After down-selecting our most promising new microstructural concept(s), we refine our computational models and parameter databases, perform detailed design work, further define our production path, and work towards demonstrating performance at prototype/mid-scale production.
Design & Invention
Refine Design Goals
This stage of work often starts with a major review meeting held with our client and key stakeholders to assess our progress and refine our project goals. This review typically involves a larger group of individuals with broader input and perspectives, and yields wider “Voice of the Customer” input. By expanding the degree of our client’s input as a development program proceeds, we minimize our client’s up-front costs, risks, and time commitment. This review meeting may mark the beginning of a major next phase (Phase II) of a material design project.
Perform Detailed Design and Modeling
Detailed design, modeling and invention activities are typically performed iteratively in concert with prototype production. Our design models are constantly improving in fidelity, and this feedback loop further refines them. Two to five design iterations are not uncommon.
- Modeling efforts performed during this stage primarily include the refinement and implementation of mechanistic models to address critical factors in the design of the down-selected concept(s). We also refine key fundamental parameter property databases, and estimate their accuracy within the targeted design range. We’ll often use our unique proprietary software platform, material databases, and design tools (both proprietary tools such as PrecipiCalc® as well as licensed tools such as ThermoCalc and DICTRA thermochemical and kinetic software systems).
- Detailed design and invention efforts combine our existing thermodynamic, mobility, strength, and microstructural evolution mechanistic models with project-specific-developed design models, in order to invent new materials or processes to meet project-specific goals. We utilize our mechanistic models and software to exploit specific microstructural features and search for design optima across length scales, including nanostructures. We focus on designing robust materials that allow significant variation in production and processing and yet still achieve desired material performance.
This stage typically culminates in the detailed design of one or more materials for sub-scale prototype production and evaluation. We typically also develop an updated material design report which summarizes: an updated risk map; predicted values of critical design factors; design trade-offs; material specifications; and a prototyping plan that recommends suppliers or service providers for each production step, evaluates process sequences, and plans characterization and testing efforts to validate model predictions and material properties at prototype scale.