New Approach to Adhesion

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ShearGrip® is a revolutionary new way to attach — it is a dry adhesive made from millions of solid, ultra-thin fibers that work like gecko feet and grab the microscopic contours on surfaces. This first of its kind dry adhesive can be used to make a wide range of useful products not possible with conventional glues, goos, and tapes. It isn’t tacky or sticky - which makes installation, handling, and positioning incredibly easy - but can strongly grip most surfaces, and just as easily peel off.

Conventional adhesives need to be applied as liquids to wet a surface. In the case of glues, there is generally either a chemical reaction (super glue) or physical change (hot glue of water-based glues) that takes place to turn it into a solid for applications. Pressure-sensitive adhesives are unique because they are applied and used in the same state — these are consumer tapes and “peel-and-stick” products. The viscosity is carefully tailored to balance between different adhesive characteristics, particularly tack (immediate interaction after light contact), peel (force to peel off surface), and shear (resistance to pulling forces in same direction as surface). An immense variety of products have been created based on this technology, but there are several inherent limitations, particularly the tendency to flow, which results in a steady increase in adhesion strength over time and may lead to damage or removal challenges, as well as poor resistance to loads.

Dry adhesives have received significant interest because they offer a potential route to overcome the limitations of conventional adhesives by using highly structured solids to achieve the large surface area. The challenge is to create this structured surface on a large scale, without relying on batch processing techniques like micro-molding, lithography, or vapor deposition. ShearGrip is produced using a method called electrospinning (short for electrostatic spinning), which is a commercial process primarily used to make high efficiency air filters.

Compared to “ultra-removable” pressure sensitive adhesives, ShearGrip products have a number of unique advantages:

  • Easier to handle and install (probe tack <100 grams per square centimeter vs typical micro-sphere adhesive in 150-300 range)

  • Easier to remove and reposition (peel strength as low as 2 OZ/IN means even paper-backed products can be removed without curling or damage, vs micro-spheres in 5-8 OZ/IN range that require synthetic backing for repositioning)

  • Significantly higher strength in shear for better resistance to external forces, even on low surface energy substrates

  • Clean and damage-free removal without sacrificing strength, including painted surfaces

ShearGrip is now available either on a release-treated surface for direct use or for transfer to different face stocks, or as a converted product. The commercial product laminates well to a broad range of face stocks, including paper, PET, PP, and vinyl. For more information, contact us.

Made It in Akron

ShearGrip® was developed based on early bio-mimicry research from the University of Akron. The nascent concept came from the lab of Professor Josh Wong, a professor in Mechanical Engineering, in a paper aptly titled, “Do Electrospun Fibers Stick?” The paper demonstrated that individual nanofibers show contact adhesion due to molecular forces, similar to the principle of action for geckos, some spiders, and many other natural locomotive systems.

The initial research was taken to the University of Akron Research Foundation, which led to an introduction with Dr. Barry Rosenbaum and ultimately the founding of Akron Ascent Innovations (AAI). Through state (Ohio Third Frontier TVSF) and federal (National Science Foundation SBIR program) support, the company expanded into downtown Akron and is now housed in the Bounce Innovation Hub.

ShearGrip® is the culmination of four years of research into understanding how the structure of a nanofiber web influences dry adhesive performance, and how it can be scaled up for different applications. This reusable dry adhesive consists of solid fibers that are 100 times thinner than a strand of your hair. The fibers are solid and finely structured to easily conform to surfaces without flowing for high strength, but can be peeled off easily and cleanly. Products with ShearGrip can be easily removed and repositioned without leaving behind sticky residue or damaging the surface. The current batch of products, collected called the Pinless brand, perform well on a range of surfaces, including metal, glass, drywall, cardboard and plastic, with dynamic adhesive strength exceeding 50 pounds per square inch.

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