Fans of Marvels superhero web slinger can rejoice as Disney have announced that new placement Tom Holland will reprise his role as the lycra-clad arachnid in future Marvel Universe movies.
Whilst Spiderman’s antics are firmly in the world of fiction, some of the basis for his web-powers are founded in reality. If we were to scale the size of real spider silk to human sized proportion, it would be one of the strongest materials in existence.
As you can imagine however, mass producing spider silk on an industrial scale is next to impossible – it would take an awful lot of spiders to produce rope for a suspension bridge for example. Fortunately stainless steel comes to the heroic rescue again, and provides much of the tensile strength of a spiders web, on a much more practical manufacturing scale.
Whilst many people are familiar with the strength of spider silk, many don’t know that each spider and each type of silk has a set of mechanical properties optimised for their biological function, so no two silks are the same. Most spider silks, in particular dragline silk, have exceptional mechanical properties and high tensile strength combined with incredibly low mass.
A mistake often made however is to confuse strength with ‘toughness’. For example kilo for kilo silk is stronger than stainless steel, but not as strong as Kevlar – however, silk remains tougher than either.
The tensile strength for Stainless Steel is actually be slightly higher than spider silk, based on physical size (for example the diameter of a rope), but spider silk is a much less dense material, such that if the weights of the materials were matched, the spider silk would be 5 times stronger.
At DSM we can’t manufacture anything out of spider silk - though we have found plenty of large arachnids in amongst our storage racks! – nor are we able to climb the walls like Spiderman; however our stainless steel shelves are designed to provide the highest level of durability, and happily hang on the wall longer than any superhero!