The U.S. Army wants body armor with incredible strength, and a company that specializes in genetically engineered spider silk may fulfill its wish.
Michigan-based Kraig Biocraft has been awarded a $100,000 contract by the Army’s Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, or PM-SPIE office, to provide “shoot packs” of spider silk.
Kraig Biocraft, which has genetically altered silkworms for over decade, uses a technology that splices spider DNA into caterpillars. Officials plan on using the caterpillars’ “Dragon Silk” in body armor once the right formula is determined.
“We are going to provide them a series of different thread counts, thicknesses, construction techniques that they will test against standard material performance specifications,” Kraig chief operating officer Jon Rice told Defense One on Tuesday.
Pentagon officials may revise its financial award upwards to $1 million if they like what they see, the website reported.
Mr. Rice said that while spider silk is not as strong as Kevlar — and therefore will not replace the product anytime soon — it is far superior in terms of elasticity.
“Kevlar has an elasticity of 3 percent,” Mr. Rice told Defense One. “If you have a Kevlar fiber, it’s not going to move at all. Our fibers have a 30 to 40 percent elasticity before they break.”