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30th November 2016, Düsseldorf

Composites on Germany’s political agenda

Iris Gleicke, parliamentary Secretary of State at the Ministry. © Adrian WilsonLightweighting is becoming a political issue in Germany, with the establishment of BMWi as a new governmental department that will be active for the next four years, overseen by the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

In a keynote address at the end of the 2nd International Composites Congress in Düsseldorf on November 29th, Iris Gleicke, parliamentary Secretary of State at the Ministry, said that despite a difficult situation in Europe, Germany was still achieving solid growth, with manufacturing responsible for 24% of the country’s GDP, compared to a world average of 15% and just 11% in neighbouring countries such as France and the UK, which have moved much further into becoming service economies.

Lightweighting, she said, was a key element of so-called Industry 4.0.

“It’s more than just a buzzword, it’s about the fusion of the mechanical and virtual worlds,” she said. “Within the area of lightweighting there is the potential for developing a lot of new processes which will be important in the future and a big driver is ecology. We need to encourage lightweighting wherever it is possible as a lever for new efficiencies. We will do what we can to further promote the sharing of know-how and expertise in this area.”

BMWi’s work will begin with the establishment of a database to link together all of the companies involved in lightweighting within Germany, in technologies, services and materials, and its aim is to see sectors such as composites and aluminium production working together. In addition, it will work to encourage companies to become involved in a range of funded projects that are now active.

“There is a lot of potential in the new hybrid structures that are now being developed,” said Gleicke. “They are an important part of Germany keeping ahead of the field in the automotive, aerospace, construction and industrial manufacturing sectors.”

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