Silicon pads inspired in spider webs - Biomimicry

In a recent publication in "Biomimetics" the performance of a pad used for cushioning in mechanical equipment inspired by biomimicry cobwebs is evaluated. These "shock absorbers" protect high-precision bearings, which in turn support rotating mechanisms and reduce the friction coefficient in modern machines.

For the development of these pads, Chinese researchers highlight that three types of cobwebs can be found in nature: circular networks with radial and spiral threads interwoven on the same plane, flake web and irregular three-dimensional networks. Among them, the second is the most common and it is therefore chosen to emulate nature and use it in different mechanisms. This form was designed through design programs and printed through three-dimensional printers using a silicone cast. It later underwent several mechanical tests to evaluate its performance. The determination of the acceleration to impact is one of the most important variables to evaluate. When these values are low it is considered that they are better for correct damping.

The results were surprising since the acceleration at impact was reduced by 86% and 78% in two different tests carried out as compared to the mechanism without this biomimetic cushioning. Altogether, this and other tests carried out show that the structure created inspired by biomimicry provides robust protection for high-precision bearings.     

Source: Biomimetics

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