Liquiglide is a new permanently wet coating that allows all of the product inside bottles, jars and tubes to come out. That includes glue and toothpaste. It is not like a superhydrophobic surface. These repel water by creating a layer of air between the water and the rough surface. LiquiGlide uses liquid.
Liquiglide founder Kripa K. Varanasi, calls it a “liquid-impregnated surface” because the liquid fills in the gaps between the textured item. The coating can also be adjusted depending on the material, making its range of possibilities immense. Varanasi, an M.I.T. professor of mechanical engineering, and his graduate student (now the company’s chief executive officer), J. David Smith, worked out in May 2012 how to create a lubricant that strongly binds to a textured surface, while also allowing liquids on top of it to slide right off.
LiquiGlide is a surface that’s unique because it’s "kind of a structured liquid—it’s rigid like a solid, but it’s lubricated like a liquid," Smith explained.
The pair have since developed a non-toxic, edible version of the coating. It even stops peanut butter from sticking to its jar. The new product could assist the environment by reducing waste. In 2009, Consumer Reports found that a great deal of product is left behind in packaging.
The non-stick coating may also eliminate the need for squeeze caps and pumps to help remove the product from the package. “Eliminating these expensive caps and dispensers would not only reduce packaging cost but would eliminate millions of tons of petroleum-based plastics that end up in landfills each year,” Liquiglide claims. This has the potential to save 50,000 tons of plastic each year.
For consumer packaging, LiquiGlide can be applied using a simple spray coating process and existing machinery, available on the market today. For other industries and applications, LiquiGlide will work with clients to determine the best application process.
The company states that it can create coatings from all sorts of materials. For consumer products, such as condiments or body lotion, it can use food materials and the coatings do not involve nanotechnology.
“If you took a ketchup bottle with our coating and scraped off the coating with a knife, you could eat it and it would be completely harmless,” the company states on its website.
“Our technology platform is extremely versatile. If you have a liquid that you want to see sliding over a surface, then chances are high that we can help. LiquiGlide coatings are liquid-impregnated surfaces – they are wet to the touch, so they are not suitable for clothing or user interfaces of electronic devices.”
Watch the product at work on glue:
One week ago, Liquiglide an exclusive licensing agreement with Elmer’s Products Inc. for the use of such coatings in glue containers. “We certainly see a chance for a competitive advantage,” stated Anthony Spath, associate manager for innovation and business development at Elmer’s.
And it has licensed its technology to a packaging company in Australia. The idea there is to make the inside surface of paint can lids slippery so paint would slide back into the can instead of sticking to the lid and drying there. This will eliminate the dried bits that fall into the paint, ending up as bumps on a painted wall and clogging painting equipment.