New Zippcast Explores Biomimicry as a Catalyst of Innovation
Zipp engineers pioneered biomimicry-guided innovation in the cycling industry with the development of the 454 NSW Carbon Clincher wheelset.
In this new ZippCast, we chat with Zipp advanced design engineers David Morse and Ruan Trouw about the role of biomimicry in designing the 454 NSW. Biomimicry is the process of looking to natural systems for design cues to human design challenges. We also interview noted biomimicry expert Dr. Frank Fish, professor of biology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Zipp engineers studied Dr. Fish’s research on the tubercles of humpback whale fins while working on the 454 NSW.
Below is an edited transcript of the ZippCast conversation with biomimicry expert Dr. Frank Fish:
Tell us about your interest in biomimicry and specifically about taking design cues from tubercles on humpback whale fins.
I was interested in these bumps along the leading edge because if you look at wings, like looking at the wing of an airplane, you don’t have any knobby bumps on the front of the wing. Rather, it’s a nice smooth edge.
If you look at the pattern of barnacles that were also on the flipper, what you found was the barnacle were located in particular places. They were only located right on the bumps but not between the bumps. Because barnacles attach to surfaces such as ships or even whales, they do it under conditions of very low flow. So having a sort of descriptive maybe faster flow over particular parts of the flipper where barnacles were wouldn’t tend to settle was an indication that something was going on hydrodynamically.
What are some of the more amazing movement abilities of the whales you’ve studied?
What do you see as the potential for biomimicry?
You also draw cartoons of animals. What do most people not realize about animals or the natural world?
For instance, I used to talk along the campus that I was at. There would be a river and every spring there would be a mother duck and her baby ducks and they’d be swimming along the rider with the baby ducks in single file behind the other. People would just say, we’ll they’re just following the other because the mother knows where it’s going. But I looked at it from a different point of view and say, ‘no I think there’s something different going on with the hydrodynamics of this system, that the baby ducks are drafting in the same way that bicycles will form a paceline and draft.
The Zipp 454 NSW Carbon Clincher features Hyperfoil™ nodes along the inner diameter of the rim that were designed using biomimicry in the engineering process. Photo by Beardy McBeardy