Searching for the Battleship Steel Version of Spider Silk

Biotech company AMSilk and Airbus are planning to use artificial spider silk to create an entirely new generation of composite material they believe could revolutionise aerospace design.

Spider silk is one of nature’s most astonishing materials. Stronger than steel, tougher than Kevlar and incredibly lightweight, a spider web made from fibres as thick as a pencil would be able to catch a fully loaded A350 weight around 200 tonnes. For decades, scientists have sought to recreate spider silk’s astonishing properties for industrial use. But those efforts have been unsuccessful – until now.AMSilk, based near Munich in Germany, is the world’s first industrial supplier of what it calls synthetic silk biopolymers – artificial spider silk. The company already uses this high-performance, fully biodegradable material for medical devices and cosmetics. In 2016, AMSilk even made a prototype shoe with a major sports clothing label. But now, together with Airbus, it wants to transfer its technology to aerospace.

To do this, Airbus and AMSilk will work together on creating an entirely new area of composite materials. Leading the cooperation for Airbus is Detlev Konigorski, innovation manager for emerging technologies and concepts.

“Currently, AMSilk produces silk on a metric tons scale per annum, but this isn’t yet aerospace-ready,” he says. “You could compare it to steel – what you use to make cars isn’t the same as what you use to make battleships. We’re looking for the battleship steel version of spider silk.”

After first decoding spider DNA, AMSilk realised that by taking the animal’s specific genetic code for producing silk and introducing it to bacteria, they could artificially reproduce an identical material. The company now carries out this process in 60,000 litre tanks four storeys high, which are filled with water and heated to 37°C to grow the bacteria. The end result is a powder that can be formed into a fibre, film or gel.

The greater use of carbon fibre composites has helped reduce aircraft weight, and therefore fuel consumption, in recent years, but AMSilk’s Biosteel fibre has superior flexibility and shock resistance capabilities.It bends without losing strength, so it could be integrated on parts away from the fuselage that are prone to debris impact or bird strikes. It could help protect space equipment in a similar manner or be applied to defence products.

The silk also has remarkable antibacterial properties, so we might be able to integrate it inside an aircraft cabin as a more hygienic material. “Airbus and AMSilk aim to launch a prototype composite in 2019. The chance to work with an entirely new material opens up a wealth of exciting possibilities,” says Konigorski. Of course, we’ve used natural materials like wood and bamboo for centuries, but we cannot really influence the material.

Bioengineering is truly revolutionary. AMSilk can recreate the building blocks of spider silk and influence it to create materials that wouldn’t naturally be that way. Ultimately, this material could enable us to approach design and construction in an entirely new fashion.”

AKXY Acquired Sage Automotive

Asahi Kasei had sales of 15.8 billion Euro in 2017 across its three divisions – Materials, Homes and Healthcare – and employed 34,670 people globally at the end of March 2018.

Asahi Kasei Europe was created in 2016, with a key aim of getting closer to local OEMs and the company now plans to triple its sales to the automotive sector, from 1 billion Euro in 2017 to 3 billion Euro in 2025.

Hideki Tsutsumi, managing director of Asahi Kasei Europe said this would be achieved via a combination of strategic expansions and acquisitions, production capacity increases, focused marketing activities to position the company as a one-stop shop solution provider, and the introduction of new products and technologies.

The company is already the world leader in wet and dry process lithium-ion battery separators, in addition to S-SBR synthetic rubber for fuel efficient tyres, and at the end of July this year acquired Sage Automotive – the global leader in seating fabrics worldwide.

Asahi Kasei’s president of performance polymers Hiroshima Yoshida said, “It will strengthen our fibres business, but beyond this, Sage’s management team had very strong relationships with the OEMs to the extent that they are even influential in proposing designs for new car models and it is this strong relation- ship and know-how we see as extremely valuable.”

Separators

Expansion in the field began with the acquisition of Polypore in 2015, with which Asahi Kasei became the world leading manufacturer and supplier of li-ion battery separators.

In January this year Asahi Kasei announced li-ion battery separator expansions in both Japan and the USA which will see its annual capacity increase to 1.1 billion square metres annually. At the same time, the company announced an expansion of its Leona polyamide 6.6 filaments for airbags to an annual capacity of 38,000 tons annually.

Fibre innovations

The seating and interior of the vehicle features Lamous artificial leather, the close rival to Alcantara that is marketed in Europe as Dinamica by the Italian company Miko. Miko has operated as a division of Sage Automotive using an Asahi Kasei-developed process and with its fibres supplied from Japan up to now.

Huntsman Introduces High IQ Sun Protect

Huntsman Textile Effects has extended the High IQ performance assurance scheme to help mills, brands and retailers meet consumer demand for garments and accessories with built-in sun protection.

High IQ Sun Protect provides an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of up to 50 and above, providing the wearer with the highest level of protection for the lifetime of the garment, according to the manufacturer.

Consumers around the world are increasingly aware of the harmful effects of sun exposure. Children are known to be particularly vulnerable, but all those who work outdoors or who enjoy outdoor activities are at risk. Tested against the highest industry standards, High IQ Sun Protect has been developed to guard against damaging UV-A and UV-B rays to ensure maximum protection. It does not impair the natural aesthetics of the fabric, and prolonged exposure to sunlight and multiple laundering will not degrade the protection or fade the colours, the company explains.

“Consumers today want maximum protection from the sun’s harmful rays, especially when it comes to protecting children. With Huntsman’s High IQ Sun Protect assurance programme, we offer peace of mind when outdoors and exposed to the sun. Our innovative technology ensures protection at the highest levels in textiles that carry the High IQ Sun Protect label, while remaining durable over the lifetime of the garment,” said Lee Howarth, Global Marketing Manager, Huntsman Textile Effects.

 Only mills that meet Huntsman’s stringent requirements earn the right to use the High IQ performance assurance hang tags as point-of-sale product branding. High IQ Sun Protect is said to be ideal for a broad range of fabrics and garments, including clothing for children and babies, swimwear, sportswear, workwear and school uniforms, as well as hats, pram covers, umbrel- las and other accessories.

The technology used to produce the High IQ Sun Protect effect complies with the requirements of bluesign for safe and sustainable textile production. Furthermore, fabrics produced with High IQ Sun Protect effect are suitable for Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex.

Stoll Launches New Extra-Wide Bed Flat Knitting Machine

Flat knitting machine builder Stoll has revealed details of a new machine it intends to launch at this year’s ITMA Asia + CITME exhibition.

The new machine is an extra wide-bed version of the successful ADF technology. Designated the ADF 830-24 W and suitable for the production of large textiles, oversizes, unusual cuts or long patterns, this new model has a working width of 84 ins and can be used for a variety of applications including fashion and technical textiles.

The ADF 830-24 W is also equipped with the renowned Stoll-weave-in technology, which allows the production of textiles with weave-like optics and properties. This translates into a range of advantages by directly affecting form, comfort and flexibility; unlike traditional knitwear, says Stoll, weave-like textiles are more stretchable and more comfortable depending on the type of knit. In addition, they can be preformed in the machine and provided with 3D elements.

Based on the successful ADF technology, the ADF 830-24 W also offers advantages with its yarn carriers, which are independent of the carriage and allow a particularly high degree of flexibility. Each pair of carriers is mounted on a total of 12 tracks on the ADF 830-24 W and can be moved both horizontally and vertically, can be easily programmed and quickly equipped with yarn.

Also available is the EKC operating system, which, with its intuitive operating system, makes training and usage more straightforward.

“The ADF 830-24 W represents a user-friendly gain for textile production – from day one,” says Stoll.

Swedish Chemicals Agency: No Reason for Concern About Chemicals in Menstrual Products

Study conducted by a Swedish Chemicals Agency has confirmed the safety of feminine hygiene products. A report released by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI) confirmed that the risk of negative effects on health from chemicals in menstrual products is low. The study determined and analysed the chemical substances in 35 different sanitary towels, tampons, panty liners and menstrual cups.

“In our judgement, the risk to health from using the menstrual products and other feminine hygiene products that we have investigated is low. Anyone who uses these products can continue to do so without being concerned about negative effects on health from chemicals,” says Amanda Rosen, an inspector at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has not found any residues of the pesticide glyphosate or its degradation product AMPA in the products analysed.

“Our conclusion on the basis of our own analyses and earlier studies is that there is no reason to be concerned about glyphosate in for example tampons and sanitary towels,” Amanda Rosen continues.

For its survey the Swedish Chemicals Agency purchased feminine hygiene products in Swedish shops and on the web. In addition to sanitary towels, tampons and menstrual cups, the survey included products that are also used outside the menstruation period such as panty liners and incontinence products. The Swedish Chemicals Agency looked for 62 hazardous and suspected hazardous chemical substances in the products. Of these, a total of 21 substances were detected during the analyses, almost exclusively in low concentrations.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has made an overall risk assessment for 18 of the 21 substances that were found in the products and in the agency’s judgement the risk to health is low. In some menstrual cups three substances were found that the Swedish Chemicals Agency was not able to make a risk assessment for, since there is not sufficient information about the substances available.

“We have no information that indicates that these three substances constitute a health risk. The concentrations of the substances that were measured are also low,” says Amanda Rosen.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency will carry on a dialogue with the companies to make them aware of the analysis findings in the report regarding the three substances for which the agency was not able to make a risk assessment.

The survey of chemicals in menstrual products and other feminine hygiene products is part of the Government´s assignment to the Swedish Chemicals Agency to map hazardous chemical substances in products and goods that are available to the general public. Further reasons why the Swedish Chemicals Agency has mapped feminine hygiene products are that they are used regularly by large parts of the population and that the Swedish Chemicals Agency has a responsibility to supervise these products.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has not made any assessment of the risk of discomfort or complications caused by factors other than the chemical content of the products, for example Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) that is caused by bacteria and can occur from using tampons. Such assessments are not included in the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s assignment.

Paperboard is Replacing Plastic to Reduce Climate Impact

A number of global companies have replaced or are doing trials to replace the material in their gift cards – from plastic to paperboard. Sweden’s largest cinema chain, SF Bio, has taken the plunge and is now replacing all its cards.

“When our card supplier, Megacard, suggested we could make our gift cards from paperboard and thereby drastically reduce their environmental impact, it was self-evident to us to switch,” explains Anna Marcusson, product manager for gift cards at SF Bio.

Replacing plastic with a non-fossil material is a clear trend, not least in the packaging industry. Switching from fossil plastic to an alternative material such as paperboard reduces companies’ climate impact. Changing an established infrastructure takes time, though, especially if it means that the packaging must be redesigned, the packing equipment modified or replaced, and the distribution from manufacturer to consumer is affected. The UK food company Iceland has attracted widespread attention with its pledges to eliminate plastic in its packaging within five years. Many people with packaging experience say five years is a fairly short time given the challenges faced by Iceland.

In light of these factors, the switchovers by IKEA and SF Bio have occurred very quickly, and there is reason to believe that many more companies will follow their example.

“Because the cards’ format is identical, it’s easy to make the switch. Apart from the actual production process for making the cards, very few other components of companies’ existing equipment need to be modified. So this is a very simple step to take compared with redesigning a plastic packaging solution, where complex and fully automated packing lines must be modified,” explains Johan Granås, Head of Sustainability at Iggesund Paperboard, who was closely involved in developing the solution that IKEA finally chose.

Another example of this packaging industry trend is Apple, where packaging developers are focusing on reducing the use of plastic. This is clear from Apple’s Paper and Packaging Strategy, which the company published in October 2017. Among other things, the report details how Apple succeeded in reducing the plastic content of the iPhone 7 packaging by 84 per cent compared with that of the iPhone 6s.

“Ten years ago, any manufacturer would have solved this issue with plastic,” Granås says. “But now we’re seeing time and again how companies are investing strongly to create alternative solutions in paperboard – not only Apple but many, many others.”

Granås is careful to say that plastic is still an important material in both today’s and tomorrow’s packaging market. Traditional paperboard packaging for food often needs a plastic barrier to create a seal that protects against grease, moisture and aromas. Making the packaging’s construction out of paperboard and then creating the barrier with the thinnest possible plastic coating is already a good example of good materials management.

“The development of fossil-free plastic materials is happening very quickly and I predict we will soon have bioplastics with less and less fossil content, which will significantly reduce the climate impact of food packaging in particular,” Granås concludes.

 

Iggesund’s Turnover is Just over €500 Million

Iggesund Paperboard is part of the Swedish forest industry group Holmen, one of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies listed on the United Nations Global Compact Index. Iggesund’s turnover is just over €500 million and its flagship product Invercote is sold in more than 100 countries. The company has two brand families, Invercote and Incada, both positioned at the high end of their respective segments. Since 2010 Iggesund has invested more than €380 million to increase its energy efficiency and reduce the fossil emissions from its production.

Iggesund and the Holmen Group report all their fossil carbon emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Iggesund was founded as an iron mill in 1685, but has been making paperboard for more than 50 years. The two mills, in northern Sweden and northern England employ 1500 people.

Oakley® and Bioracer Launch Graphene Plus Cycling Jersey

Directa Plus plc (AIM: DCTA), a producer and supplier of graphene-based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, is pleased to announce that Oakley®, in collaboration with Bioracer, a designer and manufacturer of innovative, customised clothing for cycling teams and individuals as well as for other sporting activities, have launched the G+ Graphene Aero Jersey containing the Company’s graphene-based products.

Unveiled at the EUROBIKE 2018 trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the new jersey is designed to leverage the unique properties of Graphene Plus (G+) to dissipate heat from the rider’s body enabling them to focus less on the conditions around them and more on performance.  New Aero Jersey enhanced with Directa Plus’ G+ graphene is a first of its kind cycling garment.

Its graphene-based products have been independently certified as non-toxic and non-cytotoxic

The Company’s unique, printed G+ planar thermal circuit distributes the heat generated by the body and dissipates it when needed to significantly improve the comfort of the wearer and enable riders to use less energy to regulate their body temperature. Fabrics treated with G+ are also electrostatic and bacteriostatic. These properties contribute to moisture management and have an anti-odour effect, and, if placed on the outside of the garment, G+ reduces the friction with air and water to facilitate top sporting performance. In addition, Directa Plus’ production process is chemical-free and its graphene-based products have been independently certified as non-toxic and non-cytotoxic.

Giulio Cesareo, Chief Executive Officer of Directa Plus, said: “We are honoured that Oakley and Bioracer have launched the G+ Aero Jersey incorporating our Graphene Plus, which follows extensive lab and road testing. It is a significant endorsement of the strengths of our offer and, in particular, the thermal regulation abilities of our G+ planar thermal circuit. Sportswear represents a substantial potential market for our G+ and we’re delighted to have added cycling clothing to our portfolio of G+-enhanced textiles for sport, which includes skiing, golf and athleisure. We congratulate Oakley and Bioracer on this launch – a first of its kind cycling garment – and look forward to expanding our relationship with them.”

Devan Launches Natural Technology to Make Textiles Free From Pet Allergens

Textile-finishing innovator Devan Chemicals recently launched a technology to make textiles free from allergens shed by cats and dogs. Purissimo is a probiotic-based solution and therefore completely natural. The technology was inspired by their experience with Purotex®, a successful allergen reduction solution that has been used in bedding for more than ten years.

Over the past few decades, pets have been climbing up the social ladder and have moved from outdoor protectors to indoor family members. The American Pet Products Association estimates that 65% of US households own a pet, with cats and dogs being the most popular ones. In Europe, more than 30% of the households own a pet. Although the data are not unequivocal, researchers believe this increasingly close contact between humans and pets and the resulting higher allergen exposures might be a reason for the increase in pet allergies.

Purissimo™

Since many studies have suggested that allergic diseases have increased in frequency, Devan thought it was about time someone came up with a solution. Purissimo is a natural technology, inspired by Devan’s years of experience with Purotex®, a very successful allergen reduction technology that is being used in the bedding industry for more than ten years. With a significant reduction in the house dust mite population of more than 99%, Purotex® has proven to be an effective, preventive strategy for reducing allergic diseases related to house dust mites.

But, unfortunately allergies are not limited to beds and house dust mites alone, and so Devan started exploring what further could be done to reduce health problems related to allergic reactions. After months of testing, the company came out with a solution for allergies triggered by pets such as cats (cat allergen Fel d 1) and dogs (dog allergen Can f 1). Test results show a significant reduction of 92,8 % on the amount of cat hair allergen Fel d1 found in treated samples. The technology is based on probiotic bacteria and therefore, completely natural.

Probiotics

First, inactive probiotic bacteria are encapsulated into microcapsules. These microcapsules are then integrated into textiles. When the fabric is exposed to friction, the microcapsules break open and release the spores. The spores absorb humidity, are then transformed into probiotic bacteria and start to consume the organic matter which contains the various allergens that cause allergic reactions and asthma.

Since pet allergens are also found in homes where there aren’t any pets (because of dispersion by adherence to textile surfaces such as clothing and shoes), Devan’s solution could be used to treat household textiles such as carpets, curtains, upholstery fabrics, etc., resulting in a clean, fresh and allergen-free environment. Also think of car blankets and other pet blankets. And not only in our homes, but also in public spaces like schools, hospitals, libraries, etc., this technology could be used to prevent the dispersion of pet allergens and the ‘second-hand’ exposure that comes along with it.

Schoeller Cooperates with Südwolle Group

Schoeller’s coldblack® technology has been specifically optimized for use on knitted and woven fabrics so brands can now expand their product application uses.

Under the blazing sun, textiles with coldblack® heat up less and stay cool to the touch. Südwolle Group, a leading manufacturer of high quality yarns, has also recognized the ideal combination of merino and coldblack®. With this, the wear comfort of wool apparel can be tangibly improved.

Wool is well known for its various property benefits, including insulation, natural antibacterial protection, odor control, light weight and nearly wrinkle free composition. Not only in the winter time, but also in summer particularly merino wool, a special high-quality type of wool, regulates moisture balance and thus the body temperature.

 

The fibers can absorb a great deal of moisture or sweat and transport it away from the body. Warm ambient air quickly dries the material and causes a cooling evaporation, which makes it very comfortable to wear merino apparel in the summer time.

coldblack® Technology Reliably Reduces Heat Build-Up

coldblack® technology from Schoeller supports the natural properties of wool because it reliably reduces heat build-up when exposed to the sun. Together with the help of Südwolle Group, the finish has been optimized specifically for the use in merino apparel. The yarn manufacturer chooses coldblack® for a variety of uses, especially for knitting and weaving yarns for sports and outdoor apparel and develops such products individually according to its customers’ requirements.

Stéphane Thouvay, Managing Director Product Management & Innovation at Südwolle Group, summarizes the use of the technology as follows: “coldblack® is part of our product range for the summer time, which we will be presenting at OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen. The technology reduces not only heat build-up, but also enhances the natural UV protection of wool without affecting the look and feel of the fabric. Therefore coldblack® perfectly fits into our yarn selection for sports and outdoor apparel. For end consumers garments made of coldblack® yarns can optionally be labeled with hangtags.”

When used in high-quality woolen fabrics, coldblack® has already proven its performance and is being used by renowned brands in various collections of men’s suits. Since 2008, the technology has been licensed by more than 200 brands, in sports particularly in the field of cycling, triathlon and golf.

Botanic fiber touch to jean fashion!

If you have to say good bye to your beloved pants in the warm summer time, indeed the only thing you need to do is to read the label! When you see TENCEL™ Denim on the label of the product you buy, you can go on putting on your pant with a peace of mind. TENCEL™’s cellulose fibers of botanic origin help you to stay away from perspiration and moisture thanks to their breathability. They offer long lasting softness, flexibility, tenacity and smoothness to all products made of denim fabric, ranging from footwear to shirts.

Despite radical changes in the fashion industry every year, with their history of almost 150 years, jeans remain as the most popular pieces in the gardropes of many of us. Today, jeans are used for daily clothing as well as in many segments of business clothing. However, in warm summer days, they are merely put on the back burner. But you don’t need to give up wearing your jeans or change your clothing style when it gets warm! TENCEL™ fibers focus on feeling good in clothes, offering unlimited freedom with denim products in every season.

TENCEL™ Denim cellulose fibers come from renewable wood sources. With their botanic roots, they enhance breathability by releasing moisture and sweat from the fabric. TENCEL™ Denim combines mobility with comfort and flexibility. Its strength and long lasting colors make it indispensable for denim fabrics.

Another feature of TENCEL™ Denim fiber is offering a smooth structure to denim fabrics. So the products can remain soft like the first day and offer all-day comfort, especially in warm days.

Denim fabrics are used in many products ranging from pants to dresses. To wear them also in summer months all you need to do is reading the labels of the products you buy and selecting TENCEL™ Denim products. TENCEL™ fibers will not only win your heart with the properties they add to denim fabrics, but also with their low carbon footprint and environmentally responsible production process.