Looking for solutions in joint workshops
At the start of a collaborative partnership, the ELiSE team holds workshops with its clients to find out which component is a potential candidate for bionic optimization. Once the final specifications for a component have been determined, the engineers get to work, developing and evolving ideas in order to find the best – and generally unusual – solution. While regular, hexagonal honeycomb structures, for example, are often put forward as the prime example of bionics, nature itself is far more precise. “The honeycomb structures in diatoms are not entirely uniform. Some cells are smaller or larger, some have thicker walls, and sometimes cells are pentagonal. Irregularities in the right place increase overall stability, and it is our task to find out exactly where and how to use them,” Hamm adds.
AWI and Bremerhaven: stronger together
Anyone listening to Hamm will be immediately struck by his enthusiasm for bionics. The 51-year-old first came across the AWI ten years ago, and he is delighted to have found a research organisation that can support his team both in terms of expertise and strategy. “I am particularly attracted by the mix of actual technology transfer to industry, and world-class research into diatoms. Here in Bremen and Bremerhaven we also have close links with businesses and the research community, and there is an innovation-friendly climate,” Hamm adds. The team has plenty of ambition for the future. One objective is to spin off the application group on the EliSE team into an independent company. Another is to drive progress in bionics, as this area of research is still in its infancy. “While bionics has huge potential for the future, we have only just started to develop effective methods and understand the link between form and function. Bionics will become an important area of research, especially as technologies upon which it relies, such as additive manufacturing, and calculation methods, are evolving with us. One day it will enjoy a similar status to other new technologies, such as nanotechnology,” says Hamm.
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