Steel and other materials of the future were the focus of Synergy Platform 2018 on May 29 and 30.
The voestalpine Synergy Platform 2018 with the theme “Materials of the Future” offered fantastic perspectives. These ranged from steel modeling at the atomic level to alchemy-like approaches to state-of-the-art alloy research.
Materials from the drawing board
Digitized steel design was the focus of the first presentations at TU Vienna. Lorenz Romaner from the Materials Center Leoben, for example, presented highlights on where material design is headed—all the way to simulation at the atomic level. Other presentations on modeling and on the development of materials and processes referred to the research programs at the TU Vienna, MU Leoben and the Kepler University in Linz.
"This is the most exciting time for steel development."
John Speer, Professor at the Colorado School of Mines, emphasized the importance of this fundamental research. He sees trends in the development of even stronger steel grades and the growing importance of microstructures.
Steel is fit for the future
Dieter Steegmüller, as the former Head of the Daimler AG Process and Material Technology Center, is very familiar with OEMs’ material requirements and underscored the future viability of modern steel materials. Especially when it comes to crash behavior, these materials offer a practically unrivaled basis for automotive lightweight design.
Peter Karner, R&D Manager of voestalpine Stahl Donawitz GmbH, addressed the synergetic powers of modeling, experimenting and special customer requirements. Using the Metal Engineering Division’s new “TechMet” and “MetLab” material development facilities as an example, he outlined the possibilities of “miniature” units in industrial research and customized production.
Steel with memory and “alchemical” research
Other participants from voestalpine R&D departments and external research institutes offered an exciting view of future material developments.
- Anna Medvedeva (R&D Manager at Uddeholms AB, Sweden) reported on developments in plastic mold steels. Thanks to their outstanding properties, they could emboss nanostructures that enable functional surfaces in plastic products—surfaces that make the product water-repellent and dirt-repellent or give it color effects without the need for further treatments.
- Christian Leinenbach (Laboratory for Advanced Materials Processing/ETH Zurich) presented iron-based alloys with “shape memory”, which are currently used in building and road construction.
- Sheng Guo (Chalmers University, Sweden) took us into the world of high-entropy alloys—element combinations that combine at least five metallic elements with the same number of particles and do not contain a high proportion of iron or nickel. According to the researcher, this path is somewhat reminiscent of alchemical searches in past centuries.
"High-entropy research is work for the coming decades."
The lively discussions on the sidelines of the synergy platform showed that there is a lot of interest in colleagues’ research work and that there are a lot more future materials to come.
"At Synergy Platform 2018, external researchers and voestalpine R&D facilities presented their perspective on truly exciting developments for the future. Rarely has there been so much interest in each other's work."