Bionics - looking to nature

Steinbeis student analyzes the need for innovative lightweight construction techniques

The bionic lightweight construction technique called “Evolutionary Light Structure Engineering” (ELiSE) was developed at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). It’s a core competence of a workgroup made up of employees from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Institute for Marine Resources (IMARE). This technique uses biological structures as models for the lightweight design of technical innovations. Pilot projects using ELiSE technology have already achieved weight reductions of up to 40%. The essence of this technology is understanding sophisticated, highly efficient construction principles behind biological plankton organisms and transferring this understanding to the design of technical components. Daniel Siegel researched the industrial feasibility of ELiSE technology during his MBE studies at the School of Management and Technology at Steinbeis University Berlin. Work like this is a logical step in implementation after successful application research has been carried out.

To begin his research, Daniel Siegel designed and analyzed various application strategies, and then evaluated them. He created various scenarios to assess the use of lightweight construction databases. The main focus of his assessment was to look at service providers.

Siegel conducted customized market research based on various investigations he devised using his own interactive online survey, a telephone survey and extensive research of secondary data. The online survey included interactive elements to function as an Internet-based workshop on the topic of bionic lightweight construction, and it involved context-related questions. Workshop participants were introduced to the new topic of bionic lightweight construction techniques and were then given the chance to share their knowledge of modern applications and of lightweight construction optimization techniques. In addition, Daniel Siegel carried out further strategic research using various analysis methods looked at in his MBE studies i.e., Porter’s five forces analysis, stakeholder analysis, and PEST and SWOT analyses.

The results of the market research underscore the need for lightweight construction solutions for technical applications in the coming years: more than 75% of the surveyed experts showed a strong interest in ELiSE technology. The results show that the target market spans various industries, with the greatest potential for application identified in the automotive, aerospace, mechanical engineering and shipbuilding industries. Potential users of the technology also expressed a strong interest in the use of a lightweight construction database, though there is still some uncertainty regarding the desired value-added.

Daniel Siegel evaluated the results of the analyses and illustrated several scenarios and configurations for organizational structures for the industrial application of ELiSE services in the field of lightweight construction optimization. He also presented further possible application areas. The summarized results form the basis of strategic decisions to be taken further down the line. They will also provide a focus for the workgroup and its technology.


Isabel Lindner
School of Management and Technology Steinbeis University Berlin (SHB, Berlin/Filderstadt)

Daniel Siegel
Alfred Wegener Institute Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Community

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