New materials, new designs, new markets
Lightweight construction is becoming the motor behind innovations in many industries. It makes products better and saves energy and money.5 Feb 2016
Lightweight construction is one of the most exciting megatrends. Lean construction creates less carbon emission and environmentally safer industrial processes. The technology can use its advantages in efficiency in particular in those areas where mass is frequently accelerated and decelerated. Lightweight construction has already created significant improvements in conventional cars. For electric vehicles it is THE key technology since these cars are only able to reach the next charging station with a single charge if they weigh as little as possible – and as is generally known, these stations are currently few and far between.
As a cross-sectional technology, lightweight construction is the driver of innovation for various sectors. In addition to the automotive industry, these include railway transportation, aerospace, machine and plant engineering, civil engineering, medical and power engineering, and the wood, paper and textile industries.
The composites industry benefits from this trend. However, these advantages aren’t created out of thin air. In 2012 a study by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and the VDMA forum Composite Technology forecast an annual growth rate of 17 percent until 2020 for carbon fiber reinforced plastic components (CRP). According to current information from the associations Carbon Composites and AVK, the CRP market is "only" growing around ten percent annually. The amount of glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) manufactured in Europe grew accordingly by two percent in 2014 but will stagnate over the long term.
The competition in lightweight construction materials is growing.
In Hall 6 at HANNOVER MESSE Haute Innovation has designed a special area for innovative materials for the supplying industry. "Visitors can look forward to many new materials, products and technologies," explains Peters. The TU Hamburg-Harburg will be showcasing Aerographite, the world’s lightest material. The Dresden start-up LignoTUBE is bringing bicycle frames to Hannover which are created out of wood-inlayed pipes. The bamboo ring constructions presented by CONBOU can be used for furniture and stage construction as well as for prefabricated homes and automotive bodies. RoboFold from London has developed a process that is used by industrial robots to fold complex sheet metal structures based on CAD files from a single sheet – inspired by Oriental origami art.
Achieving and outperforming the quality and safety standards of conventional processes is the challenge inherent in lightweight construction. In the future, the combination of materials will increased to include hybrid and composites, metals, alloys, fiber-reinforced plastics, ceramic and even renewable resources. The variety of materials, manufacturing methods and construction principles will facilitate new products in practically all sectors. It may even open up markets that we are unable to conceive of today. After all, the constructions are not only lighter and more ecological but frequently provide tangible application advantages, additional features and room for creative designs.
HANNOVER MESSE addresses this theme from various perspectives. In line with this, the 15th Materials Forum (Hall 6, Stand D52) is subtitled "Intelligent Lightweight Construction".
At the Solutions Area (Hall 6, Stand D44) live demonstrations and up-to-date project studies showcase everything that lightweight construction has to offer.
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