Re-inventing the Spider Web

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Arguably, the strongest structures in nature have to be the webs spun by spiders.

These super lightweight structures can support massive loads, they can span vast distances (anyone who has walked into a web spun across a garden path can testify).

Yet this construction method has not been exploited to the fullest. Analogies can be made between man-made structures, such as bridges, stadiums etc, and spider webs, but these only go so far.

What if we could produce a structure that comes close to a spider web?

The possibilities are restrained only by your imagination. Consider a sports stadium, a bridge, shopping centres etc. all built by themselves or, rather, automated “Spiders.”

Building a structure in a hostile or hazardous environment, even under water or outer space without risking the health and safety of human workers. The possibilities are endless.

How does it work?

This technology has two parts, the Spider and the Web.

Spiders have spinnerets that spin a fibre. This fibre is then woven by the spider into the desired structure for the given task, be that a web, cocoon, or nursery for juveniles.

Remove the body of the spider and you are left with the spinnerets. It is these spinnerets that are key to making this technology work.

The “web” is a composite fibre with a metal mono-filament core and a resin infused carbon fibre outer. The “spinneret” works by producing the metal core, using laser sintering. A powdered metal is forced through the spinneret and is melted by a laser. As the metal is forced out, it cools and forms a continuous mono-filament.

Next the spinneret weaves a resin infused carbon fibre sheath around the inner metal mono-filament. This outer sheath provides a “sticky” outer that can stick to other “webs” and as such build up the desired structure. As long as the spinneret is continuously fed with materials it will produce a continuous web.

The spinnerets can be fitted to any device needed to produce the structures in mind, such as multi axis robots, or suspended from bridging cables to span a large gap, even fitted to mobile assembly robots in orbit to produce super massive structures in space. This final possibility could even make use of in-situ resource utilization.

The possibilities are endless and only limited by the imagination.

This technology is being released as a “Source Code” (although not strictly “software”) on an Open Source Hardware basis, under the GNU General Public License version 3. By allowing the source to be public, this provides the means by which anyone can develop the technology, thus increasing its marketability and increasing the potential for further innovation. Manufacturability and cost effectiveness will develop as the technology advances.


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  • Name:
    Christopher Barrett
  • Type of entry:
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Christopher's favorite design and analysis tools:
    Open source tools such as Open Modelica, Scilab, FreeCad etc.
    If I have to buy it, Catia, been using it for years.
  • Christopher's hobbies and activities:
    Engineering, photography, Human Space Flight
  • Christopher belongs to these online communities:
    Not a member of any at the moment
  • Christopher is inspired by:
    My main inspiration is nature, anything a human can think of nature has already done it. When I need to figure out a way to do it, I have a look around, and see what mother nature has done.
  • Software used for this entry:
    Open office draw
  • Patent status: