Lightweight Construction Can Spur Us on, but not too Fast
Trends that set the pace are few and far between, but lightweight construction is doubtless one of these. Both the raw material producers and compounders, on the one hand, and machine builders and suppliers of peripheral units, on the other, are all working on reducing the weight of high-performance parts. Plastics are a focal point here, given their physical and technical properties. In addition to fiber-reinforced plastics, a whole spectrum of options has opened up in the meantime, with foamed structures, sandwich materials, reduced material densities, special additives and material-saving design. This development, which the federal government has recognized and is promoting as a key field across the different industries, has been continuing without interruption for many years and still holds a high potential. The stricter US standards for lower vehicle fuel consumption alone are further stoking market expectations for lightweight parts.
Lightweight construction technologies are increasingly moving out of their experimental niche and onto the market. There, however, everything that has become feasible so far also has to face up to being measured in terms of its price. In the final instance, it is not an individual part that the customer pays for but an overall product. The weight saving achieved in an individual brake pedal is then lost amongst the thousands of other parts making up a car. It will thus be a matter of deploying lightweight parts in a meaningful and measured manner. However optimized a lightweight part may be, only its interaction with all the other components will show whether it makes sense to use it in an overall product or not. And only then will lightweight construction pay off in practice.
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