CE10 - Industrie et usine du futur : Homme, organisation, technologies

Inspiring mechanical design from biological morphogenesis – BioDesign

Submission summary

For many years, mechanical design has been based on parts defined from canonical geometries (e.g. cylinders and planes). Today, simulation, prototyping and manufacturing means are no longer constraints for the development of new concepts. Calculation means and new modelling formalisms, such as numerical twins, allow a detailed and realistic mechanical analysis of complex systems (mechanical and biological). Current manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing and 5-axis CNC machining, make it possible to obtain parts with complex surfaces. Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities for obtaining already assembled mechanisms. In this way, technological barriers have been removed, opening up new avenues for the development of new design paradigms.

Bio-inspiration, as a research paradigm, aims to understand natural structures and processes to guide scientific research in non-biological sciences. In the struggle for survival, natural systems have achieved extraordinary properties by exploiting multi-scale and multiphase structures. From a mechanical perspective, nature has generated specialized structures and joints whose mechanical properties exceed those created by humans. So why not inspire the design of mechanical systems for biological processes?

Theories and numerical models have been developed to reproduce the processes of morphogenesis and bone growth. However, these theories and models have not yet been explored as a source of inspiration for the design and dimensioning of mechanical systems and parts. A link between bone growth theories and mechanical design methodologies is missing. The adaptation of these biological theories in a technological context could provide an opportunity to formulate new approaches to mechanical design.

BioDesign project will investigate the hypothesis that the biological mechanisms of endoskeleton growth can be mimicked in an engineering context to automate the design of the mechanisms. In order to test this hypothesis, the overall objective of this project is to formulate new design methodologies and to implement numerical tools inspired by bone growth theories for the development of engineering applications. In other words, the aim is to learn how nature makes matter grow, in a context of limited resources, in order to realize functional mechanical systems. The idea is to capitalize on the possibilities of additive manufacturing to obtain mechanisms with complex geometry that are already assembled.

The input data for the methodology will be the external mechanical loads and the topology of the system under study. The algorithm, mimicking the processes of biological morphogenesis, will shape elementary parts according to the mechanical stresses generated during operation. In an iterative formulation, all parts will be shaped simultaneously while simulating the system operation. The result of the methodology will be the optimized external geometry of the elementary parts of the system. Algorithms will be developed in the form of a demonstrator. Experimental and numerical evaluations will be performed. Open source software will be used for the implementation of the demonstrator: Salome/Code Aster for finite element mechanical analysis, SimTK for multibody dynamic analysis and OpenCascade for geometric modeling. In line with an open science approach, developed software tools will be also open-source for diffusion in the scientific community.

Project coordination

Santiago Arroyave-Tobon (Institut des sciences du mouvement - Etienne-Jules Marey)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


ISM Institut des sciences du mouvement - Etienne-Jules Marey

Help of the ANR 301,669 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 48 Months

Useful links

Explorez notre base de projets financés



ANR makes available its datasets on funded projects, click here to find more.

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter