Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg

Lightweight Construction and Electromobility

The demand for mobility without any restrictions and the requirements concerning future models and regulations will be challenging for the automotive industry as well as the automotive research sector.

The main goals for industry and research are the reduction of energy consumption and improved management of resource conservation. The innovative use of lightweight structures is one way to achieve this goal. Lightweight construction solutions offer a considerable potential for further developments and widespread application in motor vehicle manufacturing using combinations of different materials. The development of new production methods for hybrid parts can also help to accelerate the integration of new lightweight materials in automobiles. Presently, these processes have only been suitable for niche products due to high costs and inefficient use of resources.

Thanks to an interdisciplinary approach the researchers of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, represented by its institutes IFAM, IWU and WKI, presents the opportunity for the development of the whole process chain for lightweight structures and testing it under mass production-like conditions within the framework of the public-private partnership "Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V. (OHLF)". Plans include the development of system solutions and to avoid the method of working on individual or partial questions, as it is common today. The consideration of the whole process chain including the integration of recycling concepts ensures an environmentally sustainable process and innovative material development.

Development goals

The work at the "Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg" concentrates on the three major topics: "Textile manufacturing chain", "Hybrid materials with metallic matrix" and "Components for electric vehicles". In cooperation with our partners, solutions will be developed in order to meet the technological challenges of resource-conserving and inexpensive lightweight construction, while making essential contributions addressing socio-ecological questions such as boosting efficiency, reducing traffic-related emissions, and the recycling of lightweight vehicle components.

Motor vehicle production requires enormous amounts of different raw materials that can only be procured from domestic resources to a limited extent.As a country with limited material resources available specific to raw materials and raw material processing, solutions are sought to incorporate the use of recycled materials and develop pioneering processing of renewable raw materials. The efficient combination of different materials to form hybrid materials or parts are also important geo-location factors.

Network of industry and research

The "OHLF" framework in Wolfsburg as a public-private partnership assures that research and industry collaborate closely for the implementation in production and manufacturing processes. "OHLF" was initiated in 2012 under the lead management of the Automotive Research Centre Niedersachsen of the TU Braunschweig and is sponsored as part of the "Forschungscampus" initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The goal is to develop materials, manufacturing and production technologies that are suitable for mass production for an economically and ecologically sustainable production of hybrid lightweight components utilizing metals, polymers and textile structures. For that purpose, the "OHLF" reproduces the whole value-added chain for hybrid components: from the conceptual design, the production of carbon fibres and textiles, to the hybrid production process and recycling.

The "Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg" is integrated into the "OHLF" with regards to contents as well as locally and structurally. The main focus of the project centre has been identified in close cooperation with the other "OHLF" partners and is designed to complement the work in each of the research facilities involved. Developments through the project centre’s synergies will be used to the benefit of the competencies of the Fraunhofer institutes, resulting in significantly expanded technologies. New technological solutions will lead to a strengthening of all partners regarding international competition.

The establishment of the "Fraunhofer Project Centre Wolfsburg" is funded by Federal state resources of the "Niedersächsischen Vorab" programme. Grant No. VWZN2990.