3D-printing technology applied to the development of bio-inspired functional acoustic systems

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Examples of bio-inspired technology can be found almost everywhere in society: robots with specific capabilities, materials with unique physical and chemical properties, aerodynamic systems, and architectonic structures are a few examples of taking profit of evolution-driven processes to solve common engineering problems. One field of research taking advantage of bio-inspiration is that of acoustical engineering, aiming to find solutions to problems arising from the miniaturisation of microphones and loudspeakers. Studying the auditory organs of insects to seek inspiration for new design structures is one of the best ways to solve such an important problem. Another discipline of science that has experienced a research boom is that of materials science, as development of new materials has attracted the attention of researchers. In addition, three-dimensional (3D) printers have contributed to further development in materials science making the production process more efficient. The aim of this research is to bring these fields of science together to develop novel bioinspired, polymer-based sensors presenting functional specific acoustic properties after 3D-printing. While the study of complex biological hearing systems provides inspiration to develop sensors featuring specific properties, the use of polymer-based materials allows the customization of the manufacturing process, as the produced parts adapt to the desired needs. In this thesis one such insect auditory system that has been thoroughly studied is that of the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria as it presents a simple structure that allows for acoustic frequency selectivity and displays nonlinear acoustic phenomena. Prior to the development of a bio-inspired system, a mathematical description of the mechanical response of such a structure is presented. Furthermore, the physical behaviours measured on the locust tympanal membrane have been studied using finite element analysis. The 3D-printed functional sensors have been used to determine the degree of accuracy between experimental and theoretical results.
Date of Award21 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorJames Windmill (Supervisor) & Joseph Jackson (Supervisor)

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