Beehives inspire Ford to Design Light and Super-Strong Parcel Shelf
Many ideas and designs were inspired by nature. Take, for instance, the Shinkansen Bullet Train. Its kingfisher-inspired nose reduces noise pollution, and lets it use less power to go faster. The McLaren P1 inspired designer, Frank Stephenson, saw a sailfish mounted on a wall and decided to find out how it was one of the fastest fish in the ocean. The fish’s scales generate tiny vortices that produce a bubble layer around its body, significantly reducing drag as it swims. He and his team applied the fish scale blueprint to the inside of the ducts that channel air into the engine of the P1, boosting airflow by an incredible 17 percent and increasing the efficiency and power of the vehicle.
Likewise, Ford recently came up with the idea to use recycled paper for the parcel shelf in the Ford EcoSport based on the structure of a beehive. The “Honeycomb Shelf” is a lightweight, secret boot shelf capable of supporting up to 100 times its own weight, which is a strength-to-weight-ratio that’s even stronger than steel. `
Despite only weighing 3kg, it can support a load of up to 300kg! Sue Cobey, a bee researcher at Washington State University said, “The geometry of this shape uses the least amount of material to hold the most weight.
It is constructed by sandwiching a layer of honeycomb-like cells made from recycled paper and water-based glue between a couple of layers of light but durable fiberglass. Space rockers, jet planes and supercars have already used this application, which gives strength without adding weight.
Bettina Veith, the Ford EcoSport’s assistant chief engineer, explains, “Nature is like one big innovation laboratory, and from bees to termites to beavers, animals are some of the world’s best engineers.”