New simulation methods based on phase-field models allow the design of tailored materials such as alloys with a certain composition. The techniques are capable to analyze influencing factors and process control conditions on the microstructure and can be used to derive microstructure-property correlations. Frequently, quality characteristics of materials and processes are achieved by a slight change of the machining process or by varying the composition. New software developments for microstructure simulations provide new insight into the reaction of the material on an external stress such as thermal, mechanical and magnetic field induced load.
The characteristic parameters of the microstructure are crucial for the properties of the material. As an example, in many manufacturing processes, the grain structure and grain size distribution are key criteria for the hardness and fracture toughness of the material. Simulations allow for the first time the in-situ insight not only into the final microstructure, but also in the three-dimensional structure formation process. The microstructure evolution can be influenced through a targeted process control and material with particular properties can be developed by computational design. Nowadays, calculations replace to a great extent metallographic and mechanical structure characterization, which is often combined with a destruction of the components. The material, component and process flow of the future can be composed by microstructure simulations saving resources and energy. Extensive tests can be saved and weaknesses can be improved in the design stage at the computer.