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Spider Silk Cups

Artificial spider silk can be used to create new cups which are biodegradable and affordable.

Photo of Shruthi Sunilkumar
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Idea Title


Idea Summary

Our cups will be created with artificial spider silk, which is biodegradable, affordable, and non-toxic.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Troy High

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

Not an actual plastic cup, looks similar but is made out of artificial silk.

Scientists at Cambridge University have recently developed artificial spider silk which mimics the properties of a spider's actual silk. This artificial silk is created from a material called hydrogel, which is 98% water and 2% silica and cellulose. The fibers are very strong and can be made without any chemical solvents at room temperature. Since the fibers are made of water, silica, and cellulose, easily found materials, it can be an affordable production. Almost 30 seconds after the silk is produced, the water evaporates and leaves behind the silk to be stretched and manipulated; we can then use it to create new cups. The material can also be used to make straws and cup lids.  The material is good for transferring heat. Some testing will have to be done to ensure customer satisfaction. However, this material is non-toxic and can be readily used to create cups for human use. The material is very strong, even stronger than steel, so users can drop it and their drink will be safe. This cup is also biodegradable, so it does not harm the environment! 

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Some of the Above

How is your concept recoverable?

The cups are biodegradable, so it does not harm the nonviolent. The artificial spider silk can be continuously made in the United States.

How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?

The cup uses hydrogel which consists of environmental friendly substances. It is nontoxic and biodegradable. The process does not include actual spiders, the synthetic fibers are only mimicking the properties of spider silk.

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

This idea can be implemented in any area. The actual production of the silk will be in the United States, but the cups can be sent in bulks to other areas.

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Everyone and the environment can benefit from this idea. There is no losing party when using and producing spider silk cups. The new cup production will generate a new abundance of jobs. The cups are made of affordable materials, so companies can buy it easily. It does not harm the environment. Customers will still receive their cups, and it will be much stronger than regular plastic cups, so users do not have to worry about dropping their cup.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

The main challenges the idea faces is funding and ability to produce the spider silk. We hope to have more machines and faster machines that can produce this material.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Supply Chain
  • Legal
  • Fundraising / Finance

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

We are two high school students at Troy High School.

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Troy High School

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

First we will have to contact the researchers at Cambridge University and inform them about our idea. We will have to team up with them and others to produce the actual cups. The funding will go towards building new machines to help create the cups and the actual silk fibers.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Other


Join the conversation:

Photo of Amina Taslim

Hi Shruthi,
This is a super cool idea! I was wondering whether it would be effective for mass production, you sort of go into how the silk cools after 30 seconds and how it's affordable?

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