Lightweight construction has become a holistic symbiosis of different methods over the past few years, requiring designers to take the function, production, concept and, if possible, even the product life cycle into consideration. There is a considerable market for new materials and manufacturing processes: The current Allied Market Research Report on Metal Replacement expects volume to grow to nearly $167,000 million by 2022. The automotive industry alone will account for a quarter of said volume. As part of its I nCar plus project, for example, ThyssenKrupp has developed a modular construction kit for lightweight construction solutions made of steel that takes into account functionality and economy as well as CO2 reduction and safety.
Other drivers of lightweight construction are the possibilities of additive processes and bionics. 3D printing allows even the most complicated shapes to be produced stably, quickly and with minimum material costs – including in batch size 1: For an electric vehicle of the German-American student team Global Formula Racing , EOS created a complex battery container with the plastic laser sintering process that already integrates the cable ducts and cooling system and thus reduces weight by 40%. In turn, researchers have let nature inspire them with its huge range of lightweight solutions, such as honeycomb or lattice structures . Sachs Engineering, for example, systematically uses bionics principles in topology optimization , and Festo has equipped its ultra-light eMotion butterflies with digital swarm intelligence. Lightweight construction will be one of the focal points of Industrial Supply at the 2018 Hannover Messe (Hanover Trade Fair).