What can humans learn from nature to join and separate complex materials cleanly and efficiently?

Edit Hook

Everywhere we look in nature, materials are joined to each other. In cells, individual molecules stick and become unstuck, parasites attach to hosts, sponges anchor to the ocean floor, and even we need to stick to surfaces sometimes using our fingers and toes. During manufacturing, we use glues and hard fixings to join different materials and, in so doing, we create points of stress and weakness as well as huge volumes of toxic substances. Glues are generally irreversible and make recovering the materials in the products that contain them almost impossible.

Natural joining mechanisms bring together materials with wildly different properties, materials like bone and tendon, in elegant composites that manage stresses and are completely biodegradable. Imagine if we could learn from nature to bring those techniques into our manufacturing, creating reversible and degradable methods for joining materials with superb physical properties. This collection brings together strategies featuring nature’s joining technologies.

Edit Summary