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.
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.
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?
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.