Materials & Assembly

'Shrilk' Mimics Insect Exoskeleton

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Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Biomimickry an important design principle
Alexander Wolfe   1/4/2012 12:56:30 PM
That's a very important observation about biomimickry, Beth. I've frequently mention that the biological revolution will be to the 21st century with that electrical and electronics revoltion was to the late 19th and 20th centuries. But I've never connected the two. This exoskeleton story augers well for new materials for design engineers, not only in products but perhaps as lightweight construction materials. The ultimate lightweight airplane wings, for example.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Impressive material
Ann R. Thryft   1/4/2012 12:37:51 PM

Isn't this cool? I admit, this was a fun one to find and write up. Beth, it's still in R&D, fresh out of the lab, and I heard no hint of how long it may take to be commercialized. Medical applications are definitely one possibility the researchers mentioned. Rob, the fact that it's as tough as aluminum and weighs half as much, and is chemically resistant is what caught my eye, as well as the different thickness/flexibility formulations possible just by changing the amount of water. These lead me to believe that it may have applications in industrial, automotive and aerospace machinery.

Rob Spiegel
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Impressive material
Rob Spiegel   1/4/2012 11:59:54 AM

Fascinating article, Ann. I would imagine there are a wide range of potential uses for a strong and lightweight material. Interesting they took insect exoskeleton as a model for a new material.

Beth Stackpole
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Biomimickry an important design principle
Beth Stackpole   1/4/2012 6:21:13 AM
Biomimickry, where scientists apply principles found in nature to solve modern-day engineering problems, is a fascinating approach and one that I think we'll see far more of--not just in research labs, but in the R&D labs of commercial companies. This Shrilk seems to have some real promise. It is just in the early R&D pilot stages or are there any medical product companies experimenting with it as a more effective replacement to existing offerings or perhaps as a muse for creating new ones?

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