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April 26, 2017

The very hungry caterpillar…

…on saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of swiss chesse, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one sliece of watermelon….and 184mg of supermaket plastic shopping bag.

The Galleria mellonella larva is a very hungry caterpillar indeed.  An amateur beekeeper, Federica Bertocchini, happened upon their amazing digesting and degrading abilities when removing parasitic pests from the honeycombs in her hives. The worms were temporarily kept in a typical plastic shopping bag that became riddled with holes. Bertocchini, from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), collaborated with colleagues Paolo Bombelli and Christopher Howe at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biochemistry to show that  “The caterpillars are not just eating the plastic without modifying its chemical make-up. We showed that the polymer chains in polyethylene plastic are actually broken by the wax worms,” said Bombelli.

This discovery might lead to a biotechnological solution to the approximately one trillion palstic bags used each year worldwide.

Website link: Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution, 24th April 2017, University of Cambridge 

April 17, 2017

reddot award for N-Pro scrumcap!

Great to see all the hard work that went into this product being recognised

Website link: reddot award winner 2017 – N-Pro scrum cap

March 13, 2017

Nike Pro Hijab – a modest improvement

Great to see Nike have launched a sports Hijab. In 2014 we worked with the pioneering and inspirational Iranian triathlete Shiz Gerami to develop sports clothing that met the Iranian ministry of sport’s modesty requirements, but did not impact on Shiz’s performance in the World triathlon championships. We were delighted to work with her to remove barriers for female athletes who wish to be modestly dressed while exercising. Statistics from Sport England show that just 18% of Muslim women take part in regular sport, compared to 30% of the total female population.

Website link: Shiz Gerami interview, Triathlete magazine, January 19th 2017

Website link: Nike unveils Pro Hijab for female Muslim athletes, Dezeen, March 8th 2017

Shirin Gerami WTS Edmonton

Cracked egg February 8, 2017

Solid state from a fragile source?

It’s possible that future computers could have memory devices based on eggshells as researchers at the Guizhou Institute of Technology have been prototyping a new form of solid-state memory. Eggshells were processed to form a material that changed its resistance in response to a voltage being applied across it thus making it suitable for use as a ReRAM (resistive random access memory) device. This egg-centric research might offer the possibility of an environmentally friendly, low-cost and sustainable material for the next-generation of non-volatile date storage device.

Website link: “A larger nonvolatile bipolar resistive switching memory behaviour fabricated using eggshells”, Current Applied Physics, Volume 17, Issue 2, February 2017

January 16, 2017

A playful solution to a serious problem

A focus on frugality and a willingness to explore unlikely mechanisms has led this team of Stanford bioengineers to develop an incredibly low cost ‘paperfuge’ – a centrifuge made of paper that requires no electricity – as a diagnostic tool to serve the one billion people worldwide who live without infrastructure such as roads and electricity.

Website link: Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers develop a 20-cent, hand-powered blood centrifuge, 10th January 2017, Stanford University

December 9, 2016

Knitting as the first additive manufacturing

Interesting to chat to Hal Watts from Unmade at a reception for The 1851 Commission (an amazing organisation who funded both Hal and me to study at the RCA) about knitting as the earliest form of Additive Manufacture. In knitting you take a continuous material to form an object without waste and without removing excess – sounds like additive manufacture, no?

Website link: Unmade

Website link: The Royal Commission for the Great Exhbition of 1851

November 17, 2016

Fungus based leather alternative

We’re always interested to come across materials that meet particular requirements. In this case a leather alternative that is not an animal product. Muskin is a material based on a large parasitic fungus that grows on trees in subtropical forests. It is similar in appearance to suede-leather and its texture can be stiff like cork or softer.

It reminds me of another unusual textile I’ve written about before here

Website link: MuSkin, LifeMaterials

N-Pro Tackling Head Injuries in Rugby

We’ve been helping N-Pro develop their new rugby headguard which launched today – more to come…

Website link: n-pro website

 

September 3, 2016

Bat Bot the aerobatic robot

I have an ongoing fascination with bats, bat wings and bat flight and so was delighted to come across this bat-based aerobatic robot. It’s known as Bat Bot (B2) and has been developed at the University of Illinois by postdoctural researcher Alireza Ramezani who describes it as being able to “dance in the air with great composure”.

A real bat wing is incredibly complex and contains over forty joints. This allows the morphology of the surface to change rapidly and significantly and enables a real bat to be agile and nimble in the air. Its younger sibling Bat Bot (B2) has a little catching up to do.

baby product design July 1, 2016

Baby product design for time-strapped parents – Bibado

Baby product design, BibadoHow can baby product design save parents time? Reduced mess = less tidying.

Rachel and Tom Wood are parents of twins – and time sapped as a result. Seeking to save on tidying and clothes changes (or messy kids) after mealtimes, Rachel began experimenting with bibs. They approached Thread with a prototype made from a broken umbrella that strapped onto highchair trays, because they wanted to turn their functional lash-up into a product.

Thread explored design options and prototyped them for user testing. We developed the chosen concept further to be made from a single pattern piece that was adjustable to increase the age range of the product, and could fit a wide range of high chairs.

This bib catches mess that would otherwise end up on clothes and the floor. We can vouch for it as Thread’s directors tested a pre-production prototype with their first child.

We’re delighted that Bibado has launched this week and is available to buy.

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