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Identifying Product Scaling Principles: A Tool for Bioinspired Design and Beyond

[+] Author Affiliations
Angel G. Perez, Julie S. Linsey

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Paper No. DETC2011-48404, pp. 509-520; 12 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 37th Design Automation Conference, Parts A and B
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5482-2
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


There are countless products that perform the same function but are engineered to suit a different scale. Designers are often faced with the problem of taking a solution at one scale and mapping it to another. This frequently happens with design-by-analogy and bioinspired design. Despite various scaling laws for specific systems, there are no global principles for scaling systems, for example from a biological nano-scale to macro-scale. This is likely one of the reasons bioinspired design is difficult. Very often scaling laws assume the same physical principles are being used, but this study of products indicates that a variety of changes occur as scale changes, including changing the physical principles to meet a particular function. Empirical product research was used to determine a set of principles by observing and understanding numerous products to unearth new generalizations. The function a product performs is examined in various scales to view subtle and blatant differences. Principles are then determined. This study provides an initial step in creating new innovative designs based on existing solutions in nature or other products that occur at very different scales. Much further work is needed by studying additional products and bioinspired examples.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Design , Biomimetics



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