Automotive

Published on October 23rd, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Ford Motor Company looks to geckos for adhesive ideas

The Bullet Train in Shinkansen, Japan was inspired by the kingfisher. Velcro took its cues from a burr. And improved medical needles were developed based on the mosquito. Ford Motor Company will chart new territory as it seeks to create adhesive innovations inspired by the gecko. For years, Ford researchers have considered ways to make auto manufacturing more sustainable. A key challenge is glue used to adhere foams to plastics and metals can make disassembling parts for recycling nearly impossible.

The lizard’s toe pads allow it to stick to most surfaces without liquids or surface tension. The reptile can then easily release itself, leaving no residue. Consider, too, that a typical mature gecko weighing 2.5 ounces is capable of supporting 293 pounds. Buoyed by the biomimetic method, Ford recently hosted a forum at its Dearborn campus together with The Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit committed to promoting the innovative approach of looking to nature for sustainable solutions to modern-day challenges. Nearly 200 researchers and designers took part in the day-long session to learn about biomimicry and how to apply it to their work.

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Founded in 2006, the group works to empower people to create sustainable products and services using biomimicry. In addition to mobilizing educators and regional practitioners through the Biomimicry Global Network, the organization provides a platform to learn and practice biomimicry through multiple design challenges. These include open innovation, academic-corporate partnerships and corporate-employee challenges where employees get hands-on training while developing new solutions to issues corporations face. AskNature.org, the organization’s online database of biological solutions, offers inspiration to those looking to find answers in biomimicry.

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