University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Engineering Department Bio and Micromechanics Seminars > 4-bar mechanisms in nature: their function and potential for biomimicry

4-bar mechanisms in nature: their function and potential for biomimicry

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Linkage mechanisms like 4-bar mechanisms are common in mammals, birds, insects, fish and snakes. These mechanisms are interesting to study but also have potential for biomimicry. As with engineering applications, 4-bar mechanisms in nature allow advanced mechanical design features such as complex motion paths or optimal location of actuators. The talk will describe research carried out on four examples of linkage mechanisms: mammalian knee joints; insect wing joints; bird wings; and fish jaws. In each case, the mechanism and its function will be explained and a bio-inspired design will be presented. A comparison will be presented between engineered mechanisms and the mechanisms found in nature. Joints in nature tend to be non-planar with highly redundant soft actuators. However, there is still scope for a degree of biomimicry. Stuart Burgess BSc, PhD, CEng, FIMechE Stuart Burgess is professor of Engineering Design at the University of Bristol. He was the lead designer for the solar array deployment on the world’s largest civilian earth-observing spacecraft (Envisat). He also led the design and testing of the chain drive for the track bikes used by the successful British Olympic Cycling Team at the Rio Olympics. He has published over 150 scientific papers on the science of design and has 7 patents on novel mechanism designs including the double-action worm gear set. He has received several national awards for his designs including the Turners Gold Medal and Molins Design Prize awarded by the minister of State for Trade and Industry.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Bio and Micromechanics Seminars series.

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