Fibre developer Kraig Biocraft Laboratories has developed a strain of genetically engineered silkworms with properties targeted for protective textiles applications for the US Army.
Developed under a contract with the US Army, ‘the stronger, yet less elastic’ engineered silkworm strain called Dragon Silk 2.0 is built upon Kraig Biocraft’s existing Dragon Silk protective fibre used to create body armour.
The new development supports the company’s ability to adapt and tailor the properties of its recombinant spider silk materials to meet end market performance requirements.
Kraig Biocraft Laboratories chief operating officer Jon Rice said: “When the army chose to award the second phase of this project we knew that we were given a great opportunity to prove the power of our technology and our approach using silkworms.
“Today we’re thrilled to announce that our work was a success and that we now have a line of silkworms that produce a recombinant spider silk better matched for the demands of protective textile applications. We expect this new strain will play a critical role in our expansion and commercialisation of spider silk far beyond the market for bulletproof vests.”
Created based on inputs provided by the US Army, the silkworm strain specifically helps meet requirements for antiballistic applications.
Over the next several months, the company intends to increase the production rate of its new recombinant spider silk fibre at its domestic facility in order to complete the second phase of delivery to the army.
In August, Kraig Biocraft Laboratories provided the US Army with ballistic shootpack panels made of the company’s original Dragon Silk material.
The new panels will be tested and evaluated to demonstrate their effectiveness in stopping bullets, in an effort to provide troops with a lighter and more comfortable alternative to conventional protective apparel.