During the two-day event, the AZL partner companies and institutes were updated on 2016 activities through meetings of established workgroups and projects. In order to define future topics, the partners discussed upcoming market trends and barriers in a workshop session. Mobility and transportation in general were identified as most important markets for lightweight technology. Future mobility concepts including autonomous driving and electric mobility will have a big impact on lightweight products, technologies and materials according to the feedback of the participants.
“Our aim is to become a global leader for supplying composite parts for the highly cost-driven automotive industry,” said Dr Thierry Renault, Manager of Partnerships for Composite Technologies at Faurecia Clean Mobility. “We regard cost-neutral weight reduction and the provision of efficient engineering tools as the key challenges for composites in automotive mass production. Composite players need to act and cooperate on all levels in the composite value chain in order to compete with fast developing alternative technologies.”
On the first day of the meeting, participants gained an insight into R&D on new mobility concepts at the RWTH Aachen Campus. They visited AZL’s neighbouring institutes and companies, which collaborate in the recently opened Production Engineering Cluster at the RWTH Aachen Campus. The RWTH spin-off e.GO Mobile presented the e.Go Life, an electric car developed in a three-year development process on the campus. The ramp-up of serial production scheduled for early 2018 is the starting point for envisaged production capacities of 10,000 cars per year. The Institute for Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) presented its ramp-up factory for an emission-free complete system for cities, and the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) showcased quality assurance equipment and research results for composite systems and provided additional insights into the broad collaboration between research and industry on the campus. Schuler presented its 1,800 ton composite press which is currently integrated into a self-regulating production system within the BMBF-funded Project ‘iComposite 4.0,’ while AZL discussed the manufacturing of hybrid parts consisting of continuous carbon fibre thermosets and overmoulded thermoplastic stiffening structures.
Dr Hartmut Saljé, Head of Corporate Engineering at Muhr und Bender opened the meeting with a keynote and presented a broad range of lightweight components for automotive applications.
“At Mubea and our subsidiary Carbo Tech, we produce innovative and efficient lightweight products and work on e-mobility solutions,” he stated. “In the past, our co-developments together with RWTH Aachen have contributed a lot to our technological leadership in order to keep track on the fast development for automotive applications. This is why we situated our Centre for Lightweight Design in the Production Engineering Cluster on the RWTH Aachen Campus to collaborate with innovative companies and institutes on site on our metal- and composite-based lightweight solutions.”
To enhance the collaboration between industry and academia, AZL presented the new building blocks of the concept for co-locating development activities on the RWTH Aachen Campus. Based on various tools for identifying trends and defining development projects in terms of open innovation, the AZL Premium Partnership will also include office space within the Production Engineering Cluster.
Alongside the site visits and workshop session, the programme of the AZL Annual Partner Meeting comprised several options for networking as well as so called ‘Speed Dating Presentations,’ in which 11 partner companies as well as seven institutes from the network presented their innovations in 6-minute presentations.