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Chair of Structural and Functional Ceramics


Enhanced reliability and lifetime of ceramic components through multiscale modelling of degradation and damage


Conditions, similar to those experienced in Formula 1 – high loads that change with high frequency – prevail in certain tools used in a wire rolling plant. Components that can stand these demands have to be light, possess a high strength and maintain these properties at high temperatures in an aggressive, corrosive environment for a sufficient long period.

Engineering ceramics possess superior mechanical and physical properties. The exceptional wear, corrosion and contact fatigue resistance of silicon nitride and SiAlON ceramics makes them attractive materials for high temperature metalforming tools and rolling elements for bearings.

Despite the efforts devoted to study this class of materials, there still exists a gap between their microstructural properties and their potential application limits. Developing multiscale predictive models that deliver information on materials degradation mechanisms, based on realistic working conditions, will enable the systematic tailoring of ceramic materials for new applications, supported by validated evaluation techniques including tribology, damage analysis, and lifetime predictions. The optimisation of the microstructure is clearly application-dependent and should rely on co-related material development efforts and multiscale simulations. The bridging between the microstructural properties and macroscale behaviour should merge the knowledge acquired from the atomistic, microscale, mesoscale and macroscale levels. Nonetheless, the chain of information would not be complete without including means of validation that rely on experimental techniques and functionality tests in real applications.

Objectives of the project are the identification of critical loading situations, modelling of damage, crack initiation and growth and wear, lifetime prediction and the design of an optimized material. Prototype components produced from this material used in field application tests.

            In order to evaluate the lifetime and reliability of rolls and bearing elements, ISFK will be engaged in the modelling of contact stresses and the calculation of stress intensity factors in contact stress fields. Additionally we will participate in the mechanical characterisation of selected model materials.



Ass. Prof. Dr. Tanja Lube



The consortium:

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials, Freiburg, D, www.iwm.fraunhofer.de
  • Institut of Physics of Materials, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v. v. i., Brno, CZ, www.ipm.cz
  • ITM, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Karlsruhe, D, www.kit.edu
  • ISFK, Montanuniversität Leoben, Leoben, A, www.isfk.at
  • FCT-Ingenieurkeramik GmbH, Rauenstein, D, www.fct-keramik.de
  • Böhler Edelstahl GmbH, Kapfenberg, A, www.bohler-edelstahl.com
  • SKF Engineering and Research Centre, Nieuwegein, NL, www.skf.com  

Project coordinator: Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials

Duration 12/2011 – 11/2014

RoLiCer is supported by the EC under grant no. 263476




p    This project will closely tie, for the first time, atomistic, microscopic and macroscopic analyses of polycrystalline ceramic materials into a truly integrated multi-scale simulation paradigm, verified by means of experiments and field application tests.

  1. Quantification of the effect of the most relevant thermal, mechanical and tribological loads on the lifetime and degradation of the ceramic components under realistic loading conditions.
  2. Designing structural polycrystalline ceramic materials with superior performance and enhanced functionality for future emerging and demanding applications.
  3. Ensuring a “ceramic-friendly design” of the ceramic components, especially in rolling tools by reaching a design that minimises critical thermo-mechanical and tribological stresses.
  4. Modelling the damage nucleation, evolution and crack growth behaviour in the ceramic materials based on realistic thermal and mechanical stress fields.
  5. Achieving a better understanding of the nature of chemical adhesion between ceramics and metals and studying the effects of stresses on the adhesion and natural flaw evolution in ceramic materials.
  6. Ensuring realistic lifetime predictions based on analyses which couple realistic loading conditions, microstructural information and degradation mechanisms.
  7. Developing ceramic component prototypes and demonstrations that portray the materials functionality in real applications.
  8. Developing a comprehensive database addressing the most relevant degradation and damage mechanisms in order to reach optimal design and material combination resulting in fabricating components with improved lifetimes and products with superior quality.