These New Adidas Shoes Are Made From Artificial Spider Silk

These New Adidas Shoes Are Made From Artificial Spider Silk

The eco-friendly kicks can be dissolved in water when you’re done with them.

The eco-friendly kicks can be dissolved in water when you’re done with them.

Text: Thomas Freeman

Adidas, which recently made 3D-printed shoes a reality, remains on the cutting edge of sneaker technology. In an effort to produce more eco-friendly kicks, Adidas has unveiled a running shoe made from an unlikely biodegradable textile—spider silk.

To craft the Adidas Futurecraft Biofabric, the sportswear giant partnered with AMSilk, a fledgling German company that produces a synthetic spider silk called “Biosteel.” To produce Biosteel, AMSilk ferments genetically-modified bacteria, which yields a powder substrate. AMSilk then spins this powder into a yarn, creating an ultra-durable fabric for a fraction of the electricity and fossil fuel needed to manufacture a traditional polymer-based shoe.

The result is the first-ever athletic sneaker made from a biomaterial. Likewise, it is the first sneaker wearers can discard by dissolving into water.

After two years of wear and tear, Adidas and AMSilk recommend wearers, rather than toss them in the trash and siphon them off to a landfill, disintegrate the sneakers in a sink of water. A special enzyme must be added, which slowly eats up the silk, leaving only the laces and rubber soles left. Wearers needn’t fear getting their sneakers wet during everyday wear as the enzyme is needed to dissolve them.

“We at AMSilk believe that nature has all the answers. That’s why we looked into this great product of the spider and tried to produce it on an industrial scale, under defined conditions,” CEO Jens Klein told Motherboard. Speaking of the potential for Biosteel technology, Klein added, “We can alter the protein in a way that it has different performance properties. By the time we are creating the Biosilk fiber, one could really create a specific yarn quality for specific sports.”

Adidas and AMSilk will continue to look for ways to manipulate proteins to produce new high-performance silks for sports and activities beyond running. Until then, a limited number of the Adidas Futurecraft Biofabric, available in a golden hue, will be sold later in 2017.

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