I’ve been in engineering in some shape or form for 25 years now and have always enjoyed solving engineering problems. I love collecting all the relevant data, visiting the site if possible and studying and operating machines and processes for hours. Spending hours thinking about all the possible solutions, using all the “tools” in my toolbox gathered over all these years.

On Thursday the 10th my mind was blown and I realized my toolbox is so much bigger and is in fact all around me!

I attended a one day course/workshop in Biomimicry presented by Claire from Biomimicry SA and hosted by us at our Rapid 3D office in City Deep JHB.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the course, but thought it would be a nice add-on to the topology optimization section of the Design for Additive Manufacturing course I present.

Claire has sent me away wanting to change my entire approach to design and problem solving!

As engineers we are not always know for our adventurous side. We rather turn to the “tried and tested” solutions. Well, what is more “tried and tested” than millions of years of evolution?

Another fascinating aspect is that it applies to all areas, from mechanical engineering to business to medicine to architecture. For example vast amounts of energy is consumed maintaining a comfortable temperature in buildings, yet an anthill in Africa maintains a constant temperature within 1 degree Celsius throughout the year. This is just one of hundreds of examples Claire mentioned in just a single 1 day session!

Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM), combined with Biomimicry, can have a vast impact on the way we look at design challenges. Bryan Bullock

Design for Additive Manufacturing and Biomimicry

Imagine a robot gripper that is grown in one piece, out of the same material, but employing various mechanical properties throughout the part — from a rigid mounting point to flexible arms and finally, a soft touch surface so as not to damage the component being handled. Nature has already done similar things with one material using various structural designs!

Every person who attended the course, from Doctors to Engineers to industrial designers, all left full of new ideas and enthusiasm.

This was a one day workshop. Image what the engineers, architects, doctors, scientists and businessman of the future could achieve, if the were exposed to this as children? Imagine how their entire way of thinking can be influenced by the most successful designs from Nature.

As an introduction, watch this TED Talk featuring Claire.


Leave A Comment

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

If you agree to these terms, please click here.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.