A new clamp inspired by the crow’s beak that works better than traditional clamps

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⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this partner content (after the ad) Among the many ingenious tools invented by man is the pincer. It is widely used, both personally and professionally. Although its sharp, inorganic appearance hardly seems suitable for medical use, no one has ever sought to optimize the shape of this instrument. A team from the University of Tsukuba (Japan) set out to draw inspiration from nature to design a more efficient clamp. To develop this clamp, the researchers were inspired by the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides), an animal known for its ability to make and use tools. Its beak is 4.3 cm long from the anterior nasal hinge to the tip of the upper jaw; this is longer than the lower jaw. Thanks to its beak, this bird can make small wooden hooks with curved ends, which it uses to dislodge the larvae from the crevices where they nest. This crow’s beak was chosen for its extreme maneuverability when used as a tool and for its moderately rounded organic shape, the researchers note in their preprint paper. Therefore, the tweezers are more accessible and easier to use than conventional tweezers. The team developed a prototype (called Kuchibashi) from a 3D model of the New Caledonian crow’s beak, which they adapted to the human hand. The object was 3D printed and then subjected to various input tasks to evaluate its usability. Heavy Duty Pliers for Grasping Larger Objects The Kuchibashi is approximately 2cm long (for the ‘nose’ part) while the ‘handle’ part measures 4.5cm. The tool has been designed so that the user’s fingers can grasp approximately half the length of the spout. The team asked a few participants to compare the usability of the Kuchibashi with that of conventional pliers and human fingers. They had to perform an input task (transfer small glass balls from one container to another as quickly as possible), then answer a questionnaire (designed to assess the overall ease of use of the tool, on a scale of five points). (a) Frying a cherry tomato, (b) Frying a piece of tofu in miso soup, (c) Kuchibashi scale prototype, (d) Design stages of the New Caledonian crow and Kuchibashi. © T. Murakami et al. More precisely, the grasping experiment consisted of two successive tasks: transferring 10 glass beads between Petri dishes separated by 15 cm (AllT) and then transferring a single red marble located in the center of the others (OneT). Participants performed these tasks with random combinations of tools and bead sizes (3, 5, and 8 mm). An additional experiment, involving only the OneT task, was performed with 14 mm beads. Results of the experiment. © T. Murakami et al. The results of the experiment show that the Kuchibashi performed particularly well in the AllT and OneT tasks with the 8 mm diameter beads, as well as in the additional OneT experiment. In fact, the execution times were significantly lower compared to other tools. For smaller objects, the execution times were similar. Satisfactory design, but not suitable for very small objects In terms of user experience, the tool was considered good overall (with an average score of 4.19 out of 5). The participants particularly appreciated the ease of holding the tool and the fact that it was almost impossible to escape from the hands, as well as its “fashionable” design. They also expressed a sense of confidence and security in the seizure itself; a slight “gap” in the claw (similar to a crow’s beak) prevents the grasped object from slipping. Only a few participants felt it was “too thick for small objects,” the team reports. Finally, 80% of participants answered “yes” to the question of whether they would like to use the Kuchibashi in the future. Kuchibashi has proven to be effective and has been viewed positively by participants, but it has some limitations. First, as mentioned in the grasping task result, this tool is not significantly faster than other methods (fingers or conventional tweezers) when the beads are small. “Furthermore, with the current shape and size of the Kuchibashi, extremely small objects are difficult to handle,” the researchers note. This study itself has certain limitations, in particular the fact that the experiment was not carried out by taking objects of different shapes and materials, but only with glass beads. The team plans to investigate how the Kuchibashi could be used as cutlery, a suggestion made by some experiment participants who were particularly pleased with the tool. Note that this is not the first time that a bird’s beak has inspired engineers: the nose of Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed train was inspired by the beak of the kingfisher, a bird with a long, thin beak capable of cross media of different densities. without losing energy. Thanks to this biomimicry, the Shinkansen can exit a tunnel with as little noise as possible, and passengers are less disturbed by the sudden change in pressure. Source: T. Murakami et al., arXiv
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