Careful and sustainable use of natural and technical resources is an increasingly important social and political goal. The accompanying pressure on companies and increasingly also economic considerations are making sustainability and sustainable product development a key topic for the processing and manufacturing industries of the 21st century. Particularly in combination with ever stricter warranty claims and ever shorter product development cycles, sustainable product development confronts many companies with major challenges.
To meet these challenges, models regarding the expected lifetime of materials and products, as well as the rapid availability of these, are essential. However, the development of such models requires both, a comprehensive knowledge of age- and stress-related changes in the macro-, meso-, and microscopic structure, as well as knowledge obtained from accelerated lifetime testing (ALT). Yet, as in combination these requirements are typically well beyond the possibilities of small and medium-sized enterprises and very rarely available in large scale enterprises, these needs remain largely unsatisfied.
Therefore, the primary objective of the Lab4ALT project is to establish a scientific hub for Accelerated Lifetime Testing (ALT) which will assist companies in their efforts to reliably predict the lifetime of their materials and products under the influence of various environmental conditions. To this end, we combine methods of artificial aging with extensive in situ and postmortem analyses from the macro- to the microscopic scale (see the scheme for a tentative overview). This innovative approach allows us to provide fundamental information for the development of sustainable products that is specific to each material and application. A similarly important objective is the development of new and improved models for aging, lifetime, and failure, based on the collected data. The ambition is that successful models can be developed primarily in those material and product categories that are of particular importance to interested partners from industry and commerce. Lastly, the project aims at closing a competence and infrastructure gap in the R&D landscape of Austria, as it has been defined by many companies, and thereby establishes the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences as an attractive research and services partner for the industry and other scientific institutions.
The project will be processed during the period from 06/2021 to 05/2026.
The project Lab4ALT is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and carried out within the framework of the program “COIN AUFBAU FH – Forschung für die Wirtschaft“