Webs of araneid spiders absorb impacts via microscopic engineering.

"...spider webs owe their superior performance not just to the ultimate strength of the silk thread, but also from its nonlinear response to stress and its alignment within the geometry of the web. The silk nanocrystals are a stacked arrangement with each layer dialed in a different direction. They are held together by weak hydrogen bonds that act together in the stack to resist external force." (Zygote Quarterly)

Learn more about hierarchical structures in spider webs, as well as other organisms, in Tom McKeag's case study, "Little Things Multiply Up: Hierarchical Structures" on page 26 of Zygote Quarterly:


This strategy inspired the web furniture system sketched by Linda Dong, a sophomore industrial design student at Carnegie Mellon University. "How can we create furniture using the least amount of material and manufacturing? The web is inspired by the strong and lightweight nature of spider webs. Using only tension from string, these pieces can hold their structure easily without additional glue or fasteners." Her sketch won the AskNature Student Design Sketch Competition on the basis of clear rendering, attention to product lifecycle and sustainability, and inspiration from nature (see Gallery).

"Spiders provide their nets with many microscopic engineering inventions to prepare the structure for the impact force of their prey or other intruders; webs of araneid spiders have several structural devices designed to absorb the impact energy without breaking the entire structure." (Pallasmaa 1995:81)

Animal ArchitectureOctober 21, 2016
Ingo Arndt