The Revolution Blog

Why spider silk is stronger than steel

Sunday, Apr 03, 2022

Spiders were actually one of nature’s first engineers. As makers of the toughest casters on the planet, we thought we could take a lesson from spidey’s mad maker skills.

You may have heard that spider silk is stronger than steel. It’s true. The silk that spiders use to build their webs, trap their pray and dangle from the ceiling to haunt our dreams is one of the strongest materials on earth. But it’s not because of what you might think. Spider silk is extremely ductile, meaning it’s incredibly stretchy. That stretchiness, combined with the amount of force needed to break it when it won’t stretch anymore, means it can absorb three times as much energy as Kevlar before breaking.

Dragline silk is a particularly Herculean type of spider silk because oof the way its proteins are arranged within each strand. The strands are made up of protein molecules aligned tightly together. So even though each silk strand is thinner than a human hair, each one has, pound for pound, a stronger tensile strength than many types of steel. According to this video, scientists speculate that reproducing dragline silk 18.6 miles long and as thick as a pencil would produce a material strong enough to snag a jetliner mid-flight.

It’s no wonder spiders use their silk for so much more than building webs and catching pray. When the spider’s sturdy dragline gets caught in a wind gust or breeze, it become highly contorted, catching air like an open parachute to send the spider traveling impossibly long distances—even hundreds of miles.

We’re thinking of making our next caster series with spider silk.

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