Tag Archives: spider silk

2016 Spider Silk Team

Greetings! We are the 2016 Spider Silk Team! Our names are Will Dietrich ’16 and Davis Ebbert ’16, and we are very excited about our project. Currently, we are researching everything available about spider silk and hope to discover more on our own.

The newest update regarding spider silk involves a company named The North Face. This company is well known in the sport adventure industry and creates winter jackets from which any ametur or professional can benefit. This new product has been named the “Moon Parka.” North Face, as well as many other companies, have given in to the global craze over spider silk. This is because it is one of nature’s stretchiest and strongest materials known to mankind. Spiber Technologies has been working with North Face extensively and has helped them create this new product. By isolating the gene responsible for the production of fibroin and introducing it to a bioengineered bacteria, the new product is an artifical silk that can be collected and spun. Spiber Tech mentioned in a statement that they developed this product with the thought in mind that most sports apparel out in the world creates harmful greenhouse gases and creating a product that is renewable is very important to society.

The difference between spider silk and biotech artificial silk is enormous. The strength of natural silk from the nephila clavipes spider cannot be replicated in any lab and is immensely stronger than artificial biotech. Spider silk from nephila clavies is [200%] stronger than synthetic silk and hold the record as the strongest natural fiber known to man. In short, natural silk is more impressive than biotech. What that really means is that the silk that our team extracts in the field will be better than any artificial spider silk project out there to date. Biotech silk involves the introduction of bioengineered material to the natural silk to try and create the toughest fiber known to man. That being said, the fiber our team extracts still holds the record for the strongest natural silk known worldwide. This has been tested by Tufts University and all silk has been found both credible and valuable.

We work with nephila clavipes spider, which holds the record as the strongest natural fiber known to man. We have developed a patented method for extracting spider silk and then test is elasticity. Last year’s Spider Silk Team set a new strength record when testing spider silk strength and elasticity. This year, we hope to beat that record and rebuild our spider farm down in Costa Rica.

Our plan is to take our team of trained field biologists down to the Costa Rican Rainforest and extract more natural fiber than we could even imagine. Last year, the Spider Silk Team extracted nearly 35,000 feet of fiber, and this year we are determined to take silking to the next level. We will practice silking spiders in the classroom prior to arriving in Costa Rica; that way we will be more than ready to take this year’s production to new heights. We will be stress testing all silk produced, and importing all data into a Glacier Computer (military grade laptop). This information will give us an idea as to the tensile strength of the silk and how the silk has matched up to previous spider silk extractions.

We will be keeping you updated with our progress in the coming months and we are excited to share what learn and discover.

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Procedure for Spider Silking

Equipment

  1. Four Silk Extractors- made out of aluminium
  2. Tool Kit
  3. Level ruler
  4. Windshield wiper battery
  5. Spider collection jars
  6. Rite in the rain notebooks
  7. Flagging tape
  8. Duct tape
  9. Slingshot
  10. Black light
  11. Light meter
  12. Bike counters
  13. Rubber bands

Procedure for Spider Silking

The spider silk extractor is one of Forman School’s own patented design, consisting of three parts to it; this comprises of the box itself, the wheel and the handle for spinning the wheel. Everything is stored away in the confinements of the box whilst unused, but when needed for the extraction process, the pieces of this contraption is assembled together.

Now that the new spider silking mechanisms have arrived, fully remade into aluminum, we can begin a proper and more sophisticated method of extracting the silk from the Nephila Clavipes. There will be no more warping in the wood and everything will become more solid and accurate, which will aid in getting precise data.

Because extracting web from a golden orb weaver is a very delicate process, people involved are designated jobs. The first person, denoted as A, handles the spiders and does the collecting of the spider silk. The second person, denoted as B, spins the wheel on the extractor to ensure the collection. The third person, denoted as C, records all the data on a notebook, as well as a glacier computer.

  1. Person A transports the spider from its web to the location of extraction, using cupped hands so as to not harm the spider
  2. Person C uses the light meter to measure the amount of lumens hitting the silk. The spider’s number, the time of day, and other variables that can factor the silking are also recorded.
  3. The spider is brought to the wheel of the silk extractors, and is prepared to release it’s webbing by allowing the spider to create the sticky disc on Person A’s hand. The sticky disc allows the spider to attach itself to the hand of Person A while it releases its fiber for the extractor to collect the silk.
  4. Person B starts spinning the wheel using the handle whilst Person A guides the spider with his hands as the silk is being produced, and does this for about 2 to 3 minutes. This timeline allows the spider to release enough fiber, but will not over exhaust the spider.
  5. Once done, the spider is released by Person A safely on its web and back to its colony.
  6. The spider silk is then cut off with scissors. The spider silk will then be tested for its tensile strength. It will be tested with a homemade field tensile lab
  7. The data is then recorded. This includes temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and dew point.

Spider Silk 2014 Methods and Materials

 

A. Method of assembling the extractor.

The Silk Extractor, one of the 2 U.S. Patented devices under the Forman School’s Rainforest Project, is key to the process of the silk extraction. This highly effective device scratch-built by Forman Students, has only three main parts consisting of the box, crank and the “wheel”  This portable and compact piece of equipment is very easy to assemble. To start the assembly of the Silk Extract the handle (window crank) is attached to the rear of the box by screwing it in place. Once secure, the “wheel” consisting of eight cut arrow shaft’s placed in a circle (25.4cm).   Once both crank and “wheel” is secure, the Silk Extractor is now ready for the extraction process.

B.  Method for extraction

The method for the extraction of the Nephila Clavipes spider is also under the same protection of the US Patent of the Silk Extractor.  Before the extraction process begins, the three members of the Spider Silk team are given each individual jobs which are vital to the operation. Such jobs include, the handler which has the role of transporting the spider to and  from its web, and uses the “Hand-over-Hand” method to give the spider the sensation of falling; The Crank operator, which is responsible for counting the number of rotations used to silk each individual spider, and the operation of the Silk Extractor; the final job is the Computer Operator, who is responsible for keeping track of all the data throughout the expedition.
To start the extraction, the Spider Handler must carefully remove the Golden Orb Weaver spider from its web. Once the spider is situated on the arrow shafts, the spider  should lay its sticky disc. In order to extract the silk from the spider, the Crank Operator and the Spider Handler must coordinate strongly together because each spider behaves differently. The spider goes into the handlers hand. Then, the handler uses the “hand-over-hand” method to silk the spider. (This method is when the handler places their hands in a tilted down position in order to simulate the sensation of falling for the spider. The silk that is being extracted is the dragline silk. The silk comes out of the Major Ampullate gland. If executed properly the spider should produce silk.) At the same time, the Crank Operator begins the process of spinning with one hand, while the Computer Operator records the data being received.

Once the spider has finished silking, the Spider Handler returns the spider back to its web. After each spider, the following data is recorded; Number of rotations, length of silk, Color of silk, number of strands, Time of extraction, and Weather variables.

C. Methods for feeding

To ensure that variables are close to accurate as possible, the Spider Silk team has developed a method for feeding the spiders. This is vital the silk extracting process and shows that farming these spiders is easy so that a local farmer can perform the extraction technique.  In order to attract these insect, a black light is placed inside of a mesh laundry hamper. Once the light is in place, a dog collar is then positioned over the opening. When fully assembled, the Feeding Ring is hung low to the ground. Within 30 minutes the Feeding Ring is remove from the tree. With the insects caught, feed spiders with insects.  We mostly feed them moths. take insects and throw them into webs.     

D. Method for Logger Pro

In order to use the Logger Pro application. The application is opened. To start the data graph, the recorder types the strength and the elasticity of the silk. X is going to be strength and elasticity is going to by Y. based upon our field results, the recorder types in the data, into Logger Pro and makes a graph.

Date:
Time
Duration of session
# spider
Rotations
Color
Amount of silk
Temperature
Barametric Pressure
Wind Speed
Wind Direction
Rainfall
Luming/lux
Due Point  

E. Method for Employing Local Families.
Employing 2 local families to test what quantity of silk they can get.

F: Method for Light Meter

Going to be using a light meter to look at the amount of lumens that are hitting hte web and going to be measuring by Klux. this will be used to keep track of lumens hitting each web, and coordinating color of silk.

Thank You Glacier Computer

Spider silk has received a new computer from Glacier Computer. Glacier lent us their T510K for when we trek down to the rainforest. This bad boy is loaded with Microsoft Windows Xp, can withstand temperatures from -4 to 113 fahrenheit and its shock absorption up to 40 G. We will be using the computer to input our data and will really help us when we are down in Costa Rica. A Big thank you to Glacier Computer! Much Appreciated!

Spider Silk 2013-2014

spider silk — the strongest natural fiber in the world. It is well-suited for many uses like medical sutures and gloves, bullet proof vests, and more. For this, the school has been granted two US patents!

Scientists used to think that the Golden Orb Weaver spider was cannibalistic and not farmable. So companies are spending millions of dollars bio-engineering their spider silk. But our research has found little cannibalistic tendencies and in fact, they prefer to live in tight colonies. We have been able to collect their silk at a fraction of the cost.

This is the future of technology. And the Forman School’s Rainforest Project, the only High School in the country with this intense of a program, is on the brink of making history.

Goals:

1. To get as much spider silk as possible.
2. To figure out when and why the silk is most strong.
3. Make a cottage industry for local ranchers abutting rainforest land.