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Keep Up the Good Collaboration!

The steel specialist Dillinger intensifies its strategic partnership with material researchers in Saarland

The Saarland steel company AG of Dillinger Hüttenwerke (Dillinger) plans to intensify its strategic collaboration with the departments of material science and materials technology at the University of Saarland and the Material Engineering Center Saarland (MECS, the Steinbeis Research Center). The steel specialist has funded joint steel research projects worth almost € 1 million since 2014 and it plans to provide similar levels of finance for the next three years. This has enabled three professors and their teams at Saarland University to focus clearly on this versatile material.

Offshore wind farms are subject to major levels of material stress, and the same applies to pipelines lying on the seabed. Steel made by the steel producer Dillinger is used to provide heavy plate protection to such installations worldwide. “These have to be strong enough to survive hurricane-force winds and colossal sea currents, and they have to be safe to use after decades of extremely adverse conditions,” explains Dr. Bernd Münnich, the board member responsible for engineering at Dillinger. Manufacturing special steel is therefore extremely demanding and is dictated by a large number of factors. “Our aim with the joint research projects with the material scientists at Saarland University is to gain a better understanding of the techniques used to conduct 3D analysis of the innermost structures of steel. We also want to use simulations to improve our ability to predict the desired properties of steel and save ourselves the protracted and expensive process of carrying out operational testing,” continues Münnich. Three years ago, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Mücklich, who is professor for functional materials at Saarland University, brought Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Diebels and Prof. Dr. Christian Motz on board for the project. All three professors have brought in some of their working groups to work on the topic of steel. They have also attracted further research funding to kickstart further projects to go on top of doctoral theses already being financed by Dillinger. “This has allowed us to establish the foundations for a long-term strategic partnership with the Saarland steel company,” explains Mücklich, who not only manages Material Engineering Center Saarland (MECS), the Steinbeis Research Center on the campus, but also coordinates collaboration. The center is also drawing on pure research at the University of Saarland as a basis for developing solutions for Dillinger to use in its operations.

Fred Metzken, spokesperson of the executive board of Dillinger, is impressed by the collaborative research activities that have been carried out during the three-year test phase and wants to keep the strategic partnership going in the long term. “We don’t just benefit from the high standard of pure research into material science and materials technology at Saarland University and MECS. The projects have a strong bearing on business application and they dovetail closely with our own research, so they’re a continual help in improving our heavy steel plate – which also improves our competitive advantage in the global market for heavy plate, which is hotly contended,” says Metzken.