For many years nature has been providing solutions to some of our greatest problems, and has provided inspiration for some of the greatest feats of engineering known to man. The study of how nature can inspire engineering is often also referred to as biomimicry or biologically inspired engineering. Interestingly the influence of nature on engineering is surprisingly larger than you might think. Indeed University College London recently announced the development of a new Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering which will draw lessons from nature to engineer innovative solutions to our grand challenges in energy, water, materials, health, and living space. Here we take an in-depth look at one key way in which nature has provided inspiration for an amazing feat of engineering, namely flight.
For millennia birds have been dominating the skies whilst we could only look on in wonder. Birds and their wings have been inspiring the aircraft industry since its inception and it is through the study of how these amazing animals are seemingly able to defy gravity that some of the most important flight discoveries were made. Indeed the Wright brothers, widely credited as having invented the first successful airplane, were hugely inspired by their observations of birds in flight. For example they were able to discover key factors contributing to successful flight in birds, such as their ability to change the shape of their wings to turn and manoeuvre for example.
Interestingly birds continue to inspire aircraft design in a number of ways. For example as reported in a recent article, whilst the maneuverability of modern aircraft cannot match that of birds, largely due to the fact that unlike our feathered friends airplane wings do not flap, scientists and engineers have been developing new methods of mimicking bird flight. Consequently in the future there is the possibility that airplane wings may also be able to flap, thus significantly increasing their maneuverability.
Furthermore seabirds are able to sense gust loads in the air with their beaks and react accordingly by adjusting the shape of their wings. This inspired engineers to design probes contained within the nose of certain aircraft models, which like these birds, can sense gusts and activate moveable wing surfaces, thereby acting to increase flight efficiency.
Here at Airedale Springs we understand the powerful impact nature can have on engineering, and many of the products and materials used within our industry would not have been discovered without such important sources of inspiration. If you are looking for springs than we have a great selection for you to choose from, including compression springs, to suit your requirements. For more information about our range of products and services please do not hesitate to contact us and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.