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Dear Readers,

New material developments and innovations in the field of materials research are central to a variety of global megatrends, as well as the challenges these pose in terms of medical technology, sustainability, resource and energy conservation, and climate change. Materials research faces a variety of challenges at present, not only when it comes to developing new materials, but also due to the need to adapt existing materials quickly to modern – and continuously shifting – requirements.

Materials research continues to address these challenges, in an attempt to develop innovative solutions that will benefit a variety of sectors of industry, different aspects of everyday life, and the major issues of the green energy transition, the circular economy, and the development of sustainable technologies in protecting the global climate.

The current megatrends in materials research:

  • Lightweight construction and material optimization: In many areas of industry, but especially transportation and aviation, the challenge is to develop materials that are lighter yet strong and durable in order to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption.
  • Manufacturing techniques and process optimization: Efficient manufacturing processes and techniques that enable scalable material production are crucial when it comes to bringing new materials to market and facilitating broad-scale application.
  • Sustainability and environmental compatibility: The research industry is on the lookout for environmentally friendly materials that not only can be produced efficiently with respect to resource use, but also wield minimal environment impact throughout their entire life cycle.
  • Circular economy and recycling: Crucial challenges in this area include developing materials that are easy to recycle and advancement of the circular economy – both with the aim of reducing waste and making better use of resources.
  • Functional materials and new applications: Developing materials that offer functional properties for use in certain applications – particularly in areas such as electronics, energy generation, medicine, and robotics – requires ongoing research and innovation.
  • Advances in nanotechnology: Researching and developing materials at the nano level opens the door to novel properties and applications. The challenges in this lie in scalability, production, and the control of nanomaterials.

Digital methods are becoming increasingly important due to their tangible impact on both the efficiency and the speed of material development, but also on material adaptations. Computer simulations, advanced data analysis, machine learning, and technologies based on artificial intelligence are now resulting in an acceleration of material development and process design. In addition, modern methods of data management and data processing, made possible by tapping into appropriate infrastructures, plus the ability to create workflows and ontologies, are acting as important enablers of novel, automated, disruptive, and accelerated developments in the field of new materials.

This latest issue of the Steinbeis Transfer magazine offers a number of insights into the work being carried out by experts in the Steinbeis network in tackling these challenges and supporting innovation in the field of materials and their constituents. We wish you interesting reading!

With kind regards,
Prof. Dr. Britta Nestler and Dr.-Ing. Michael Selzer


Prof. Dr. Britta Nestler (author)
Dr.-Ing. Michael Selzer (author)

Prof. Dr. Britta Nestler is spokesperson for the Institute of Digital Materials Science at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and a professor of Microstructure Simulation in Materials Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). In unison with Dr.-Ing. Michael Selzer, she is responsible for the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Material Simulation and Process Optimization. At the center, both scientists work in the areas of modeling, simulation techniques, and software development.