Because hook-and-loop fastening materials such as Velcro® can damage the materials as the fastener is pulled apart, researchers got to work on an alternative inspired by mushrooms. The 3D-printed fastener that comes from work done at the Netherlands’ Wageningen University has no stiff hooks and instead uses soft polymer structures that are shaped like tiny mushrooms. As it gets pressed against a piece of delicate fabric, the fastener’s mushroom “caps” interlock with that fabric’s fibers, holding the two together. When pulling them apart, the “mushrooms” gently release the fibers.
“It can be used in many applications such as for diapers or silent fasteners for military use,” says researcher Preeti Sharma, Ph.D. “There is still a lot of research to be done, but the mushroom-shaped design worked quite well for soft mechanical fasteners.” The technology could also be used in foot pads for legged robots, which would allow them to walk up walls or across ceilings, like geckos.
A paper on the study was recently published in the journal Biointerphases.
Source: American Institute of Physics via www.newatlas.com.