Dandy Designs
Spider Web Strength
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A spider could make a bullet-proof vest.

spider web

Spider webs are incredible! Spider web material is about one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, but it has incredible strength. In fact it is ten times stronger than a steel strand of the same weight.

The dragline silk which makes up the spokes of the spider’s web is an amazing chemical design. Two proteins are used in these strands. Each protein contains three regions with distinct properties. The first takes a form that is called amorphous. An amorphous material is a plastic material like bubble gum that is stretchable. This is what gives the spider’s web its huge elasticity so when the spider’s prey hits the web, it stretches and does not break. Embedded in the amorphous material are two kinds of crystalline material. These crystalline materials toughen the web. They are tightly pleated and resist stretching, but only one of them is truly rigid. The pleats of the less rigid material anchor the rigid crystals to the matrix producing massive strength.

Chemists are learning new things from examining the web materials. One reason why scientists have studied spider webs is that all of the chemical design found in the spider web has enormous applications for new fabrics and fibers, bullet-proof vests and even artificial tendons.

It is obvious that a master chemist designed something to meet the needs of arachnid creatures. Man’s ability to copy what God has done continues to give us solutions to the needs we have.

Scientific American, October 2002, page 107
“spider web,” Wikipedia




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