Interview with the coordinator

“Our goal is to create open digital tools that offer SMEs and Mid-Cap companies an affordable full modelling, simulation, and optimization system” – Interview with Dr. Stefanos Vrochidis, project coordinator.

Meet Dr. Stefanos Vrochidis, Senior Researcher at the Information Technologies Institute of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (ITI-CERTH), who coordinates DiMAT project and international consortium.

He kindly agreed to answer a few questions concerning the project, talking about implementation of DiMAT and his role as a project coordinator.

To start off – please tell us what is the DiMAT project about?

The DiMAT project, known also as the Digital Modelling and Simulation for Design, Processing and Manufacturing of Advanced Materials project, aims to develop digital technologies for modelling, simulation, and optimization at each stage of the material value chain. We’re integrating data analysis services and visualisation techniques to improve quality, sustainability, effectiveness, and competitiveness of materials. Our goal is to create open digital tools that offer SMEs and Mid-Cap companies an affordable full modelling, simulation, and optimization system.

How does DiMAT project align with the goals and objectives of the Horizon Europe programme specifically in terms of advancing research and innovation in the materials industry?

It aligns in several crucial ways. Horizon Europe seeks to advance research and innovation in various fields, including the materials industry, sustainability, digital transformation, and industrial competitiveness. DiMAT supports sustainable practices and digital transformation by developing digital tools that can assess and promote sustainability in the material design process.  DiMAT also aspires to drive interdisciplinary innovation and open science. DIMAT will bridge the gap between materials science and manufacturing engineering and with this holistic approach it is expected to drive innovation and efficiency in the materials industry. At the other end, we plan to make research data available to wider scientific community, and we hope it will positively influence on future collaboration and accelerate innovation.

What are the expected impacts and outcomes of DiMAT project? How will you measure the success of the project?

The expected impacts and outcomes are multifaceted, covering improvements in materials data safety, mechanical and thermal properties of materials, traceability, and design of materials. These improvements will be facilitated by the DiMAT digital tools, such as Material Modeler, Materials Processing Simulator, and Digital Twin for Process Control. The success of the DiMAT project will be measured by the achievement of a total of 21 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are designed to measure the project’s impact on a wide range of factors including personnel productivity, material performance, economic and environmental impacts, and the efficiency of prototyping procedures.

Can you tell us more about the DiMAT Suites? What are the expected benefits of using the DIMAT Suites for the materials industry?

Within the project we are developing 3 Suites. First one is DiMAT Data and Assessment Suite which aims to increase material data safety and traceability. The second is DiMAT Modelling and Design Suite focused on enhancing material designs and the return on investment (ROI) from personnel training. The last one – The DiMAT Simulation and Optimisation Suite is developed to improve material mechanical properties and overall performance. By using the DiMAT Suites we expect that companies will enhance current practices by integrating digital transformation into every step of the material production process, from design to manufacturing. This will lead SMEs to reduced costs, increased performance, and the creation of advanced materials that can enable entirely new products.

What challenges do you anticipate facing during the development of the DiMAT Suites? How do you plan to overcome these challenges?

DiMAT project is undoubtedly ambitious and holds great promise for the materials industry, not without its potential challenges. Those challenges are connected for example with unclear requirements, diversity of the materials industry or market competition. To overcome those challenges, we plan to ensure clarity between all involved parties. We have also strategically chosen the project’s pilot companies to represent a variety of European materials industry sectors. All consortium partners are concerned with the challenges, and I hope during the project implementation members will keep a close eye on the market to identify any potential new competitors and adjust our strategy as needed.

How do you plan to involve stakeholders in your project, such as materials manufacturers and end-users, to ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed?

We plan to leverage the broad network that we have established through our participation in various projects over the years. This network provides us with direct access to industry professionals, academic researchers, and other individuals who can provide valuable insights into the specific needs of the materials industry. Additionally, we have invited crucial stakeholders to join project and test the DiMAT Suites. The Pilots will cover different sectors, such as Polymer, Composite, Glass and Graphite and will allow to assess the project impact on efficiency and agility.

Final question: Is it difficult to be the project coordinator of such a big EU-funded project? What are the biggest challenges?

Being the coordinator of such big international consortium is a fascinating but also demanding role. The diverse knowledge, resources, and perspectives that each partner brings to the table are truly invaluable. Our partners are experts in various fields, including materials science, artificial intelligence, data management providing us with a broad skill set to draw upon. On the other hand, effective communication and synchronisation of efforts across different languages and cultures is a crucial task that requires meticulous attention. Despite all challenges, being the DiMAT coordinator offers immense learning opportunities and is truly rewarding. The goal remains to drive significant innovation and change within the materials industry, and I am excited about the journey ahead.