Virtual material test laboratories
Other sectors Maritime Oil and gas

Traditionally material properties have been established with both traditional small-scale testing to document material properties, as well as larger component testing. Destructive testing of prototypes is commonly used in many industries, especially in the automotive industry where cars are crash-tested in order to document their crashworthiness. This evidence-based research has been the essential basis for documenting, improving design and fulfilling regulations for years. But with more complex designs, the increased co-joining of different materials, and lower simulation costs, this industry is more and more focusing on documenting a car’s behaviour using advanced numerical simulations. Similar developments are expected in other industries.

The ability to use a material modelling chain in connection with digital twin technology will allow for structures to be assessed from the perspectives of nanostructure modelling through to continuum modelling (Figure 11).

Virtual material
Figure 1 Material modelling chain -CASA

The purpose of a virtual material test laboratory is to obtain all the parameters required for the design of a structure, and to make physical material tests superfluous (Figure 2: extruded profile with holes subjected to three-point bending: (a) Force-displacement curves from experiments and simulations with physical and virtual calibration, and (b) comparison between the failure mode in experiment and simulation. Physical calibration means that mechanical testing has been used to calibrate the plasticity and fracture model, while virtual calibration implies that no mechanical tests have been used2).

Today, microstructure modelling of aluminium (NaMo) is carried out to document the alloy’s mechanical properties including the influence of different production roots. A similar tool for steel alloys is foreseen to be commonly available by 2030. Examples of model-based predictions of composites polymer tapes and glass have also been demonstrated as becoming feasible. The technology is partly applied in the car industry where crash simulation replaces to large extent actual full-scale testing.

What lies ahead?

It is likely that, in 2030, we will be able to ask what material performance we need rather what is available. Innovations in the fundamental science, and the development of algorithms and high-performance computation by use of quantum computing of material properties3, will help to reach this goal. They will become enablers for supporting and enhancing strategies for materials reuse and recycling. Validated and verified recycled material models need to be established based on mechanical properties where virtual test laboratories will play a key role in this respect to create trust.

By 2030 an establish virtual tests laboratories for steel will be in place, enabling to analyse mechanical parameters accounting for chemistry, process rout and final assembly.

Main author: Agnes Marie Horn

Editor: Mark Irvine

Delve deeper into the next decade Read more technology and trend articles here
Technology Outlook 2030 report cover
Download the Technology Outlook 2030 summary Click here