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Materials library for inspiration, development and innovation

At the RISE packaging centre in Kista there is all kinds of equipment for testing packaging and products. But late last autumn there was also a small room furnished with two armchairs and with shelves on the walls. The shelves were filled with samples and completed packaging, both those already on the market and those that had not yet left the research environment.

– In the past we would often run around looking for demonstrators when customers came to visit. It's so much easier to have something to look at and touch when talking about packaging development, explains Maria Sundin.

– In this room you can sit and talk about materials. We have arranged the shelves in a matrix system so that we can tackle the question from different directions. There is always something that is relevant.

Demonstrators are something that Maria Sundin has very high regard for. She began her career at RISE with a degree project at TechMark Arena, which is a transdisciplinary academy that brings together master’s students to work on a common theme. A goal for each TechMark project is that it will lead to some type of demonstrator.

Material Realisation Lab in Linköping

In each round of TechMark Arena there has always been one or more students who, like Maria Sundin, come from Linköping University. One reason is certainly the focus on wood in the Division of Machine Design and the wood innovation course that forms part of the MEng in Product Design and Product Development. This allows the students to have both a broad and focused approach to materials and form in the work on demonstrators or business concepts. Each course results in an exhibition at the university, where the students demonstrate both new thinking and business acumen. And each course also involves a study visit to RISE. David Eklöf, at the Division of Machine Design within the Department of Management and Engineering, says:

– We have had a very good collaboration with RISE for many years, for example with Hjalmar Granberg and Siv Lindberg. Through the study visits we want to give the students inspiration and the opportunity to discuss with people who work with materials in real life, whether it be material research, experience studies or packaging development.

At home at Linköping University there is now also a place for inspiration that David Eklöf has built up. He shows us round the materials library Material Realisation Lab (MRL) where the students work several hours a week. One day a week it is open to all students at LiU.

– We have about 1,500 materials here and all information about them can be obtained via QR codes. But just as important as technical data is the experience. Here you can feel and squeeze the materials, says David.

In connection with the material library, there is another lab under development. Here, students can manufacture demonstrators using Lego, Meccano and straws.

– Much of the functionality can be solved at that stage, explains David and notes that students who attend this course get a very good background both in design and product development.

– The interest in wood is considerable, we have tripled the number of students in just a couple of years. As a result of the climate situation, we have had a whole new interest in wood and many people want to involved from the beginning. The students will put pressure on the industry to bring about change.

Published: 2019-05-09