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5th December 2016, Düsseldorf

Hybrid lightweight construction on the rise

The weight reduction trend has driven the development of fibre-reinforced composites in automotive engineering, aerospace and construction, according to the industry association AVK. Once again this year, the quantity of glass-fibre reinforced plastics produced in Europe will increase by 2.5%, the association reports.

With the debut of the Lightweight Technologies Forums and the Lightweight Construction Strategy Day, Composites Europe 2016 reflected this trend of hybrid lightweight construction continuing to gain in significance.

The show concluded in Düsseldorf, attracting 350 exhibitors from 30 nations, in addition to 8,622 visitors. © Composites Europe

As a result, composites produced with fibre-composite and metal technologies where the focus of the educational programme staged jointly by Composites Europe and the concurrent ALUMINIUM trade fair in Düsseldorf from 29 November to 1 December 2016. The show concluded in Düsseldorf, attracting 350 exhibitors from 30 nations, in addition to 8,622 visitors.

Growth trajectory

The industry is set to continue on this growth trajectory in coming years, including in the transport and construction sectors, while hoping for additional gains from the use of composites in modern materials systems that go beyond individual groups of materials.

“The trend towards the creation and development of multi-material systems and the use of hybrid components will remain one of the central challenges. Joining and combining different materials is a task not just the composites industry should face up to but also players in other materials segments,” commented Dr Elmar Witten, the managing director of the AVK.

Lightweight construction

“Lightweight construction is a key technology of the future that’s making a critical contribution to the modernisation of industry,” said Iris Gleicke, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, at the outset of the trade fair.

“Electro-mobility, for example, is inconceivable without lightweight engineering. Economy and ecology will become linked even more tightly. And the Lightweight Construction Strategy Day at ALUMINIUM and Composites Europe is making an important contribution in that regard.”

In the heart of the market

Another decision was made to ensure that Composites Europe heeds increasing calls for better linkages between science, the composites industry and user industries: starting in 2017, the trade fair will take place in Stuttgart each year. Until now, the event alternated between Stuttgart and Düsseldorf.

The decisive factor was the proximity to the sectors that stimulate international demand for modern lightweight materials, such as the automotive industry, vehicle engineering, the aerospace industry and the electronics sector, organisers report. “The Stuttgart region and Baden-Württemberg specifically stand out as leading technology hubs currently driving innovation in the composites industry,” explained Olaf Freier, the event director of Composites Europe.

Moreover, Composites Europe’s development has been particularly dramatic in Stuttgart, with 470 exhibitors putting on display the entire production and manufacturing process of fibre-reinforced composites in Stuttgart last year.

Driving modern production

“The successful premiere of the Lightweight Technologies Forum mirrors the trend towards multi-material lightweight construction. Composites Europe should continue on this path in order to promote an exchange between industry and science. Also making a contribution in this regard is the change in location to Stuttgart every year, which brings the mechanical engineering sector even closer to its customers,” said Dr Walter Begemann, the project director of the VDMA Working Group Hybrid Lightweight Technologies.

Peter Egger, speaking as the chairman of the Composites Europe Advisory Board, confirmed that notion: “The future will be all about driving modern production and automation solutions for reliable large-scale production in order to develop additional market potential. The industry is expecting additional momentum in this area following the decision concerning the location.”

The next Composites Europe, the 12th European Trade Fair and Forum for Composites, Technology and Applications, will take place in Stuttgart from 19-21 September 2017.

Further reading

Positive messages from Düsseldorf

Composites Europe to be held annually in Stuttgart

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