Lightweight design can signiﬁcantly reduce fuel consumption – however, there must be a reasonable balance between cost and beneﬁt. Since September 2016, IAV has been working with partners from industry and science at the Wolfsburgbased Open Hybrid LabFactory (OHLF) on “democratizing” lightweight design. An intelligent mix and new manufacturing techniques are to make hybrid designs suitable for volume production. Initial results are already in hand.
OHLF offers its full members and project partners unique conditions: “In the research factory we can reproduce the entire process chain involved in manufacturing hybrid structures. It also brings together comprehensive expertise from industry and science: primary and application-oriented research, OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers and plant manufacturers. OHLF lets us play an active part in shaping tomorrow’s innovations in hybrid design”, says Dr. Andreas Löffler, Senior Vice President for Bodywork, Equipment and Tank Development at IAV, describing the unique selling proposition the Wolfsburg-based facility offers. “The technical equipment and outfit are also unique for a research institute and comprise systems of the type used in realworld vehicle manufacturing, among them a 2,500-ton hybrid press and a 3,600-ton hybrid injection molding machine. With them, we can easily produce large components, allowing us to develop processes for manufacturing hybrid components in an application-oriented way.”
MultiMaK II: basis for many other projects
As a full OHLF member, IAV is also on the institute’s advisory board which defines the guidelines for the direction and nature of partner collaboration. Beyond this, regular consultations are held to decide on actual project work. The “MultiMaK I” project, for example, focuses on new construction and design principles for hybridizing components made of different materials – such as in a combination of metals and fiber-reinforced composite materials with thermoplastic matrix. Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), this primary research project involves a number of full members as well as project partners. “We work out the basics for many future projects”, Löffler explains. “Initial results are already in hand: After selecting suitable components that make sense for hybridization, project team members are now in the process of further optimizing them by applying hybrid design approaches. Besides saving weight, the project also aims to reduce the CO2footprint, while maintaining or improving performance, as well as to keep component cost at a competitive level.” The OHLF wants to democratize lightweight design for volume production – and it is for this that the MultiMaK II project has laid the initial foundation.
Entire process chain available for fiber-reinforced composites
Providing virtually a full equipment lineup, the research factory lets OHLF partners replicate the entire process chain for producing fiberreinforced composites in Wolfsburg: The OHLF can cover all process steps from fiber processing, injection molding, forming to recycling. Using cutting-edge methods of material analysis, it will be possible in future to ascertain whether fibers are still oriented at the prescribed angle after they are molded in or pressed in the forming press – or whether externally invisible, process-related flaws have formed inside the component that may have a direct influence on the component's characteristic properties.