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Velcro & Co: Bionics at the Museum

Velcro & Co: Bionics at the Museum

“Nature has spent 3.8 billion years of research and development to develop solutions,” explained Peter Overiter, general manager of TMW. Now it is about using bioelectronics – a combination of biology and technology – to transfer natural phenomena, structures, processes and shapes into technical innovations. How this is actually happening is shown in the new special exhibition “BioInspiration” by TMW, which was designed as part of the Alliance4Science Museum collaboration from Parque de las Ciencias in Granada (Spain).

Numerous electronic examples from the fields of architecture, medicine, transportation, engineering, robotics, energy, urban planning, materials science, sports and space research are displayed on the 800 square meters of themed islands. The display showcases prime examples of bionics such as the lotus effect of self-cleaning surfaces, shark skin with its hydrodynamic and antibacterial effect and drag-reducing wings at the ends of aircraft wings inspired by the wings of raptors. But lesser known and surprising bio-inspired solutions are also on display.

Photo series with 6 photos

Fin engineering for wind turbines

For example, the fact that birds do not fly in spider webs because eight-legged creatures weave filaments that reflect UV light are used in bird-proof windows that have such built-in structures. The fin geometry of the humpback whale is now used to improve wind turbine performance, the hexagonal honeycomb shape for space habitats, and the mosquito proboscis for painless hypodermic needles.

The fact that bioelectronics is not an entirely new feat is illustrated by the historical examples of the show, which runs until the fall of 2023 and for which an extensive educational program is offered: Gustave Eiffel, for example, was inspired by the shape of the femurs to build his famous tower in Paris. And in London, as early as the nineteenth century, a tunnel under the Thames was built on the model of shipworms, whose living tubes are reinforced with inner linings.

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Technical Museum Vienna / Home Vienna

Modern wind turbines rely on whale fins

Electronic devices are not always sustainable

The president of TMW Aufreiter confirmed to APA that “electronic devices are not automatically sustainable,” referring to the Velcro fastener, which is mostly made of plastic. Therefore, it is “not just about what, but also how” when it comes to implementing tried and tested solutions from nature, “because nature is fundamentally sustainable and resource-efficient.” In any case, Overter hopes that children and young adults in particular who visit the exhibition will feel “inspired to have ideas”.