A success story: second edition of the Werkstoffwoche in Dresden

After the 2015 premiere of the like-named event, the organizers agreed: its repetition would be a similar success. So the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Materialkunde e.V. Frankfurt/Main (DGM), together with the Stahlinstitut VDEh Düsseldorf, again organized the Werkstoffwoche in Dresden, which took place from September 27 to 29, 2017. The industry get-together for researchers, developers and users in the fields of additive-generative manufacturing, lightweight construction, functional and construction materials was held in combination with the trade fair “Werkstoffe für die Zukunft” (materials for the future), where numerous exhibitors offered their products and services. The organizers recorded more than 1800 visitors, which represents a significant increase compared to 2015. Another interesting aspect to note is the orientation towards the East: this year’s partner country was Singapore.

Following the welcoming speech of Dresden’s mayor, Dirk Hilbert, and the Saxon secretary of state for economic affairs, labor and transport, Dr. Hartmut Mangold, Dr.-Ing. Matthias Maurer, European Space Agency (ESA), an astronaut and materials scientist, gave a brilliant opening lecture on “Materials research on the ISS and the future of manned space flight”, which was a particular highlight.

This year again, the Werkstoffwoche provided a wide-ranging program. Besides the visit of the trade fair, which was certainly particularly interesting for users of materials and manufacturers of machines, plants and test equipment, the 200 lectures, numerous symposia, workshops and seminars presented the latest trends in and applications of materials sciences. Focal points were the topics of  “Additive Manufacturing” using laser or 3D-print - a process that was already introduced in 2015 and has now been integrated in the series production - as well as “Lightweight Construction and Construction Materials”. Further thematic groups with high application relevance were, amongst others, functional materials, powder metallurgy and sintered materials, high-performance ceramics as well as simulation and modelling.

The 8 plenary speeches alone with highly topical issues, such as “Industry 4.0 and its potentials in the materials industry“ (Prof. Dr. Harald Peters, VDEh-Betriebsforschungs GmbH, Düsseldorf) or “Potentials and special characteristics of high-strength aluminum alloys and Q-P-steels” (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Franz-Xaver Wagner, TU Chemnitz) bear witness to the versatility of the program.

“We must show more courage to strive for new ideas and invest more money in them. The strong competitive edge Germany, as an industrial location, has established throughout the past decades must be maintained and must not be ceded to emerging Asian countries”, Dr.-Ing. Frank O. R. Fischer, Managing Director of the DGM, said already in the run-up to the Werkstoffwoche. The slogan “The Future is Made of Materials” comprehensively expresses the importance of materials sciences and applications. The possible applications are manifold and not limited to mobility and medicine, but in particular in mechanical and plant engineering, decisive and far-reaching developments are achievable.

Future materials for industry

On the occasion of the Werkstoffwoche, the state capital of Dresden, along with the DGM, had invited to a press tour on September 27, 2017 according to the motto: “Future materials for industry: potentials and applications of new materials and manufacturing processes”. The focus of this event, perfectly organized by the Stadt Dresden Marketing GmbH and the agency WeichertMehner, Dresden, was on the topics already mentioned above. Thus, the representatives of the, mostly technically oriented, publishing houses and media had the opportunity to gain an excellent overview of the potential existing in the materials sector in Dresden and of the utilization and fields of application in different industries, including mechanical and plant engineering.

The first stop of the tour was the Leichtbaucampus of the TU Dresden, in particular the Institute for Lightweight Construction and Plastics Technology, the largest institute for multi-modal lightweight construction in Europe. Prof. Hubert Jäger, Director of the Institute, talked a lot about visions indispensable for innovation and explained, illustrated by many examples, that with regard to its significance, lightweight construction is a future technology comparable to micro-electronics. “Lightweight means savings in mass and thus likewise in energy, with hybrid technology ranking first.” Prof. Jäger highlighted Saxony’s and Germany’s lead in the field of hybrid lightweight construction. However, he complained about the bad development policy in Germany that would lead to China and Korea outperforming us, if the scattergun approach and the lengthy implementation of applicable results continued. “Singapore develops knowledge, Korea drives implementation and China practices mass production!” Nevertheless, the institute successfully strives for internationalization, since projects abroad will be funded to 100 %. An important topic are company spin-offs, as e.g. the start-up SCABA, one of the lightest battery systems worldwide. So-called cell connectors (plastics/metal sheets) enable the production of both very large battery blocks and most different forms. They have already been ordered by Asian countries. Another advantage is their trouble-free recyclability, as they can be dismantled into individual cells which will then be replaced by new cells. The old ones will either be used in applications with low energy demand or recycled as usual. Numerous other examples show the whole spectrum of the institute’s scientific procedures, some of which have already reached application maturity.

Further stations of the press tour were the Fraunhofer-Forschungszentrum with the associated institutes IWS, IKTS, IFAM and IWU/AGENT-3D as well as the EAST-4D Carbon Technology GmbH. The research work of the Fraunhofer Institute is geared towards different application industries, amongst others energy and power plant technology, mechanical and plant engineering, additive manufacturing, opto-ceramics or production monitoring. With the development and the production of fiber-reinforced (CFK, GFK) light-weight products, the EAST-4D Carbon Technology GmbH, a medium-sized company, presents creative, cost-effective solutions, above all for the mobility industry.

Press Conference

In the presence of about 20 journalists, Dr.-Ing. O. R. Fischer initially explained the current topics, trends and prospects of materials research. “We must raise more public awareness for the importance of materials, as materials are an essential aspect of our standard of living. After all, more than 70 % of the gross national product are based on new material developments. And this includes above all the kind of materials that are developed and produced in Dresden”, is Fischer’s credo that he passed on to his guests.

Previously, Dirk Hilbert, the mayor of Dresden, had highlighted his city as a business and high-tech-location with high problem-solving expertise in the field of new materials and materials research, underlining the economic significance of the University of Excellence, the TU Dresden. He described Dresden a location with a concentration of innovative materials research, where, in the years to come, companies intend to invest about 5 billion €.

Dr.-Ing. Peter Dahlmann, Managing Director of the VDEh, praised the concept of the Werkstoffwoche, i.e. to bring together developers, producers and users to drive innovations in the materials sector. Nevertheless, steel will retain its importance, and innovations will also be possible in this field. Dr. Dahlmann named three focal points from the research agenda “Steel”:

Development of new technologies for the reduction and utilization of CO2 (reduction of iron ores by means of hydrogen)

Production in value-added chains (Industry 4.0)

Materials development: High-tensile steels for lightweight applications with high multiple recyclability.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Leyens, Manager of the Institute Fraunhofer IWS and Cluster Coordinator AGENT-3D illustrated the possibilities of additive manufacturing with a great potential for series production of components. He took the AMCD (Additive Manufacturing Center Dresden) as an example – one of the largest European centers for additive manufacturing, where not only applications for aeronautics are developed, but also for the machine and tool making industry, for aviation as well as for the sector of energy and medical technology. Another example is the cluster project AGENT-3D within the context of the research project 2020. Meanwhile, 120 companies aiming at series production have joined forces. Funding means of 90 million € are available for this project, with 50 % coming from industry and the Federal Ministry of Science and Research.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. e. h. Manfred Curbach, CEO of the C³-Carbon Concrete Composite e. V.  and director of the Institute for Concrete Structures, TU Dresden, reported on an innovative material: the carbon concrete composite. This can be an alternative to reinforced concrete in many applications, since it provides big advantages: mass reduction of up to 50 %, 80 % less resources used and 80 % less CO2 emissions produced (after all, the cement industry accounts for 6.5 % of the global CO2 emissions, and already today, sand resources are extremely scarce in some regions).

In order to help leverage the new material, a new directive on carbon concrete is currently being elaborated. It remains to be mentioned that Prof. Curbach, head of the team, will receive the “Future” prize awarded by the German Federal President.

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Brigitte Voit, CEO of the Materialforsch-ungsverbund Dresden e. V. explained the tasks and goals of the association founded in 1993, under whose umbrella twenty institutes of the TU Dresden as well as extramural research institutes join their competences. This facilitates the creation of joint projects and their international introduction, since there is a broad range from basic and applied research up to production.

Dipl.-Ing. Raimund Grothaus, Managing Director of the EAST-4D Carbon Technology GmbH, expressed very critical views. In his statement, he voiced his fears that Germany would lose its competitiveness, and he pointed out that already today, competitors even of SME were to be found in Asia, mainly in China and India. “While we develop excellent materials, we often forget about efficiency and marketing. 70 % of the research results turn into a flop due to lacking efficiency. All too often, we have lost out position as innovation drivers, as it is the case with rail vehicles, for example.”

Dr.-Ing. Matthias Mauer sees great potentials for additive manufacturing in space travel. Although the Ariane V rocket is an excellent development, it is not possible to keep up with the USA in terms of price. With additive manufacturing, the production of the Ariane VI rocket should be cheaper. The future envisioned by Dr. Maurer is the production in the outer space using 3D printing to reduce the mass needed for starting.

Despite two-digit growth rates in 3D-printing and an estimated financial volume of 80 billion US $, additive manufacturing might never be able to replace traditional manufacturing processes like forging, casing etc., – says Prof. Leyens – but could enable the niche production of complex components. There is still a lot to do, as for example, integrating functional parts (sensor system) in the new manufacturing method or ensuring that rework, which is still required today, will no longer be necessary. Different procedures will always be combined. And he concluded his speech with the slogan of AGENT-3D: “We will print a new world!”

The press journey ended with a visit of the Werkstoffwoche and the trade fair “Materials for the Future“, which included a tour around the exhibitions stands. More than 70 companies and institutions were showing their impressive products and research results. The exhibiting companies and institutes included the Carls Zeiss GmbH, Siemens and Nikon as well as several large car manufacturers (VW, Mercedes-Benz) and well-known Fraunhofer Institutes and Helmholtz Centers.

Both the visit of the Werkstoffwoche with the associated trade fair and the press conference with leading industry representatives offered a wealth of information. To this effect, we want to express our sincere thanks to the city of Dresden and the Dresden Marketing GmbH as well as to the agency WeichertMehner, Dresden, for the excellent organization of the press tour and the event on the previous evening.

The next Werkstoffwoche is scheduled for September 18-20, 2019 in Dresden.

Autorin/Author: Dr. Brigitte Hoffmann, Consulting Kreislaufwirtschaft/
Umweltschutz, Oberschöna

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