Category Archives: bendable, flexible

future glass will withstand the impact of a baseball

shellHow do sea shells stay in one piece as they are buffeted constantly by strong currents and waves? After all, most shells consist of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is a brittle and relatively weak material. Calcium carbonate takes many forms including marble, limestone, and chalk.

One secret of success is the distribution of fine cracks within the shell structure.

Technical application:

ultrastrong glass

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airtight and flexible, the Arampaima skin

engineersfinBrazil’s Amazon waterways are home to the feared piranha. The razor-like teeth of these aggressive fish make quick work of most prey. However, large Arapaima fish share space with piranha, even in crowded ponds. Arapaima are one of the largest freshwater fish, reaching 300 pounds and a length of 8 feet (2.5 meters).
Piranhas have learned that the Arapaima’s armor-like protective scales cannot be overcome. These scales have a hard, mineralized shell-like surface which is anchored to underlying flexible muscle.

Technical application:

body construction, flexible ceramic

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gecko feet sticks by the force of electricity

gecko2 geckoElectronic circuits typically constructed on very thin silicon surfaces. Now, suppose that we want to transfer such a circuit unto a non-flat surface such as cloth or leather. Circuits are fragile and any surface contact during movement can be destructive. Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois turned to the gecko lizard for the solution. Geckos are masters at sticking and then freeing their feet as they walk across a ceiling. The gecko foot has countless micro-size filaments which adhere to most surfaces by flexible, reversible molecular adhesion.

Technical application:

climb, stick to walls or on street

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lizard tail for stabilizers

Lizard_EchseTownsville.jpg.w300h413Lizards are some of the most versatile animals on the planet. Geckoes for example can climb straight up walls, even across glass ceilings upside down. Their feet have been studied to learn how to make better adhesives. Now, lizards are the subject of a new investigation which includes the dinosaurs. Researchers are looking at how lizards use their tails for balance, resulting in similar mechanical “tails” for robots.

Technical application:


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your phone, inspired by yourself

Ear.jpg.w300h229 wilhelm_candlestick_telephoneThe eardrum is a marvel of engineering. As thin as tissue paper, it vibrates in response to the slightest changes in air pressure. If the eardrum surface moves inward a distance equal to the diameter of a single atom, one hundred millionth of a centimeter, a distinct sound is perceived. Clearly, a healthy eardrum is very sensitive.  Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was a professor of vocal physiology at Boston University. At this time, electronic communication was limited to the dots and dashes of Morse Code. In his research, Bell looked for ways to transmit the various frequencies or vibrations of the human voice.

Technical application:

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bio-inspired spring to reach your tall targets

Cucumber_Image2_605.jpg.w300h171 CucumberVine3.jpg.w300h452It has long been known that many climbing plants produce unusual tendrils for grasping and climbing. When stretched tightly, the spiral-shaped fibers do not unwind to a flat ribbon like a typical spring shape such as a telephone cord. Instead, when stretched, sections of the fiber coil further in two opposite directions, tightening and strengthening the fiber.  This allows the plant to pull itself upward toward sunlight by grasping onto a branch or trellis.


Technical application:

machinery, robotics, and biomedicine

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bionic penguin as diving robot

penguin1 penguin2‘Nature demonstrates how maximum performance can be achieved with minimum energy consumption,’ a Festo spokesman said.

“The life-size bionic birds are hydrodynamic and can turn like real penguins because of the flexible glass fibre rods that control their heads.

Technical application:

submarine, airship

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use liana or an air-beam to conquer long distances

lianaTensairity® is a revolutionary light weight beam element developed by Airlight Ldt. The synergetic combination of an airbeam, cables and struts leads to this extraorditensartitynary light weight structure, using very low internal pressure but with the load bearing capacity of conventional steel girders.






Technical application:

huge constructions over long distances

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Hook fastener with up to 35 tonns / m²

klettblumeHook and loop fasteners have become commonplace features of both industry and households.



These fasteners are resistant to chemicals and can withstand a tensile load of up to 35 tonnes per square meter at temperatures as high as 800°C.

Technical application:

Metaklett is basically suitable for use in all areas that require easily opened but stable fasteners, for example air-conditioning and ventilation systems in building services engineering and automotive construction.

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