The new VDI Technical Rule “Biomimetics - Biomimetic design methodology - Products and processes”
Post: 2023-09-20 13:49  View:1515

Ille C. Gebeshuber
Institute of Applied Physics, TU Wien 

The Association of German Engineers (VDI) is a German organization that publishes various technical standards and guidelines. These standards and guidelines, often referred to as "VDI Technical Rules" or "VDI-Richtlinien" in German, cover a wide range of topics in engineering and technology.

VDI Technical Rules provide recommendations, guidelines and best practices for various engineering disciplines. They are developed by committees of experts and are intended to ensure quality, safety and efficiency in engineering projects.

It is worth noting that while VDI Technical Rules are influential and widely respected in Germany and other German-speaking countries, they are not legally binding. However, they are often used as a reference in legal and regulatory contexts, and many companies adopt them as internal standards.

VDI has developed technical standards for various engineering processes. Recognizing the potential of biomimetics, VDI initiated in 2019 an effort to develop a technical standard that integrates biomimetics into classical product development.

The result is the new Technical Rule VDI 6220 Blatt 2 [1] that deals with the integration of biomimetics into classical product development processes. Biomimetics, which involves drawing inspiration from nature to innovate in technology, has seen significant academic growth but limited practical application. A standardized approach shall help to bridge biomimetics with traditional engineering procedures. VDI 6220 Blatt 2 aims to provide a step-by-step guide for integrating biomimetics into traditional product development processes. It is designed to be adaptable to specific research questions and development projects.

Biomimetics can lead to optimized products, resource conservation and disruptive innovations. While there is a surge in academic publications on the topic, its practical application in product development remains limited. The primary challenges include a lack of awareness, absence of a clear process description, and the need to demonstrate tangible benefits for companies. There have been various attempts to describe the biomimetic process, but a universal description that fits all projects is elusive. This contrasts with industrial practices where specific methodologies are used for different products.

VDI 6220 Blatt 2 was developed by an interdisciplinary panel of 21 experts from science, research, and industry (Fig. 1). Their combined expertise (Fig. 2) aimed to establish a robust methodology for biomimetic product development.

Part of the experts involved VDI 6220 Blatt 2 wrote an article in the scientific journal Biomimetics [2] that seeks to present the efforts behind the standardization process and emphasize the link between biomimetics and classic product development. It aims to foster a scientific discussion on the topic and lay the foundation for future work in the field. The article underscores the untapped potential of biomimetics in product development and presents an interdisciplinary effort to standardize its integration into classical engineering processes.

Short description of VDI 6220 Blatt 2 [1]:

The standard links biomimetic process models with the general product development process and locates biomimetic methods and procedures in the development process in terms of time and content. The standard is an addition to established standards for general product development and standards for the product development of special products. The standard for the development of biomimetic products can be used both for technically driven top-down processes (technology is looking for solution principles from nature) and for biologically driven bottom-up processes (biology opens up areas of application in technology), in which the mechanisms of action of a discovered natural phenomenon are to be converted into a technical solution principle. For both types of development, the standard provides a description of the necessary steps and an overview of suitable methods for the steps to be taken. The standard is therefore aimed at people from the areas of development, construction, application, people from industry, research, teaching and training as well as students who want to develop and use biomimetic products. 

VDI 6220 Blatt 2 is one of various VDI technical rules in the area of biomimetics. VDI Technical Rules in the area of biomimetics are

VDI 6220 Blatt 1:2021-09  "Biomimetics - Fundamentals, conception, and strategy",

VDI 6220 Blatt 2:2023-07  "Biomimetics - Biomimetic design methodology - Products and processes",

VDI 6226 Blatt 1:2015-02 , "Biomimetics - Architecture, civil engineering, industrial design - Basic principles"

VDI 6221 Blatt 1:2013-09 , "Biomimetics - Biomimetic surfaces",

VDI 6222 Blatt 1:2013-11 , "Biomimetics - Biomimetic robots",

VDI 6223 Blatt 1:2013-06 , "Biomimetics - Biomimetic materials, structures and components",

VDI 6224 Blatt 1:2012-06 , "Biomimetic optimization - Application of evolutionary algorithms",

VDI 6224 Blatt 3:2017-09 , "Biomimetics - Integrated product development process for biomimetic optimisation",

VDI 6226 Blatt 1:2015-02 , "Biomimetics - Architecture, civil engineering, industrial design - Basic principles",

Ille C. Gebeshuber, TU Wien, part of the expert panel writing VDI 6220 Blatt 2


Figure 1. Technical rulemaking is a joint task. On September 22, 2021, after intensive discussions, the expert panel approved the guideline VDI 6220 Blatt 2 "Biomimetics - Biomimetic design methodology - Products and processes" [1] for publication as a draft. 


Figure 2. Participants in the expert panel writing the guideline VDI 6220 Blatt 2 "Biomimetics - Biomimetic design methodology - Products and processes". B: biology; E: engineering; I: interdisciplinary. In total, 21 members, one guest, and one secretary collaborated on developing a process description for biomimetics. Image Source: [2]


[1] Technical Rule VDI 6220 Blatt 2 (July 2023) "Biomimetics - Biomimetic design methodology - Products and processes", 30 Pages.

[2] Wanieck, Kristina, Leandra Hamann, Marcel Bartz, Eike Uttich, Markus Hollermann, Manfred Drack and Heike Beismann. 2022. "Biomimetics Linked to Classical Product Development: An Interdisciplinary Endeavor to Develop a Technical Standard" Biomimetics 7, no. 2: 36.

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