Bio-Inspired Sutures: Using Finite Element Analysis to Parameterize the Mechanical Response of Dovetail Sutures in Simulated Bending of a Curved Structure

Biomimetics (Basel). 2022 Jun 16;7(2):82. doi: 10.3390/biomimetics7020082.


Many animals have protective anatomical structures that allow for growth and flexibility; these structures contain thin seams called sutures that help the structure to absorb impacts. In this study, we parameterized the stiffness and toughness of a curved archway structure based on three geometric properties of a suture through finite element, quasi-static, three-point bending simulations. Each archway consisted of two symmetric pieces linked by a dovetail suture tab design. The three parameters included suture tab radii (1-5 mm), tangent lengths (0-20 mm), and contact angles (0-40°). In the simulations, a steel indenter was displaced 6.5 mm to induce progressive tab disengagement. Sutures with large contact angles and large tangent lengths generally led to stiffer and tougher structures. Sutures with a small tab radius exhibited the most sensitivity to the input parameters, and the smallest tab radius led to the stiffest and toughest archways. Results suggested that it was a combination of the largest number of tab repeats with the largest possible contact surface area that improved the mechanical response of the archway. The study revealed several suture geometries that hold significant promise, which can aid in the development of hemispherical 3D structures for dynamic impact applications.

Keywords: bio-inspired; curved structure; displacement controlled; finite element model; helmet design; mechanical properties; parameterization; suture.

Grant support

This research received no external funding.