Biosteel® Fibre And Other Innovations

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Hot on the heels of its release earlier this month of the world's first football and running performance products made from upcycled marine plastic waste, Adidas continues its journey toward revolutionising materials with the unveiling of the world's first performance shoe made using Biosteel® fibre – a synthetic version of spider silk.

Developed by German biotech company AMSilk, adidas' Futurecraft Biofabric prototype uses 100% Biosteel® fibre made from a biodegradable, high-performance fibre. The material – which adidas says is made of "nature-identical silk biopolymers" – offers a combination of properties crucial in performance, such as being 15% lighter in weight than conventional synthetic fibres and being potentially the strongest fully natural material available.

"This concept represents premium innovation," said James Carnes, VP of Strategy Creation at Adidas. "By using Biosteel® fibre in our products, we have achieved an unrivalled level of sustainability. We are moving beyond closed-loop and into an infinite loop – or even no loop at all. This is a pioneering stride forward beyond sustainability into a new territory of bionic innovation."

The shoe was unveiled at the renowned Biofabricate Conference in New York as adidas and AMSilk announce a partnership that will explore the use of Biosteel® fibre in performance products on a larger scale.

Another innovation that could completely revolutionise textiles – particularly in the use of protective gear – has emerged from Penn State, where Melik C. Demirel, professor of engineering science and mechanics, worked to develop chemically protective suits made from fabric coated in self-healing films derived from squid teeth.

"Fashion designers use natural fibres made of proteins like wool or silk that are expensive and they are not self-healing," Demirel said. "For the first time we are making self-healing textiles."

According to research released in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Demirel and his team of professors and graduate students from Drexel University and the US Naval Research Laboratory found that adding certain proteins – found in the teeth that ring the suckers of squid tentacles – to fabrics not only increases their strength and allows them to "self-heal," the polymers provide a film that could limit exposure to toxic chemical compounds that can be absorbed through the skin. The coating could provide a barrier on garments that would protect farmers from exposure to pesticides, soldiers from chemical or biological attacks, and factory workers from accidental releases of toxic materials.

Meanwhile, Miami-based startup Osom Brand is working to help eliminate fabric waste and join the circular textile movement by offering the first upcycled, ethically produced, zero-waste socks – made from 95% denim and clothing waste.

Osom's socks are made by grinding down denim and clothing waste to be re-spun into a new type of yarn in a process that does not use any water, dyes, chemicals or toxins. The company says it also ensures fair treatment and payment of its workers through a manufacturing partnership with a Guatemalan textile producer, with which it says "our ethical guidelines are respected, met and often exceeded," though details on this were unavailable as of press time.

The company is aiming to expand production with a Kickstarter campaign, which runs through December 14th.

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