Bionic Learning Network
Inspiration for factory and process automation
Automation technology carries out everyday tasks in factories such as gripping, moving and positioning goods as well as controlling processes. Nature performs all of these tasks instinctively, easily and efficiently. What could be more logical than to examine these natural phenomena and learn from them?
That is why Festo set up the Bionic Learning Network, a research network linking Festo to well-known universities, institutes, development companies and private inventors.
Who are the members of the Bionic Learning Network?
Members of the Bionic Learning Network – interdisciplinary teamwork
We have been dealing intensively with the bionics field since the start of the 1990s. The launch of the Bionic Learning Network in 2006 heralded the start of a dynamic and open exchange of ideas with well-known universities, institutes and development companies.
The core team consists of engineers and designers, biologists and students from Festo. It works closely with specialists from other departments as well as external partners from all over the world. This open, interdisciplinary teamwork offers new perspectives and inspiration for industrial applications and possible future standard products.
- Festo: Bionic Projects core team, Research and Development, Product Management, Testing, Product Development, Product Design, Exhibition Stand Construction, Corporate Design
- Universities and institutes: TU Berlin, Delft University of Technology, TU Ilmenau, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz, University of Oslo and Akershus, Department of Product Design, University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten, University of Stuttgart, CIN University Tübingen, University of Ulm, Fraunhofer IPA ...
- External companies: aeroix GmbH, Ebert Zobel Industrial Design GbR, Effekt-Technik GmbH, Evologics GmbH, JNTec GbR, Nnaisense SA, Sachs Engineering …
What does Festo want to achieve with bionics?
Objectives of the Bionic Learning Network – more than just developing new technologies
To motivate, inspire and enthuse and to kick-start innovation – as a technological leader and as a learning company, Festo is pursuing a set of clear objectives with the Bionic Learning Network:
- To establish networks and to motivate people from different sectors to develop their ideas with Festo
- To keep track of current trends in research and development and to test new technologies and manufacturing methods
- To encourage greater creativity in solution processes and to drive preliminary product development through prototyping
- To discuss possible solutions with customers and partners and obtain customer feedback in relation to issues surrounding innovation
- To demonstrate the solution expertise of Festo in a way that will inspire young people to take an interest in technology and help us to discover new talent
How do our customers benefit?
Festo as a development partner – a driving force for customer innovations
The Future Concepts of the Bionic Learning Network serve as development platforms that combine a wide diversity of technologies and components – from manufacturing concepts via series products, up to software and control or regulation technology.
Continuous optimisation of the various technologies provides Festo with complex insights and approaches to developing and optimising new products and applications together with customers and partners. The expertise gained in this process makes Festo the partner of choice for its OEM customers from diverse sectors with various different requirements.
By providing appropriate components and solutions, services and expertise, Festo supports its customers from the outset in the development of their products and accompanies them from market analysis up to functional simulation, from prototyping up to efficient and productive series production.
Adaptive grippers: from the bionic concept to series product
Gripping has always played an important role in the Bionic Learning Network. Nature often provides amazing impulses and new approaches to solutions for industrial applications. Numerous bionic gripping applications have already been developed in the interdisciplinary research work of the network, from which two concepts have been further developed into series products.
Adaptive gripper finger DHAS: inspired by the fishtail fin
The adaptive gripper finger DHAS is based on the amazing behaviour of the fishtail fin. If you press laterally against the fin, it does not bend away from but curves around the pressure point. The developers have technically implemented this so-called FinRay Effect® with the aid of two flexible polyurethane bands that are connected to each other via intermediate bridges.
Whether parallelly or centrically arranged, the stable yet flexible gripper fingers easily adapt to the contour of a workpiece when gripping. This enables gentle and reliable gripping of sensitive objects with irregular surfaces. The DHAS is already being used in the food industry, for example, to sort fruit and vegetables.
Adaptive shape gripper DHEF: adaptable like a chameleon’s tongue
The adaptive shape gripper DHEF is a further development of the FlexShapeGripper. Its operating principle is derived from the tongue of the chameleon. In order to catch prey, the animal lets its tongue shoot out like a rubber band. Just before the tip of its tongue reaches the insect, it retracts in the middle, while the edges continue to move forwards. This allows the tongue to adapt to the shape and size of the respective prey and firmly enclose it.
The central element of the gripper is a silicone cap filled with slight excess pressure, which is modelled on the chameleon’s tongue and wraps itself around the item being gripped in a flexible and form-fitting manner. This allows an object to be enclosed and held. Even picking up several items, such as screws from a bowl, can be realised via a corresponding control with proportional valves.