The business unit for “Lightweight Production Technology“ of the Fraunhofer IPT develops new solutions for the mass series production of lightweight components in a wide range of industries – from car manufacturing and aeronautical engineering to oil and gas production. Stephan Schröder, head of the business unit, explains why lightweight construction can be no longer dismissed as a mere fad and why it has established a trend within the industry that enterprises cannot afford to ignore.
What has caused the trend towards lightweight construction, and how are enterprises supposed to react?
Over the past few years, lightweight construction has developed into a solid trend: a growing awareness for environmental concerns, for sustainability and for an efficient use of resources has not only prompted a turnaround in the energy policy of the German government but also moved up the corporate agenda. This is mainly true for industries such as aeronautics and car manufacturing where less weight is more, but also purely performance-oriented sectors of the economy stand to benefit: oil and gas producers, for example, can use riser systems made from fiber-reinforced plastics to penetrate ultra deep water fields down to a level of 3000 metres. This works because FRP pipes combine a low weight with high and customizable levels of rigidity which are individually adjustable to changing outside conditions and high levels of chemical resistance. The Fraunhofer IPT is developing technologies, equipment, tools and software for the processing of fiber-reinforced plastics including joining, forming, separation and handling as well as quality assurance procedures, enabling our clients to integrate fiber-reinforced materials, high-performance metals, ceramics and multi-material systems into innovative series products.