The US Army is set to test a radical new ‘spider web’ bulletproof armour.
Called dragon silk, the artificial substance will be tested for ‘critical soldier protective applications including ballistic impact’.
The firm behind the product claims it is one of the strongest materials known to man, and has used genetically engineered silkworms to produce it.
Kraig Biocraft Laboratories will supply ‘ballistic shoot packs’ for the Army to test.
If successful, there is an option for a $1m contract to develop body armour using the material.
‘Dragon Silk scores very highly in tensile strength and elasticity, which makes it one of the toughest fibers known to man and the ideal material for many applications,’ said Jon Rice, COO of the firm.
‘Providing material for this ballistic shoot pack initiative is an important next step for Kraig and spider silk.
‘Today is a great day for spider silk.’
The shoot packs will be tested and evaluated for critical Soldier protective applications including ballistic impact.
‘We’re proud to be working with the Department of Defense to assess the exciting potential of spider silk for military applications,’ stated Kim K Thompson, CEO and founder of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories.
‘We are honored that the U.S. Army has selected us for this program.
‘This effort will provide Kraig Labs with the opportunity to validate our longstanding belief that spider silk technology has had an incredible potential for protective and lifesaving materials and expand our ability to design and engineer innovative materials solutions.’
While it has long been known that certain fibers produced in nature possess remarkable mechanical properties in terms of strength, resilience and flexibility, researchers have struggled to find a way to mass produce it.
‘While the superior properties of spider silks are well known, there was no known way to produce spider silk in commercial quantities,’ the firm said.
‘Since spiders are cannibalistic, they cannot be raised in concentrated colonies to produce silk.
Yet the production of spider silk in commercial quantities holds the potential of a life-saving ballistic resistant material, which is lighter, thinner, more flexible, and tougher than steel.
Other applications of spider silk include use as structural material and for any application in which light weight and high strength are required.