Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

Exploring the Use of Functional Models in Biomimetic Conceptual Design

[+] Author and Article Information
Robert L. Nagel

 Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409rlnkc7@mst.edu

Prem A. Midha

 Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409pamq3f@mst.edu

Andrea Tinsley

 Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409andrea.tinsley@shawgrp.com

Robert B. Stone

 Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409rstone@mst.edu

Daniel A. McAdams

 Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843dmcadams@tamu.edu

L. H. Shu

 University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G8, Canadashu@mie.utoronto.ca

J. Mech. Des 130(12), 121102 (Oct 28, 2008) (13 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2992062 History: Received May 16, 2007; Revised September 04, 2008; Published October 28, 2008

The biological world provides numerous cases for analogy and inspiration. From simple cases such as hook and latch attachments to articulated-wing flying vehicles, nature provides many sources for ideas. Though biological systems provide a wealth of elegant and ingenious approaches to problem solving, there are challenges that prevent designers from leveraging the full insight of the biological world into the designed world. This paper describes how those challenges can be overcome through functional analogy. Through the creation of a function-based repository, designers can find biomimetic solutions by searching the function for which a solution is needed. A biomimetic function-based repository enables learning, practicing, and researching designers to fully leverage the elegance and insight of the biological world. In this paper, we present the initial efforts of functional modeling biological systems and then transferring the principles of the biological system to an engineered system. Four case studies are presented in this paper. These case studies include a biological solution to a problem found in nature and engineered solutions corresponding to the high-level functionality of the biological solution, i.e., a housefly’s winged flight and a flapping wing aircraft. The case studies show that unique creative engineered solutions can be generated through functional analogy with nature.

Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 10

Flight mobility from the housefly functional model

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Figure 1

Armadillo’s defense mechanism black box model

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Figure 2

Functional model of the armadillo’s armor reconfiguration

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Figure 3

Functional model of a retractable stadium roof

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Figure 4

Functional model of Lexus SC430 convertible

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Figure 5

Puffer fish black box model

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Figure 6

Automobile airbag black box model

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Figure 7

Functional model of puffer fish

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Figure 8

Functional model of automobile airbag

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Figure 9

Housefly functional model

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Figure 11

Functional model of Sparrow flapping wing microair vehicle

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Figure 12

Abscission zone (40)

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Figure 13

Functional model of abscission

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Figure 14

Example of microassembly with sacrificial part (40)

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Figure 15

Experimental setup for abscission-based release of microparts (a) and microscrew embedded into a polypropylene rod (b) (40)

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Figure 16

Functional model of microassembly abscission



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