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Fibres/​Yarns/​Fabrics

Bolt Threads to begin commercial production of engineered silk for wearable textiles

Until today, commercial silk production has been limited to either silk worms or extremely small scale engineered silk production.

29th July 2015

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Lansing, MI

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Bolt Threads, an innovator based in Emeryville, CA, is planning to take biobased engineered silk technology to commercial scale, after joining forces with Michigan Biotechnology Institute (MBI).

Until today, commercial silk production has been limited to either silk worms or extremely small scale engineered silk production, where the painstaking efforts taken to amass any amount of silk were far too labour intensive with little pay-off. The company’s goal is to design processes that minimize the environmental footprint while creating a superior product.

Bolt Threads is the first company to produce engineered silk fibres made from proteins found in nature.  Bolt Threads

“MBI’s team couldn’t be more pleased to be working with Bolt Threads on this revolutionary technology,” commented Dr James Wynn, MBI’s Director of Biobased Technology Derisking. “At MBI, our mission is to help promising technologies, such as Bolt Threads’ Engineered Silk, make the most efficient transition from the lab to commercial production.”

Collaboration with MBI

Bolt Threads is the first company to produce engineered silk fibres made from proteins found in nature with the ability to scale commercially. Additionally, Bolt Threads’ fibres can be programmed to be as soft, durable and malleable as needed.

“By accessing MBI’s expertise in process control and scale-up, Bolt Threads was able to develop a more robust and scalable production process capable of supplying large quantities of engineered silk,” said Wynn.

“The work that we are doing with MBI is key to the development, scale-up and demonstration-scale production of our engineered silk for use in fibers and textiles," said Jason Ryder, Bolt Threads vice president of manufacturing. “Our collaboration with MBI validates the robustness and transferability of our process, which paves the way for transferring and developing in future commercial-scale facilities.”

Michigan Biotechnology Institute

MBI, Michigan Biotechnology Institute, is located on the south side of Michigan State University’s campus. Established in 1981, this multidisciplinary centre has been searching solutions for some of the globe’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

 A mission-inspired, market-driven and focused on biobased innovations, MBI engages with universities, research institutions, start-up companies, and corporations to develop sustainable fuels, chemicals, food, feed—and, now, spider silk.

MBI is known for pioneering derisking, a process that quickly and cost-effectively fails flawed technologies while accelerating viable ones through a stage-gated innovation process. MBI has also worked with Michigan State University and Cargill to develop PLA, the first biodegradable polymer in global use.

www.boltthreads.com

Read the interview with Jamie Bainbridge, Vice President of Product Development at Bolt Threads

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