Research // Overview
SmartPro – Key to Smart Products!
Research for climate protection
The research of the SmartPro network has one central goal: climate protection. For that reason, energy-efficient and resource-saving products and technologies are being developed in the three application fields of energy converters, energy storage systems, and lightweight construction, closely linked with the cross-sectional technologies of additive manufacturing and machine learning. It is precisely at the interfaces between those that – through close collaboration – innovative ideas and research approaches are generated.
Additive Technologies Platform
Application-oriented and efficient machine learning methods for smart production systems
Smart materials and intelligent production technologies
Sustainable technologies and production processes for a better tomorrow
Energy and resource efficient products
Smart products for a sustainable future
Customized and quality-assured magnetic materials for energy-efficient and resource-conserving electric motors
Energy storage systems
New material concepts, innovative technologies, and analytical tools for lithium-based batteries of the future
Smart die casting strategies and innovative joining and inspection technologies for hybrid lightweight structures
Energy and resource efficient products
Smart products for a sustainable tomorrow
With over 60 partners from business and science, Aalen University is researching smart materials and intelligent technologies for sustainable products. SmartPro: Impulse generator for a high quality of life – also tomorrow! Improved energy efficiency and climate protection as well as the protection of critical resources are central goals of the partnership.
Tailor-made and quality-assured magnetic materials for energy-efficient and resource-conserving electric motors
How will the electricity we use be generated in the future? How do electric motors become light and compact, efficient and resource-saving? In the energy converter application field, everything revolves around magnetic materials and magnets in systems such as electric motors and generators, where mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy (or vice versa). The goal in SmartPro is to produce magnets of assured quality with reduced amounts of critical resources and to improve their resilience and lifespan.
energy storage systems
New material concepts, innovative process technologies and evaluation tools for future lithium-based battery systems
What will drive our cars in the future – climate-friendly without coal and oil? How do we efficiently store energy from regenerative sources? New material concepts, innovative process technologies and evaluation tools for future lithium-based battery systems are the focus of the energy storage application field. The aim is to improve the energy density of pioneering solid-state batteries, reduce costs through smart cell concepts and ensure quality using intelligent machine learning-based methods.
Smart die casting strategies and innovative joining processes and testing technologies for hybrid lightweight constructions
What type of construction and design philosophy is important across all sectors in order to achieve energy and resource efficiency? It’s the lightweight construction. In this SmartPro application field, innovative constructions and joining technologies as well as intelligent quality assurance are developed. The focus here is on multi-material composites, for example the combination of carbon fibers and metals, as well as non-destructive testing methods for joints using ultrasonic microscopy that are suitable for series production, as well as machine learning – based error assessment using computer tomography.
Platform Additive Technologies
The powerful cross-sectional technology of additive manufacturing – more commonly known as 3D printing – is being further developed in close cooperation with the three fields of application. Additive manufacturing can significantly reduce resource consumption by efficiently using only the amount of material where and how much is needed on a component. The platform created as part of SmartPro offers new process technologies from 6-axis robots to printing processes for soft magnetic materials and material innovations – for example for wear-resistant tools.
Application-oriented (efficient) machine learning methods for smart production systems
Artificial intelligence is used in the cross-sectional technology of machine learning to develop smart production systems. The quality assurance of magnets for efficient electrical machines, batteries for cordless devices and e-mobility as well as resource-saving lightweight components is the central goal when machine learning methods are newly developed or applied and adapted to application-specific cases. The close exchange with all fields of application networks the SmartPro partnership even more.
Smart materials and intelligent production technologies
Sustainable technologies and processes for a better tomorrow
Research priorities in SmartPro are in the application fields of energy converters, energy storage and lightweight construction – in close connection with the cross-sectional technologies of additive manufacturing and machine learning. In so-called “impulse projects” with a duration of 4 years, the main research areas are processed in SmartPro. Especially at the interfaces, innovative ideas and research approaches are created through close cooperation.
The researchers in SmartPro collaborate in a strategic framework of publicly-funded projects. These focus on the application fields of energy converters, energy storage systems, and lightweight construction in close connection with the cross-sectional technologies of additive manufacturing and machine learning. In the SmartPro initiation phase (2017-2020) and intensification phase (2021-2024), these are worked on in so-called impulse projects (IP) with a four-year duration. Particularly through the close collaboration across projects, innovative ideas and research approaches can emerge.
The management projects (MP) SmartProM and Smart-PROM are also shown in the figure.
In addition to the long-term impulse projects, SmartPro leverages research and innovation potential through explorative projects. By these projects, the three application fields – energy converters, energy storage systems, and lightweight construction – as well as the two cross-sectional technologies – additive manufacturing and machine learning – are being enhanced in terms of content and methodology.
The issues addressed are mostly fundamentally oriented and require interdisciplinary approaches. Therefore, newly appointed professors are also integrated into SmartPro to continuously expand the expertise in the network.
Where does the research take place?
Since 2020, two new research buildings with 31 modern laboratories have complemented Aalen University’s outstanding research infrastructure: the Center for Innovative Materials and Technologies for Efficient Electric Energy Converting Machines (ZiMATE: Zentrum innovativer Materialien und Technologien für effiziente elektrische Energiewandler-Maschinen) and the Sustainable Technology Center (ZTN: Zentrum Technik für Nachhaltigkeit – Ressourcenschonung, Umwelt, CO2-Reduzierung).
More information about SmartPro’s research in the new buildings is available in the video or the brochure.
The excellent framework conditions at Aalen University also support the researchers in continuously acquiring further third-party funding. Many of the innovative research projects are carried out with corporate partners and address topics of the SmartPro application fields and cross-sectional technologies. In these closely-related projects, the SmartPro working groups often cooperate with companies inside and outside the network. Industry partners provide support through scientific discussions, letters of intent, financial or non-monetary resources, and advisory board consultation.
In addition to the 21 research groups from Aalen University, currently over 60 external partners are involved in the SmartPro network: 40 companies (from SMEs to corporations), 9 research institutions, and 11 transfer players. The network is constantly developing. We are looking forward to further cooperation partners who would like to get actively involved and to benefit from the strategic partnership.
For more information on the cooperation network and our partners, see Network.
// Corporations and medium-sized companies
// SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises)
// Other research institutions
// Transfer players
Together with the industry partners, further attractive research and development projects were launched in which SMEs received direct funding from the German Federal Ministry of Science and Education. These projects, led by the respective SMEs, contributed to the further expansion of the cooperation network. By tackling questions geared to the needs of the company, these projects also purposefully developed SmartPro both thematically and methodologically. In addition, access for the SMEs to the technology and infrastructure of the university was made possible.
Become part of the success story!
There are numerous possibilities to get involved in the SmartPro cooperation network. If you are interested in the research topics and would like to become part of the network, please feel free to contact us!
SmartPro // FH-Impuls:
Strong universities of applied sciences – impulses for the region
With SmartPro, Aalen University of Applied Sciences has positioned itself in the top group of universities of applied sciences nationwide. SmartPro is one of ten partnerships funded by the funding measure “FH-Impuls” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with around 10 million euros from 2017 until 2025. Core objectives are the sustainable expansion of the regional transfer and cooperation network, the strengthening of research, and innovative power. SmartPro makes contributions to social challenges such as climate protection and digitization.