Two new hybrid lightweight construction projects at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will be funded by the State of Baden-Württemberg: Under “HyPro”, the KIT Institute of Production Science and partners will develop an automatic process chain for the economically efficient production of hybrid components for use in automotive industry. The “KraSchwing” project, in which the KIT Institute of Vehicle System Technology (FAST) is involved, is aimed at enhancing the stability of structures under dynamic loading.
In total, the state government will fund five joint research projects on hybrid lightweight construction in Baden-Württemberg with about EUR 1.63 million. “The funded projects contribute decisively to the automa-tion of production processes or the joining of hybrid lightweight com-ponents. Enhanced cooperation of science and industry in innovation partnerships paves the way towards a rapid transfer of viable lightweight construction technologies from research to the industrial production of marketable products,” says the Minister of Science Theresia Bauer. “As resources and materials efficiency is gaining importance, lightweight construction plays an increasing role for the competitiveness of companies in the processing trade. As a leading location of lightweight construction industry, Baden-Württemberg has best prerequisites to profit from this development,” the Minister of Economics, Nils Schmid, emphasizes.
KIT President Professor Holger Hanselka underlines the enormous potential of hybrid lightweight construction for a number of industrial applications: “Thanks to lightweight construction, resources consump-tion can be reduced for a number of applications, from the vehicle to the industrial robot. This also reduces the weight and energy con-sumption,” Hanselka says. “The two newly funded projects underline KIT’s research competence and its importance as one of the leading innovation partners of industry.”
Hybrid lightweight construction is based on the use of composites consisting of various materials, such as metals and fiber-reinforced plastics, to combine the specific advantages of both materials in an optimum manner. The “HyPro” project (Technology developments along the RTM chain of values added for the economically efficient production of hybrid components) is coordinated by KIT’s Institute of Production Science. Partners are the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal near Karlsruhe and six industrial companies. The project is aimed at developing an automatic process chain for the economically efficient production of hybrid components that are increasingly applied in automotive engineering. Production is based on the so-called resin transfer molding (RTM) process: Fiber mats are inserted into a workpiece. Then, a liquid resin-hardener mixture is added for casting under pressure. Heat supply makes the resin react, as a result of which a solid body is formed. Under “HyPro”, the researchers study the individual stages of the RTM chain – layout, pre-forming, infiltration, and post-processing – and develop them further. The focus lies on pre-forming of the continuous filaments (textile semi-finished products) in combination with metallic elements. “Draping, positioning, and fixing of the fiber mats during pre-forming result in the basic structure of the component,” explains the Head of the “HyPro” project, Professor Jürgen Fleischer, who heads the Institute of Production Science of KIT. Another focus of the project are tool technologies for the infiltration of the pre-formed component with resin and on the sealing of the mold. Finally, the results will be validated using a demonstrator constructed by the project partner Porsche AG. The “HyPro” project is funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg with about EUR 400,000. The total project volume is about EUR 1.4 million.
With the framework of the “KraSchwing” project, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart, the KIT Institute of Vehicle System Technology (FAST), and the Institute for Natural Sciences and Medi-cine (NMI), Reutlingen, together with six enterprises, are working on optimizing the technology for joining fiber-reinforced and metallic hybrid lightweight components. The project is aimed at improving the stability of both bonded and innovatively screwed structures under dynamic loading.
The call issued by the Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts and the Ministry of Finance and Economics was won by five consortia of science and industry and is part of an extensive strategy to promote lightweight construction in Baden-Württemberg.
Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,300 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 24,400 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.