What Could Be Better Than Duct Tape? This Stuff

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Everyone loves to sing the praises of duct tape, but John Pavlus invites us to take a look at Sugru, a next-generation adhesive that seems to one-up the traditional roll. It was built specifically for the DIY crowd as something that "would let normal people 'hack things better.'" We can't wait to get our hands on some.

Sugru -- a flexible, curable, sticky silicone that's part Silly Putty, part duct tape -- is technology that improves your technology. Inventor Jane ni Dhulchaointigh teamed up with materials scientists from Dow Corning and Queen Mary University of London to cook up something that would let normal people "hack things better" -- easily repair or modify their aging gadgets instead of throwing them out.

It took the team five years to develop a substance that met all of Jane's specs: moldable by hand, waterproof, curable at room temperature, rigid but flexible after curing, able to adhere to almost anything. The new class of silicone they created, called Formerol, can do anything from repair a cracked laptop to weatherproof a bike basket.

"Our biggest technical challenge was achieving such versatile adhesive properties," Jane says. "Until now, [similar products] have been flowable materials used either for sealing, gluing or coating, rather than free moulding." Sugru is named after the Irish word for play, but its applications could potentially extend far beyond arts and crafts.

Read the full story at Tech Specs at Technology Review.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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