Washington - The US Army has begun testing radical new ‘spider suit’ bulletproof armour.
Made from a substance called dragon silk, the flexible, fabric like panels will be tested for ‘critical soldier protective applications including ballistic impact’.
The firm behind the product claims it is one of the strongest materials known to man, and has used genetically engineered silkworms to produce it.
Kraig Biocraft Laboratories revealed it has already delivered the first prototype panels to Us Army bosses.
‘These panels will be evaluated for effectiveness in stopping bullets, in an effort to provide our Warfighters with a lighter and more comfortable alternative to conventional protective apparel,’ the firm said. Dragon Silk is a genetically engineered spider silk which mimics the strength and toughness found in native spider silk, but which can be produced at large quantities through the firm’s specially developed silkworms.
The GM silkworms were developed to be a direct drop-in replacement into the traditional silk production infrastructure which produces more than 150,000 metric tons of silk per year.
The resulting spider silk ‘is extremely flexible, making it more comfortable and providing higher mobility and movement for the wearer,’ the firm says.
“After years of research and investment, developing this ground breaking technology, we are very excited to now see it in the hands of the U.S. Army,” said Jon Rice, COO of Kraig Buiocraft.
“For me, personally, and for the Company, the opportunity to help protect the brave men and women whom dedicate themselves to our protection is a great honor.”
The firm is in the process of opening a production facility in Vietnam to significantly expand its production capacity of Dragon Silk and its many other spider silk products.
Spider silk is extraordinarily strong and is theorized to provide ballistic protection with much less weight and better flexibility than conventional armor like Kevlar.
Spider silk has long been known to have superior strength, flexibility and ballistic protection, but raising spider colonies for production proved to be impossible, since the spiders would often eat each other.
Genetically engineered silkworms are more practical and allow for much greater production of the material, Kraig Biocraft said.
The company says that is has patented a large number of genetic proteins which were then implanted in domestic silkworms for body armor production.