In 2013, forging and steel manufacturers joined forces in the Lightweight Forging Initiative to investigate ways to save weight and energy in automobile production. The successes with medium-sized passenger cars (42 kg lighter powertrain and chassis) and light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 t (99 kg weight reduction) were so impressive that this July the project was able to move into Phase III . The aim now is to look at the lightweight design potential of hybrid vehicles and heavy commercial vehicles.
With its TechDays drive, the consortium is also going into production companies to give engineers, developers, and buyers hands-on experience in their own company. The first of these events was held at Opel in Rüsselsheim a year ago, and the second at transmission specialists GETRAG FORD Transmissions in Cologne on October 18. The next Lightweight Forging TechDay is scheduled for January 17, 2018 at VW in Wolfsburg; further events for automobile manufacturers and suppliers in Germany, including Schaeffler in Herzogenaurach, BMW in Munich, and ZF in Stemwede, are currently being planned.
At the same time, however, there is evident competition between production locations in the field of automotive lightweight design: It was only at the end of October this year that Dresden University of Technology and Freiberg University of Mining and Technology joined together with scientists from Chemnitz University of Technology to form the Lightweight Construction Alliance for Saxony , which primarily focuses on new, financeable network structures for vehicles. The association can now “act under a new, common brand, which is of great importance both nationally and internationally,” says Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, State Minister of Science and the Arts for Saxony. Since the start of 2017, Saxony has also been backing a similar association, the Alliance for MAterial- and Resource-Efficient TechnOlogies (AMARETO), with €5.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund. In addition to the universities of technology in Chemnitz, Dresden, and Freiberg, the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU is also involved in this alliance.