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Biomimicry In the Idea-2-Product 3D Printing Lab

CSU’s Idea-2-Product 3D Printing lab is one resource on campus that allows students from all majors to take their ideas to the next level. For one student, Saloni Purandare, the I2P Lab is where her ideas about biomimicry research are taking off. Saloni is a graduate student studying design and is working on her masters degree. 

During her time at CSU, Saloni has been very interested in the concept of biomimicry, which is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled after biological entities and processes. In Saloni’s case she is hoping to create a fabric that mimics the smoothness of shark skin. The fabric will mimic the texture of shark skin to improve swim wear hydrodynamics, as shown in figure 1. Saloni is at an early stage of her research and production. For this stage, she is using one of the 3D printers in the Idea-2-Product Lab to create swatches of this fabric in order to look at the texture before. Saloni explained that research has been done to mimic shark skin before, but she is taking a more detailed approach.

Figure 1: Concept of Saloni’s Project

This approach would focus on improved reduction of drag as well as including micro-structural details. She hopes that through 3D printing, the minute details that will assist in the reduction of drag will be replicated. 

Figure 2: Magnified photo of Saloni’s prototype 3D material

Saloni’s story is one of many non-engineering students who have found that the lab to be a very helpful resource. She said that when she was first introduced to the idea of 3D printing, she had never heard anything about it. However, with the help of the lab staff, she has been able to learn how to do the 3D printing she needs to complete her project. She has also learned what material will be best to accomplish her end goal. Saloni says she would recommend the Idea-2-Printing lab to students of all majors because anyone can benefit from 3D printing and from research, class projects, or just printing for fun, the lab offers options for all.