Aviation based on the principles of bird flight, fasteners based on the claw of the tiger, and Velcro products based on how burs cling on are impressive examples of technical innovations which were inspired by nature. The researchers at MANN+HUMMEL also draw on nature to make their products more durable and more effective.

A trip to the zoo is fascinating. In the terrarium, a small gecko walks vertically up smooth walls, apparently without exertion. The light, elastic and tear-resistant web of the tarantula next door demonstrates the art of construction. The tiger in its open-air enclosure prowls around and shows visitors its sharp, durable claws. A lotus flower floats in a small pond which separates the tiger from the visitors. Water droplets simply roll off the leaves of the plant.

The world of nature is varied and presents us with a collection of solutions on a silver plate which developers and engineers can draw on. This is something that Dr. Matthias Teschner, Director of Engineering and Validation at MANN+HUMMEL knows. His work in the company involves the subject of bionics and innovation.

Learn from nature

Bionics involves the transfer of phenomena found in nature to the area of engineering. "Evolution has shown that it can usually find an efficient solution for a problem. We can also benefit from this know-how", explains Teschner. "Animals and plants have the ability to be a good model for engineering, whether for a Velcro product or a tiger claw fastener."

MANN+HUMMEL has already been using the knowledge and expertise gained from bionics for some years in its developments. "We do not simply copy nature, but rather apply its methods to arrive at better products", says Teschner.

Inspiration for filter technology

There are a number of examples in the company. Thanks to an enhancement of the design, fuel filters are now very durable although they are low weight. The ribs on the cover "grow" in a way which removes notch stress similarly as branches do on the tree. In this way, the tension is evenly distributed over the surface.

In an intake manifold, the non-load-bearing areas were removed from the available installation space, referred to as topology optimization. Bones optimize their internal structure in a similar way. The result is a stiff and solid structure with considerably less weight.

Understand and apply mechanisms

"When we have understood how a mechanism found in nature works, we can apply the same mechanism to all kinds of components", explains Teschner. And he adds: "In nature everything is possible. Why not also in the field of engineering?"