Lightweight Construction Where Lightweight Construction is at Home
BMWi has launched the lightweight construction initiative and created an interactive portal on German lightweight construction activities in the form of a lightweight construction atlas.
Lightweight construction is a key technology. It improves material and energy efficiency and thus contributes to environmental and climate protection. In addition to pure material substitution, the greatest weight savings are currently achieved thanks to simulation technologies applied at the design level. Bionic approaches and topology optimization are the basis for the development of light structures. Additive manufacturing processes such as laser melting and electron beam melting for metals or laser sintering, stereolithography and the FDM process for plastics also make it possible to produce optimized components. The fiber-reinforced composites also offer great potential for lightweight construction, as the fibers and the matrix can be adapted to suit the distribution of force. This approach of modern lightweight construction is very important for the competitiveness of German industrial companies, as it can reconcile ecological requirements with lower costs and high functionality.
Making Centers of Lightweight Construction Visible
The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) is consistently supporting and expanding this future-oriented technology with the "Lightweight Construction" initiative. Since March 2017, the ministry has been financing the Lightweight Construction Office in Berlin. This office is to become a national and international network hub and will support German companies, in particular SMEs, in implementing lightweight construction technologies. Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) has launched the competence atlas ‘Lightweight Construction’, which is supported by the Fraunhofer Alliance Materials as a subcontractor, and in particular by the Fraunhofer LBF in Darmstadt. As an interactive portal, the Lightweight Construction Atlas makes the lightweight construction location Germany visible and offers a network infrastructure for industry and research institutions.
Identification of Lightweight Construction Competences
Innovation drivers for lightweight construction include the aerospace, automotive and transport industries. It is therefore no surprise that the largest industrial lightweight construction activities are conducted in the regions of Hamburg, Stuttgart and Augsburg. Dresden has the highest density of research institutes in the field of lightweight construction. The focus of these research institutes is primarily on fiber-reinforced composites and hybrid lightweight construction with possible joining technologies. According to the Lightweight Construction Atlas, additives production is concentrated in the greater Munich area. However, research on this subject is being carried out in almost all States of Germany.
To date, 463 organizations are listed in the Lightweight Construction Atlas. These are divided into 185 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 75 large companies, 49 non-university research institutions, 53 universities, 76 networks and 16 associations. Eight public administrations and one other organisation are also listed. It is not only possible to search for the type of organization. Divided into federal states, it is possible to select the organizations according to sectors, technology fields, production processes, materials used, products and services offered, as well as employees and sales figures. The search can then be refined for each criterion, so that suppliers or partners can be identified very accurately.
The lightweight construction atlas can be expanded at any time. Thus, the Fraunhofer LBF is constantly adding new lightweight construction players. However, it is also possible to register your own company. The use of the portal is free of charge.
This article was first published by konstruktionspraxis.