FAU Collaborative Research Centres: One new CRC and extended funding for two CRC
The German Research Foundation (DFG) is providing funding worth a total of 28 million euros for three research projects at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU). In one new collaborative research centre (CRC) and two CRC that have received extended funding, researchers are investigating mechanical joining, additive manufacturing, and the resolution of inflammation.
Efficient manufacturing using mechanical joining methods
FAU has received a new collaborative research centre called CRC/TR285 ‘Development of a method for mechanical joining in versatile process chains’ in which Prof. Dr. Marion Merklein, Chair of Manufacturing Technology, will be working with the University of Paderborn, which is the coordinating university, and the University of Dresden. Joining describes the ability of semi-finished products, in other words pre-manufactured blanks such as pipes or sheets, to be joined to form end products. The aim of the project is to adapt joining (as a key to efficient manufacturing processes) to match the growing variety of products made using various materials and construction methods. The lightweight construction of moving masses plays a significant role in this respect. The optimisation of cost-effective series production of products with many variants will ultimately also strengthen Germany’s position as a development and manufacturing location. In a total of 16 sub-projects, researchers are investigating methods for increasing versatility in materials, design, and manufacturing as well as prognosis and design of joining methods. The DFG is providing funding worth 10 million euros for the first funding period, and FAU has been allocated nearly 3 million euros of this amount.
Multi-material components from a 3D printer
Using additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, components made of plastic or metal can be industrially manufactured in almost any shape and quantity. Some of the challenges involved with this method include unsatisfactory component properties and the limited variety of materials that can be used. These are the reasons why additive manufacturing has not yet been successful in industry. FAU researchers led by Prof. Dr. Dietmar Drummer at the Institute of Polymer Technology are therefore trying to improve this technology. They use powdered and beam-based additive manufacturing processes where laser and electron beams melt powders layer by layer at high temperatures until the required shape is achieved. The advantage of this method is that components previously manufactured using several single parts can now be manufactured in one single piece. During the last few years, scientists at FAU have successfully improved the understanding of this method, for example by using simulation on relevant steps of the process. Processes have been optimised as a result, which has in turn already led to considerable improvements in the quality of components.
In CRC 814 ‘Additive manufacturing’, which is receiving its third round of funding this year, researchers at FAU are hoping to manufacture new and improved powders that are also relevant for industry and they will focus on shortening manufacturing times with improved component design and quality. In addition, they will be working on completely new methods that will allow them to use several materials in the same component. The CRC has received just over 11 million euros of funding from the DFG.
Stopping inflammation in its tracks
The DRG is extending the funding for CRC 1181 ‘Switching points for resolving inflammation’, led by Prof. Dr Georg Schett, for a further four years. Many people suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases of the joints, intestines and lungs, which are often severe and can begin at an early age. CRC 1181 is investigating the mechanisms of inflammation in arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, and asthma. The physicians and scientists involved in CRC1181 are concentrating on gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the chronification of inflammation. Although inflammation is vital for the body’s defence function, it must be switched off when the trigger for inflammation is over. How exactly this works is not yet well understood. In CRC 1181, scientists from various fields of medicine, biology and physics are investigating the basic mechanisms of the resolution of inflammatory response.
In the first funding period, the researchers were able to identify central mechanisms of this important regulation process and the aim is to further increase this knowledge in the second round of funding in order to use the resolution of inflammation as a therapeutic principle in future. This will take place in close collaboration with the newly-founded German Centre for Immunotherapy. Furthermore, CRC 1181 has made significant contributions to improving the general understanding of chronic inflammatory diseases by developing the digital learning game ‘Inflammania’, which is available as an app. In addition to the research work, this successful public relations work will also be continued. The DFG is providing around 14 million euros of funding.
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