"Major challenges facing automotive engineering are reducing greenhouse gasses in line with EU regulations, new security demands and electromobility," states the VDI Center for Resource Efficiency in its survey of lightweight construction in Germany. "Spheres of activity for lightweight construction range from selecting and combining materials to designing components and creating systemic approaches for the entire vehicle," says the brief survey commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Developers and suppliers of components are confronted by demands from automobile manufacturers to keep reducing the weight. This leads “"to relentless pressure to innovate along the value chain."
At the 2nd lightweight SOLUTIONS symposium in Hannover in November, Dr. Andreas Erber, Senior Manager of Projects at SGL Carbon, described the importance of lightweight construction for ecologically sustainable mobility. "Due to the increasing global shortage of natural resources the importance of lightweight construction will continue to grow," said the Head of the Thermoplastics Program at SGL Carbon.
In particular, great hope is being placed in lightweight design in the electromobility sector. Selective lightweight design "directly and indirectly influences the size, range, battery capacity, and engine power required," states the latest FOREL Study by the University of Paderborn. The short range of electric cars is one of the greatest impediments to electromobility. For that reason researchers view "ightweight design as highly relevant to electromobility – but also to vehicle construction in general." In conclusion it stated that "the results of this study clearly show that multi-material and new composite designs create enormous opportunities for individualized, highly integrated component solutions."
"Lightweight metal construction still presents the largest lightweight construction market in the automotive and the transportation sectors over the short to medium term," states the VDI Center for Resource Efficiency in its latest survey. Accordingly, fiber composites such as GRP and CFRP are not yet relevant for the mass market although their growth is extremely rapid. The VDI study believes that bringing CFRP technology into series-production vehicles is "a task for collaboration between OEMs and suppliers."
In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Research and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs are using the industry cluster MAI Carbon as a driver to introduce and establish high performance fiber composites, especially CFRP, in the transportation sector. MAI Carbon, an initiative of CCeV, is made up of around 100 companies and facilities in the Munich-Augsburg-Ingolstadt area. Members of MAI Carbon come from all sectors that use high-performance fiber-composite materials. The main focus is on automobile manufacturing, aerospace engineering, and mechanical and plant engineering. The founding partners include Audi, BMW, Premium Aerotec, Airbus Helicopters and the SGL Group.
At Industrial Supply 2016 MAI Carbon will be a part of the Carbon Composites e.V. (CCeV) stand in Hall 6. Other exhibitors at Industrial Supply showcasing mobility are the Development Agency for Lightweight Baden-Württemberg and e-mobil BW as well as CFK Valley in Stade. "Our aim is to show visitors from mechanical engineering and other industries such as shipbuilding, rail transport and construction the many ways they can benefit from using CFRP," says Dr. Gunnar Merz, CEO and Chairman of the association CFK Valley. At Airbus in Stade, where the aircraft manufacturer produces its fins, carbon fiber reinforced plastics have played a role for the past 30 years. Airbus Stade is a member of CFK Valley.
For the third time the Industrial Supply program in 2016 will include the Adhesive Bonding Technology display. "Bonding technology of the future" is considered to be the key to lightweight engineering solutions in mobility. With 3M, Industrial Supply has among its exhibitors the market leader in adhesive technology. The company is showcasing new high-performance adhesive tape, removable adhesive systems, and solutions to automatically clean adhesive surfaces. 3M is also bringing a new 2-component construction adhesive with a "traffic light" function.