That's not to say these are insurmountable problems, just something Ive never thought about before.
Imagine spider silk replacing fiberglass threads for example, or carbon-fiber threads. Its not fiberglass or carbon-fibler per-se that makes the material strong, its the composite. The mixture of plastic (which provides compressive strength) with fiber (which provides tensile strength).
There are a ton of composite fibers in the marketplace. I'm not a materials engineer, so I don't know exactly what people are looking for in their fibers (aside from high tensile strength). Probably low-weight, high strength... and probably low-compressive strength (or at least, people ignore the figure).
"Elasticity" in spider-silk sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if thats good or bad for a composite.
The composite for structures is going to be Reinforced concrete: Steel Rebar provides tensile strength, while Concrete provides compressive strength.
Where spider-silk (or fiberglass / carbon fiber composites) shine, are low-weight applications. Bicycles, bullet-proof armor, and flywheels. The question is if spider-silk is actually any better than carbon fiber (or Kevlar)
That's the thing: we have a LOT of manufactured fibers. Maybe spider-silk has a niche that can be used. But its competing against Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, and Kevlar.
It seems like Spider-silk has less tensile strength than Carbon Fiber / Kevlar. However, due to its flexibility, spider-silk can absorb significantly more energy before breaking (aka "Toughness").
So spider-silk might be superior for stopping bullets in a composite weave, but it would be awful as a load-bearing structure (unless that load-bearing structure were expected to be "catching" objects a lot). Hmmm... maybe a Tennis Racket would be the ideal use of Spider Silk...
Elasticity (or in the case of conventional materials, ductility) is a trait that has applications in seismic design, so I disagree with your last claim. The trick is combining the good parts of that material with the good traits of other materials into a composite that achieves stability under gravity and predictable deformability under seismic loads.
Silkworm silk already has issues with water and such clothing has to be professionally cleaned. Many silks have the property of supercontraction and will shrink by 50% upon exposure to water.
Furthermore, these silk companies claim they can produce stuff as strong as natural spider silk, but that’s a very tall hurdle to jump. They stole VC interest by claiming that the fiber properties are engineerable, but very little academic research has been done in that space.
So you have to wonder what is the market for expensive fibers that don’t perform well in the context of clothing that gets wet.
Already you see companies like Bolt Threads pivoting towards cosmetics, because why not? The technical challenge is much lower and the profit per gram should be much higher.
So short answer is probably “maybe?”, based on the equations here , however there are other mitigating considerations, everything from how would you mass produce it, to the fact it can constrict up to 50% when wet. Hopefully those are just engineering problems.
Usually with these new fibers, the applications are lightness, since for applications without weight sensitivity steel is pretty awesome.
Graphene plus spider silk?
What is the right kind of application for using spider silk?
To be clear, they used their invention to make a shoe.
The silk is also hard for bacteria to break down. So maybe as a shoe it would be less smelly than other fabrics over time?
It's biodegradable (I guess) so probably we can use it to replace plastics.
Instead of plastic or metal or wood, we might end up using proteins.