'Insect tape' is reusable and washable

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Insects are well known for their ability to walk with ease on vertical surfaces, rough or smooth, and scientists have long been looking for ways to reproduce those abilities. A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute joined with a team of robotics researchers from Case Western Reserve University to develop an adhesive tape that mimics insect feet. The adhesive qualities of this tape come from its patterned microstructure, optimizing contact with surfaces. This new tape has successfully been tested on climbing robots called Mini-WhegsTM, and researchers expect it to have several potential applications, including adhering objects to sensitive surfaces. Read more

Key Differentiators

The new adhesive tape is twice as sticky as flat tape used for similar reusable purposes. Small gaps in the microstructure of ‘insect tape’ allows dust to settle inside, preventing it from interfering with adhesion. Mushroom-shaped tips allow the tape to adhere more closely with irregular or rough surfaces. The microstructure fibers are also flexible, allowing the tape to be removed and readhered again and again. If the tape becomes too dirty and loses stickiness, it can be washed with soap and water to regain its original adhesive properties.

Biomimicry Story

Many insects are noted for their ability to climb nearly any surface, even when the attachment surface is vertical or inverted. Scientists have found that insects generally use one of two strategies on their adhesive appendages: smooth surfaces and hairy surfaces. The creators of the new ‘insect tape’ focused on mimicking hairy surfaces, which consist of dense areas of small hairs or setae of varying lengths, maximizing contact area with attachment surfaces.

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