Todays generations of researchers focus on a more efficient and sustainable use of available resources. Key issues of the department smart structure are the manufacturing and the scientific basis of forming functional materials. Furthermore, joining by forming is objective of this department.

The PtU dedicates its work to all of these complex objectives on all degrees of abstraction. The research activities cover the broad field between fundamental research on the joint formation and the characteristics of forming functional materials to the manufacturing of complex components with integrated sensors and actuators.

The trend towards a more efficient forming is promoted by the developments in the electro mobility and by the need for a more saving use of rare earth materials. Due to relatively high plastic deformation with a high shearing ratio ultra-fine grained material can be produced. This effect can be used to manufacture permanent magnets without rare earth materials. This example is only one facet of the issue modern materials for forming technology. In order to benefit from the advantages of forming with regard to productivity to the fullest, the formability of workpiece materials has to be controlled in forming processes. In comparison with metallic materials, the limits and dependencies of the formability of fiber materials are not investigated in such detail. Thus, the PtU develops own experimental methods and test stands in order to evaluate the formability of fiber materials and to prepare the industrial implementation.

The use of new materials and material compounds is more and more subject to tasks in modern design. Thus, the question arises, how conventional forming processes are limited by the processing of these materials and how these limitations can be extended. In comparison with shear cutting of monolithic material, additional defects like delamination, edge indentation or core compression can occur by shear cutting of sandwich material. In addition to the issue of the processing of compound material, the manufacturing of sandwich structures is also in the focus of the institute’s research. The consequent adaption of the servo press technology enables the integration of joining into forming processes.

Joining processes utilizing the mechanisms of plastic deformation include the possibility to combine high strength with lightweight material for the sake of weight reduction by an optimal strength to weight distribution. Furthermore, compounds of metallic workpiece materials enable the local use of specific material properties with regard to corrosion, heat transfer or magnetizability in a component. The phenomenological basics, which lead to a sound joint by cold pressure welding or collision joining are in scope of the department’s research work. On the long term these projects aim for a safe, predictable and robust design of new processes and components.

In addition to the research on the fundamental basics of the metallurgical and mechanical joints formation, the manufacturing of structures with integrated sensors and actuators are also subject to the institute’s work. Massive forming processes enable the generation of the parts shape in combination with a defined prestressing of the functional elements.