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Published on July 20th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Lightweight Construction on the Way to Volume Production

July 20th, 2012 by  

Automated production of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CRP) is now possible. Until now, these components, which are essential to future reductions in car and aircraft weight, had to be made by hand.

Lighter weight building materials are highly desired by car and airplane makers — they could greatly reduce the fuel they use, and, by association, the carbon dioxide they emit.


New materials that can be mass produced will allow these reductions in fuel use. One such material is carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CRP). It’s roughly 60% lighter than steel, and 30% lighter than aluminum. And it has other advantages, such as never rusting.

Many of the components of certain aircraft and of Formula 1 Racers are already constructed of CRP. And BMW will be releasing a car in 2013 that is constructed entirely out of CRP.

The production of CRP, though, is still very labor intensive. So, a group of 72 different companies, educational institutions, and research institutes, have banded together to create the MAI Carbon Leading-Edge Cluster Initiative, in order to get carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics in shape for mass production.

“Our goal is to reduce the manufacturing costs of CRP components by 90 percent over the five years of the project. We intend to accomplish this primarily through new production methods that are also well-suited for volume production,” notes Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Drechsler, head of the Fraunhofer project group and holder of the Chair in Carbon Composites at the Technische Universität München.

You can read more about this news directly from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft on Page 2.

Image Credit: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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