It's been a fascinating journey
As scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the German Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, we have been researching natural lightweight construction principles, growth processes and the formation of complex organic structures for more than 10 years. Based on the findings we have developed series ready technical products for various industry partners.
The classical tools of engineers, however, did not allow complex solutions that need to interact with different external influencing factors to be developed quickly and efficiently. Since the development effort was always very high, we also had to question the development processes that lead to the optimized components. Once again nature inspired us: Nature builds generatively. The focus is not on the finished product, but on the growth process. Adapting to the prevailing boundary conditions is what it’s all about.
How is the growth process managed?
The secret lies in the DNA.
DNA is a set of rules which defines how to react to external boundary conditions during growth. Organisms with identical DNA develop differently due to different boundary conditions but always turn out to be perfectly adapted.
The question is how product development can look like if engineers would no longer focus on the component itself, but rather on defining a set of rules, a technical version of DNA. Such an idea requires completely new development processes and tools. All these processes and tools, calculations, FE-simulations and CAD design has to be integrated and automatically evaluated within the DNA.
We have developed an engineering software that enables the generative growth principles of nature to be used in technical products.
ELISE is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the European Social Fund as part of the EXIST programs.