Stinville Research Group

Materials Science and Engineering


Next-generation metallic part design pursued via DARPA grant

UIUC’s Jean-Charles Stinville is part of a team that just won a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under its recently launched Multiobjective Engineering and Testing of ALloy Structures (METALS) program. The project is being led by Morad Behandish of SRI.

DARPA METALS supports work with potential to move beyond today’s one-material-per-part paradigm, which can lead to vulnerabilities and reduced life when highly engineered components experience challenging environments. The goal of the four-year program is to develop technologies that treat material selection – particularly metallic alloys – as a continuous variable in design that can be tailored across a single part

Stinville, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and the Materials Research Lab, explained that it is now feasible to fabricate parts with a compositional gradient, making it possible to optimize materials at specific locations with the part. To support those optimizations, under the DARPA project, SRI will develop a comprehensive database of the mechanical properties—such as yield strength, creep, and fatigue strength—of all potential chemical compositions of metallic materials.

“The range of possible compositions is virtually infinite,” Stinville said. “My objective is to mechanically test this infinity. I am developing a high-throughput mechanical testing approach to quickly evaluate the mechanical properties of various materials through small-scale testing on graded materials.”

Graded materials, containing transitions from one composition to another, will be produced by team members at the University of California San Diego. Stinville will then test them using a unique approach he developed. “I will measure the local plasticity across all existing compositions in the specimen using automation and machine learning for the analysis,” he said. “This will help predict complex macroscopic properties like creep and fatigue very rapidly. This method aims to reduce the mechanical characterization process from months to hours.”

“This program marks a turning point in how we design, make, and validate materials at an exciting crossroads of innovation in computational design, materials science, digital manufacturing, and AI,” said Behandish, who is the Research Director for Design and Digital Manufacturing at SRI as well as principal investigator of the new project. “The biggest impact will be on high-end applications, especially when human life is trusted with engineered equipment, where the reliance on outdated engineering methods in current practice takes significant time and cost in design cycles and material systems adoption.”

*image from DARPA

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