Through advances in networking, integration and new services based on information streams as well as the processing of big quantities of data, digitalization promises a competitive edge, and not only for manufacturing companies. This would not be possible without a digital representation of products and processes, which is directly linked to integrated material simulation, the de facto tool for the quantitative description of relations between process steps, material microstructures, material properties and component behavior. Within this tool, material modelling, process and component simulation, material characterization and process optimization are linked in an integrative fashion.
This digital representation of products, a necessity of digitalization, is part of the research conducted at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM.
Through shifting paradigms in the development, production and utilization of materials, new value chains can be created. The key to this is the consistent digital representation of materials and their behavior along their value chain or life cycle. Digital representations enhances safety, reliability, functionality and flexibility during production by permeating processes of development and production with materials intelligence and by enabling developers and engineers to comprehend and use materials in their respective development and production steps as variable systems with adjustable characteristics.
The condition for using digital representation effectively across scales and disciplines is for it to become an integral part of the feature or component in question, allowing for the processing of data from diverse origins without it being associated to one developer, one team or one corporate function. This requires a multidisciplinary linking of methods and concepts from material sciences, process technology and informatics.