Fields of Research and the Triad


The scientific work of the Institute of Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Construction focuses on the component and its surrounding structure. Research activities are in the fields of Methods & Optimization, Dynamics & Aeroelasticity as well as Structural Health Monitoring. Space applications are of particular interest and, therefore, one of our focal points of research. Here, all aspects of lightweight design are bundled with a focus on the special requirements of space.

  Fields of Research Copyright: (c) Kai-Uwe Schröder

Methods & Optimization

Methods & Optimization focuses on the development of sizing and optimization methods for lightweight structures. This covers the computation of new materials, recent joint technologies and disruptive ligthweight designs.

Dynamics & Aeroelasticity

Focal point in the field of Dynamics & Aeroelasticity is the optimization of structures with regard to their dynamic and aeroelastic behavior. In addition we deal with issues concerning noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

Fatigue and Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)

Experimental and numerical investigations regarding the damage propagation behaviour of components under cyclic loading take up a growing share of the research activities at the institute. These research activities are clustered in the field of Fatigue & SHM.

Space applications

Extreme speeds, extreme temperature loading, extreme lightweight design - these are the challenges that characterize the lightweight design of spacecrafts and satellites. In the field of space applications, the sizing and optimization methods are reassessed with respect to these paricular requirements and integrated into overall spacecraft systems.


The Triad of Lightweight Design

The Triad of Lightweight Design Copyright: SLA

The sizing and optimization of components in lightweight structures requires the synchronisation of testing, numerics and analytics. Only a holistic approach brings efficient solutions that make their way into the application.

In our research approaches, we therefore always try to base our scientific work on these three pillars. The test shows us which phenomena we have to deal with. However, experiments are time-consuming and expensive. Their number is therefore limited and we only get access to a small part of possible configurations. This is where numerics comes in: computations with models validated in experiments allow us to expand the parameter range and see their interaction. However, in order to understand the structural behavior, we need the analytical model. In this model, the interactions of the parameters are described mathematically. Only from this starting point a targeted optimization of the structure becomes possible. And, in the end, the analytical models have to be validated with tests. The loop is closed.