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This is the continuation of a blog post on how nature is inspiring advancements in engineering. Click here to read Part 1.

A few weeks ago, we highlighted some innovative technologies that are drawing inspiration from nature.

To recap, nature is awesome and when it comes to the microstructures that are naturally occurring, function dictates form. There are various applications that are being developed from the study of these microstructures including manufacturing.

As the additive manufacturing industry demands higher-performance materials, Fortify draws inspiration from nature where bone, nacre, bamboo, and mantis shrimp exhibit some of the high-performance material properties manufacturers seek. We will continue to see more replicas of nature in innovative ways as we continue to learn more about these technologies. Some applications to keep an eye out for.

1. Mantis Shrimp → 3D Printing Composites

Mantis shrimp have an appendage, the dactyl club, which is incredibly strong, durable and impact resistant. The dactyl club can accelerate to over 50 MPH in an instant, causing it to strike twice (once on the initial impact, and once with shockwaves from the impact), yet the appendage stays intact. This durability is due to its herringbone structure. This has been a source of inspiration as the Fortify team looks to create strong material properties with additive technologies. Through DCM (Digital Composite Manufacturing) 3D printing, Fortify is able to control the orientation of fibers in a composite through the use of a shifting magnetic field. By optimizing the orientation of fibers we can replicate this structure and other naturally occurring structures for high-performance applications

bio inspired shrimp

2. Gecko → Climbing robots

Geckos are an engineering wonder, sticking to vertical surfaces with ease, leaving no residue behind. Gecko feet have a microstructure that resembles a tree, with the skin surface covered in branching micro-fibrils. This enables them to adhere to surfaces using van der Waals forces. Though researchers have studied bioinspired dry adhesives for over a decade, scientists are just now developing climbing robots that can scale a wall while maintaining balance. Researchers are examining the gecko’s adhesive feet and distribution of weight to perfect the climbing robot design.

gecko – circuit board

3. Mussel → Biosealant

On the battlefield, fifty-five percent of mortalities result from excessive bleeding. Researchers are turning to a surprising place to address this issue: mussels. The adhesive that holds mussels shut is strong, waterproof, and biocompatible. Current synthetic sealants exist on the market, but most are toxic or ineffective. Scientists are studying the mussel’s powerful adhesive properties to create a synthetic biosealant that can seal wounds, potentially cutting battlefield mortality rates in half.

mussel bio inspiration

4. Chameleon → Camouflage clothing

Soldiers have worn camouflage uniforms for generations, whether to blend into beige deserts or green jungles, bright sunlight or black darkness. The U.S. military has expressed interest in creating uniforms that have the chameleon’s color-changing properties. Though this concept sounds more sci-fi than reality, and development may be under wraps for several years, soldiers may someday wear color-shifting uniforms that allow them to hide in plain sight, no matter the environment.

Fortify is in good company when it comes to biomimicry and drawing inspiration from nature. We continue to look at the world around us in awe, driving us to continue towards our vision of transforming the way the world makes and manufactures.

Are you bio-inspired? What will you Fortify?