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Modern Meadow biofabricates leather with collagen, no cows
2017/10/16 15:40:51 Source: Author: 点击率:


The Museum of Modern Art, New York, commissioned this T-shirt for its exhibit titled “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” which runs through Jan. 28. The shirt is constructed of knitted cotton, polyester spacer and Zoa biofabricated leather.

NUTLEY, N.J. – A new genetically engineered version of leather can seamlessly join other fabrics, be made into sheets of industrial proportions, and be designed with virtually any color, texture or density.

Called biofabricated leather, the product is made by Modern Meadow under the brand name Zoa. Zoa is essentially a combination of collagens reproduced by genetically engineered yeast in a process devoid of animal derivatives.

Collagen is the protein in animal skin responsible for strength and stretch. Modern Meadow edits the DNA of a strain of yeast so that it can reproduce a protein virtually identical to bovine collagen.

Modern Meadow expects to produce Zoa on an industrial scale for automotive, sports, upholstery and other household applications within the next five to 10 years.

The world leather market in 2016 was $217.5 billion, according to global research company Technavio, with a compound annual growth rate of 5% over the next five years.

Furniture Today estimates U.S. retail sales of leather furniture upholstery totaled $12.04 billion in 2016.

Modern Meadow is talking with two brands, “in the performance sport industry and luxury industry,” said Natalia Krasnodebska, head of communications for Modern Meadow, and is “hoping for two launches in 2018 with two very well-known brands, but we can’t name them because of confidentiality and because we want to be sure the product is ready.”

A T-shirt demonstrating Zoa’s ability to seamlessly join with other fabrics is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern?, which opened Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 28.

Krasnodebska said Modern Meadow’s proprietary process begins by editing yeast DNA “to instruct our cells to manufacture the type and quantity of collagen we need.” The yeast then ferments in tanks. “When it’s done, we harvest it, we purify it, we formulate it and then we assemble it into (biofabricated) leather,” Krasnodebska said. “That process takes about two weeks, and we’re doing that at a small scale.”

The company moved in August to its current lab and pilot manufacturing site so it could scale the production from 5-liter batches to 1,000-liter batches, “and the results are good,” Krasnodebska said. “We’re seeing the same kinds of yield that we were seeing at R&D scale.

“Our goal ultimately is to build out the pilot plant and then build out manufacturing facilities where we can really start churning out square yardage of (biofabricated) leather.”

Krasnodebska would not equate Zoa’s liters of collagen to yards of leather.

“Those are proprietary numbers because that speaks to the efficiency of our process.” While Zoa is in liquid form, Modern Meadow’s material scientists “can mix other substances into the formulation” to yield a finished material with virtually any aesthetic or performance property, Krasnodebska said.

The biofabricated leather can be imbued with colors and textures. While in liquid form, it can be drizzled or poured so that it dries in any design, or binds to other fabrics without a stitch.

“The things that are possible with a liquid latex and how it can join fabrics as it dries, that’s a good way to imagine what we can do with liquid (biofabricated) leather,” Krasnodebska said.

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