Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No. 501: Applying biometics to product development (2/2) (May 2, 2012)

We can learn a lot from the body mechanism of creatures. With the progress of nanotechnology and computer simulation, biometics is attracting wide attention for product development. A rose petal gave a clue to the research team of Tokyo Universityof Science that developed a rubber material with a wrinkle structure of about 10 nanometers. A rose is said to stay shed waterdrops on its petals and sucks nutrition in them. The new material developed by the university repels waterdrops and stay them on the surface as sphere waterdrops. The waterdrops fall when the material is bent. That is, the new material has absorbability and dissolubility in addition to water repellency. The new rubber can store rainfall without energy in the desert. Namely, it can be applied to the agriculture in the desert and arid region.

LIXIL, one of Japan’s leading company in the field of dwelling and living, focused on the clean shell of snail and found that very small furrows run on the surface of a snail’s shell. The furrows keep the snail shell covered with water, and the water film floats oil and stain that are subsequently washed away when it rains. The company applied the structure of a snail shell to its external wall materials. The treated external wall materials have a durable period of more than 30 years, two times longer durable period of the existing materials, and they are maintenance free. One resident of the house with treated external wall told with excitement that he had purchased his house 11 years ago but it is as clear as it was 11 years ago because rainfall washes out stains.

Nippon Paint Marine studied tuna skin and developed marine paint that improves fuel economy by decreasing the abrasion resistance of seawater. Mitsubishi Rayon studied the eyes of toad and developed an anti-reflection film. The functions of creatures are the reasonable and ultimate products that they achieved through evolution. There will be lots of more suggestions for product development. 

A house with the maintenance-free external wall from LIXIL

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