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Silk cocoons, constructed by silkmoths (Lepidoptera), are protective structural composites. Some cocoons appear to have evolved towards structural and material optimisation in order to sustain impact strikes from predators and hinder parasite ingress. This study investigates the protective properties of silk cocoons with different morphologies by evaluating their impact resistance and damage tolerance. Finite element analysis was used to analyse empirical observations of the quasi-static impact response of the silk cocoons, and to evaluate the separate benefits of the structures and materials through the deformation and damage mechanism. We use design principles from composite engineering in order to understand the structure-property-function relationship of silkworm cocoons. Understanding the highly evolved survival strategies of the organisms building natural cocoons will hopefully lead to inspiration that in turn could lead to improved composite design.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Biol

Publication Date





2648 - 2657


composite, deformation, finite element analysis, silk, silk moth, Animal Structures, Animals, Australia, Bombyx, Compressive Strength, Finite Element Analysis, Materials Testing, Republic of Korea, Silk, Tensile Strength