Printing nature's functional surfaces
Nature has developed patterned surfaces that achieve specific functions or impart specific properties. Low-drag shark skin, the superhydrophobic surface of lotus leaves, antireflective moth eyes and adhesive gecko feet are all the result of microscopic functional surfaces.
MicroTau is changing the way the world works through microstructures, including by reducing drag (aerospace, wind turbines, pipelines), producing optical effects (solar power, consumer product markets), tactile effects (consumer product markets), and antibacterial properties (medical, marine anti-fouling).
MicroTau’s initial focus is to reduce the fuel consumption of the commercial airline industry, providing a US$4 billion potential saving in fuel costs annually. Several other applications are under evaluation.
Biomimetic functional surfaces are surfaces found in nature that produce valuable properties by virtue of microscopic structures found on a given plant or animal.
MicroTau prints biomimetic functional surfaces by applying microstructures onto surfaces to produce valuable properties such as drag resistance, antimicrobial properties or light diffraction.
Microstructures are prepared surfaces that can only be seen through a microscope above 25× magnification. Such structures are at least 1 micron (1 millionth of a metre), approximately one hundredth of the diameter of a human hair.
The commercial potential offered by biomimetic functional surfaces is not being realised due to the lack of fast, cheap, adaptive and scalable production methods.
MicroTau’s proprietary platform technology, Direct Contactless Microfabrication (DCM), which is broadly applicable across multiple industries, solves this problem.
MicroTau’s proprietary DCM technology has the potential to offer faster, cheaper, more scalable and more versatile microfabrication at least an order of magnitude improvement over existing technologies. In addition, it is able to print out of existing UV coatings, leveraging the properties of existing materials.
In addition to developing a direct to surface application, such as that to be used to paint a plane or ship, MicroTau is integrating its process into conveyor systems, and roll-to-roll systems that produce self-adhesive ‘applique’ films.
Core patents have been filed in key markets and further patents are planned to protect the technology platform and future products.
The potential commercial applications of MicroTau’s DCM technology are extremely broad. By enabling the manufacture of microstructures not currently accessible by industry, MicroTau will create solutions for industry that are currently theoretical.
MicroTau has demonstrated a capability in printing drag reducing riblets, antibacterial surfaces, and a variety of surface features such as matte and soft-touch.
MicroTau is seeking commercial partners to co-develop and commercialise large-scale applications of its technology. If you are interested in working with MicroTau please
Since 2015 MicroTau has been working with the US Airforce Research Laboratory and leading aerospace and coatings companies to print drag-reducing microstructures on US military planes. This work is ongoing.
MicroTau’s initial commercial focus is to reduce the fuel consumption of the commercial airline industry, providing a US$4 billion potential saving in fuel costs annually. Two applications of its DCM technology – direct to plane and adhesive appliques – are under development for this purpose.
MicroTau is engaging with potential partners to deliver a commercial solution to the commercial aviation industry.
Henry Bilinsky, CEO
Stephen Robinson, Head of Commercial Development