Geckskin is an innovative adhesive material, one output of the Z-Man program. This new fabric will revolutionize future home decorating, allowing to quickly place the TV, speakers, hooks, fireplace wall shelves or wall decor items and change interior decorating in no time, without using nails, brackets or consoles.
A team of polymer scientists and biologist Duncan Irschick at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have discovered exactly how the gecko does it. The invented Geckskin is fabric pads that can hold 700 pounds on a very smooth vertical surface.
Geckskin is composed of stiff fabrics—such as carbon fiber or kevlar—with soft elastomers, such as polyurethane or polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). It uses commodity materials, not nanotechnology. The key innovation of Geckskin is the integration of a soft elastomer (the pad) with a stiff fabric (the skin), allowing the pad to drape over a surface to maximize contact. Further, as in natural gecko feet, the skin is woven into a synthetic tendon, yielding a design that plays a key role in maintaining stiffness and rotational freedom. The end result is an adhesive device that is powerful, easily removed, and leaves no residue.
Felsuma LLC is a startup company commercializing a new super-adhesive technology – based on the mechanic properties of gecko feet. Felsuma met with around 20 companies in 3 months resulting in letters of intent from customers valued USD 10 million in year 1 orders. Addressable market sizes are millions of rental units in the US needing temporary hanging, about 115 million households requiring replacement for hooks, nails, post-it notes or cork boards. Jackets and other apparel addressable markets are also in the millions. Felsuma is negotiating with the first 6 customers to fund the company to make customized prototypes for their testing and incorporation into products. Funding instruments range from equity to product development. Felsuma’s business model is to customize prototypes and then outsource manufacturing–an OEM model. All customers to date have articulated a portfolio of products into which they wish to incorporate Geckskin. For example, in apparel there are many lines of clothing and shoes.
Few robots are as elegantly designed as Stickybot, Stanford's original robotic gecko. The bio-inspiration extends all the way down to the toes, which featured an early generation of gecko toe adhesive.
After the release of their first publication on the material, up to 80 companies contacted them wanting a piece of the pie. To date, they get around one or two companies a week approaching them. In addition to large corporate partners, Crosby has also been in touch with private investors interested in Geckskin. Right now, they estimate that at least the materials costs are under 25 cents for a pad to hold something about 700 pounds. That's small scale production, but not including labor. They had some Darpa-funds, Darpa is the advanced research arm of the US defense department. Also had a lot of National Science Foundation funding prior to that.
Traditional adhesives are usually petroleum-based and often intended for a single use and hence present a sticky situation for sustainability. Geckskin adhesive devices are designed to provide tunable adhesive capacity, easy release, and extreme re-usability. Unlike standard tape, Geckskin is washable and long-lasting. Further, 100% renewable forms of Geckskin has been created. For these reasons, this innovation is a significant step forward towards a more environmentally friendly approach towards adhesives.
The inherent draping elasticity provided by textiles, as well as the vast range of compositions available for fabrics, bring a unique set of adhesive properties. This combination allows consumers, engineers, and innovators to see the value of fabric in a new light, where fabric enables high capacity, easy release interfacial bonding solutions for technologies from electronics to household goods to clothing. This capability impacts the way that structures and devices are constructed to enable re-use and recycling for designs that have traditionally been only possible in a consumable form.
The study, besides estimating the potential for Geckskin between 2016 and 2021, analyzes on who can be the market leaders and what partnerships would help them to capture the market share. The report gives an overview of the dynamics of the market, by discussing various aspects such as drivers, restraints, Porter’s five forces, value-chain, customer acceptance and investment scenario.
The study in brief deals with the product life cycle, comparing it to the relevant products from across industries that had already been commercialized. It approximates the time for innovation, in order for the industry to maintain a stable growth over a sustained period. The report also details the potential for various applications, discussing the recent product innovations and gives an overview on potential regional market shares.
Key Deliverables in the Study
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