Spider’s Design Mastery: Strong and Weak

Cob-weaving spiders can produce a web that is strong enough to stick to a wall which traps flying preys, and weak enough to detach from the surface which captures walking preys. Researchers at the University of Akron, USA, discovered that these functions are possible, with just one type of pyriform silk, through the creation of attachment disks which are different in architecture. These attachment discs fasten the dragline silk to solid supports and are known as the scaffolding discs and the gumfoot discs.

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Figure 1. Image a is a scaffolding disc while image b is a gumfoots disc.

Scaffolding disc resembles a “staple-pin” architecture while gumfoot disc resembles a “dendritic” architecture. It has been found that the former has greater adhesion force than breaking force of dragline silk.

These discovery on cobweb-weaving spiders provide design principles which inspire researchers to develop synthetic adhesives that can be both strong and light with just one type of glue. It is extremely impressive that nature’s design features could improve products for human benefits.

For further information
Read Cobweb-weaving spiders produce different attachment discs for locomotion and prey capture

Image References:
Spider image
Web discs

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