Will biofabricated leather be the future material for shoes?
Andras Forgacs and his lab, Modern Meadow, are on the forefront of biofabrication and are producing real leather grown out of a lab. In his TED Talk, Forgacs highlights the Environmental impacts related to the growing of cattle.
“We raise and slaughter billions of animals to make our hamburgers and our handbags.” According to Forgacs, each year we raise almost 60 billion land animals for meat and dairy goods. These animals occupy a third of Earth’s ice-free land, they drink 8% of global water, they create 18% of greenhouse gases and, because they live in such close quarters, they create a breeding ground for disease.
Forgacs hopes to bypass these environmental impacts by manufacturing real leather by way of growing leather in a lab rather than raising actual cattle.
This process allows the material to take the shape of the object it is applied to, thus eliminating the need to cut the leather thus reducing waste. Further engineering can be applied by manipulating a variety of properties including thickness gradients into a single part.
A year after Forgacs gave his TED talk in 2013, he and the Modern Meadow team raised $10 million in funding to commercialize this technology and joined forces with Singularity University . When visiting Singularity last year the Modern Meadow team was hard at work applying and refining their technology. While the public has yet to see any updates in the last year we are anxiously waiting a reveal of their leather applied to a real product.