(2.10.2014) Lightweight construction aims to make materials lighter, for example in the automotive or aircraft industry. The results are thin-walled components made of high-performance materials such as carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. In order to ensure the carrying capacity and safety of optimized designs, lightweight construction makes use of special methods, develops sophisticated calculation models and special computer programs, and carries out complex weight testing.
The interdisciplinary research work at the newly established Christian Doppler Laboratory for Structural Strength of Lightweight Structures focuses on this field. Officially opened on October 27 at the Johannes Kepler University (JKU) Linz, the lab's main funding agency includes the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW).
Prof. Martin Schagerl, head of the Institute for Structural Lightweight Construction at the JKU, explained: "The goal is to develop mechatronic systems that use sensors to monitor and control the load-bearing capacity of lightweight components during operation - and in real time - and over the entire lifetime of the component." However, research work at the CD Laboratory goes beyond just observing the structural state. The developed systems are also intended to directly evaluate potential damage, predict further impact on component strength, and suggest optimized repair measures for the remainder of the lifetime - a highly interesting approach for the lightweight construction industry. To this end, BMW AG (Munich), Mubea Carbo Tech Ltd (Salzburg) and FACC Operations Ltd (Ried im Innkreis) have been brought on board as corporate partners.
Walter Stephan, CEO of FACC Operations Ltd., added: "The CD lab's goal to be able to make statements about the structural condition based on online measurement data of an aircraft in flight is unique. I wish them every success in achieving this ambitious goal."
The Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and Economy Provides CD Lab Funding
Dr. Reinhold Mitterlehner, Austrian Minister for Science, Research and Economy, emphasized the importance of funding program: "In the international competition of ideas, CD laboratories are more important than ever before as they can market new research findings and make them usable for companies. This secures growth and jobs in Austria because iinnovation is decisive when it comes to the long-term prosperity of our country."
An international, interdisciplinary team has been put together to conduct interdisciplinary research. The three PhD positions were filled by Ms. Susanne Hörrmann, a graduate of the University of Stuttgart, Ms. Iren Zhao, a graduate of the University of California at Davis, and Mr. Nitesh Karna, a graduate of Seoul National University. The higher ranking Post-Doc position went to Dr. Ing. Christoph Viechtbauer, a graduate of Mechatronics at the JKU. The test program will be carried out by a technician from the Institute for Structural Lightweight Construction, Ing. Erich Humer. Ms. Silvia Weilguny is responsible for the administrative and organizational aspects.
JKU Vice-Rector for Research, Gabriele Kotsis, remarked: "We are very pleased to have this CD lab and it showcases the JKU's international scientific direction and focus. Both the researchers and the business partners come from a wide variety of countries and this shows just how attractive our university is as an international research center."
She also thanked Doris Hummer, State Minister of Research in Upper Austria, for providing support and assistance to the JKU during the application procedure.
Minister Hummer added: "These kinds of CD laboratories are tremendously valuable and contribute to strengthening Upper Austrian as a location of research and business."
CD Labs: Cooperation between Science and Industry
The CD lab will operate for seven years; A budget of 2.5 million Euros is planned for this period. Prof. Franz G. Rammerstorfer, chairman of the Scientific Senate at the Christian Doppler Research Society, pointed out that Prof. Schagerl is a particularly good example of cooperation between science and industry in CD laboratories: "His business experience gives him the expertise to understand the applications first-hand. He is also a scientist with expertise in basic research. "
At Christian Doppler laboratories, application-oriented basic research is conducted at a high level, and outstanding scientists cooperate together with innovative companies. To support this cooperation, the "Christian Doppler Research Association" is internationally regarded as a best-practice example.
Christian Doppler laboratories are jointly funded by the public sector and the participating companies. The program is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) and is the most important public financier.