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Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Research for a better future

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering integrates into the infrastructure programme the research equipment that enables scientific research and performing development tasks in the fields of high technological, innovative and advanced engineering materials and technologies, mechanics, construction, energetics, sustainable approaches, manufacturing processes and designing with the following essential goals:

Development of multifunctional smart materials using advanced and green technologies. Within this objective, the infrastructural programme supports the development of high-performance, multifunctional and smart materials, the production of which is based on the use of advanced techniques such as nanotechnologies (nanostructured materials, nanocomposites, layered nanocomposites, nanocrystals, amorphous nanomaterials, nanoparticles, fullerenes, nanotubes, nanoparticles, nanoplanes, nanoplastics) as well as biotechnologies (enzyme treatment, microbial products, microbiota, cell wall biopolymers, molecular microbiology, microbial engineering, synthetic biology and environmental biotechnology).

Support to modern methods of construction. The infrastructure programme supports research that leads to significant advances in design, production technology, geometrical and mechanical characterisation of new smart multifunctional materials (metamaterials) with cellular structures at different length-scales (macro, mezzo, micro, nano) in the next funding period with the efficient application of theoretical, analytical, experimental, and computational research methods. The research support is focused on developing new cellular metamaterials designs with specifically tailored (individualised) mechanical properties (stiffness, damping, energy absorption, etc.).

Development and optimization of methods for microstructural characterisation and materials testing. The infrastructure programme enables systematic development of qualitative and quantitative methods in the fields of optical and scanning electron microscopy as well as X-ray structural analysis. These methods successfully define the structure of engineering materials on the microscopical level with identification of size, morphology distribution and the nature of microstructural elements.

Establishment of the system for advanced surface analysis. In this segment, the infrastructure activity enables high-quality functioning of the existing equipment and development of advanced approaches for analysing surface phenomena/interactions and determining surface parameters. An in-depth knowledge of the interaction phenomena between individual materials and integrated nano-/microparticles as additives as well as a detailed study of the adsorption/desorption (kinetics, thermodynamics) of certain adsorbates as functional coatings on/in material (metals, polymers, ceramics and composites) are provided as well as interactions of biologically active functional materials with biological media such as bacteria, cells, viruses.

Establishment of innovative surface functionalization techniques as well as integration of functional additives into the material interior (spinning, extrusion, 3D printing) for biomedical as well as technical applications, with a focus on the use of nanotechnologies. With infrastructural support at so-called “bulk approaches”, on the one hand, nano-/ microstructured additives are integrated into polymer solutions for the production of nanofibers by electrospinning as well as into melts for the development of thermoplastic composites by extrusion and / or 3D- / 4D-printing.

Support to activities for replacement of fossils with renewable raw materials or reuse of waste materials. When pursuing  these goals, the activities for preparing the circular processes emphasized in the development of further recycling processes to produce secondary raw materials are running with infrastructural support. The main activities in these fields include:

  • Use of isolates and renewable sources from biological waste (biopolymers, polyphenols, wood fibers and others) to functionalize materials;
  • Use of green production technologies (supercritical fluids, hydrothermal treatment, plasma technologies, etc.);
  • Reuse of materials in the development of further recycling processes (mechanical and chemical recycling);
  • Development of technologies to transform waste into consumer products, secondary raw materials or forms for safe disposal, technologies to prepare waste for reuse and to recover or use real products for longer use;
  • Development of new conductive, magnetic and superparamagnetic nanomaterials for selective removal / sorption of heavy metals, organic pollutants, oil stains, antibiotics and viruses;

Support of advanced computational modelling and computer simulations.

HPC CORE @ UM supercomputer equipment supports the execution of mathematically demanding scientific calculations and analysis of large amounts of digital data, especially in the field of computer-aided materials engineering (CME) and computer fluid dynamics (Computational Fluid Dynamics – CFD). This equipment is predominantly 100% utilized through the continuous implementation of many demanding scientific calculations and computer simulations. It also supports the implementation of advanced digital image correlation of fast digital camera recordings, processing of microCT scanned structures to define their geometric statistical parameters, topological optimization of new metamaterials, as well as testing of different methodologies for analyzing turbulent multiphase fluid flows in complex geometries and multiphysical simulations.

Support to basic research and development in the field of high technologies (TRL 1-4) bounded to the next generation of the processing industry with a high degree of competitiveness in line with the vision of the European Union under the new programme Horizon Europe 2021-27, process technologies SPIRE 2030, SusChem and KET as well as the Development Strategy of Slovenia by 2030. Cooperation in scientific research activities is enabled inside the pillar “Open Science“ intended to research projects of individual researchers or groups, financially supported by the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Network, that further improves expertise and strengthens the recognition of Slovenian research activity.

Support to specifical methods of modern materials testing. The development of new structural materials (multifunctional cellular structures and metamaterials) requires the performance of mechanical testing of structures under quasi-static, dynamic, and cyclic conditions. In the framework of the infrastructure programme, specific testing methods adapted to those structures are being developed.

Processing and manipulation of new engineering materials for testing materials and functional properties. This objective represents support to the development of engineering materials in the area of manufacturing testing specimens and functional prototypes, and development of technological processes. Experts develop a technological process for the developed/studied materials and thus enable the validation of models and simulations with experiments. Technological production processes can include processes of cutting, forming, additive manufacturing, joining. Further development of the technological process enables the setting of guidelines for the economic use of new materials, based on the determination of technology and machinability. Examination of technological capabilities is carried out together with the possibilities of automating production processes.