartec CEO. “Our partnership with Kraig has the potential to be as revolutionary as when we created the first perfor- mance fabrics made from post-con- sumer recycled plastics in 1993.” Among the strongest fibers pro- duced in nature, scalable and cost- effective production of spider silk represents a “holy grail” of types in material science. Kraig possesses the exclusive right to use patented spider silk gene sequences in silk- worms, which is the first way to mass produce these fibers cost ef- fectively and responsibly. Spiders, for their part, cannot be raised in colonies and competitors rely on genetically engineered E.coli bac- teria to make silk, which produces high levels of carbon dioxide in addition to being cost prohibitive, explained executives at Kraig. “Teaming with an industry leader such as Polartec is a real endorsement of our proprietary ap- proach to unlocking the potential of commercially produced spider silk,” said Kim Thompson, Kraig Laboratories founder and CEO. “Kraig believes that spider silk, with its superior mechanical char- acteristics, has the potential to surpass the current generation of high-performance fibers.” According to Thompson, these fully renewable, biodegradable and biocompatible “super fibers” are thin, lightweight, flexible, resilient, extraor- dinarily strong and display strength- to-weight ratios more comparable to aramid fibers than other current per- formance fibers. In apparel applica- tions, the possibilities of recombinant spider silks will lead to combinations of physical properties such as luxuri- ous feel and breathable comfort with top durability. In joint development since 2016, Polartec and Kraig currently are applying the performance charac- teristics of spider silk into yarns for military-grade textiles. Polartec to Develop Spider Silk Fabrics Ingredients Comparison of the Properties of Natural Spider Silk, Kevlar and Steel Material Toughness [1] Tensile Strength [2] Weight [3] Dragline spider silk 120,000-160,000 1,100-2,900 1.18-1.36 Kevlar 30,000-50,000 2,600-4,100 1.44 Steel 2,000-6,000 300-2,000 7.84 [1] Measured by the energy required to break a continuous filament, expressed in joules per kilogram (J/kg). [2] Tensile strength refers to the greatest longitudinal stress the spider silk can bear, measured by force over area in units of newtons per square meter. The measurement here is in millions of pascals. [3] In grams per cubic centimeter of material. Source: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Sustainable Down Source Ups Down Transparency Sustainable Down Source (SDS) an- nounced a new way for consumers to track the provenance and technical de- tails of the down used to make their down jacket or sleeping bag. Beginning this year, the company will make available hangtags to their brand partners, which will contain a unique Quick Response (QR) code and Lot Number.  By simply scanning the QR code with a smartphone, or enter- ing the Lot number into the SDS “DownTracker” website, any consumer will be able to identify the quality of the down, the region in which the down was sourced and the Third Party testing for that particular lot of down used to make the finished product. “Down is the world’s best insulation” said SDS Principal Daniel Guigui.  “But the thing we’re most concerned with is making sure all of the down we use comes from raw material suppliers who follow the strict sourcing protocols of the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).”