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What Is Biomimicry?

In recent years, nature-inspired design has become a popular term. However, the idea is not new. Many of the technologies we use today are based on biomimicry principles. Biomimetics also known as biomimicry have been used to improve medical technology and even create synthetic versions of natural materials such as spider silk or lotus leaf surfaces.

Biomimicry relies on three different approaches: observation, analysis, and inspiration. The first step in any project is to observe how nature creates an object or process that you would like to emulate – for instance, a bird’s wing or a tree’s root system. Next, you analyze precisely how these objects work so that you can recreate them with your own materials and tools, such as a 3D printer. Finally, you take inspiration from these natural designs to develop your own solutions to problems.

Also interesting: Biomimicry Masterclass – Collective Intelligence for Robotics [Video]

One of the benefits of biomimicry is that it often leads to more sustainable designs. For example, when engineers looked at how termites build their mounds, they could create more energy-efficient building materials. To test how well these biomimetic bricks would hold up, the researchers built their own termite mounds made of bricks in their lab. A solid ring of highly insulating brick is surrounded by an outer wall that stores heat energy and helps keep the interior warm even when it’s cool outside.

What is biomimicry?

Biomimicry is the idea of drawing inspiration from nature’s designs to create artificial innovations. This philosophy has been applied in many fields, including engineering. From architecture to industrial design, there are countless examples in which biomimicry has been successfully used to solve complex societal problems.

Esplanade Singapore Marina Bay - Biomimicry Architecture Design Durian Fruit Close-Up
The Esplanade building in Singapore shows design elements that resemble the spikes of the durian fruit (image: Nick Fewings / Unsplash)

One of the benefits of biomimicry is that it often leads to more sustainable designs. For example, when engineers looked at how termites build their mounds, they could create more energy-efficient building materials. To test how well these biomimetic bricks would hold up, the researchers built their own termite mounds made of bricks in their lab. A solid ring of highly insulating brick is surrounded by an outer wall that stores heat energy and helps keep the interior warm even when it’s cool outside.

How does it work?

One of the most important things to understand is how it works when it comes to biomimicry. Essentially, biomimicry is all about imitating natural designs and processes in order to solve problems. This can be done in various ways but often involves taking a closer look at how nature solves problems. For example, if you’re trying to develop a more efficient way to produce energy, you might look at how photosynthesis works in plants. By understanding the principles that guide natural processes, you can then apply them to man-made designs and solutions.

Is biomimicry new?

Biomimicry is not a new concept by any means. In fact, it’s been around for centuries. However, it has only recently begun to be recognized as an actual field of study, with numerous books being written on the subject. This relatively new-found interest has led to many biomimicry projects in recent years.

Who uses biomimicry?

Biomimicry is not just for scientists and academics anymore. Many companies are now beginning to realize the potential benefits of biomimicry and are incorporating it into their business plans. In fact, there are now even biomimicry startups, which are focused exclusively on developing man-made solutions that imitate natural designs.

Benefits of biomimicry

There are many benefits to using biomimicry in design. Some of these benefits include:

  • Improved efficiency: Nature has been around for millions of years, and during this time, it has evolved to be highly efficient. Biomimicry takes advantage of this efficiency, leading to more efficient designs in all aspects of life.
  • Less waste: When designing products or processes based on nature’s models, much less waste is produced. This is because nature has already perfected the use of materials and does not rely on excess or unnecessary features.
  • Sustainability: Biomimicry is one of the most sustainable design philosophies there is. It relies on using resources that are already available, and it aims to create products and processes that are environmentally friendly and reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources.
  • Innovation: Nature is the ultimate innovator, and biomimicry draws on this to create new and innovative designs. By studying how nature has solved problems, we can develop our own unique solutions to complex design problems.
  • Design diversity: Nature is constantly evolving, creating many different designs in much less time than it would take for humans to develop the same innovations. Biomimicry allows innovation and design to be achieved on scales and speeds not yet seen before.
  • Positive effect on the local economy: Many biomimicry-inspired innovations are created by small businesses and local artisans. When these products and processes are successful, they positively affect the local economy.

There are many reasons to consider using biomimicry in design. Some of the most important benefits include improved efficiency, reduced waste, sustainability, innovation, design diversity, and biomimicry’s positive effect on local economies.

Examples of biomimetic design in the world today

There are countless examples of biomimetic design in the world today. Some of the most notable include:

  • Architecture: Many modern architects are beginning to look to nature for inspiration, and the results are often stunning. From buildings that mimic the shapes of animals to those that are designed to be more energy-efficient, there is no shortage of biomimetic architecture out there.
  • Industrial design: From cars to cell phones, almost every type of product has been influenced by biomimicry at some point. In many cases, this has led to more sustainable and ergonomic designs that are better for the environment and our health.
  • Product design: Biomimetic product design is used in almost every industry, from food and beverage to clothing and building materials.
  • Textiles: There are even biomimetic textiles out there, which take their cues from nature when it comes to both strength and color.
  • Materials science: Many people remain unaware that a large number of the technologies we use every day are actually based on biomimetic designs. The use of spider thread in bulletproof vests is one example, but there are countless others as well.
  • Chemical engineering: Biomimetic chemical engineering takes advantage of the natural catalysts that exist in nature to create new and innovative industrial processes. This can lead to more efficient and sustainable production of a wide range of products.
  • Building construction: In recent years, biomimetic building construction has been growing in popularity as more architects and builders have begun to explore this design philosophy. This can lead to buildings that are better able to survive extreme weather conditions without compromising comfort or aesthetics.
  • The natural world: Many people already use biomimicry when they are observing the natural world around them. This can be anything from animal behavior to weather patterns and everything in between.
  • Technology: There are even biomimetic technologies out there that mimic nature’s own designs. Some of these include artificial leaves, which are designed to create hydrogen fuel using sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. An exciting new field that makes use of biomimicry is robotics. Making robots walk, swim, and fly – engineers often first look at nature’s grand design to understand locomotion and options for motion.

Conclusion

To put it simply, biomimicry is the imitation of natural shapes and structures in man-made things. For example, engineers might look at how fins work together on a fish when designing a new type of wind turbine blade. Each fin works independently but in unison, making it efficient for catching prey. Biomimetic design can be seen throughout today’s environment in products such as antimicrobial coatings on surgical tools, self-cleaning glass, and water-repelling fabrics.

Biomimicry is an exciting field, and it is growing rapidly as more and more people become interested in the potential for sustainable design that can be drawn from nature. The next time you see a beautiful butterfly or a fish swimming gracefully through the water, take a moment to appreciate the design – it’s not just pretty. It was built with purpose.


YouTube: The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps. (Vox)

Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and was combined based on two images. The robot holding a skull was done by Willyam. The lotus flower in the background was done by Xiaoliang Ge. The close-up photo of the Esplanade in Singapore was taken by Nick Fewings.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)

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