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8th September 2011, Munich & Potsdam

AMSilk and Fraunhofer partner in new spin process for spider silk

Germany's AMSilk and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) have joined forces in the development of a novel spin process for making high performance fibres from AMSilk's spider silk proteins.

Germany's AMSilk and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) have joined forces in the development of a novel spin process for making high performance fibres from AMSilk's spider silk proteins.

AMSilk is said to be the first company able to deliver sufficient spider silk material for applications development as its spider silk is inspired by the natural silk from spiders and produced through biotechnology with an industrial production platform. It says that to date, no industrial spinning process has delivered a fibre that can be compared to natural spider silk as found in a spider web.

The collaboration will match AMSilk's material and biochemical expertise with Fraunhofer's expertise in developing spin processes for biopolymers and the partners expect to deliver a new process for making artificial spider silk fibres for high tech applications.

"Having Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, one of the world's most renowned research institutions, as our partner in this exciting project, is a great advantage for AMSilk," says Axel Leimer, AMSilk CEO. "We fit perfectly together, both in expertise and vision."

"We are very proud to be involved in the development of a new generation of high performance protein fibres. In a unique way we will combine synthetic spider silk from AMSilk and biopolymer spinning technology from Fraunhofer IAP", says Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Fink, the director of Fraunhofer IAP.

The development collaboration will run over at least two years and AMSilk will own commercial rights of the results with certain benefits for Fraunhofer IAP.

"Spider silk has attracted human interest for thousands of years, mainly due to its toughness and ductility. The material is also biocompatible and can be used in formulations for specialized coatings, films, nonwovens and in pharmaceuticals," AMSilk says.

"As with most biomaterials, spider silk has evolved over millions of years resulting in a combination of properties that far exceeds any man-made material. Until recently, it was not possible to utilize this high-performance material for technical applications, because no process was known to produce enough spider silk."

"AMSilk is the first company to produce Spidersilk biopolymers, inspired by the proteins of web-weaving spiders on an industrial scale. This makes possible a completely new set of technical products as well as major improvements for already existing products."

AMSilk, a spin-off from the Technische Universität München, was founded in 2008 and is located in the IZB in Martinsried near Munich. AMSilk's investors are MIG Funds and AT Newtec, Munich.

Fraunhofer IAP offers a wide range of services that include material and process development of bio-based and synthetic polymers on a laboratory and pilot plant scale. The product range includes fibers, films, materials and functional materials, as well as additives, fine chemicals and processing auxiliaries.

One main focus of Fraunhofer IAP activities consists in biopolymer research ranging from the characterization, synthesis, and modification of raw materials to the development of new products and processes. Fraunhofer has extensive expertise and years of project experience particularly in the fields of cellulose and starch.

 

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