Kraig Biocraft Laboratories Inc. is a biotechnology company pursuing a unique protein expression system with the goal of producing a new generation of technical fibers. The company is making use of state of the art genetic techniques in order to develop a transgenic silkworm capable of producing spider silk.
Specifically, the company is aiming towards a sub-sector of the â€œtechnical textilesâ€ market known as the high-performance fibers market. All of the products in this area are significantly stronger than steel of the same weights and diameters. Due to this superior strength and toughness, these fibers have been widely adopted into a variety of industrial applications.
The high-performance fibers market can be broken down into two main areas. The first of these areas is aramid fibers. The best known of these fibers is DuPont’s Kevlar, which holds a significant share of this market and produces over $5 billion in sales for DuPont. Kevlar’s very high strength and lightweight qualities have allowed it to dominate this market for over four decades.
The second classification of high-performance fibers is ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibers. An example of this type of product is Spectra, which is produced by Honeywell. Spectra has applications for use in bullet resistant vests, helmets, armored vehicles, and marine-related applications.
Another example is Dyneema, which is produced by Dutch firm DSM NV. Dyneema is an important component in ropes, cables and nets used in fishing, shipping and offshore industries due to its ultra-high strength, resistance to moisture and ability to float in water.
The worldwide market for these types of fibers is estimated to be about $90 billion. This market has grown rapidly over the past 10 years and is expected to sustain a rapid growth rate going forward. Despite the formidable competition, Kraig Biocraft is expected to carve out a profitable niche in the market with spider silk products.
Spider silk has some distinct advantages over synthetically derived products. For example, spider silk is unmatched by any man-made or natural product when it comes to its ability to absorb energy prior to fiber breakage. And obviously, spider silk is a natural product, not made with toxic chemicals, and it is biodegradable. If Kraig Biocraft is successful, they will have a unique product worth at least several hundred million dollars.
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