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Discover the Most Fascinating Biomimicry Projects Utilizing 3D Printing

Biomimicry is the practice of imitating natural processes in technological and industrial design. It may appear counterproductive to integrate technological advancements into the natural world. However, engineers and scientists are increasingly realizing that nature's methods, particularly in terms of design, are often the most effective. In addition, the emergence of 3D printing technologies has made it possible to create these intricate designs in ways that were previously not achievable with subtractive technologies. Here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the most exciting projects that combine 3D printing with biomimicry. The projects are listed in no particular order. To gain a deeper understanding of how additive manufacturing is enabling us to showcase these optimized patterns,.

Earth Moc: Embracing Nature-Inspired Innovation

3D-printed shoes have become more than just a passing trend. Leading brands such as Adidas, New Balance, and Nike have embraced additive manufacturing to produce remarkable footwear. However, it's important to note that innovation is far from over. Additionally, as Earth Moc serves as an example, people are exploring the use of biomimicry in conjunction with 3D printing to produce highly optimized solutions. Created by Daniel Shirley for Sintratec's 3D Printing Shoe Design Contest in 2022, this shoe embodies the concept of intertwining roots and vines to enhance both comfort and flexibility. He believes that the TPE-made, light-recovery shoe would be ideal for providing relief after hiking or light exercise.

The Aguahoja Pavilion

The AguaHoja Pavilion, located in San Francisco, is an impressive structure standing at a height of 5 meters. It showcases an intricate "Totem" design. This impressive architectural marvel was brought to life through a collaboration between Neri Oxman, The Mediated Matter Group, and Stratasys. With a variety of artifacts made primarily from organic materials that have undergone water-based shaping, nature has had a significant influence on the design. The pavilion is built with a framework created using the Stratasys F900 3D printer, which guarantees the strength and unity of every single component. In addition, the project features an architectural proposal for a melamine glass structure that meets environmental standards.

Exploring the Intersection of Fashion, Technology, and Nature

Zac Posen made a significant impact on the 2016 Met Gala with his innovative 3D-printed designs. He worked with GE Additive and Protolabs to design dresses, bodices, and accessories for several celebrities attending the gala, utilizing additive manufacturing. The shape of a rose served as the inspiration for Jourdan Dunn's attire. Posen designed a structure made up of 21 petals printed in resin. The petals were around 50 cm in size and weighed roughly half a kilo. Actress Nina Dobrev donned a stunning translucent bodice that was 3D printed using a SLA solution. The bodice beautifully captured the mesmerizing effect of liquid water in motion, creating a truly captivating look. The parts were manufactured at the Protolabs facility in Germany, taking over 200 hours to complete.


The Tower of Life, designed by Built by Associative Data, is a remarkable architectural masterpiece.

The Tower of Life, envisioned and brought to life by Built by Associative Data, is an architectural marvel in Dakar, Senegal, seamlessly blending ecological efficiency with the rich heritage of traditional African design. This structure utilizes cutting-edge 3D printing technology, incorporating a sustainable clay membrane that is sourced locally and is biodegradable. This innovative approach helps minimize environmental impact and lower construction expenses by reducing the reliance on transported materials. The Tower of Life is designed with biomimicry in mind, allowing it to function as an energy-positive system. It effectively manages resources, water, and air, all while maintaining a microclimate with minimal emissions. The design of the structure incorporates sustainable practices, with a focus on mimicking natural forms and operating as a closed-loop system. This approach respects local ecological conditions and contributes to the city's sustainable development. The company has a grand vision for the structure, aiming to make it an architectural icon in Africa. They believe that by combining innovative design and technology with cultural heritage, they can create a future that is both self-sustaining and ecologically responsible.


Helical Tubes Inspired by Shark Intestines

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed simplified biomimetic models using 3D printing technology. The spiral-shaped structure of shark intestines, which effectively slows down food movement and directs it downward through the combined forces of gravity and peristalsis, served as inspiration for these models. The project aims to understand how the unique design of soft, flexible structures that mimic intestines facilitates one-directional fluid flow. This understanding could potentially lead to faster flow rates in advanced fluid control systems. This approach explores the impact of the radius and thickness of 3D-printed helical tubes on fluid dynamics. It offers valuable insights into the interaction between membranes and flow, adopting a biomimicry perspective. The team's ongoing research has revealed that this project holds immense potential for various fields, including soft robotics, medical and microfluidic devices, and industrial piping.



Helmets with lattice structures for enhanced safety

3D printing allows for the production of lattice structures that draw inspiration from nature, specifically honeycombs in this instance. These designs are incredibly efficient, strategically placing material only where necessary to optimize the weight of the final part. This innovation is highly valuable in the sports industry, particularly for protective equipment. Thanks to advancements in technology and design, certain companies have created bike helmets that offer a range of benefits. These helmets are not only lighter and stronger, but also provide enhanced comfort and a personalized fit. For example, KAV Sports and HEXR have utilized additive manufacturing to create helmets that enhance shock absorption, resulting in a reported 26% increase in safety compared to traditional helmets. The helmets made by Vicis Enhanced for American football have been upgraded with 3D-printed pads that are inspired by honeycombs. These pads have the ability to decrease the force of impact by up to 7% when a player's head comes into contact with the ground.

The HEXR lattice structure helmet (Photo Credits: HEXR)

The HEXR lattice structure helmet (Photo Credits: HEXR)


Volvo introduces a collection of 3D-printed tiles

Let's take a look at Australia for our next example of biomimicry. Seawalls that enclose 50% of Sydney Harbour's coastline offer a strong barrier against waves and tides. Nevertheless, these obstacles disturb marine habitats, forcing species to search for alternative environments. In an effort to promote ecological balance along the coast, Volvo, the Swedish car manufacturer, has teamed up with Reef Design Lab, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS), and the North Sydney City Council for a conservation project. Collaboratively, they worked on creating and 3D printing tiles that mimic the intricate root systems of nearby mangrove trees. These concrete tiles were installed on the existing seawalls. The printed structure created a haven for various species such as oysters, fish, and algae, leading to a revitalization of marine life along the shores.



3D-printed seed-dispersing slippers

Kiki Grammatopoulos, a British designer, is in charge of the "Rewild the Run" project, which offers running shoes made specifically for carrying and dispersing seeds while doing physical activity. The creator utilized the design flexibility of 3D printing to craft soles that are equipped with small hooks. As people go for a run, these shoes collect bits of nature that are then spread along their running route. These shoes take their design cues from the bison, a species in nature that also disperses seeds and builds pathways through its activities. The objective of these shoes is to promote a more environmentally friendly setting in the face of growing urbanization, which has resulted in the loss or decline of natural habitats for numerous species. As a result, these shoes are presented as a commendable effort to promote environmental harmony.


(Photo Credits: Ecolosport)
 (Photo Credits: Ecolosport)



Pinarello Draws Inspiration from Humpback Whales to Enhance Aerodynamics of Racing Bikes 

Pinarello, the renowned Italian bicycle manufacturer, has established itself as a leader in the cycling industry. They have achieved remarkable feats such as setting the world hour record and supplying bikes to the Italian track cycling team, who are gearing up to defend their team title at the upcoming Olympic Games. Pinarello is always working to improve the speed and efficiency of its bikes by using the latest technologies and taking inspiration from nature's designs. The frames are meticulously created using cutting-edge 3D printing techniques, while the incorporation of AirFoil sections and AirStream technology greatly enhances the bike's aerodynamics. Created in partnership with the University of Adelaide and NablaFlow, AirStream technology draws inspiration from humpback whales and their fin tubercles, which assist in smooth maneuvering. Pinarello bikes incorporate innovative design elements, such as AeroNodes on the seat tube and seat post, which minimize turbulence and optimize aerodynamic performance.


(Photo Credits: Pinarello)

(Photo Credits: Pinarello)


Mussels: A Fascinating Model for Adhesives

The blue mussel's ability to stick to boats, which often frustrates sailors, is due to the presence of a protein that contains an amino acid called dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA). Researchers at Fraunhofer IAP and IGB have successfully replicated this substance due to its exceptional adhesive properties. As a result, they have created an antimicrobial adhesive that is highly suitable for various medical applications. This adhesive is perfect for applying through 3D printing to create a strong bond with bones, making it easier to repair joint damage. In addition, this technology can be used to enhance the longevity of existing implants, eliminating the necessity for additional surgical procedures.


(Photo Credits: Pixabay)

(Photo Credits: Pixabay)

The Biomic Wall

The Biomic Wall project seeks to highlight the pressing environmental issues at hand and emphasize the crucial connection between ecology and architecture. This hydroculture wall is crafted from ceramic using cutting-edge 3D printing technology. The prototype was created as part of a master's course at the University of Innsbruck in collaboration with Studio cera.LAB and exparch.hochbau. The exterior is made up of a sophisticated ceramic structure that is securely attached to a sturdy metal frame. In order to achieve this impressive form, 3D extrusion printing was utilized with a 4mm nozzle, as traditional manufacturing methods would not have been adequate. The bricks were printed with a high level of precision, resulting in a resolution of 2mm. The objective of the wall is to combine contemporary technology, architecture, and environmental awareness. The porous surface of this material encourages plant growth, which in turn helps to enhance the urban climate. In addition, the wall is designed to blend seamlessly with its surroundings, adding a touch of greenery to crowded city areas and helping to minimize noise pollution.

(Photo Credits: cera.LAB)

(Photo Credits: cera.LAB)



Introducing The Lamp Series by Paolo Castelli

In April, Paolo Castelli unveiled a captivating 3D printed hanging lamp that draws inspiration from the intricate and harmonious design of a beehive. This structure is designed to create a soothing ambiance with its lighting. The lamp series was created through a collaboration with WASP, an Italian 3D printing company known for their expertise in large format and ceramic extrusion technology. The innovative technique of 3D ceramic printing was employed to bring these lamps to life. Castelli prioritized sustainability in the production of the lamp by utilizing natural ceramic materials and implementing a 3D printing process that minimizes material waste. Computer design was utilized during development to create a 3D model based on Castelli's design. Subsequently, the team employed Liquid Deposition Modeling (LDM) technology. The lamp's sloping shape was achieved through a unique printing process in the air.


(Photo Credits: WASP)
 (Photo Credits: WASP)



What are your thoughts on these fascinating biomimetic projects that utilize 3D printing technology?

by Isaac B.

Source: https://www.3dnatives.com/en/the-top-biomimicry-projects-using-3d-printing-200620245/
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