The consequent use of lightweight structures is a way to save energy and preserve resources in automotive construction.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, represented by its institutes IFAM, IWU and WKI, in line with the public-private partnership „Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V. (OHLF)“, chose an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving and sees the chance to develop the whole process chain for lightweight structures and to test it in mass-production. Thereby, the currently established project-based working methods on single or partial solutions shall be avoided. By considering the whole process chain, up to the integration of recycling concepts, a sustainable process and material development is ensured.
The Fraunhofer project center Wolfsburg represents a new model of cooperation, as for the first time several Fraunhofer institutes do research at one site. The project center is integrated into the OHLF in the sense of content, structure and location.
The work of the project center concentrates on three main research focuses ”textile manufacturing chain“, ”hybridization with metallic matrix“ and ”electric vehicle components“. Together with all partners of the OHLF, solutions for the technological challenges of the resource and cost-saving lightweight construction shall be developed. In addition, contributions shall be made to social and ecological questions like the increase of efficiency and the decrease of emissions due to traffic or the recycling of lightweight vehicle components.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft especially brings in manufacturing technologies regarding casting technology, weaving, fiber spraying, surface modification and impregnation techniques to the OHLF. In Wolfsburg, further process development and a useful connection of the technologies is supposed to establish manufacturing processes suitable for mass-production.
Material development supports the research, for example on the use of natural fibers and biogene materials, metallic and wood-based foams, the development of matrix systems and the investigation of interface phenomena. On the other hand, construction concepts are developed, in which the load-oriented design of components and structure optimization, the configuration of electric drives, functional integration and an ecological assessment as well as recycling concepts are included. This implementation in line with the OHLF allows an intensive cooperation with the TU Braunschweig and the other partners with the goal to develop ligtweight solutions for large-scale production.
The construction of the Fraunhofer project center Wolfsburg is financed via state funding by the „Niedersächsisches Vorab“.