Shaping the future with lightweight design

Predicting the future is an art that humanity has so far, despite its best efforts, not been able to master. Now and then, however, humanity can almost do it—when it comes to lightweight design, for example. After all, lightweight construction materials are clearly the construction materials of the future. As the demand for them increases by hundreds of percentage points, they are setting economic standards. A strong network of companies and scientific institutions assigns a leading role to the state of Brandenburg.

Where does this lightweight design boom come from? It can be explained rather quickly with the help of a simple example from the field of space travel. In this field just 100 grams of additional construction material mean that 30 to 100 times this weight has to be used for additional fuel and rockets. In general, this principle can of course be applied to the use of lightweight design materials in cars, buses and trucks: every kilogram saved reduces fuel consumption and makes brake pads last longer. Being able to make things lighter simply means that production costs will be more economical and sustainable.

“Strategic Industrial Policies” & “Key Technology”

In addition to space travel, lightweight design is particularly relevant to the innovation areas of Industry 4.0, electromobility and aircraft manufacturing. It is no coincidence that the current coalition agreement in Germany mentions lightweight design under the heading “Strategic Industrial Policies” and calls it a “Key Technology” while it sets the goal of a “faster conversion of research results into marketable products”. After all, lightweight design “contributes significantly to a higher level of efficiency with regard to materials and energy and thereby fosters environmental and climate protection”.

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However, many biases against lightweight design technologies still exist. Reservations exist due to alleged high investment costs or instant higher prices. The key word in this area is also sustainability: even if higher costs are directly incurred in some cases, upon closer inspection and recalculation it is often significantly cheaper to work with lightweight design technologies in the medium or long term.

The Clusters

With around 600 companies and 13,200 employees, the Cluster Plastics and Chemistry forms a strong pillar of the industry in the state of Brandenburg.

Hardly any other industrial sector in Brandenburg is as intertwined with other economic sectors. Especially as a supplier of many starting products, the plastics and chemistry sector plays a key role with regards to the innovative developments taking place in many sectors, for example: medical technology/pharmaceuticals, energy technology, information and communications technology, optics, automotive manufacturing etc.

The metal industry is one of the state’s most important employers in the manufacturing sector and a supplier of virtually all of the sectors. The Cluster Metal Industry in Brandenburg encompasses more than 2,600 companies and about 40,000 employees. Cooperative efforts are cultivated in the field of lightweight design, for example between the Cluster Plastics and Chemistry and networks and scientific institutions, such as the department “Lightweight Design with Structured Materials” of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg.

Networking and campaigns

Economic Development Agency Brandenburg continues to promote these collaborations, for example by supporting transfers of technologies.

The services provided by the Cluster’s management include the mediation of cooperation partners, support during the initiation of international collaboration and the organisation of events, which serve as information and networking platforms. In close cooperation with the important players in the Cluster, these services constantly improve the level of innovation, quality and specialisation and thereby the very foundation needed to ensure the success of Brandenburg’s metal and plastics companies focusing on lightweight design.

The “Competence Centre for Energy- and Resource-Efficient Lightweight Design” in the region of Berlin-Brandenburg acts as a multiplier and provides support for companies and their lightweight design issues related to plastics. The idea is for Brandenburg’s industry to take advantage of the competence centre in order to be able to create high-quality value chains and find niches, promote innovations and maintain or expand market positions.

The Network Lightweight Design Metal Brandenburg is a union consisting of partners from the fields of science and economy with special expertise in metal lightweight design and hybrid lightweight design. It initiates and supports innovative individual and group projects aimed at implementing metal and hybrid lightweight design solutions in companies in Brandenburg. The network provides users and manufacturers with competent research and development partners for a rapid implementation of innovations.

Such networks benefit smaller businesses as well as large companies, such as Arcelor Mittal. Small and large companies alike can prosper in regions with a strong economy and improve their competitiveness. Economic Development Agency Brandenburg’s campaign “Shaping the Future with Lightweight Design” brings together experts from the Cluster Metal Industry and the Cluster Plastics and Chemistry from all over the state. Learn more about the latest innovations in the field of lightweight design and get to know the experts: follow us now on this website and on Facebook and Twitter.