FuseMetal joint laboratory, a breeding ground of skills

The FuseMet­al joint lab­o­ra­to­ry was born from the com­bined will of actors of the UTC Rober­val Lab­o­ra­to­ry and the Mon­tataire research cen­tre of Arcelor-Mit­tal to join their forces in order to tack­le some well iden­ti­fied tech­no­log­i­cal research themes.

Research sci­en­tists from Rober­val’s Mate­ri­als and Sur­face and Dig­i­tal Mechan­ics teams have been work­ing with the Arcelor­Mit­tal Glob­al R&D research cen­tre in Mon­tataire, which spe­cialis­es in auto­mo­tive appli­ca­tions, for near­ly 30 years on rather ad hoc projects, through the­ses, post-doc­tor­ates and internships.

“We wished to per­pet­u­ate this col­lab­o­ra­tion by struc­tur­ing it fur­ther, around cur­rent themes for the indus­tri­al part­ner but also stim­u­lat­ing for the aca­d­e­m­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal research car­ried out at UTC. The FuseMet­al joint lab­o­ra­to­ry was there­fore offi­cial­ly cre­at­ed in April 2019, an oppor­tu­ni­ty hav­ing arisen in 2018 to respond joint­ly to a call for a Joint Research Team project launched by the Hauts-de-France region,” explains pro­fes­sor Mar­i­on Ris­bet, Direc­tor of the joint laboratory.

The projects devel­oped in the FuseMet­al lab­o­ra­to­ry are based on two themes. First­ly, there is the oppor­tu­ni­ty rep­re­sent­ed by the intro­duc­tion of very high strength steels known as “3rd gen­er­a­tion”, i.e., sheet steel that is much thin­ner and there­fore lighter, but just as strong as cur­rent steels, in an auto­mo­tive sec­tor that is forced to reduce its CO2 emis­sions. These steels have very elab­o­rate chem­i­cal com­po­si­tions and microstruc­tures, which com­pli­cate their weld­abil­i­ty and the mechan­i­cal strength of assem­blies. There is also the poten­tial of using addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques for steels and their applications.

“We are endeav­our­ing to under­stand the mul­ti­phys­i­cal phe­nom­e­na that occur when steel pow­ders are heat­ed to very high tem­per­a­tures to make parts, in order to improve the qual­i­ty of the fin­ished prod­ucts. We are also study­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of replac­ing cer­tain very mas­sive parts, used in shap­ing means, by 3D steel parts with a com­plete­ly revised design. These two themes require the com­bi­na­tion of skills in terms of both mate­ri­als exper­i­men­ta­tion and dig­i­tal sim­u­la­tion, skills that are brought togeth­er in the joint lab­o­ra­to­ry,” con­tin­ues Mar­i­on Risbet.

Off-site laboratory

This is a ‘hors-murs’ (off site) lab­o­ra­to­ry, mean­ing that the mem­bers of the joint lab­o­ra­to­ry meet at the premis­es of one or oth­er part­ner, but do not have a spe­cial­ly ded­i­cat­ed rooms. The doc­tor­al stu­dents often have an office at both part­ners’ premis­es, and their super­vi­so­ry team is always made up of research staff from both entities.

“We cur­rent­ly have 35 mem­bers in this joint lab­o­ra­to­ry, about 70% of researchers and tech­ni­cal sup­port staff from the UTC and 30% of researchers and tech­ni­cians from Arcelor­Mit­tal, with six PhD stu­dents and two research engi­neers. It is worth not­ing the high rate of women in the joint lab­o­ra­to­ry (40%), which is notable in the field of met­al­lur­gy and mechan­ics, and is an impor­tant indi­ca­tor for the Euro­pean funds from which we benefit.”

Thanks to the finan­cial sup­port of the var­i­ous part­ners, the FuseMet­al lab­o­ra­to­ry has been able to invest in the sci­en­tif­ic equip­ment and dig­i­tal sim­u­la­tion soft­ware need­ed to car­ry out its stud­ies, devel­op prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions and par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous sci­en­tif­ic events (study days, con­fer­ences, etc.). Not for­get­ting the recruit­ment of 6 PhD stu­dents with 4 PhD stu­dents recruit­ed by Arcelor­Mit­tal France on a CIFRE con­tract, 2 by UTC on a min­is­te­r­i­al sup­port allo­ca­tion and 2 research engi­neers financed by the Euro­pean FEDER funds (see pages 16 and 17). This makes up a young, dynam­ic, mul­ti-skilled and mul­ti-cul­tur­al team from coun­tries such as Brazil, Chi­na, Tunisia, India and France.

FuseMetal: numerous points in common

For the UTC, the joint lab­o­ra­to­ry allows first of all to bring to the UTC researchers orig­i­nal themes in the field of the tech­no­log­i­cal research, the DNA of UTC, in a direct link with the con­cerns of the socio-eco­nom­ic world. The sci­en­tif­ic top­ics are glob­al­ly relat­ed to the def­i­n­i­tion of steel struc­tures for auto­mo­tive appli­ca­tions which are safer and more durable, which res­onates with the cur­rent pre­oc­cu­pa­tions in terms of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and soci­etal respon­si­bil­i­ty per­vad­ing the world of high­er edu­ca­tion and research. 

This joint lab­o­ra­to­ry also allows the Rober­val lab­o­ra­to­ry of the UTC to attract good pro­files of PhD stu­dents, by the prox­im­i­ty with the indus­tri­al group Arcelor­Mit­tal. The researchers of the Mon­tataire cen­tre are also invit­ed to inter­vene direct­ly in the UTC cours­es for engi­neers of the mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing depart­ment (UTC-ME), for cours­es tar­get­ed on indus­tri­al themes. Six-month intern­ship sub­jects are also offered to mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing stu­dents on sub­jects relat­ed to the joint laboratory.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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