PACKAGING THE FUTURE: Inspiration from Ants!

by , 10/01/10

sustainable design, green design, packaging the future, green packaging, ants, natural packaging, eco design, biodegradable packaging, ant carapace

The exterior of an ant is tough (please don’t test this by stomping on them!). It both protects them, and also serves as their inside-out skeleton, giving their bodies definition and form. Exoskeletons are much more efficient than interior skeletons (like humans and other vertebrates) because they can serve these two functions instead of just one (support). However, they are usually less flexible than interior bones or cartilage (like sharks have), and so ant size is constrained by their need to move combined with their exterior shells. This means that ants can never grow as big as dogs.

Why exactly? Physics! As explained on the educational site Understanding Evolution, “An extra-wide exoskeleton must be extra heavy, and that clunky armor would require extra strength to move it. But unfortunately for our ambitious ant, its muscles can’t get stronger at a pace that competes with the extra weight the exoskeleton adds. A large terrestrial arthropod with extra-wide legs and a crumple-proof exoskeleton just wouldn’t have the muscle power to move itself around!

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  1. Packaging the Future: F... November 4, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    […] (coconut shells), tough-but-flexible protection (wombat butts) and light tensile strength (ant exoskeletons). Now it’s time to look at the softer side of packaging; after all, not all containers need […]

  2. erick October 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Reading this makes me feel kind of antsy…

  3. Natalie October 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Ants and bugs generally creep me out, but I have respect for the resourcefulness. If someone could create packaging with ant exo-skeleton properties, it would be really useful, not to mention, probably make them a lot of money.

  4. Yuka Yoneda October 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve always admired ants too and think that most societies hold them in high esteem – remember the poem “The Ant and the Grasshopper”? I didn’t realize how cool their exoskeletons are though!

  5. Bridgette Meinhold October 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    i love biomimicry!

  6. Diane Pham October 1, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Great post. Ants are such an interesting insect!

  7. Jasmin Malik Chua October 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Love this, thanks for sharing!

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