Web Exclusive | October 2016
Bio-inspired next-gen swimsuits
The development of next generation swimsuits gets inspiration from beavers. A team of researchers from Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States and visiting scientists from France took inspiration from semiaquatic rodent beavers to derive a mathematical model which could be used to develop swim suits and functional coating processes.
Beavers keep themselves dry and warm with the help of furs arranged in two forms with guard hairs repelling water and preventing its penetration to the under layer and the skin. The team endeavored to get greater understanding of the engineering mechanism behind this natural process in beavers.
Not only, the team got the inspiration from nature, the research grew out of an interaction with an international wetsuit maker, Sheico Group. Professor Anette Hosoi of Mechanical Engineering at MIT lead a team of students to Taiwan and while interacting with Sheico Group was asked about using biomimetic approaches to find solutions to problems in developing future swim suits.
According to Professor Hosoi, this model will enable designers to know if the fur structure they are designing will trap air or not. Jose Bico of Paris states that understanding air trapping mechanism is also important in industrial coating applications, such as dip coating.
By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA