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Application of Bio-Inspired Design to Minimize Material Diversity

[+] Author Affiliations
Katie S. McCullar, Preston C. Rhodes, S. Austin Underhill, Jacquelyn K. S. Nagel

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Paper No. DETC2016-59684, pp. V004T05A044; 9 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 21st Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference; 10th International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, August 21–24, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5014-5
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Bio-inspired design, or biomimicry, is an approach to innovation that takes nature’s time-tested patterns, forms, functions, processes, and materials and uses them to develop engineering solutions. In this project we take inspiration from biological morphologies to develop new forms for semi-recyclable products. Biological systems exhibit multi-functionality from form, not necessarily material, which offers inspiration for product life-cycle management. The goal is to better understand the connection between form and function as found in nature to enable sustainable product design and enhance additive manufacturing processes. Through the application of bio-inspired design product recyclability is increased through minimization of material diversity while still achieving desired functions. One inspiring biological morphology that has been utilized across multiple biological kingdoms and in this research is variations in hardness and flexibility found in alternating layers that are used to provide strength, durability and protection. Another inspiring morphology considered in this research is the backbone of water-diving birds, which consists of an intricately braided spine with parallel holes along each side. These holes allow for shock absorbance and force dispersion. These multi-function forms have resulted in the redesign of a semi-recyclable product fabricated using additive manufacturing to create a product that is made from a single material yet still achieves all necessary functions. Key contributions of this research include approaches for additive manufacturing strategies such as material utilization that align with a product’s life cycle, thus increasing the recyclability of the product.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Topics: Design , Biomimetics



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