ArticlePublisher preview available
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract and Figures

Biomimetics has been a subject of increasing interest but, where it has proven its scientific relevance and innovative potential from a theoretical standpoint, it remains rarely used in practice. Facing this lack of implementation, our work aimed at asking practitioners for their help to better understand the remaining impediments preventing biomimetics’ blooming. Thus, practitioners’ feedback and experts’ opinion on risks, adequacy and weaknesses of the current biomimetic practices were gathered and structured to present an extensive descriptive phase on biomimetic processes. Key levers for improvements, such as the need for a better risk management, the need for biological expertise and the need for clear guidance during the process, were then identified. Based on these insights various methodological contributions are prescribed. Among these inputs, the duration of the various steps of the biomimetic process was estimated through industrial projects’ feedback, semantics misunderstandings were tackled, and the integration of a new transdisciplinary profile combining an expertise in both design and biology is proposed. From these improvements, a new version of the unified problem-driven biomimetic process is proposed. A final descriptive phase performed through the evaluation of the new process by professionals underlined its relevancy along with the remaining research axes. Through the integration of a new profile matching the practitioners’ current needs and the adaptation of the process to their feedback, this article aims at proposing a biomimetic process fitting the reality of biomimetic practice in order to support its implementation.
This content is subject to copyright. Terms and conditions apply.
Vol.:(0123456789)
1 3
Research in Engineering Design (2021) 32:349–375
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00163-021-00356-x
ORIGINAL PAPER
Biomimetics frompractical feedback toaninterdisciplinary process
EliotGrae1,2 · AnnelineLetard1,2· KalinaRaskin2· NicolasMaranzana1· AmézianeAoussat1
Received: 16 February 2020 / Revised: 26 October 2020 / Accepted: 5 January 2021 / Published online: 10 March 2021
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag London Ltd. part of Springer Nature 2021
Abstract
Biomimetics has been a subject of increasing interest but, where it has proven its scientific relevance and innovative poten-
tial from a theoretical standpoint, it remains rarely used in practice. Facing this lack of implementation, our work aimed at
asking practitioners for their help to better understand the remaining impediments preventing biomimetics’ blooming. Thus,
practitioners’ feedback and experts’ opinion on risks, adequacy and weaknesses of the current biomimetic practices were
gathered and structured to present an extensive descriptive phase on biomimetic processes. Key levers for improvements,
such as the need for a better risk management, the need for biological expertise and the need for clear guidance during the
process, were then identified. Based on these insights various methodological contributions are prescribed. Among these
inputs, the duration of the various steps of the biomimetic process was estimated through industrial projects’ feedback, seman-
tics misunderstandings were tackled, and the integration of a new transdisciplinary profile combining an expertise in both
design and biology is proposed. From these improvements, a new version of the unified problem-driven biomimetic process
is proposed. A final descriptive phase performed through the evaluation of the new process by professionals underlined its
relevancy along with the remaining research axes. Through the integration of a new profile matching the practitioners’ cur-
rent needs and the adaptation of the process to their feedback, this article aims at proposing a biomimetic process fitting the
reality of biomimetic practice in order to support its implementation.
Keywords Biomimetics· BID· Multidisciplinary team· Design process· Practical feedback· Risk evaluation
1 Introduction
Biomimetics is defined as “the interdisciplinary cooperation
of biology and technology or other fields of innovation with
the goal of solving practical problems through the function
analysis of biological systems, their abstraction into mod-
els and the transfer into and application of these models to
the solution” (ISO/TC266 2015). The innovative potential
of this approach has already been proven in many studies
(Ahmed-Kristensen etal. 2014; Keshwani etal. 2017) and
would not be tackled in this article. Instead, we will focus
on the methodological framework surrounding the use of
biomimetics as a technical problem-solving approach,
referred to as the technical-pull approach (ISO/TC266 2015).
Few argue against biomimetics, but its implementation and
practice are still highly limited. After the overwhelming
awareness of its potential, industrials soon faced a major
question: how to use biomimetics as a systematic innova-
tive strategy? Using nature as a source of inspiration for
analogical reasoning appears economically and technologi-
cally promising, not to mention the potential opportunities
it can offer from a sustainable point of view (Gamage and
Hyde 2012; Helfman Cohen and Reich 2016; Lenau etal.
2020) through biomimicry (ISO/TC266 2015). However, it
also involves great challenges. From the inherent difficulty
of multidisciplinary work, to the practical difficulties of
manipulating biological data, to the definition of key actors
in biomimetic teams, those large questions encompass a
range of issues that will be pointed out in this article. Facing
the gap that has emerged between research and practice in
biomimetic, this article tackles the following research ques-
tion: How can we adapt the current theoretical framework
designed and used by scientific researcher to a theoretical
* Eliot Graeff
eliot.graeff@ceebios.com
1 Product Design andInnovation Lab, LCPI, Arts Et Metiers
Institute ofTechnology, HESAM University, 151 boulevard
de l’Hôpital, 75013Paris, France
2 Centre D’Études Et D’Expertises en Biomimétisme de Senlis
(CEEBIOS), 62 rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 60300Senlis,
France
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Enfin, parallèlement de la création de ce modèle et de ce référentiel, Pierre-Emmanuel Fayemi a participé à l'élaboration des normes internationales définissant ainsi la terminologie associée au domaine de la bio-inspiration que nous avons cité en début de ce chapitre (ISO, 2015). (Graeff et al., 2021). ...
... En s'appuyant sur les définitions des niveaux d'abstraction publiés dans la littérature (Keshwani et al., 2015 ;Cheong et al., 2012 ;Gentner, 1989), Eliot Graeff (2020) à définit quatre niveaux d'abstraction : Réalité, Bas, Intermédiaire et Haut. Ces quatre niveaux ont été développés et détaillés pour chacune des étapes du processus (Graeff, 2020a;Graeff et al., 2021). ...
... • Étape 2 : L'abstraction englobe l'extraction, le raffinement, la structuration et la dynamisation de l'information qui caractérise le(s) problème(s) à traiter en modèles causals que l'on considère dans un environnement conceptuel formant un modèle générique (Graeff, 2020a;Graeff et al., 2021). Par conséquent, la 2ème étape est renommée : « Identifiez les problèmes techniques, leurs modélisations génériques, leurs causes et leurs effets ». ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Bien que prometteuses et connaissant une évolution croissante, la mise en œuvre de la conception biomimétique et de l’approche du biomimétisme reste complexe et rencontre de nombreux freins méthodologiques et pratiques. Dans ce contexte, cette thèse de doctorat explore comment l’intégration de designers dans les équipes de conception, permet de favoriser le déploiement de la conception biomimétique. Cet axe de recherche nous a permis de définir le rôle des designers dans le cadre de projet en conception biomimétique notamment pour faciliter le transfert de connaissances et la génération de concepts inspirés du vivant. Pour favoriser leur intégration et pour structurer les apports globaux du Design pour la conception biomimétique, des préconisations méthodologiques et organisationnelles sont proposées. De plus, un ensemble de modifications sur le processus de conception biomimétique problem-driven unifié ont été formalisées afin qu’il s’adapte aux pratiques de conception et d’innovation. Les résultats de ces recherches nous permettent d’enrichir conjointement le champ scientifique et le champ industriel de la conception biomimétique. Ces travaux ouvrent des perspectives de recherche à court, moyen et long terme pour développer les recherches concernant le rôle et les impacts des designers et du Design en conception biomimétique, sur le développement du cadre méthodologique et enfin sur la bascule entre la biomimétique et le biomimétisme.
... One of these challenges is the clear understanding of what needs to be done and how this can be achieved during the biomimetic process. In order to address this challenge, several research endeavors have focused on process descriptions, e.g., the work of [11,12] and its improvements, the usage of tools and methods to support industry adoption [13], or to consider the perspective of practitioners [14]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Biomimetics is a well-known approach for technical innovation. However, most of its influence remains in the academic field. One option for increasing its application in the practice of technical design is to enhance the use of the biomimetic process with a step-by-step standard, building a bridge to common engineering procedures. This article presents the endeavor of an interdisciplinary expert panel from the fields of biology, engineering science, and industry to develop a standard that links biomimetics to the classical processes of product development and engineering design. This new standard, VDI 6220 Part 2, proposes a process description that is compatible and connectable to classical approaches in engineering design. The standard encompasses both the solution-based and the problem-driven process of biomimetics. It is intended to be used in any product development process for more biomimetic applications in the future.
... To facilitate the knowledge analogy between the engineering world and biological systems, designers should be equipped with a strong background in the engineering discipline as well as good expertise in the biological domain 11 . Among the different phases in BID, biological inspiration evaluation has been considered to be a crucial one due to its direct influence on the quality and novelty of the final products, along with the development cycle and cost 12 . In the meantime, biological inspiration evaluation is a hard challenge in BID. ...
Article
Full-text available
Biological inspiration evaluation has been widely acknowledged as one of the most important phases in biologically inspired design (BID) as it substantially determines the direction of the following-up design activities. However, it is inherently an interdisciplinary assessment, which includes both the engineering domain and the biological systems. Due to the lack of knowledge at the early stage of product design, the risk assessments mainly depend on experts’ subjective judgments, which values are vague, imprecise, and even inconsistent. How to objectively evaluate the biological inspiration under such uncertain and interdisciplinary scenarios remains an open issue. To bridge such gaps, this study proposes a fuzzy rough number extended MCGDM (multi-criteria group decision-making) to evaluate the biological inspiration for BID. A fuzzy rough number is introduced to represent the individual decision maker’s risk assessment and aggregate respective evaluation values within the decision-making group. A fuzzy rough number extended DEMATEL (decision-making trial and evaluation laboratory) is presented to determine the criteria weights and a fuzzy rough number extended MAIRCA (multi-attribute ideal real comparative analysis) is proposed to rank the candidate biological inspirations. Experimental results and comparative analysis validate the superiority of the proposed MCGDM in handling the subjectivity and uncertainty in biological inspiration evaluation.
Article
Bio-inspired design (BID) has the potential to evolve the way engineers and designers solve problems. Several tools have been developed to assist one or multiple phases of the BID process. These tools, typically studied individually and through the performance of college students, have yielded interesting results for increasing the novelty of solutions. However, not much is known about the likelihood of the tools being integrated into the design and development process of established companies. The mixed-methods study presented in this paper seeks to address this gap by providing industry engineers and designers hands-on training with the BID process and four BID tools. Understanding which tools are valued and could be adopted in an industry context is the goal. The results indicate multiple encouraging outcomes including that industry practitioners highly valued the process framework tool (BID canvas) as it allows for flexibility in tool use, as well as valued learning with a suite of BID tools rather than a single one to accommodate different workflows and ways of thinking.
Article
Full-text available
As catalysts for product innovation and product development, different approaches for biologically inspired design (BID) are exciting options. However, while general BID theory require a focus on single functions, real world products are characterized by performing multiple functions. The development of an anterior eye-chamber model is used to showcase the issue. In a systematic literature review (SLR), state-of-the-art methodologies, methods and tools BID practice are discovered and the current state of multi-functionality in BID are assessed. The SLR revealed 18 contributions with 8 BID methodologies and 12 stage-specific BID tools (of which 50% addressed the solution search phase) in addition to 5 papers addressing multi-functionality in BID. At present multi-functionality in BID is only treated in a limited set of papers. While designers interested in BID are advised to discover multi-functional analogies, the present approach to handling multi-functional problems in BID suggest functional decomposition and multiple BID efforts. Therefore, the development of design support for handling multi-functional problems, including tools for problem analysis are needed.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The strength of biomimetics comes from its ability to draw from life mechanisms and strategies to design innovative solutions. In spite of recent methodological progresses, more specifically on tools and processes, biomimetics' implementation still faces strong difficulties. Among other things, design teams have a hard time finding and selecting relevant biological strategies. Facing these challenges, we consider an alternative, yet well recognized, approach: the integration of profiles having a training in natural science within biomimetic design teams. As biologists aren't used to work in design teams, there is a need for a process actually guiding their practice in biomimetics and determining the way they will interact with the “traditional” design team. After studying the literature and asking for experts' opinion on the matter, we introduced a biomimetic design process considering this new profile as an integral part of biomimetic design teams. With the final goal of making biomimetics implementable, this proposed theoretical process is currently tested in both a student and an industrial project in order to optimize our methodological contribution with practical feedbacks.
Article
Full-text available
Engineering design, as the science framing the practice of design through the elaboration of tools and processes, is constantly evolving towards new innovative strategies. To thrive in their extremely competitive environment, it appears that both industrial and natural worlds are highly dependent on innovation, optimisation and selection. These commonalities have led designers to look to living beings for inspiration. This innovation strategy, referred to as biomimetics, isn’t a new approach but its methodological aspects are still under development. This article deals with biologists’ contribution throughout the biomimetic design process. After introducing the context and the experimental protocol, we investigated the impact of possessing a background in biology during the practice of biomimetics and compared our findings with experts’ opinion. The main idea of this article is to show that to forego the integration of biologists is highly restrictive and may be one of the reasons explaining the difficulties of implementing biomimetics in the industrial context. Hence, this article argues for a new methodological framework taking into account biologists, allowing biomimetic teams to become truly interdisciplinary.
Article
Full-text available
Through billions of years of evolution, a latent record of successful and failed design practices has developed in nature. The endeavors to exploit this record have resulted in numerous successful products in various fields of engineering, including, but not limited to, networking, propulsion, surface engineering, and robotics. In this work, a study of existing biomimetic designs has been carried out by categorizing the designs according to the biological organizational level, the abstraction level, and a novelty measure. The criterion of novelty has been used as a partial measure of the quality of bio-inspired and biomimetic designs already introduced, or ready to be introduced to the market. Through this review and categorization, we recognize patterns in existing biomimetic and bio-inspired products by analyzing their cross-categorical distribution. Using the distribution, we identify the categories which yield novel bio-inspired designs. We also examine the distribution to identify less explored areas of bio-inspired design. Additionally, this study is a step forward in aiding the practitioners of biomimetics in identifying the categories which yield the highest novelty products in their area of interest.
Article
Full-text available
Biological systems have evolved over billions of years and cope with changing conditions through the adaptation of morphology, physiology, or behavior. Learning from these adaptations can inspire engineering innovation. Several bio-inspired design tools and methods prescribe the use of analogies, but lack details for the identification and application of promising analogies. Further, inexperienced designers tend to have a more difficult time recognizing or creating analogies from biological systems. This paper reviews biomimicry literature to establish analogy categories as a tool for knowledge transfer between biology and engineering to aid bio-inspired design that addresses the common issues. Two studies were performed with the analogy categories. A study of commercialized products verifies the set of categories, while a controlled design study demonstrates the utility of the categories. The results of both studies offer valuable information and insights into the complexity of analogical reasoning and transfer, as well as what leads to biological inspiration versus imitation. The influence on bio-inspired design pedagogy is also discussed. The breadth of the analogy categories is sufficient to capture the knowledge transferred from biology to engineering for bio-inspired design. The analogy categories are a design method independent tool and are applicable for professional product design, research, and teaching purposes.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Alors que l'innovation par la biomimétique prend son essor au sein de la communauté scientifique et dans le monde industriel, la question de la place des différents acteurs, en particulier celle des biologistes et de leurs rôles, dans ce type de processus reste entière. A travers, la caractérisation des attentes des différents acteurs, cette étude vise à apporter une première réponse à cette question fondamentale. Nous présentons ainsi nos premiers résultats sur les profils de biologistes attendus par les équipes de conception lors du processus biomimétique. Ces travaux constitueront par la suite notre base de réflexion lors de la conception de solutions prescriptives quant à l'intégration de ces profils originaux au sein des équipes classiques de conception biomimétiques.
Article
Over the past half century, how we conceive of design research has changed significantly, as indeed have the boundaries of influence of the design profession. This paper takes an entirely personal perspective of the author and will discuss the change in the nature of design research through the lens of a career in design education and, especially, in the author's endeavours to develop design research as a respected discipline working with and alongside, science, social sciences and the arts and humanities. It will look at the social, economic and political drivers that have influenced design research in the UK but also globally, and at where this has taken design, in terms of research both within and beyond the design profession.
Article
Biomimicry is a growing field within design communities, attracting practitioners and researchers from a wide range of domains. In the USA, The Biomimicry Institute, The Biomimicry Center and Biomimicry 3.8 share a common mission of supporting the growth of the practice of biomimicry, through commercial consulting, professional training and public education. Research to date has highlighted potential weaknesses and challenges to its growth as a practice. By gaining insights into the current state and funding of completed and on-going biomimicry projects we aim to provide more intelligence and strategic information for organisations with the mission of supporting the practice of biomimicry. We present the results of an online survey of 270 biomimicry practitioners from 44 countries and describe distribution trends, the level of practice support, and difficulties they are currently experiencing. We conclude with guiding recommendations for supporting the impact and growth of the practice of biomimicry.