Ford Motor Co. To Study Toe Pads Of Geckos For Auto Applications

November 24, 2015

Ford is looking into gecko toes to build a more environmentally friendly adhesive.


The sticky toes on common house geckos and other gecko species are super strong and sticky. According to some reports, a gecko weighing 70 grams can support weights of up to 132 kilograms with its sticky toes. Ford is looking into the adhesiveness of the sticky toes of geckos in hopes to create better adhesive technology used in automotive production, and to make auto parts more easily recyclable. 

You see, when it comes to recycling, the adhesives that are used to glue many parts of a car together are so strong that disassembling the parts are nearly impossible. This is where the gecko’s sticky toes come into play. Debbie Mielewski, Ford’s senior technical leader for plastics and sustainability research says the gecko’s feet could lead to a range of adhesive innovations.

"Solving this problem could provide cost savings and certainly an environmental saving,” Mielewski told Stuff New Zealand. "It means we could increase the recycling of more foam and plastics, and further reduce our environmental footprint." 

The science behind looking at natural solutions such as that of the sticky toes of a gecko, or the movements of a snake applied to such things as search and rescue is called biomimicry. Ford has been working with U.S. firm Procter & Gamble on biomimicry applications, because in part nature can serve as a model for design efficiencies that use minimal resources. 

John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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