We’ve mentioned these amazing developmental materials in the past that mimic the microscopic hairs on a Gecko’s feet called setae. They work like hook and pile tape without the pile. Now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts have made a breakthrough. In a press release, head researcher Alfred Crosby claims, “Our Geckskin device is about 16 inches square, about the size of an index card, and can hold a maximum force of about 700 pounds while adhering to a smooth surface such as glass.”
Researcher Al Crosby went on to say, “In order for something this large to use adhesion, its tendons are stitched right into its skin. And so you have the tendon, which is very stiff tissue, connected to the skin and the setae. That direct connection is critical. Without that, the gecko could not use adhesion. This direct integration is what we ended up mimicking in Geckskin.
There are two major issues with this type of technology. First, it has to able to be used over and over and second, it has to hold for long periods of time. In testing, Crosby claims they have done both. They just haven’t held items that are heavy (ie 100 + lbs) for months at a time. Their holy grail? Supporting a wall mounted flat screen for years.
Of course, these guys are looking at straight up adhesives. Whatever. How about a new way to carry magazines? As in, “just slap them against your chest and they won’t fall off.” Perhaps something as big as a SAW drum? Or maybe an infinitely reconfigurable armor carrier vest? Imagine being able to alter your set up on a whim, or better yet, how it rides on your body. No sewing necessary.
That’s what we hope this stuff can do; make gear better.