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Gecko-inspired adhesive goes into mass production

25 August 2015

Carnegie Mellon University spin-off, nanoGriptech has launched 'Setex', believed to be the first commercially available gecko-inspired adhesive.

Setex comprises arrays of polyurethane microstructures with mushroom type flat tips, similar to the structures found on gecko toe pads (courtesy of nanoGriptech)

Pittsburgh based nanoGriptech was founded by Metin Sitti, a professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon who worked for nearly a decade to understand and synthesize biologically inspired micro/nanostructured adhesives.

“There are other gecko-inspired materials in labs around the world, but, unlike Setex, they have all have weak peel strengths and are prohibitively expensive to manufacture,” says Sitti. Setex is dry and can repeatedly grip to surfaces without leaving a residue.

“Much like Velcro or Kevlar, we believe Setex will disrupt markets because of its many commercial applications," says Roi Ben Itzhak, nanoGriptech CFO and vice president of business development.

Setex’s glue-free fibres mimic the adhesive qualities of gecko foot hair. Intermolecular forces found at the tips of the hairs enable geckos to walk across ceilings. Like a gecko’s foot, Setex can be applied to a variety of surfaces and lifted repeatedly. The synthetic fibres are strong – several square inches of Setex will support hundreds of pounds.

nanoGriptech researchers can customise their manufacturing techniques at the micro-scale level to produce materials that are modified for different applications, such as enhancing a robot’s ability to pick up a part or improving the fit of prosthetic limbs on skin.

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