The natural stickiness of gecko's feet has inspired decades-long research efforts to develop advanced adhesives. Now a company spun out of a university research group called nanoGriptech has taken the science out of the lab and into the market, through a number of newly available products promised to deliver enhanced grip and reusability.
A research team involving Professor Metin Sitti, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, made important strides forward in mimicking the adhesive qualities of geckos' feet last year. Like other groups at the University of Kiel and Stanford University, Sitti's team took inspiration from the millions of microscopic hairs covering the animal's feet and legs.
Called setae, these tiny projections bind with surfaces at a molecular level as a result of van der Waals forces. Adding further to the foot's continued stickiness is the ability to dust itself off, as the lateral friction caused when the toes drag across a surface shakes off the larger dirt particles. Meanwhile, smaller particles are deposited among the setae and in the skin folds below, driving a self-cleaning process with each and every stride.
The team had some success in copying this effect with setae-inspired elastic microhairs applied to a piece of tape. Now Sitti has built on this with the launch of three separate products, each featuring his company's trademarked Setex material.
Setex-dA is a dry adhesive tape aimed for parts fixturing, hanging and mounting. It apparently works best with smooth surfaces and promises repeated adhesive performance without leaving residues on surfaces after removal, or making a din like velcro. Setex-xG offers higher friction performance, particularly for items coming into contact with the skin, while Setex-cF is a fastener that can cope with a variety of shapes including things like as upholstery and interior trim.
The products can also be designed with varying sheer and peel strengths and at present, the company is tailoring each product to suit customers needs, eyeing off applications in everything from medical to manufacturing to sports apparel. You can get in touch via the link below.