ELiSE team member and group leader for research and development Moritz Maier writes in his recently published doctoral thesis “Development of a systematic procedure for bionic lightweight design” about an interesting approach for bionic product development. Have a closer look …

In the science of engineering there is knowledge about a well-established procedure for constructing lightweight designs. A critical step within this procedure is the search for a suitable concept. In the technical field, this critical step is usually solved through practical experience or by using existing constructions serving as models.

In nature the evolution has created mature constructional principles which can serve as models for technical lightweight constructions. According to Darwin, only the best adapted individual survives the process of natural selection. Plankton organisms for example have developed highly optimized lightweight shells over several billion years. On the one side they need to have extremely stable and defensive structural components in order to defend themselves against predators. On the other side they must be very economical with their use of construction material to prevent them from sinking into water depths where photosynthesis is no longer possible.

In this context, this dissertation examines how to systematically transfer biological construction principles to find innovative technical lightweight solutions. Therefore, a systematical method for building bionic lightweight designs is developed. It uses the potential of plankton shells in order to identify preliminary lightweight designs. To integrate this bionic method into the acknowledged standards of engineering, an addition to the well-established developing process is made.

Firstly, the selection process will be examined. Its role is it to identify one or more natural models which suit the technical purpose. A specific search feature enables the rapid finding of suitable natural models within a knowledge repository. A simplified evaluation method is introduced and allows an objective qualification of several constructions regarding load cases. The abstraction of the biological construction principles is then examined with the help of a modified topology optimization. In the next step, parametric optimization is used as a tool to further specialize the constructional principles. The considered methods and tools are finally tested and examined by applying them to a real life case. In this regard, a foundation structure for offshore wind energy plants is designed.

For detailed information please have a look at the full dissertation