Despite the fact that no animals (except for humans!) shave, it turns out the animal kingdom can teach us a thing or two about shaving. Researchers at the Technion have found that by mimicking the texture of the legs of creatures who live in wet environments – they can create better razors.
“We use nature’s solutions as inspiration for the development of new surface engineering technologies,” explains Assistant Professor Michael Varenberg, the Head of the Tribology Laboratories at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. The research group examined how the frog, salamander and cricket, creatures that live in a wet environment, do not slip on wet surfaces.
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The research was done using a one of a kind device that was built by Varenberg’s research group, which is capable of measuring the forces that develop between the contact surfaces, such as friction and adhesion, while working within a scanning electron microscope.
The scientists found that creatures living in wet environments improve their grip by draining the fluid out of contact using special channels that exist on the contact surfaces in their feet.
And it just so happens that similar problems exist in modern safety razors. The rubber strip ahead of the blades is used to improve shaving by increasing friction needed for stretching the skin before the blades slide over it. The presence of the shaving lubricant on the skin reduces friction and therefore interferes with the skin stretching.
To examine real safety razors, the researchers removed the blades and replaced the original strip of rubber, which is covered today by a series of small fins (fig. 1), with a rubber strip bearing a biomimetic hexagonal surface texture that they built based on an extensive examination of frog, cricket and salamander feet. “The surface we produced in the lab is twice more effective at increasing friction on the skin covered by shaving foam than the surfaces used in commercial razors,” explains Varenberg.
While the patented technology is not out on the market yet, it is not unlikely that it will be commercialized and that some of the world’s future razors will be inspired by frogs and crickets. Let’s just hope that they don’t leap off of the sink and onto the floor.
Photo: Man shaving by BigStock