Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Posts Tagged ‘structure’

Congratulations to Fares!

In Info on 2017/04/11 at 6:57 pm

My PhD student Fares Almushref successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled ‘Design and manufacture of engineered titanium-based materials for biomedical applications’.

Congratulations to him for the hard work for the last 3 years and the great effort to get it finished in time for the summer graduation.

Fares

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Applying International Standards to manage comfort

In Publications on 2017/03/01 at 6:46 pm

Have you ever seen the seat testing device at IKEA? We have used a very similar one in our study.

ikea_durability_test

IKEA durability test

Open cell polymeric foams can be tailored so that the support provided and the level of stability is customised to people’s needs. For those who are bed bound or wheelchair users the selection of a cushion can improve their health and general well being. Avoiding pressure points, managing sores and permitting air permeability are the three main design specifications that patients and clinicians aim to when choosing a cushion. In addition to that, a functional cushion, such as those who support lateral movements (e.g. leaning sideways to grab a glass of water and be helped to return to your initial position without compromising one’s stability) and protect from vibration and impacts (e.g. dropping off a curb), are the focus of our last research project.

My team and I have had the privilege to work with the biomechanics and physiotherapists at the SMART Centre at Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh to study how we can help their clinician colleagues understand cushion performance and therefore aid them with the prescription of these to patients and users.

The results from our study have been presented at the PMG 2012 Conference and recently published by the Assistive Technology journal (free e-prints can be collected here). This has allowed us to interact with the community that is preparing the new version of the ISO16840-2:2007 which will regulate developments in this area.

 

Empowering resilient communities

In Publications on 2017/02/06 at 10:58 pm

We have created low-cost housing solutions for the local community in Pabal (India). Those people have a lot of ingenuity but not a lot of money to buy expensive building materials. Only the transport to their villages would cost them a significant amount.

But they have a wealth of natural resources. And amongst them, they have bamboo, a fascinating multifunctional material, ideal for structure-erecting, wind-loading and vibration-proofing due to its heterogeneous porous structure and high shear modulus.

bamboo_microstructure

Bamboo: macro and microstructure

We have helped them to build those modular huts by providing them with a set of instructions that are universal and accessible to all, no matter the mother tongue, ability or building skills. In this way they are prepared to adapt and be resilient to the threats posed by natural forces and climate change hazards (e.g. floods, pluvial, wind, earth tremors) and reinforce their coping strategy as a resilient community.

In the process of developing those instructions we have learnt a lot from the Information Design community. There is so much lo learn about user-centric design, cognitive load and the language of actions, perspectives and colours to convey instructions and allow self-guidance. I deeply thank them for having mentored us.

Our work can be read here and directly on the Information Design Journal site

idj_22-1_pb

Information Design Journal 2016 volume 22 no. 1

 

Doing more with less: Bio-inspired innovations

In Comment, Publications on 2016/10/19 at 1:08 pm

The very prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering has invited me to contribute to their blog this month. October is dedicated to exploring the future of Manufacturing and they wanted to hear my story about the work we do in porosity tailored structures inspired by nature. It is a great honour to be showcased by them.

You can read the post here:

Or here: http://qeprize.org/createthefuture/less-bio-inspired-innovations/

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a £1million prize fund awarded to an engineer, or group of engineers, whose innovation has been of global benefit to humanity. Alongside awarding the prize, the QEPrize foundation also exists to celebrate and promote engineering, encouraging the next generation to take up the challenges of tomorrow.

Lightweighting

In Funding on 2016/02/24 at 2:58 am

Lightweight materials are the next pit-stop in the challenge of reducing mass, curbing emissions and improving fuel economy in the low carbon vehicles of tomorrow.

UK’s ambitious commitment to decarbonisation of the transport industry by 2050 is going to require a creative approach. Current reductions have been gained by improvements in engine performance but these gains are diminishing. If we were to go 100% electric, we still need to produce the electricity, so the footprint is not necessarily diminished as much as it could appear. To meet the carbon emissions target we need to reduce vehicle mass. For example, a car the size of a Ford Focus would need to reduce mass by about 300kg (from ~1200kg to ~900kg).  The car industry needs to find a way to manufacture lightweights without adding production cost in the shorter term.

Loughborough University and Far UK Ltd, a Nottingham-based innovative low-volume tailored vehicle designer and manufacturer, have joined forces to explore the concept of novel and engineered structures, multifunctional materials bespoke for their mechanical properties, and manufactured in a cost-benefit and continuous fashion using Sonication technology that allows on-demand tailoring of porosity. This exciting research program has just secured co-funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

This programme of research presents a new avenue for high value manufacturing and helps support the UK knowledge base, economy and jobs.

TSB_announcement

We have been in the press here and here

Is DIY a western thing?

In Info on 2015/09/11 at 6:18 pm

Changxi Huang has been working on the bamboo hut project as part of his MSc project. His work has focused on the optimisation of the procedure for assembling the hut and looking for ways of best presenting the assembly instructions to those who can’t read instructions or have no previous knowledge on building huts.

He ran experiments with participants from different walks of life and, most importantly, from western and far east countries. One of the main points of discussion of his dissertation is based on his observations on the approach that western nationals have towards do-it-yourself products versus that of Far East countries citizens. In countries like China, assembling a product (a table or a chest of drawers) is left to those who perform that job for a living. On the contrary, the B&Q-isation or the IKEA-ising of western countries has made our exposure to self-assembly furniture and products an activity of our everyday life. Could this have an effect on our cognitive ability to understand instructions and our dexterity to carry out such assemblies?

Huang observing one of the tests in our study

Huang observing one of the tests in our study

Huang has successfully finished his MSc course and is going back to China for a most deserved rest. Well done, Huang!

MSc exhibition on 9th Sept (Loughborough University) and Farewell (or a ‘see you soon’):

Huang_exhibition_farewell

A direct copy is second rate

In Comment on 2014/01/09 at 11:12 am

I was browsing a book published in 1998 by Claus Mattheck ‘Design in Nature: Learning from Trees’ and this quote reminded me of the importance of understanding the word ‘biomimetics’ not as face value (a direct copy from nature) but as ‘nature to inspire a better world’

The problem is that direct copies of natural structures are seldom suitable for service, and so this gives rise to a new task: to create a method which will deliver components of real biological design quality as regards light-weight properties and durability without always ending up with the dog’s femur, tiger’s tooth or bird’s wing, but which also can produce a crankshaft exhibiting exactly the high-quality features of biological design.”

You can read more about Claus Mattheck here.

Making sense of standardisation

In Publications on 2013/11/18 at 12:27 am

Standardisation is that useful process that allows us engineers to share a common ‘plane of reference’ on which to base our conversations. It is useful to know that a material (say, a slab of titanium) has the same mechanical properties when it is measured in Loughborough, Sydney, Lima or Granada.

But sometimes standardisation goes too far on the other extreme. The over-translation from observation to technical definitions might turn an ISO norm into a document that is no longer useful for practical purposes. This is particularly risky when ISO norms attempt to tabulate and measure in ‘softer’ areas such as healthcare and rehabilitation.

In a piece of work recently published here, my colleagues from the NHS Scotland SMART Centre and we have restated some practical insight to an ISO norm that guides the characterisation of wheelchair cushions for a better guidance to prescription by clinicians.

Our work has been well received by the practising community and we look forward to continue working with them.

Ref: Hollington J., Hillman S.J., Torres-Sanchez C., Boeckx J., Crossan N., “ISO 16840-2:2007 load deflection and hysteresis measurements for a sample of wheelchair seating cushions”, Medical Engineering & Physics, in press. DOI:10.1016/j.medengphy.2013.10.010 

Fibonacci magic

In Comment on 2013/11/18 at 12:01 am

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377…

Arthur Benjamin takes us through this inspiring maths class on the wonder of Fibonacci numbers, and how patterns in nature are formed.

 

When you build a rectangle using the Fibonacci numbers as side length, you obtain this:

Fibonacci_numbers_ABenjamin_TED

And the ratio length over base gives you the Golden Ratio, thought of the guide for aesthetics and emotional design (e.g. Apple products have this their length/base ratio, have you noticed?)

Eating fractals

In Comment on 2013/09/04 at 10:30 am

Romanesco has an interesting texture, and it is form that makes it the special member of the broccoli family.

IMG_0636

Dinner

It is a fractal vegetable: the smallest cone is replicated in shape by the cone which groups mini-cones, and this cone is part of a set of cones that forms another cone, … and so on, until you get the whole plant.

IMG_0638

Detail of fractal structure

More on fractal food here and here

Image

Pattern of growth [1]

Ref [1]: ‘Cult of Romanesco’ link