soft robotics industry 3d printed cat tongueIf you’ve ever been licked by a cat, you’ll know that their tiny tongues are actually quite rough, with a texture comparable to that of sandpaper. Unlike sandpaper, however, a cat’s tongue is abrasive because its surface is covered with tiny backwards facing spines called papillae, which have a number of useful functions for the cat, such as efficient grooming, scraping meat from their prey’s bones, and more. Recently, cat owner and mechanical engineering doctoral candidate Alexis Noel decided to explore the physiology of a cat’s tongue with the help of 3D printing to see if its spine composition could be appropriated for other applications such as soft robotics.

Noel’s research, which was largely conducted at the Hu Biolocomotion Lab at Georgia Tech, was presented at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD), which is being hosted in Portland, Oregon. Notably, in her investigation of cat tongues and their functions, Noel actually 3D printed an artificial cat tongue at 400% scale for testing purposes.

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