TU Delft
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2010/2011 Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering Master Mechanical Engineering
Bio-Inspired Design
Responsible Instructor
Name E-mail
Prof.dr.ir. P. Breedveld    P.Breedveld@tudelft.nl
Prof.dr.ir. J.L. Herder    J.L.Herder@tudelft.nl
Dr. T. Tomiyama    T.Tomiyama@tudelft.nl
Contact Hours / Week x/x/x/x
Education Period
Start Education
Exam Period
Course Language
Expected prior knowledge
Completed courses in mechanics and design
Course Contents
The course Bio-Inspired Design gives an overview of non-conventional mechanical approaches in nature and shows how this knowledge can lead to more creativity in mechanical design and to better (simpler, smaller, more robust) solutions than with conventional technology. The course discusses a large number of biological organisms with smart constructions, unusual mechanisms or clever processing methods and gives a number of technical examples of bio-inspired instruments and machines.

Examples of topics:
Strength at low weight, stiffness with soft structures, robustness with redundancy, simple laws for complex behaviour, storing energy in springs, energetically efficient muscle configurations, biological vibration systems, clamping with hands, claws, suction, glue, dry- and wet adhesion, biological walking, swimming and crawling methods, locomotion of micro- and single-celled-organisms.

Structure of the course:

1. Bioconstruction
1.1. Biostructure
1.2. Bioenergy
1.3. Bioreproduction & regeneration
1.4. Biomaintenance & repair

2. Biomotion
2.1. Bioclamping
2.2. Biopropulsion at macroscale
2.3. Biopropulsion at microscale

3. Bioprocessing
3.1. Biosensing
3.2. Biobehaving
Study Goals
The student must be able to:
1. describe methods for creative design
2. identify mechanical working principles and phenomena of biological creatures
explain their construction, motion, and/or processing mechanisms
formalize the essence of these mechanisms in models
derive non-conventional design principles from these models
3. implement these design principles in innovative mechanical devices
summarize the transition process from the biological to the mechanical domain
present their design in drawings or preferably in working models
Education Method
Lectures, assignment
Computer Use
Not Applicable
Literature and Study Materials
Final exam will take place in form of presentation with demonstration during the exam period, after which students have to hand-in a written paper.
Students are subdivided in a number of groups. Each group gets a different assignment in which a biological solution for a technical problem has to be found. During the course, in addition and prior to the final presentation, each group gives three presentations: one about their problem analysis, one about their inspiration from biology, and one about their proposed concepts. Instructors and fellow students will provide feedback. Each group has to construct a simple demonstration model showing the working principle of the final solution. This model is to be demonstrated during the final presentation. The final mark is based on the final presentation, the demonstration model, and a written paper describing the whole process, including the biological solution of the problem. At least one photograph of the physical model must be included. In exceptional cases, a software simulation can be acceptable, to be decided by the instructors.
Percentage of Design
Design Content
The course gives knowledge about innovative mechanical designs inspired by biological systems and phenomena, in addition to design exercises.
3mE Department Biomechanical Engineering