Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Making shapes and tailoring properties with ultrasound: the biomimicry approach

In Info, Seminars and Keynotes on 2011/05/11 at 8:40 am

If we want to mimic nature in order to improve ourselves and our built environment, then perhaps we should think about what’s important in
the biological world.  Shape, form and functionality are features that nature optimises, rather than maximises.  Form generally takes the path of least energy and material, and functionality is not understood without a multifaceted aim.

New trends in the design and manufacture of orthopaedic implants and scaffolds are moving towards the fabrication of functionally designed
specimens.  These not only offer a network for the cells to grow and proliferate, but also an environment in which this process can be accelerated (e.g. tailored chemistry for the cavities’ walls, and porosity gradation to lessen clogging and isolation of the cells that are situated at the very centre of the scaffold).  This new strategy for the generation of geometries and chemical environments is aligned with the biomimetic approach of manufacturing.  The final specimen is made to both look like and behave like natural muscle, cartilage, and bone tissues.

Ultrasound is used to control, manipulate and destroy bubbles.  In our work, ultrasound is used to ‘create’ bubbles.  In a polymeric melt
undergoing foaming, ultrasound can be directed to the matrix that surrounds the bubbles and enhance mass transport, diffusion and heat
flow.   In this way, shapes and forms, and functionality can be tailored.  It is the interrelationship of the cavity shape and the polymeric melt properties what the ultrasound can engineer.

Using this sonication technique, porosity graded materials are manufactured to match the requirements of biological substrates for
bioengineering applications.   We have successfully manufactured sonicated scaffolds that show a higher viability for hosting cells and
enhance their proliferation.  This opens a route for the individualisation (‘mass customisation’) of more efficient structures that potentially can be used as orthopaedic implants, and help alleviate the growing needs of an ageing society.

When: Wednesday 11th May at 1.15pm

Where:  JM F.48 (School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University), Riccarton Campus)

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  1. […] Design Engineering, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.5–22. DOI:  10.1504/IJDE.2011.041406. A copy can be found here and here. Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Why It's a Bad […]

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