Research Focus Materials Processing & Engineering

Händeschüttel zwischen Robotor- und realer Hand im Labor

Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences (HUAS) combines and consolidates research activities and expertise from five interdisciplinary fields in its Materials Processing & Engineering research focus by closely interlinking science, business and society. The research focus is anchored in the research map of HAW Baden-Württemberg, and concentrates in particular on technology transfer, the technological and structural development of the region and internationally oriented science communication. With a total of seven research professors and a diverse laboratory and research infrastructure, HUAS also offers excellent conditions for the support of young scientists. Based on the university's internal structural programs such as the Young Scientists Network, a research master's program in the engineering courses Automotive Systems Engineering, Electrical Systems Engineering, Mechtronics and Robotics as well as Mechanical Engineering, HUAS offers the opportunity to carry out doctorates. This can be achieved on the one hand via the newly founded Promotionsverband BW and on the other hand in cooperation with renowned universities in Germany and abroad. The interweaving of science and teaching by the professors in the Research Focus Materials Processing & Engineering is of key importance for the successive further development of the research focus, science and is the basis for the qualification of future specialists.

HAAZ-CFD Simulation von Filterdaten auf Mikroskalenebene

Innovative simulation, numerical and modeling methods are a key tool at HUAS for research into a wide range of engineering and scientific topics. Such approaches are used at HUAS in particular in the field of continuum and fluid mechanics, e.g. for the simulation of thin fluid layers using special potential and variation methods. In addition, modeling and simulation methods at the Institute for Flow in Additivly Manufactured Porous Media (ISAPS) are used to investigate complex physical correlations in flows (computational fluid dynamics) and during transport in porous media, which are of overriding interest in the design of technical applications such as particle filters, fuel cells or catalysts. Numerical simulations are also frequently used at HUAS as a predictive tool for investigating different sensor principles or, for example, at the Institute for Digitalization and Electrical Drives (IDA) for the efficient layout of electromagnetic drives. The analysis of manufacturing processes (sheet metal and solid forming, welding processes) using artificial neural networks is also implemented at HUAS using simulations.

In recent years, the research infrastructure at HUAS has been significantly expanded for the implementation of simulation-based research work. In this context, several high-performance computers have been provided. HUAS also has access to the bwUniCluster2, the high-performance infrastructure of the state of Baden-Württemberg, to carry out extremely computationally intensive simulations. In the field of flow simulations, special software programs such as StarCCM+, ANSYS CFD, GeoDict, OpenFOAM and COMSOL Multiphysics are available at the institutes.

In addition to the simulation-based consideration of fluid mechanical issues, intensive research is being carried out at HUAS on the topic of porous media. These represent a physical system consisting of either a solid or fluid or a combination of both elements, which corresponds to the character of a porous medium. The underlying physical mechanisms are researched at the Institute of Flow in Additively Manufactured Porous Media (ISAPS) and in close cooperation with the Institute of Polymer Technologies (PIK). The laboratory equipment infrastructure at HUAS also enables additive manufacturing of porous structures in particular. In this regard, fields of application such as aerosol filtration, topology-optimized microplastic and hydraulic filters, catalysts, SARS-CoV-2 face masks, fine dust deposition in the respiratory tract and metered dose inhalers for asthma medication are currently being investigated.

HUAS has been working intensively for several years on the construction of test stands for the corresponding metrological characterization of (additively manufactured) porous media. The spectrum includes an aerosol test stand for ambient conditions and for high pressure, a test stand for face mask tests, a test stand for the inactivation of aerosolized pathogens and a special test stand for microplastic filters for washing machines. The laboratories also have two mobile aerosol spectrometers, mist lances and a comfort measurement tree in accordance with DIN EN 7730.

CAD-Modell von dem Sensor RTS-K

Sensor applications have become an integral part of everyday life as well as for industrial purposes. The spectrum of sensors ranges from automotive engineering and biotechnology to environmental analysis. Corresponding to this variety of possible applications, the research activities at HUAS in the field of sensor technology also extend to various knowledge and application-oriented issues. For example, the research team in the "Technical Optics" laboratory has been conducting research in the field of radar sensors and optical sensors for many years. In particular, theoretical limits and measurements of metrological uncertainty on technical surfaces are investigated here. Furthermore, the design of optical and optoelectronic systems is also at the center of attention in this context. This includes the design of surfaces with aspherical, toric and free form, lighting optics or head-up displays.

In line with the ongoing trend towards miniaturization of electronic components, HUAS "Design-to-Prototype" laboratory focuses on the design and implementation of innovative micro- and nanoscale sensors and their technologies. These include, for example, pressure sensors, acceleration sensors, biochemical sensors for DNA analysis and gas sensors based on photonic crystals (PhC). When used in a targeted manner, these highly ordered, porous structures allow the detection of infinitesimally small quantities of harmful environmental gases, among other things. In addition to research into sensors for environmental analysis, magnetic sensor technology is also of interest to the automotive industry in the field of drive technologies. The Institute for Digitalization and Electric Drives (IDA) is conducting intensive research in this area.

Grafik Abstandsbild einer Person

HUAS emphasizes the importance of effective data management in research, especially in the field of Materials Processing & Engineering. This includes the collection of measurement data, simulations and texts in accordance with the guidelines of the German Research Foundation (DFG). HUAS pursues a transparent and professional management of generated (research) data with the aim of ensuring that it can be used for downstream research projects across all disciplines. In addition to the sustainable use of this data, its visibility is also increased and interdisciplinary applicability is made possible. Measurement data is particularly relevant for researching interdisciplinary issues in the Materials Processing & Engineering research focus.

The UAS has modern laboratory infrastructure for optical and electrical measurements, including the "Technical Optics" laboratory. This also includes the application of artificial intelligence, for example for the analysis of radar data and the recognition of poses and gestures. The Center for industrial AI (iAI) focuses on AI solutions for industrial production, also taking into account limited data volumes. The research aims to gain new insights from existing data. Various institutes and laboratories at the university, such as the Institute for Flow in Additively Manufactured Porous Media (ISAPS) and the "Design-to-Prototype" laboratory, offer a variety of measuring devices for specialized applications such as the characterization of porous structures and microstructured construction elements.

Abbildung Blechumformung

HUAS emphasizes its expertise in processing technologies, particularly in forming technology, as well as in complex methods of materials testing and failure analysis. These are driven forward through fundamental research, cooperation with industrial partners and integration into the academic environment in order to meet the increasing demands of complex production processes. The UAS Center for Forming Technology and Body Construction and the Materials Center focus on issues relating to the automotive industry, in particular the production and analysis of precise car body components. Mechanical and non-destructive methods of materials testing are used.

The laboratory infrastructure includes metallography, microscopy, corrosion testing, coating and solid material analysis as well as various heat treatment processes. The development of multifunctional materials requires continuous improvements in manufacturing processes. Innovative forming and joining processes for body construction are researched at the Centre for Forming Technology and Body Construction and at the Materials Centre, supported by simulation methods for process optimization and analysis equipment such as laser absolute scanners and coordination measuring devices. The research is closely linked to the UAS Automotive & Mobility research focus and works specifically with the Institute of Automotive Engineering and Mechatronics (IKM).

Research Professorships

With the research professorships, HUAS creates space for research development. This professorship has a 9-hour workload per week, similar to a university professorship. The selection criteria for research professorships are based on third-party funding as well as publications and meet the requirements for membership of the Promotionsverband Baden-Württemberg.

Research ​Professor for Forming Technology and Body Construction

  •     Accuracy of sheet metal parts
  •     Springback of complex sheet metal parts
  •     Springback compensation and cost reduction and quality optimization in body construction

"We research and develop almost exclusively on topics and in areas where we are convinced that we can really bring the results to the road in the short and medium term"

Research Professor for Micro- and Nanosystems

  •     Sensor/actuator systems and their technologies
  •     High-resolution generative manufacturing processes
  •     Multiphysical modeling and simulation

"The freedom to research is a necessary condition to gain scientific knowledge and thus serves individual and social growth."

Research Professor of Fluid Mechanics

  •     Modeling and simulation of flow and transport in porous media 
  •     Flow simulation (computational fluid dynamics)
  •     Fields of application include: Aerosol filtration, topology-optimized microplastic and hydraulic filters, catalysts, medical technology, SARS-CoV-2 face masks, fine dust deposition in the respiratory tract, metered dose inhalers for asthma medication

"The freedom that the introduction of the research professorship at HUAS offers me to implement my research plans is brilliant. I think it's great that I can devote even more time to my favorite occupation."

Current Research Projects

Research Professor for 3D Sensor Technology and Sensor Data Processing

  •    Optical sensory technology
  •    Radar sensor technology
  •    Sensor data evaluation using machine learning and/or cloud-based tools

"My research team and I want to open up new paths in sensor technology and sensor data evaluation for the benefit of our society with passion, creativity, prudence and perseverance."

Current Research Projects

Research Professor for Innovative Simulation Methods in Continuum and Fluid Mechanics

  •    Simulation of thin fluid layers
  •    Potential and variation methods
  •    Biomechanics and coating technology

"Hidden trails off the well-traveled paths are waiting to be discovered. My goal is to make them usable!"

Current Research Projects

Research Professor for Electromagnetic Systems

  •   Electromagnetic energy converters
  •   Magnetic sensor technology
  •   Magnetic material testing
  •   Analytical and numerical calculation methods/simulation techniques

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature; and in such things as these, experiment is the best test of such consistency”. This quote from Michael Faraday reflects my personal attitude and motivation towards applied research and development.

Research Professor for Materials Technology and Science

  •    Nitriding/nitrocarburizing of stainless steels and heavily formed components
  •    Heat treatment of steel (bainitizing T < Ms)
  •    Material and tribological investigations on gears
  •    Physical metallurgy of welding

"Advances in materials technology and science are highly relevant for industrial applications, as potential for important topics such as innovation and competitiveness can be realized here. Materials also have a social significance in answering the question of how energy saving, CO2 reduction and resource conservation can be implemented. As part of my research professorship, these topics can be dealt with even more intensively than was previously possible."

Current Research Projects

Institutes, Centers and Laboratories