Biomimicry in design

09-03-2023 | Posted by Principia


The saying states “nature is wise”, indeed it is inspirational for solving many everyday problems. The Biomimicry Institute, founded by Janine Benyus, says that “for all the problems we face, nature has a solution”.

Thus, the object of biomimicry is to create products, processes and systems that solve our design problems learning from the wisdom of nature. We already dedicated a post to this issue in the past.

Many modern designs were inspired by nature. Take, for example, Leonardo da Vinci, who designed his flying machine in the 15th century based on bird flight, something that has remained inspirational for the designers of the most sophisticated flying machines.

Or think of a spider web, relatively stronger than steel and more flexible than rubber, which owes its characteristics to the properties of the strands, with high tensile strength and deformability, and to the design of the web, a structure optimised to withstand impacts.

But it is not just the mechanical characteristics, but the sheer elegance and functionality, that make spider webs a reference when trying to solve a problem. And if we are able to understand the reasons for success, such knowledge might be applicable to the design of light structures or the creation of biomaterials.

Interacción fluido-estructura en buquesÁlvaro Rodríguez Ortiz and Juan Carlos Suárez Bermejo presented in our 2018 yearly users’ meeting a study of biomimetic coatings to improve the fluid-structure interaction in ships, trying to reduce frictional drag. They analysed how to modify the boundary layer, taking as reference the strategies used by an excellent swimmer: the shark. Shark skin is not smooth, it is made of small scales or denticles, with conveniently oriented channels and riblets, which manage to reduce viscous resistance through mechanisms still not well understood.

And it seems that Gaudí utilized nature’s shapes not only in pursuing aesthetics, but also in guiding some practical architectural innovations, such as the ventilation of the Casa Batlló, reportedly inspired by fishes’ gills.

The technology of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform allows shortening the millions of years over which evolution has adapted living creatures to their environments and makes it possible for researchers, scientists, and engineers to imitate the process of evolution in a virtual world, swiftly creating and testing thousands of virtual models. This enables us to advance faster in the design of a more useful, friendly, and sustainable world.

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