Course information

Responsible Instructor
Name E-mail P. Breedveld
Contact Hours / Week x/x/x/x
Education Period
Start Education
Exam Period
Course Language
Course Contents
General objective:
To give an overview of non-conventional mechanical approaches in biology and to show how these approaches can lead to more innovation in mechanical design and to better (simpler, smaller, more robust, …) technical solutions.

Examples of topics:
Having a focus on the physical part (structure, mechanisms) of organisms, the course discusses a large number of biological organisms with smart constructions, unusual mechanisms or clever sensing and processing methods and presents a number of technical examples and designs of bio-inspired instruments and devices. Examples of topics are strength at low weight, stiffness with soft structures, robustness and redundancy, storing energy in springs, energetically efficient muscle configurations, biological vibration systems, clamping with hands, claws, suction, glue, dry- and wet adhesion, biological walking, swimming, crawling and flying methods, locomotion of micro- and single-celled-organisms, simple laws for complex behavior, evolution and engineering of living systems.

Overview of lectures:
1. Bio-inspired designing (on how to be innovative in designing)
- Finding biological information
- Dealing with friction
- Innovative designing with ACRREx
2. Bioconstruction (on clever mechanical biological constructions)
- Mechanical stiffness & motion
- Hydrostatic stiffness & motion
3. Biopropulsion (on smart biological locomotion methods)
- Macroscale – walking
- Macroscale – flying
- Macroscale – others
- Microscale – single-celled organisms
4. Bioclamping (on innovative ways to grasp and clamp)
- Biological hands
- Artificial hands
- Alternatives for grasping
- Adhesion
5. Bioenergy (on clever ways to deal with energy)
- Energy harvesting
- Compliant actuation
- Compliant mechanisms
6. Biodevelopment (on parallels between evolution and engineering)
- Parallels in biological & technical evolution
- Architectural adaptations in living systems
- Engineering of living systems

Innovative designing:
To teach students how to create smart and truly innovative designs, students are trained with the ACCREx design method that was developed at the 3mE department Biomechanical Engineering. Alternating intuitive brainstorming with logical, scientific abstracting and categorizing, ACRREx structures and guides a design process in the direction of fundamentally new design solutions.
Study Goals
After completion of this course, the student is able to:
1. describe methods for creative design
2. identify mechanical working principles of biological phenomena
- 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 technical devices
- summarize the transition process from the biological to the mechanical domain
- present their design in drawings and working models
4. describe design processes in the framework of a scientific paper
Education Method
Lectures, assignments, progress presentations
Literature and Study Materials
Handouts, scientific papers, websites
Students are subdivided into multidisciplinary student groups. Each student group receives a challenging design assignment to which a novel, bio-inspired solution has to be found. During the design process, the student groups are coached by the teachers and have to give a number of concise presentations about their progress to the other student groups.

The examination consists of three parts:
1. Each student group hands in a scientific paper covering the biological background, the design process and the final solution for the design assignment.
2. Each student group gives a final presentation to the teachers and the other student groups.
3. Each student group fabricates a demonstration model that shows the essence of the final solution.

The final mark of each individual student is based on a weighted average between these group results and his/her functioning within the student group.
3mE Department Biomechanical Engineering
Contact P. Breedveld
TU Delft, Faculty 3mE
Department Biomechanical Engineering
Bio-Inspired Technology Group
Room: 34 E-3-340
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