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October 28, 2014 AT 4:30 am

Porcupines: The Bio-Inspiration For Surgical Staples #Bio-Inspiration

Porcupines are the bio-inspiration for surgical staples. via karplab

As the name suggests, biomimicry is where you copy directly from nature. Bio-inspiration, on the other hand, is where you take an idea from nature and find a way to improve on it for your own purposes.

For example, we looked to porcupine quills as bio-inspiration for better surgical staples. Porcupine quills go into the skin easily but are very hard to remove because they have backwards-facing barbs that catch on to tissue, flare out, and create enormous drag. Based on those properties, we developed synthetic quills that have reduced penetration force and increased pullout force. We put those quills on either end of a surgical staple to develop a better fixation system for patients. And we made the system biodegradable, so you wouldn’t have to remove the staples—they simply disintegrate as the wound heals.

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