Friday, April 30, 2010

Bio-Inspired Design in Action

Guest post by Shanolda Yancy

The human bone structure is an important part of our everyday lives. Over time, researchers have studied the properties of human bones and their connective tissues. They have also studied how bones reform on their own.  This is all part of a new wave in design termed biomimicry or bio-inspired design.

During their studies, researchers have learned to create unique designs for items such as chairs and automobiles from the structure of the human bone. The designs of our bones have been the inspiration of the design of many items we use today. The designs are made possible with the help of computer software programs, CAO (computer-aided optimization) and SKO (soft kill option), developed by Claus Mattheck at the Karlsruhe Research Centre in Germany. One researcher’s design became an inspiration for the blueprint of the Eiffel Tower. This particular design was of a crane by the famous head of The Swiss Technical University in Zurich, Karl Culmann. Mr. Culmann came up with his design while watching a physician friend engaged in cutting a section of a femur bone.

As we know, bones are durable, strong and light weight. While experimenting with the human bone structure, researchers broke down the chemicals of our bones which led them to a great discovery. From their testing, they derived an artificial bone material that is so divine that the material is almost impossible to distinguish from that of an actual human bone structure.  This was done by a method known as bone remodeling. "Bone remodeling is the result of the coordinated activity of osteoblasts, which form new matrix, and osteoclasts, which resorb bone,” according to Ask Nature Beta.  A good application of bone modeling is the use of self-healing material such as concrete and ceramics. Another application of bone modeling is the use of adjustable building materials that allow for removal of such material as needed to obtain a desired shape. The use of bone structure, as it is indicated here, is a great way to show how our bones not only serve its significant purpose, but how they also serve us all in ways we once never imagined.

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