Key research area “Sustainable Materials, Processes and Products”

Climate protection and resource conservation is a central task of our society. The natural sciences and engineering can make their contribution by working on solutions for sustainable materials (metals, polymers and combined hybrids), on material-specific construction, joining and manufacturing processes, specific production and simulation processes or in the field of sustainable energy supply.

To cover this vast spectrum of research, Paderborn University bundles interdisciplinary research in mechanical engineering, the natural sciences and the electrical engineering faculties in its “Sustainable Materials, Processes and Products” research area.

Key technology lightweight design

Lightweight design is a key technology that offers huge resource-saving potential, in particular through combining state-of-the-art (production) techniques with high functionality.

Cross-faculty project teams at the Institute for Lightweight Design with Hybrid Systems (ILH) and Paderborn Institute for Additive Manufacturing (PIAF) conduct research into this complex topic.

Key technology additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is a key technology that can directly translate evolution through Industry 4.0 into reality. Through design freedom, it enables the creation of customised, resource-efficient and function-optimised lightweight structures.

At the PIAF and Direct Manufacturing Research Centre (DMRC), cross-faculty project teams collaborate with industry on research aimed at establishing additive manufacturing processes as robust industrial manufacturing processes.

Key technology sustainable energy technology

The transformation of the energy system toward sustainable electricity, heat and mobility generated by renewable energies is one of the central social challenges of the 21st century. The aim is to transform existing energy systems globally in such a way, that they are able to operate without fossil and nuclear energy sources and reliably supply humankind with cost-effective, sustainable energy.

KET contributes toward this goal through its research in sustainable mobility concepts, smart grids, energy efficiency as well as air pollution control and resource conservation.

A combination of applied and basic research

Applied research is driven forward in well-established academic and industry partnerships and complements first-rate basic research in the field of method or material development, for example, with research also carried out in long-term projects in a national and international alliance.

The researchers leverage the state-of-the-art infrastructure of the ILH and PIAF/DMRC in Paderborn and are part of an extensive research network.

Interdisciplinary research institutions

The aim of the ILH is to take a holistic view of lightweight design and to look at issues relating to the entire lifecycle of a component. Outstanding expertise in additive manufacturing as a special manufacturing process with high lightweight design potential is bundled in the PIAF and DMRC. At the Competence Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (KET), approaches and methods are being developed with the aim of achieving a sustainable energy supply for the electricity, heat, industry, and transport sectors.

Interdisciplinary research institutions

The ILH is a central research institution of Paderborn University that bundles the expertise of eleven research groups from the disciplines of mechanical engineering, chemistry and physics to develop and research new hybrid systems made from various materials. Applied research gives rise to innovative lightweight design concepts. Prototypes and demos are designed in collaboration with the industry to test feasibility. Basic research is conducted into the cross-scale development of methods and materials.

In hybrid multi-material systems, high-performance materials, such as ultra-high-strength steels, are intelligently combined with carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRP). The prerequisite for the development of such material compounds is the analysis of material properties and interfaces and of the manufacturing processes with new material structures. To this end, the ILH boasts a broad team of researchers and a state-of-the-art infrastructure.

You can find more information on the institute’s webpage:

The PIAF is a central research institution of Paderborn University that bundles the expertise of the departments of Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Computer Science. The aim of the PIAF is to establish additive manufacturing processes as robust industrial manufacturing processes, with the focus on cross-industry innovations that shape the economy and society and that are possible only through transdisciplinary research. The PIAF’s research is therefore aimed at the continuous development of innovations through software for products or services, as well as new process engineering solutions for the development or analysis of highly networked production systems. The PIAF’s tasks comprise cross-faculty and interdisciplinary research, the transfer of knowledge and technology, training early-career researchers and junior academics and incorporating research results in university teaching and further education in the field of additive manufacturing processes.

The PIAF is an offshoot of the Direct Manufacturing Research Centre (DMRC) industrial consortium and is the university counterpart to the DMRC. The two co-operate to ensure the industrial transfer of research findings. A broad team of researchers at the PIAF/DMRC is working on a modern infrastructure along the entire additive process chain. This infrastructure is in particular state of the art in the field of additive production systems.

You can find more information at:

The Competence Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (KET) was founded in January 2012 as a Central Scientific Institution of Paderborn University. The tasks of the KET are research, teaching, and technology transfer in the field of environmentally friendly and innovative energy generation, conversion, and utilization.

The competences of the five involved research groups from the fields of electrical and mechanical engineering that are cooperating in KET, enable the interdisciplinary development of interdisciplinary solutions to energy technology challenges from a single source.

As link between industry and university research facilities, KET addresses institutional and industrial users and offers comprehensive cooperation opportunities through consulting, development, simulation, and implementation in the field of modern energy technology.

Based on their knowledge and experience, the KET partners can offer insights in current findings and research results within the field of innovative energy technology.

Selected projects in the research area

Additive manufacturing (AM) has the economic potential to complement conventional manufacturing processes, especially in the production of complex multi-material components. In order to fully exploit the advantages of optimised lightweight structures, several materials with different physical properties usually have to be used. Nevertheless, multi-material combinations from conventional processes are not transferable to AM due to residual stresses, cracks or thermal expansion rates of the different materials. Furthermore, geometric shape and position tolerances as well as recycling strategies for powder waste, reworked waste and the component itself are not yet defined. Based on the 3D printing processes PBF-LB and DED, the project "MADE-3D" (Multi-Material Design using 3D Printing) aims at the simultaneous development of processable, multi-material optimised alloys, the development of design concepts for multi-material structures with specific simulations for load cases and topology optimisations, as well as a comprehensive process adaptation. Alloy and process development is supported by advanced integrated computational material development approaches combining thermodynamics, microstructure and process simulations through machine/active learning, leading to shorter material development cycles. For bulk and powder materials, recycling of multi-material components through innovative approaches will promote the sustainability of multi-material additive manufacturing. This adaptation will lead to increased process reliability and speed and enable the spread of multi-material manufacturing throughout the industry. The project is being funded for the next three and a half years with around 6.7 million euros in the European Union's "Horizon Europe 2022" programme. The consortium, consisting of research institutions, market leaders in additive manufacturing, aerospace, automotive technology and start-ups, brings a broad range of international expertise: In addition to the management of the Paderborn University, project partners are: SLM Solutions; the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV (all three from Germany); the University of the Aegean (Greece); f3nice (Italy); Exponential Technologies (Latvia); QuesTek Europe (Sweden); AVL List (Austria); Skyrora (UK); Safran Additive Manufacturing Campus; Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives CEA (both from France); Amires(Czech Republic) and the Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique CSEM (Switzerland).

Contact: Dennis Lehnert, M.Sc. | Leichtbau im Automobil

Spokesperson: Professor Gerson Meschut, Materials and Joining Technology

Executive director: Dr.-Ing. Mathias Bobbert, Materials and Joining Technology

In 2014, the ILH successfully applied for the establishment of an interdisciplinary graduate programme for lightweight design (FK LEM), funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Graduates from the fields of mechanical engineering, science and sociology research and learn with and from each other. However, collaboration here is not only interdisciplinary but also transdisciplinary – the college stands out for the collaborative work of PhD students with players from the business community and civil society. This collaboration combines practical knowledge with research.

The first four-and-a-half-year funding phase was positively evaluated and extended. A key element of the second FK LEM funding phase is the cooperation with the new Department of Technology & Diversity (TD). TD taps into research approaches that draw on empirical social research methods. Hence, within the framework of this PhD programme, students acquire technology and sustainability research skills in addition to their technical and scientific training.

 FK LEM was finished in2022.

In the BMBF project "A:RT-D Grids", four universities - University of Paderborn (with two KET members), Makerere University, Uganda, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Tanzania, and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa - and the research institute ECOLOG, Germany, are working on a solution for the stability problem of electric power grids in East Africa with an interdisciplinary approach. An innovative smart grid topology is in Development based on a cellular system of interconnected mini/microgrids. Furthermore, a graduate school that addresses social, political and economic governance issues in addition to the general technical focus will be developed and established.

Contact person: Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Stefan Krauter | Electrical Energy Technology


In the project "Climate neutral Business in Ostwestfalen-Lippe (Climate bOWL)", scientists from the University of Paderborn, represented by the Software Innovation Campus Paderborn and the Department of Lightweight Construction in Automobiles, are working together with the University of Bielefeld and the industry partners Miele, GEA, Phoenix Contact as well as NTT Data on an interdisciplinary basis to support companies in achieving climate protection goals. On the way to climate neutrality, a holistic approach is needed that enables the aggregation and assessment of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in a resource-efficient way, as well as the identification and prioritisation of GHG reduction measures. The Climate bOWL project addresses this challenge by developing a digital assistance system that supports companies in standardised and automated data collection and in identifying efficiency potentials. The project is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with 1,86 million euros as part of the "it's OWL“ cluster since April 2022; the total volume of the project is 3,16 million euros.

Project coordination: Dr.-Ing. Florian SchlosserSoftware Innovation Campus PaderbornFG Energiesystemtechnik

This research project will be treated in the context of industrial research with the aim of demonstrating the project results in the form of a functional sample with a high degree of innovation. The main objective of the project is to develop and demonstrate processes and technologies for the production of stainless steel tube forming tools, and finally to validate them by testing them on a functional prototype. The production and application of the parts must be particularly attractive from a financial point of view, as they will be used in cost-driven industries such as the automotive supply industry. The aim is to increase production efficiency while at the same time saving costs and reducing operating costs through extended replacement cycles.

Contact: Stefan Gnaase | Automotive Lightweight Design

This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under the Lightweight Construction Technology Transfer Programme (TTP LB).

Sub-project of SPP 2122: Materials for Additive Manufacturing

Professor Guido Grundmeier, Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry

Professor Mirko Schaper, Department of Materials Science

Under the leadership of the Department of Power Electronics and Electric Drive Technology (LEA), KET is developing an infrastructure with which the coupled behavior of e. g. battery storage systems, wind turbines, photovoltaic systems or combined heat and power plants can be studied under laboratory conditions. The infrastructure in Paderborn, called Microgrid Lab (μG-Lab), creates a platform for future research and development projects for testing and verifying new innovative concepts under realistic conditions.

Contact person: Dr.-Ing. Karl Stephan Stille | Power Electronics and Electrical Drives

Optimisation-based development of hybrid materials

The aim of “HyOpt” is to drive forward requirements-based lightweight design with different types of materials. To this end, the researchers are developing a toolbox for designing new hybrid materials. This consists of a software solution, as well as smart, flexible manufacturing processes, which are needed to produce the materials. Ultimately, this will also facilitate further processing into lightweight components. The project, which has a budget of around 2 million euros, is funded by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) until April 2022.

Contact person:

Steffen TinklohILH  | Automotive Lightweight Design

The aim of the project, which is being pursued jointly by German and Mongolian partners, is to develop a heating system suitable for the harsh conditions of Mongolia that converts and stores regenerative energy produced by photovoltaics (PV) into heat (H).

Contact person: Emre Acar | Fluid Process Engineering

The aim of RENBuild is to develop an innovative overall concept for the combined regenerative supply of buildings with heating, cooling, electricity, and fresh air. The focus is on the most comprehensive and efficient use of available renewable environmental energy, and the linkage with LowEx systems for building cooling, heating and ventilation. Within the framework of RENBuild, a comprehensive system is being developed whose optimized components permit the highest possible energy efficiency while simultaneously using regenerative energies.

Contact person: Matti Grabo | Fluid Process Engineering



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Prof. Dr. Thomas Tröster

Key research area Sustainable Materials, Processes and Products

Chairman of the Institute for Lightweight Design with Hybrid Systems (ILH)

Write email +49 5251 60-5331
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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Joachim Schmid

Key research area Sustainable Materials, Processes and Products

Chairman of the Paderborn Institute for Additive Fabrication (PIAF)

Write email +49 5251 60-2404
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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eugeny Kenig

Key research area Sustainable Materials, Processes and Products

Chairman Competence Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (KET)

Write email +49 5251 60-2164

General information on the disciplines involved can be found on the corresponding websites:

Mechanical Engineering   Chemistry    Physics


Large-scale absorption-desorption plant at FVT

Outdoor PV laboratory at EET

Power Electronics Lab with emphasis on Wide-Bandgap applications at LEA

Being part of a network offers many advantages and opens up new perspectives. Technology transfer and industrial cooperation have a high priority at the University of Paderborn. In the ILH and the PIAF, there are long-standing contacts to companies of different sizes, regionally and nationwide.

ILH partners from research and industry

DMRC industry partners

KET industry partners