Smart Materials

Smart Materials

Innovative products can often only be realized with the appropriate intelligent materials. Today, components (and thus also the materials from which these components are constructed) often have to have more capabilities than just a certain structural condition (strength, hardness, toughness, haptics etc.) or optical properties (in the sense of surface condition). They must also have intelligent properties, i.e. have sensory or actuator properties. As a rule, this is achieved by materials that can change their properties through active control. As an example, these materials are able to change geometric dimensions, flow properties (rheology), electrical resistance or magnetic properties. Moreover, material properties can be changed by active control.

Examples of such smart materials are: Piezoelectrics, OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes), CNTs (carbon nanotubes), dielectric elastomers, shape memory alloys, electro- and magnetorheological fluids etc.

1. Active Systems and Function Integration

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As a result of active structure technology and the integration of structure-compliant sensor and actuator functions, system complexity increases with the functionality of the structures.

The Institutes from Fraunhofer Gesellschaft have all the skills associated with active structure development and its evaluation. This ranges from functional materials, structural mechanics, mechatronics, mechanical engineering, production engineering, simulation of components and systems, information technology, control and electrical engineering, testing technology to operational stability and system reliability.

Portfolio

  • Integration of sensory and/or actuator components
  • Operating load recording, system identification and modelling
  • Stress analysis
  • Simulation of the dynamic behavior of complex systems and early feasibility assessment
  • Design, construction, implementation of active structural solutions
  • Controller development and functional demonstration
  • Method development for the investigation of the reliability of active structural systems
  • Functional verification under operating loads

 

Project examples

  • Hyb-Man [project page]
    EU project with participation of Fraunhofer IFAM for the production of intelligent components by additive manufacturing technologies
  • Go Beyond 4.0 [project page]
    Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project with participation of Fraunhofer IFAM for the production of intelligent components in digital printing and laser processes
  • HeatCNT [Fraunhofer IFAM (German)]
    EU-funded joint project with participation of Fraunhofer IFAM on novel heat exchangers based on metal/CNT composite materials
  • Active engine mounts for automotive and non-automotive applications [Fraunhofer LBF (German)]

2. Plastics & Manufacturing Processes

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Shorter product lifetimes demand a reduction in the time and cost required to develop new components. The early optimization of materials and manufacturing processes has become a decisive competitive factor.

Therefore, several partner institutes are working on the development of materials with a focus on polymer materials. In several demonstration laboratory halls new manufacturing processes are tested.

Portfolio

  • Materials with specific properties
  • Material modification for certain processing methods
  • Recycling technology and recycling management
  • Material processing
  • Material testing and characterization
  • Sampling of materials, tools and manufacturing processes
  • Development of manufacturing processes
  • Tool technology
  • Process development

 

Project examples