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Lower Saxony Sponsors Lightweight Construction Research

Lower Saxony Sponsors Lightweight Construction Research

Press release from

3.5 million euros for innovation network “JoinTHIS”

An interdisciplinary research project on lightweight construction with carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic materials (CFRP) carried out by Leibniz University Hannover, Clausthal University of Technology and TU Braunschweig has been awarded 3.5 million euros of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as well as from the State of Lower Saxony. The objective of "JoinTHIS" is to develop new manufacturing methods for the production of structural components made of thermoplastic fibre-reinforced materials for aircrafts. The research project will launch in autumn 2018.

"Lightweight construction is a key technology for tackling the challenges of developing a sustainable mobility strategy. The project will enable us to consolidate our head start in terms of the scientific findings achieved over the past years in Stade. This is a great asset for the area, as well as for the State of Lower Saxony as a research location", says Minister for Science and Culture Björn Thümler.

Since the establishment of the research association "High-Performance Production of CFRP Structures" (HP CFRP) in 2011, researchers from all three universities have been working together at the joint site "CFK Valley" in Stade. The research unit is led by Dr Carsten Schmidt and develops innovative manufacturing methods for the efficient and automated production of CFRP.

Today, Stade is one of the largest production sites for CFRP lightweight structures in Europe. The Airbus Group was instrumental in this achievement.

Background information

Over the last years, Stade has established a reputation as one of the leading sites for CFRP research. Since 2004, more than 100 national and international businesses in the industry have been involved in the competence network "CFK Valley", additionally conducting commercial and user-related research. The "CFK-Nord", a state-of-the-art research centre, is essential for the research efforts in the field of CFRP. In addition to the research association HP CFRP, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft also conduct research at "CFK-Nord".

Quotes from participating researchers

"In order to face current challenges in the aircraft industry, we need new manufacturing methods and construction techniques, that are in perfect harmony with each other, as well as with the specific characteristics of fibre-plastic composites", says Professor Berend Denkena from Leibniz University Hannover, coordinator and spokesperson for the project. The number of CFRP components required for new aircrafts increases rapidly, therefore creating the demand for new solutions. Conventional methods and construction techniques can only tackle these challenges to a limited extend. Denkena: "The interdisciplinary research conducted in collaboration with our colleagues from Braunschweig and Clausthal at the Stade site allows us to work on solutions for tomorrow's component manufacturing process."

In light of this, Professor Dieter Meiners, head of the Institute of Polymer Materials and Plastics Engineering at Clausthal University of Technology, points out the benefits of thermoplastic fibre-reinforced components for aircraft structures: "In contrast to conventional thermoset materials, the time-consuming and expensive task of precipitation is unnecessary when using thermoplastic fibre-reinforced components. Furthermore, components can be connected via welding, therefore reducing assembly times significantly. Additionally, thermoplastic components can be recycled at the end of an aircraft service life."

"Using different materials in the aircraft industry always leads to fundamental changes that need to be taken into account in terms of the texture design. For instance, in the case of 350XWB aircrafts most metal structures were replaced by CFRP with a thermoset plastic matrix. Contributing to the necessary structural adjustments regarding the use of thermoplastic CFRP is another focal point of the JoinTHIS project", adds Professor Peter Horst, head of the Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures at TU Braunschweig.

 

Note to editors:

For further information, please contact Dr Carsten Schmidt from the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools (Tel.: +49 4141 77638-11, Email: schmidt_c@ifw.uni-hannover.de).