Computer-Aided Biomimetics (CAB) tools aim to support the integration of relevant biological knowledge into biomimetic problem-solving processes. Specific steps of biomimetic processes that require support include the identification, selection and abstraction of relevant biological analogies. Existing CAB tools usually aim to support these steps by describing biological systems in terms of functions, although engineering functions do not map naturally to biological functions. Consequentially, the resulting static, functional view provides an incomplete understanding of biological processes, which are dynamic, cyclic and self-organizing. This paper proposes an alternative approach that revolves around the concept of trade-offs. The aim is to include the biological context, such as environmental characteristics, that may provide information crucial to the transfer of biological information to an engineering application. The proposed design process is exemplified by an illustrative case study.
Keywords: Biologically Inspired Design (BID); Computer-Aided Biomimetics (CAB); biomimetics; biomimicry; bionics; design theory; innovation; invention; problem-solving.