Coffee Time Challenge
Stick to it!
Sticky tape is great, but has its limitations. Is there anything that can improve on it?
There is little doubt that, since its invention in the 1920s, adhesive tape in its various forms has been a great boon to mankind. Whether used to render torn banknotes back into legal tender, removing fluff from an item of clothing, providing temporary repairs to everything from car wing mirrors to the wings of aircraft or even just to stick one bit of paper to another, it has become an indispensable item in the home and workplace.
However, it does have limitations. For one thing, its very nature as an adhesive substance prevents it from being used again effectively, having lost some of its adhesive properties on the surface to which it was previously adhering and also possibly as a result of picking up dirt, grease or dust that renders it less sticky.
Another drawback, of course, is that normal adhesive tape cannot be used on wet surfaces, restricting its usefulness to situations where it is possible to ensure that the surface on which the tape is being placed is clean and dry.
The challenge this month, then, is to develop an adhesive tape that does not suffer these disadvantages. This new substance will have to be stronger, reusable and capable of operating in conditions in which traditional sticky tape cannot.
The solution does not have to involve adhesive in the traditional sense, of course. It could involve magnets, for instance – although that would obviously present other drawbacks, not to mention limitations!
Perhaps, then, some arrangement of spikes could allow the tape to the surface to which it is attached? Undoubtedly this would adhere, but the damage done to the object may make users think before deploying such a solution.
As ever in the Coffee Time Challenge, we do have a particular solution in mind. In this instance, it is one that has borrowed heavily from nature in order to achieve its end. It is a dry adhesive tape that not only boasts impressive bonding strength, but can also be attached and detached thousands of times without losing its adhesive properties.
This solution is ingenious, fascinating and will be revealed in our March issue, but who is to say you can't do better?
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