Monday, February 22, 2010

Chemical Velcro

General Motors, despite some set backs over the last two years, remains a very innovative company. The company published a paper in the February 2 issue of February 2 issue of the ACS Publications' journal Langmuir, announcing it's creation of a strong glue that will loosen up when heated, and can then be reattached. The glue could be used, for example, to attach cup holders in a car - the buyer could then heat up the glue, detach the cup holder, and move it based on his or her personal preference.

The company announced that the adhesive is about "10 times stickier than Velcro." I didn't have time to check on that stat, but it actually doesn't quite make sense to me. You can increase the "stickiness" of Velcro by increasing the number of hooks and loops per area (the up close photo of Velcro courtesy of Andreas Viklund). So there isn't really a standard "stickiness" of Velcro, but I'm guessing they are referring to common household Velcro, like what you might find on a pair of shoes. It is possible to pull the glue apart without heating it - I guess with 10x the oomph it takes to undo your Velcro shoes. (Pictured: $174 Gucci Velcro Shoes.)
It is important to note that the glue loses about 30% of it's stickiness after two reattachments, and it does need to be heated for it to stick, and then takes a few minutes to bond. That means it might be tricky for a do-it-yourself project, depending on your experience.
The glue could also be used to put computers together, which could make it easier to take them apart when they die. Apparently this is currently a problem for people who try to recycle computer parts, because many things are welded together.

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