Bolt Threads, a purveyor of synthetic spider silk, has launched the world’s first commercially available product made from the faux webbing. Engineered using proteins derived from yeast, the 100 percent Boltspun spider-silk neckties are the result of nearly a decade of research and development into sustainable performance fabrics for the mass market. “We wanted to demonstrate the reality of a completely new way of manufacturing textiles, one that has nearly unlimited potential for innovation and also produces a sustainable product,” Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads, said in a statement. “Over the past seven years, a team of dozens of scientists, engineers, technicians, and designers has worked tirelessly to get us to this milestone.”
Co-founded in 2009 by Dan Widmaier, David Breslauer, and Ethan Mirsky, Bolt Threads uses a proprietary technology to closely mimic spider silk’s legendary tensile strength and pliability.
Five times stronger than steel, three times tougher than nylon or Kevlar, and a fraction of the width of human hair, spider silk is one of the planet’s most valuable textiles.
Still, it’s been next to impossible to farm the fiber significant quantities. Spiders are territorial and cannibalistic, making them difficult to raise in close proximity.
Bolt Threads’ method requires much less drama. Rather than wrangle arachnids, its scientists harness the yeast-fermentation process to yield large amounts of silk protein in liquid form. After some processing, the liquid silk protein is extruded through a mechanical system that turns it into tangible fibers.
The company says that the fibers are “programmable” and can be manipulated to deliver any combination of softness, strength, and durability. Even better? The fibers are machine-washable.
Bolt Threads is starting small with its first run at retail. It’s made only 50 of the synthetic spider-silk neckties, which are available to purchase on its website through a lottery system.
“We’re proud and excited about this achievement and what it means for the future of textile production,” Widmaier said. “Bolt’s first product is a precursor of what’s to come.”