Generally when you think of designing a new material or improving an already
existing one, you imagine changing something you can touch, see and feel. But researchers at the Hero-m Centre at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, are thinking smaller, much smaller. Researchers at the centre are approaching materials design from an atomic level.
With over 50 international collaborators, the centre works with others from around the world toward its mission of “developing tools and competence for fast, intelligent and cost efficient product development”.
Image: Professor Annika Borgenstam, Director of the Hero-m Centre
Using theoretic predictive tools, such as Thermo-Calc software, along with experimental verifications, the centre is working to improve the materials design process, with the goal of developing ways to create better materials faster.
Continuous scientific breakthroughs are exploited to enable design of materials from atomistic scales to finished products using an hierarchic engineering approach. The vision is that within 10 years ”industrially relevant materials will be designed in an integrated process involving all appropriate scales of length and time. The performance of these materials is further tuned to obtain desired properties at minimum cost and time by a multi-length scale engineering approach.”
Founded in 2007, work from the Hero-m centre has already had an impact on the materials design industry. For instance, knowledge and results from Hero-m played an important role in the successful development of Sandvik Coromant’s best-selling cemented carbide tools for turning of steel, the CVD coated grades GC4315 and GC4325. By tightly packing atoms near the blade, Sandvik were able to create a truly innovative steel turner that is stronger and more wear resistant.
Traditionally, materials design and improvement has been solely reliant on expensive, time-consuming experiments. But with advances in computational materials software and successful research such as that done at the Hero-m Centre, theoretical materials design is changing the face of materials engineering, allowing materials engineers to design better products with the entire life cycle of the material in mind.
Thermo-Calc Software proudly partners with several centres around the world in an effort to improve the materials design process and better integrate computational materials software throughout the life cycle of a material. “At the Centre” is a series of articles that feature the centres we partner with and highlights the important work they do.