The gecko effect
Researchers at the INM have improved their Gecomer structures’ adhesion so much that the same gripper can now transport light, heavy and even sensitive objects.20 Apr 2016
The Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) in Saarbrücken is an internationally leading research center for innovative materials. It conducts collaborative scientific research with other German and international institutions and develops customized solutions for companies all over the world. At HANNOVER MESSE 2016, the team of scientists is showcasing a major new development in its Gecomer technology. The improved adhesion of its Gecomer structures to 20 kilograms per 25 square centimeters now makes it possible to use one and the same gripper for transporting light, heavy and even sensitive objects – thus opening up new potential uses in Industry 4.0 applications.
"Artificially produced microscopic pillars known as gecko structures can stick to objects using just physical interaction. The adhesion can be switched on and off by mechanically manipulating these pillars. This means that items can be lifted and released both quickly and very precisely," explains Karsten Moh from the Functional Microstructures Program Division. "Our new materials now make it possible to transport heavy and sensitive items, too. The newly developed adhesive systems can achieve adhesive forces of around eight Newtons per square centimeter. In our test runs, the system has proven itself over 15,000 runs," reveals upscaling expert Moh. He says the technology can now also be used to grip slightly rough surfaces and even in vacuums.
INM – Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH (66123 Saarbrücken, Germany), Hall 2, Stand B64
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