Better data handling and findability

Long-term product success due to sustainable material development

By realizing material and service innovations, companies can create significant competitive advantages for their products. Due to increasing regulations and rising market demand, the sustainability perspective is becoming more and more important. In order to fully utilize the potential of sustainable innovations in material development in the long term, it is essential that companies design their products in a sustainable and targeted manner – involving people in thinking, designing and acting (see figure above) in the innovation cycles – already during development. The main challenge is often the integration of material, service and product knowledge already available in the company with end-user requirements, as well as optimum data handling and storage with regard to the entire value creation process.

Together with the customer, Fraunhofer IFAM develops concepts and new strategies in order to be able to pursue and achieve longer-term objectives in material development. In doing so, the researchers work according to the so-called FAIR principles in order to make development processes ever more efficient, in cooperation with those involved in development as well as manufacturing, right through to individual end use and anticipated recycling strategies.


Concepts for material development and quality assurance

Together with the customer, our experts work out step-by-step procedures on how the development of new materials and services can be guided by up to date methods, documented and tracked in a targeted and sustainable manner. This applies, for example, to new hybrid materials or multi-material composites, the functionality of which is largely determined by the development of the interfaces, be it material/material, material/human or human/human interfaces.

Fraunhofer IFAM designs customer-specific material development and quality assurance concepts. This involves defining milestones which are communicated digitally and in a machine-readable format. Material cycles and service-related interactions as well as feedback loops, which have to be run through several times during the life cycle, additionally produce required, specifically collected data, on which resilient progress is built.

In applied material and process development, the commercial success of products is decisive, which is increasingly thought of and planned for the longer term and is increasingly measured in terms of sustainability across generations. Here, it is of great advantage that research and development data are compatible with manufacturing in the context of Industry 4.0. It is therefore beneficial when the so-called FAIR principles have been applied to both the higher-level concepts and the product-specific data sets.


Complying with FAIR principles to make progress

The FAIR principles state that material, process and service-related data from all phases of the product lifecycle should be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. The FAIR principles apply to all digital data - qualitative and quantitative characterization or modeling data and metadata, algorithms, tools, and software.

The application of the FAIR principles is intended to improve the reusability of data sets and the related conceptualisation. The aim is also to ensure that product data are optimally prepared for people and machines and that relevant information can be made available on request.

The application of the FAIR principles brings with it various advantages, e.g.:

  • The interchangeability of data sets throughout the product lifecycle increases and allows an individualized response to new requirements.
  • The targeted information of the actors in the product life cycle increases with an easy findability and accessibility of data sets.
  • Continuous product development becomes more efficient when duplicate data collection or multiple work is overcome.
  • Data sets supplied by research institutes such as Fraunhofer IFAM (on a contract basis) can digitally complement existing data sets at a customer's site.
  • Precisely definable new research questions become apparent, for example from jointly evaluating the findings of a previous study.

The application-oriented research and development work carried out by the experts in Adhesion and Interface Research at Fraunhofer IFAM focuses on optimizing surfaces, interfaces, coatings, adhesive bonds, and composite materials in a way that is suitable for production and function. In this context, a core expertise of the Applied Computational Chemistry, Electrochemistry and Corrosion, and Surface and Nanostructure Analysis work groups is the compilation of FAIR material modeling and characterization data sets for the design of adhesion-relevant aspects. Within this framework, Dr. Michael Noeske handles workflows when customer issues require targeted solution approaches with the aid of surface analytical characterization methods.