Tailoring the Mechanical Properties of High-Fidelity, Beetle-Inspired, 3D-Printed Wings Improves Their Aerodynamic Performance

Or Filc, Hagit Gilon, Shmuel Gershon, Gal Ribak, Bat El Pinchasik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Miniature flapping drones can potentially operate in small spaces, using lightweight membranous wings. Designing these flexible wings appropriately is crucial for effective flight performance. 3D printing allows not only to fabricate high-fidelity, insect-inspired wings but also to further improve their design and shorten the development period for miniature flapping drones. Herein, a bioinspired approach is used to develop 3D-printed wings based on the rose chafer beetle wings. By modulating the wing structure, 12 different wing models are designed that differ in the shape of the veins’ cross-section, tapering geometry, and membrane thickness. The mechanical and aerodynamic properties of these models are compared, to establish guidelines linking wing form to function. It is shown that 1) the geometry of the veins’ cross-section offers a powerful tool for engineering in-plane and out-of-plane deformations; 2) tapering veins improve the wings’ mechanical stability, and 2) the membrane merges the mechanics of the individual veins into an integrated aerodynamically favorable structure. These result in 16% higher lift and 27% improvement in lift production efficiency (N/Watts) in a revolving wing setup. Designing light, flexible, robust, and aerodynamically efficient wings presents a formidable engineering challenge that insects have solved. Reverse engineering these intricate structures is empirically described herein.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2300861
JournalAdvanced Engineering Materials
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • 3D-printing
  • coleoptera
  • flapping drones
  • flexural deformations
  • functional morphology
  • insect wings
  • structural variations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science


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