Multi-Functioning and Multi-Optimisation in Feathers

Multi-Functioning and Multi-Optimisation in Feathers

S.C. Burgess 

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

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Natural organisms often have multiple functions and multi-optimisation in a single component or mechanism. In addition, natural organisms are highly integrated assemblies. In contrast, human design has traditionally avoided multi-functioning in single components because of the difficulties this presents in the design process. Only in recent years has there been a trend towards multi-functioning in engineering components. The advantage of multi-functioning is that extremely high levels of performance can be achieved. This paper gives examples of multi-functioning and multi-optimisation in a bird flight feather and a bird display feather. In each case, the advantages of multi-functioning are explained and analogies with man-made design are given.


multi-functioning, multi-optimisation, shape factors


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