Digitalization within materials technology

The focus of the Fraunhofer IWM’s work revolves around material information and material data. Via the digitalization of materials, we achieve important contributions regarding the inclusion of processing materials into digitally consistent and connected value chains.

Creating an appropriate materials data space, in which all specific material information can be digitally managed, automatically accessed and reconstructed with respect to their properties and life-cycle conditions is a key aspect. The materials data space is the precondition for an integration of materials into digitally connected systems. Digital material twins, reconstructed from the materials data space by the means of data analysis tools and material models, enable the transfer of both temporally and locally varying material properties along the product life cycle and beyond the boundaries of individual companies.

Managing the efficiency of production, manufacturing and operating processes can be vastly improved through digital workflows. Only by consistently describing material properties and subsequent adjustments made to these, can the management of product life cycles reache a higher level and yield new business models.

At the Fraunhofer IWM, it is our aim to shape digital workflows over several steps to create comprehensive digital representations of the processes under consideration, thus helping to »creating better products through digitalization«.

R&D Services

  • Conception and implementation of workshops for digitalization of material-intensive production chains (determination of requirements, analysis, obstacles, possible solutions)
  • Support for the creation of process and material ontologies
  • Hierarchical description of materials via data achieved from experiments and simulations alongside processes
  • Creation of digital data sets and representations of materials
  • Design and development of materials data spaces
  • Integration of material data in a digital twin via virtual testing (Virtual Lab)
  • Finding and attaining structure-property-relationships of new material systems
  • Using material information as a means of control within the production process
  • Digital imaging and analysis of material histories
  • Linking material histories to the predicted behavior
  • Automatic material data creation (3D structure capturing, microstructure analysis, tribofarming)
  • Top-down/bottom-up informed modelling of material properties ranging from the atomistic to the component scale (multiscale information exchange)
  • Data analysis for the development of structure-process-property relationships (Deep Learning and statistics)
  • Automatic material mapping

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Projects and initiatives in which the Fraunhofer IWM has participated

In research, the Fraunhofer IWM has set itself the goal of standardizing and facilitating the handling of material information. The vision of a shared material data space according to FAIR principles (Wilkinson et al., 2016, DOI:10.1038/sdata.2016.18) promises synergies and efficiency gains through the availability of scientific results and would be a major step towards information integration in materials technology.

The Fraunhofer IWM and its strategic project partners are developing initial frameworks for this in current lighthouse projects. The aim is to structure and make accessible decentralized material data in a uniform manner - naturally while guaranteeing data security and data sovereignty. Due to a lack of interoperability, it is hardly possible today to efficiently manage data and to ensure its sustainable and flexible use - even though the extensive data collection contains a large number of valuable findings.             


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BMBF Material Digital Platform

The goal of the MaterialDigital (PMD) platform is to build the structures for a virtual material data space and to systematize the handling of material data. To this end, agreements on data structures and interfaces are to be developed that offer users of the framework concrete added value for their own projects.



The NFDI4MSE consortium (NFDI for Materials Science and Engineering) is applying for project funding to develop groundbreaking agreements and tools to implement digitalization in materials science as part of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) call.


State Project MaterialDigital BW

Under the leadership of the Fraunhofer IWM, seven research institutes are demonstrating how materials can be integrated into digital value chains in regards to Industry 4.0. Digital representations, so-called material twins, of the processed materials are generated for two applications.

Fraunhofer IWM Video Series: Digitalization within materials technology

Why is there a need for digitalization in materials technology?

What is a digital twin in materials technology?

Creating a digital representation of a material

What is the significance of digitalization within materials science?

Creating digital twins of materials regarding product life cycles

How do knowledge graphs improve materials data management in process chains?

Institute news regarding digitalization


Making material data faster, safer and more accessible: Data platform research

The "MaterialDigital Innovation Platform" joint project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is intended to pave the way for a digital infrastructure for material science research data. The aim is to establish a virtual material data space.


Workshop MaterialDigital2019 on 14 and 15 May 2019

At the second MaterialDigital workshop, players from industry and science met with the conviction that development and manufacturing processes can be made much more efficient through digital workflows. They are of the opinion that the management of the product life cycle is given a new quality by an as consistent as possible description of the material properties and their potential changes.


Creating digital twins of materials

To ensure the digital networking of production systems and the optimization of material-specific requirements, we need to measure, analyze and replicate the changes in material properties in a process in which “digital twins” of materials are created. The materials data space developed by Fraunhofer researchers has laid the groundwork for this process.


MagnetPredictor: predicting the magnetic properties of materials

Permanent magnets used in electric cars and wind turbines currently contain rare earth metals. Reducing the amount of these elements in magnets is important, as mining them is harmful both to health and the environment. Researchers have now developed a new machine learning tool to assist in quickly and easily predicting the ferromagnetic crystal properties of novel material compositions.

2.75 million euro for "MaterialDigital" digitalization project

The state is funding the "MaterialDigital" project to digitize materials technology with 2.75 million euro. Through digitalization, in the future companies will be able to quickly and cost-efficiently identify the materials required for their products and processes...


DGM interview with Prof. Dr. Peter Gumbsch on the subject of digitalization

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry promises competitive advantages through networking, integration and new services based on information streams and the analysis of large amounts of data. It is inconceivable without a digital representation of the products and processed materials. DGM-Interview with Prof. Dr. Peter Gumbsch on digitalization in materials science and materials engineering (MatWerk)...

Workshop MaterialDigital 2018

On 11 and 12 April 2018, experts from industry and science met to assess the next steps necessary for accelerating development processes for materials and components, making manufacturing processes more flexible and improving reliability and service life in component use. The key to this is the intelligent linking, analysis and evaluation of material information from various sources along the value chain...


Determining materials data for forming process simulations in the Virtual Lab

Sheet metal materials are often stressed to their limits during the forming process. Computer simulations are used to test how far it is possible to go in the production stage. However, the simulations are only as exact as the data upon which they’re based. A team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg has now developed a virtual test laboratory that allows for the examination of metal materials at different load states and for the determination of precise mechanical data.