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How a coconut can save your cellphone

April 21st, 2017|Categories: Additive Manufacturing, Packaging, Product Design|Sectors: , , , |

How a coconut can save your cellphone

Functional gradients are one of the patterns observed in the natural world as a tactic for lightweighting. Recent research published by IOP Science describes how coconuts exhibit functional gradients through the arrangement of fibers leading to greater impact resistance. Might this inspire, say, lightweight + impact resistant cellphone cases?

Curated by Erin Rovalo

Fern fractals inspire fast flow that saves energy

April 8th, 2017|Categories: Energy Efficiency, Materials, Structures|Sectors: , , |

Fern fractals inspire fast flow that saves energy

Solving the challenge of creating smaller, more efficient batteries enables greater use and application of renewable energy systems. Inspired by the microgeometry of fern leaves, scientists created electrodes that can store more power per unit area while reducing the path that electrons have to follow to complete a circuit, according to this Nature article. Small geometries not only increase efficiency, but are amenable to powering small, wearable devices, or large, regional systems.

Curated by Mark Dorfman

Mimicking tooth enamel to create the next super material

March 17th, 2017|Categories: Engineering, Materials, Resilience|Sectors: , , |

Mimicking tooth enamel to create the next super material

This is a perfect illustration of how abstracting the design principle from tooth enamel can lead to a novel material for plane hulls. Structural materials of most transportation devices have the same functional needs (e.g. strength, manage vibration, crack resistant) as tooth enamel, so abstracting the strategy helped a team at the University of Michigan emulate the tooth’s secret to success. According to this Gizmondo article, they used only using metal and polymer, rather than calcium and protein.

Curated by Dayna Baumeister

Scientists look to octopi to rethink robots

March 16th, 2017|Categories: Engineering, Materials|Sectors: , |

Scientists look to octopi to rethink robots

A common challenge in biomimetic design is our own limitations in materiality compared to that observed in the natural world. Nature has recently published a paper from robotics scientists making new leaps in the ability to mimic the soft-bodied articulation of octopi by rethinking typically rigid aspects of robotic construction, such as batteries.

Curated by Erin Rovalo

DNA may hold key to building super computers of the future

March 10th, 2017|Categories: Product Design|Sectors: , , , , |

DNA may hold key to building super computers of the future

One of the most complex, essential, and amazing components of life that holds the key to genetic codes throughout nature, DNA is now being touted as a key to building faster and more efficient computers. This Edgy Labs article details research to mimic DNA’s self-replicating properties to create a computer system that grow as it computes. Looking to nature could create “exponentially” faster computers.

Curated by Janine Benyus

Lightweighting like nature: A futuristic concept no longer

March 9th, 2017|Categories: Materials, Structures|Sectors: , , |

Lightweighting like nature: A futuristic concept no longer

On the heels of our webinar series on Lightweighting Inspired by Nature with Janine Benyus, Nature Nanotechnology has just published new findings on how we might mimic nature’s ability to build lightweight materials with hierarchical nano-, micro-, and macro-structures that self assemble. Lightweighting like nature is a futuristic concept, but these new findings shed new light on how it will be possible.

Curated by Erin Rovalo

Researchers identify missing link in spider silk emulation

February 17th, 2017|Categories: Additive Manufacturing, Materials, Textiles|Sectors: , , , , , , , , , , |

Researchers identify missing link in spider silk emulation

The limitation to emulating the super properties of spider silk for the last decade has not been the chemistry, but rather the method of extrusion. Turns out the amazing dynamics of spider silk rely critically on how the silk itself is spun through the spider’s spinnerets. The technology detailed in this Seeker article will open up possibilities for silk emulation for applications far beyond the suggested nerve repair opportunity.

Dayna-01Curated by Dayna Baumeister

Dolphins help solve tricky design challenge

February 10th, 2017|Categories: Materials, Product Design, Structures|Sectors: , , , |

Dolphins help solve tricky design challenge

The challenge: Design a micro, hyper-efficient laptop fan. The solution? In this case, computer manufacturing company Lenovo turned to one of our favorite sea mammals, the dolphin. By designing the fan to mimic the shape and design of a dolphin body, they were able to solve a sticky problem and create a high-performance fan for their laptops. Learn more in this Great Big Story video.

Jenna-01Curated by Jenna Cederberg

New technology could help us emulate nature’s brilliant shapes

February 4th, 2017|Categories: Additive Manufacturing, Architecture, Carbon, Energy Efficiency, Engineering, Materials, Product Design, Structures, Textiles, Water|Sectors: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New technology could help us emulate nature’s brilliant shapes

The key to many of nature’s strategies is using shape rather than material. Emulating those shapes, especially at the nano-scale, has proven challenging. This new platform technology has the potential to leverage the shape of nature’s surface textures to add functionality to a wide variety of surfaces by building from the bottom up.

Dayna-01Curated by Dayna Baumeister

Looking to nature for self-shaping ceramics

January 28th, 2017|Categories: Materials, Structures|Sectors: , , , |

Looking to nature for self-shaping ceramics

Ceramics play key roles in everything from massive engines to microelectronics. Achieving the particular shapes needed for these functions without compromising structural integrity has been a challenge for ceramics manufacturing. Now, thanks to the inspiration of the self-folding design principles in plant seeds, scientists have developed innovative processing for controlling the shape of industrial ceramics. Read more in this Nature article.

Mark-01Curated by Mark Dorfman