In this edition of TRANSFER magazine, we embark on a series of presentations on different fields of technology. We start with two important and fascinating fields: materials and surface technology. Both are pivotal to industrial manufacturing and are tremendously important to modern-day R&D: around 70% of all technical innovations stem directly or indirectly from the availability of new materials; in the manufacturing sector, material costs account for over 50% of production.
Since the early days of human history, technological and social developments have been closely interwoven with the development and re-processing of new and expedient, high-quality materials, and the technical solutions that grew from this. Current material developments are driven on the one hand by the increasingly aggravated parameters of complex technical processes and the permanent introduction of new technology on the other.
Today’s innovative material technologies are largely shaped by lightweight construction strategies derived from economic needs, but increasingly also from environmental requirements. Current material developments center mainly around ultra-high-strength steel, the more abundant use of non-ferrous metals, and the use of fiber-reinforced plastics, hybrid composites, intermetallic materials, nanomaterials, and natural organic materials. Increasingly, attention is also being given to intelligent materials. These can be used to switch and control processes by changing their properties. Such materials subsequently require development, testing and introduction to new manufacturing methods, presenting an alternative to welding.
Closely linked to modern material developments are a variety of extremely effective techniques used in surface engineering – technologies that can be used to adapt and optimize the specific properties of component surfaces. This is to improve safety, extend durability, improve mechanical protection (tribology), raise corrosion resistance, enhance workability and make optical improvements. This leads to new processes – to generate residual compressive stress in outer surfaces (e.g., shot peening), to harden surfaces (e.g., case hardening), to add wear-resistant layers (e.g., powder coating), for galvanic treatment (e.g., zinc coating), and for varnishing.
The Steinbeis Transfer Center Strength and Integrity of Structures, Material and Joining Technology (BWF), which is based at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences and runs a testing laboratory certified under Standard DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025:2005, has been looking closely at the properties and strength of materials since it was set up in 2002. The areas covered by the BWF span all methods relating to the integrity, reliability and availability of technical products. Its services range on one side on the determination component stresses and on the other side on investigating the resistance of technical components. This includes numerical and experimental stress analysis, identifying and evaluating material properties, the integral testing of components, subsequent safety testing, and finally investigating component failures. The main focus of the BWF is the reaction of components to cyclic operation stresses. Fatigue strength testing spans all important technical materials. BWF applies amongst others surface techniques to characterize the stress and state of surfacehardened and galvanized components, also checking the long-term operational reliability of surface-treated parts.
I do hope you enjoy reading this latest edition of TRANSFER magazine and that it provides you with plenty of pointers for your own area of work, especially in terms of advanced material and surface technology!
Yours Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lothar Issler
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lothar Issler is Head of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Component Stability and Safety, Materials Technology and Assembly Technology (BWF) at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences.