Science has always been inspired by nature, just take a look at how flight was invented after meticulous studies on a bird’s wing structure and what not. Well, ink jet printers can be said to be the most popular kind of printers in the world compared to the more expensive laser brethren, but one problem that has plagued ink jet printers since time immemorial would be clogged printer nozzles that not only waste time but money as well, not to mention resulting in reduced print quality. The engineers at University of Missouri want to make things right by inventing a clog-preventing nozzle cover which was inspired by, of all things, the human eye.

Mimicking it, Jae Wan Kwon, associate professor in the College of Engineering, said, “The nozzle cover we invented was inspired by the human eye. The eye and an ink jet nozzle have a common problem: they must not be allowed to dry while, simultaneously, they must open. We used biomimicry, the imitation of nature, to solve human problems.”

A droplet of silicone oil seems to be the solution here, covering the opening of the nozzle when it is not in use, just like how a film of oil will maintain a thin layer of tears so that it will not evaporate off the eye. I wonder when will this particular invention make it to the mainstream consciousness as well as pervade future ink jet printers.

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