Over two thirds of all technical innovations can be traced back to new materials. Due to the constantly rising requirements placed on the materials to be used, materials science plays a key role in meeting the increasing needs and functions of commercially available products in industry. In many industrial sectors and in the production of consumer goods, there is an increasing tendency away from mass production to individual solutions adapted to specific applications. This development has ripple effects on the characteristics and complexity of materials and, accordingly, the process of material development. To influence material behavior, many options to extend standard material properties are already available at laboratory level. With the complexity of materials, the requirements for characterization methods to describe them and to enable their industrial use increase too.
At Fraunhofer IZFP, the well-known nondestructive testing methods are prepared for the changes in the environment of industrial processes. This is done, on the one hand, by taking a holistic view of the life cycle of a product including the role that nondestructive methods play in it. In order to be able to map the complexity of material innovations, the characterization methods have to evolve hand-in-hand. Adequate understanding of materials requires to overcome the limitations of single test methods by the combination of multiple methods. This, together with advanced computer-based methods for data processing, provide information about complex materials.
The research group MatBeyoNDT, led by Dr. Sarah Fischer, has been working on the multimodal investigation of 3D-structured and programmable materials since July 1, 2019. The objective of the group is to shed light on the interaction of nondestructive probes with materials that exhibit locally varying properties. The global properties of these materials are no longer determined by bulk properties alone. To produce materials with internal 3D architecture, additive manufacturing processes are often used as their unique flexibility can be exploited in manufacturing processes. MatBeyoNDT supports the development of future material innovations from initial laboratory tests to large-scale industrial quality assurance. Needs for testing methods are identified and further developed. In this way they can be marketed as testing systems suitable for industrial use. This ensures more complex materials such as programmable materials to be increasingly deployed in industry.
Since its launch, the group has been strategically embedded in the “Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Programmable Materials CPM“. The final goal of this initiative is to replace entire systems such as actuators, sensors or assemblies by one single high-performance material with all the functions integrated into the material. The vision of programmable materials calls for a completely new approach to materials development by leveraging the internal structure to extend the material design space. Within the Cluster of Excellence, the MatBeyoNDT research group is in charge of the development of adapted methods for quality assessment and nondestructive lifetime prediction for programmable materials.