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MM: Making Synthetic Hagfish Slime; U.S. Army's Hoverbike Prototype

In this episode of Manufacturing Minute, synthetic hagfish slime and why the U.S. Army wants hoverbike.

Hoverbike Prototype

In 2011, inventor Chris Malloy first developed a hoverbike prototype. Now, after partnering with the Department of Defense, the two have produced the JTARV, or joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle.

But most of the time, they just call it for what it really is... a hoverbike. And that brings us to the real question, why does the US Army want with a hoverbike?

Well, according to the DOD, this hoverbike prototype would ideally be used for resupply missions to create a “Amazon on the battlefield.” In its current form, the electric, four-rotor vehicle hoverbike is able to carry about 300 pounds while flying at altitudes of thousands of feet and speeds of 60 mph.

Eventually, researchers say they’d like to increase the payload capacity to 800 pounds and even integrate advanced intelligence navigation and mission planning systems.

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What do you think about the Army’s hoverbike protoype? Is this another step toward more advanced, unmanned aerial tech?

Tweet me your thoughts @MNetnews or leave your comments in the section below.

Synthetic Hagfish Slime

In the search for ballistics defense, the U.S. Navy has turned to nature for inspiration.

Besides being adorable, the hagfish — a mostly blind eel-like creature that dwells on the bottom of the ocean - has a unique defense mechanism. When it is threatened, it releases a slimy substance that clogs its attackers’ mouth and gills, allowing the hagfish to get away.

Hagfish slime consists of two components — thread-like proteins and mucin, a gelatinous lubricant. When released the thread, mucin and seawater interact to create a three-dimensional, viscoelastic network. The secretion can expand to up to 10,000 times its original volume. On a per-weight basis, hagfish slime is 10 times stronger than steel.

Researchers believe this slimy substance could have uses in everything from bulletproof vests to food packaging to ballistics defense and even repelling sharks.

However, harvesting the substance is tricky business since the hagfish don’t breed in captivity.

But now, a team of U.S. Navy scientists and engineers have discovered a way to synthesize the slime. E. coli bacteria were used to produce alpha and gamma proteins which were recovered from the bacteria after a series of isolation and purification steps. 

The synthetic hagfish slime could be used for ballistics protection, firefighting, anti-fouling, diver protection, anti-shark spray, even fabric. Researchers say the possibilities are endless.

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Is synthetic hagfish slime the next big thing in ballistics protection? How could this be used in the manufacturing world? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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