In one of the start-up companies of Brooklyn, specialists are busy creating artificial leather - the animal material of the future, created according to the principle "Grown, not killed!".
According to the head of Modern Meadow company, Andrasha Forgach, such artificial skin can be seen on the market much earlier than artificial meat (which, by the way, scientists have already learned to grow in the laboratory). Most likely, this is due to the fact that people will quickly adopt new technologies in clothing than on their own plates, in addition, for food products, more stringent standards have been developed.
Besides, for manufacturers (for example, bags, clothes, automobile seats, etc.) the new technology can appear quite useful.
In recent years, the cost of the skin has grown significantly, to that there is currently a pronounced imbalance in supply and demand, as more and more people with moderate income can afford to buy leather products.
According to Forgach, today the process of leather production is dirty and inefficient. In some cases, one animal can be killed solely for the sake of obtaining leather (originally the leather was sold as a by-product of a slaughtered animal).
The tannery industry is highly polluting, especially in developing countries. In addition, a large amount of skin in the form of scraps falls into waste and is thrown out at the end of the production process.
For artificial skin in laboratory conditions, specialists need a small sample of tissue (for example, a skin biopsy is taken from an ostrich, a cow, a crocodile, etc.). Next, experts isolate the cells and multiply them, resulting in a leather cloth in the form of sheets.
The head of the company noted that specialists are able to grow the skin of almost any animal. Now the developers are working on the fact that to maximize the production of collagen, which is the main building element of the skin. In the process of growing, the sheets are superimposed on each other, and collagen creates a fiber structure, which makes the artificial skin look very similar to the real, but only without the admixture of fat, flesh, hair, glands, etc. In addition, to give artificial skin necessary for wearing a structure, requires fewer chemicals.
The first prototypes of artificial leather were created by the company's specialists in 2013 and now the researchers are working on improving their product.
The skin grown in the laboratory will open new opportunities for designers. Since the process of growing artificial leather begins almost from scratch, it is possible to create a wide variety of shapes and types, while getting the finished product with minimal production costs.
The company's specialists are currently developing a material that will be stronger and thinner than normal skin. The researchers plan to create a skin in a three-dimensional dimension, which will allow designers to create complex shapes without seams and waste.