The Devil Strip: What's better than tape? Electrostatically-spun fibers, this Akron startup says.

AAI’s recent launch of ShearGrip dry adhesives was featured in The Devil Strip, Akron’s source for local music, art, and culture news, this week. The story was included as part of The Devil Strip’s “Akropreneurs” series, made possible by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Fund for Our Economic Future.

From the article:

Hard at work or hardly working? Dr. Fei Wang demonstrates nanofiber spinning using the lab-scale collector that started it all. Photo courtesy of  Bounce Innovation Hub .

Hard at work or hardly working? Dr. Fei Wang demonstrates nanofiber spinning using the lab-scale collector that started it all. Photo courtesy of Bounce Innovation Hub.

“I bet you have a lot of photos and posters that never see the light of day. Finding the right frame and the right spot to put a nail in the wall is an undertaking. I’ve resorted to command strips or tape. But when it comes to taking down the artwork, there’s always sticky-tape residue leftover, or it’s impossible to remove the command strip from the photo, or both. I’ve long wished there were a way to do this without all the holes in the wall or the tackiness of tape.

Enter Akron Ascent Innovations, a start-up founded by University of Akron faculty.

They’ve created a “dry adhesive” that can adhere to most hard surfaces, like drywall, glass and steel. There’s no glue involved and no sticky residue left over to damage to walls.

“It’s non-sticky, high-strength and removable,” says Akron Ascent Innovations chief operating officer Kevin White.

This dry adhesive, ShearGrip, is created by electrostatically spinning microscopic threads onto a surface. It emulates the way that geckos and spiders, both of which have microscopic hairs on their feet, are able to climb almost anything.

In the electrostatic spinning process, an electrical charge is applied to a liquid polymer mixture and spun. The nanometer-sized and electrically charged polymer threads that result from this spinning are attracted to a grounded surface with a direct conductive path to the earth. Because of this, the threads can be applied to any object that comes between them and a grounded surface.

These infinitesimally small threads create a lot of surface area, making it easy to stick two-dimensional works with a ShearGrip backing to anything flat and vertical.

And while this dry-adhesive tech can resist a lot of downward pull, it’s quite easy to peel off.

After launching online in December 2018, Akron Ascent now offers a number of products with their ShearGrip technology, including the “Pinless” line, a series of products including inkjet and laser printer-friendly photo paper, bulletin and dry erase boards with the ShearGrip backing.

Electrostatically-spun fibers have been around since the first half of the 20th century, when they were used in smoke-filtering masks. But no one thought to use the process to create an alternative to wall hangings or tape — until UA professor Dr. Shing-Chung “Josh” Wong took a close look at electrostatically-spun fibers and thought, “‘That looks like a gecko’s foot,’” says COO Kevin White.

It was a perfect marriage of the university’s biomimicry and electrostatic spinning research. Biomimicry is the emulation of natural processes in the design of artificial materials.

Dr. Wong filed a patent for an electrostatically spun dry adhesive and published a paper on the adhesive properties of the threads. He also teamed up with the University of Akron’s Dr. Barry Rosenbaum, a senior fellow at the University of Akron Research Foundation who focuses on the commercialization of university research.

In 2012, Dr. Rosenbaum and Dr. Wong founded Akron Ascent Innovations. Dr. Rosenbaum is now CEO and president of the company, while Dr. Wong is the chief technology officer…”

About AAI:

AAI is a start-up company based in Akron, OH that has developed a revolutionary new type of ultra-low tack, removable adhesives material made from nanofibers. This new class of materials is able to achieve a strong, but easily removable, bond between surfaces through nanoscale interactions. This approach to adhesion was inspired by nature and is widely used in the animal kingdom, including beetles and geckos.  AAI’s platform approach to dry adhesion can be used for a range of applications, ranging from temporary signage, wall hanging hooks, and picture frame tabs, to automotive assembly, food packaging, and smart clothing.

Helpful Links:

  • - The place to learn more about ShearGrip, AAI’s revolutionary new bio-inspired dry adhesive.

  • - Show your support (with your wallet). Consumer products made with ShearGrip dry adhesive now available, at very reasonable price points.

  • - Find out more about Akron Ascent Innovations and innovation in northeast Akron.

  • - The home of AAI, ShearGrip, and The Pinless.

  • Thanks to The Devil Strip for publishing story