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“Biosteel“: artificial spider silk fibers from Bavaria offer innovation for the medical technology market and for future eco-friendly sportswear -- and shoes



Futurecraft Biofabric - the world's first biodegradable running shoe by Adidas with Bavarian technology | picture (c) adidas.com

The biotech company AMSilk from Planegg near Munich (Upper Bavaria) was founded in 2008 by Dr. Thomas Scheibel, professor of biotechnology at the University of Bayreuth, and his colleague Dr. Lin Römer. The goal was to develop the market potential of patents developed at the TUM and in other research laboratories since 2003. While Dr. Scheibel decided to remain at the university and continues to participate in the development of the company as a consultant, Dr. Römer is now responsible for all the research and development at AMSilk. From university research to market contracts, the company was supported and its growth partially financed by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs at the Innovation and Startup Center for Biotechnology.

Since 2005, AMSilk has been producing an artificial spider silk fiber made of synthetic biopolymer, which has triggered much interest in the medical technology sector and is already in use. It is especially used for silicone implants, hernia networks or stents: the material is not perceived by the immune system, or is classified as non-hazardous by the body. In this respect, a thereby coated implant has greater chances of not triggering inflammation or rejection reactions: possible side effects are thereby alleviated. Furthermore, the proteins constituting the fibers have also found a place on the cosmetics market, where they are sold in gel or powder form.

After almost 10 years of existence, AMSilk has started increasing its production volumes, in order to satisfy both the medical technology and the cosmetics market, but also – the textile sector. As a matter of fact, after several smaller clothes companies, the exceptional properties of the material drew the attention of Adidas to AMSilk: the “Biosteel” fiber produced for the textile industry is, according to company statements, more tear-resistant than natural silk and at the same time lighter than polyester, which is the main material used for the current sportswear items. The sporting goods giant therefore started cooperating with AMSilk, which supplies Adidas with the elastic fibers from which it then manufactures a completely biodegradable shoe. At the end of 2016, Adidas presented a prototype of the ultralight sneaker in New York.

Source: www.amsilk.com & www.wired.de