On September 6, 2018, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft opened its inaugural project centre at the Opole University of Technology in Poland.
The newly established research platform goes by the name of Fraunhofer Project Centre for Advanced Lightweight Technologies (ALighT) and is the fruit of a partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU and the Opole University of Technology.
Lightweight construction is one of the greatest challenges facing the automotive industry. Electric motors and hybrid engines increase vehicle weight, which must be compensated by lightweight components. Lightweight materials and innovative processes can help achieve a decisive reduction in fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and production costs.
The new Fraunhofer project centre was officially opened in the presence of: Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister phD Jarosław Gowin; Marcin Ociepa, permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology; Fraunhofer President Prof. Reimund Neugebauer; Arkadiusz Wiśniewski, Mayor of Opole; Prof. Marek Tukiendorf, Rector of the Opole University of Technology; Prof. Welf-Guntram Drossel, managing director of the Fraunhofer IWU; and Prof. Lothar Kroll, Division Director at Fraunhofer IWU and Managing Director of the Fraunhofer Project Center ALighT.
The Fraunhofer project centre focuses on developing production processes, new design ideas and pricing strategies for the manufacture of lightweight hybrid components. At the same time its work also encompasses other areas of expertise such as modeling and simulation of structures and processes, and recycling and remanufacturing. The project centre is located at the interface of cross-border collaboration between German automotive manufacturers and component suppliers, on the one hand, and their subsidiaries and suppliers in Poland, on the other hand.
“Interdisciplinary collaboration and international partnerships are the cornerstones of top-class research today,” says Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. “That is why we look forward to working together with our Polish partners. Fraunhofer IWU has wide-ranging expertise in lightweight construction and will also contribute its know-how in handling advanced materials. The researchers at Opole University of Technology will contribute their specific areas of expertise, for example in process and process engineering simulations. Together we can add value, intensify knowledge transfer and increase innovation for the companies involved.”
Prof. Welf-Guntram Drossel of Fraunhofer IWU adds: “Given our decades of experience in automotive manufacturing – from individual components and processes, through to complex mechanical systems, and even the design of entire factories – our research focuses on non-metallic materials, especially plastics and fiber composites. In the long term, the partnership with Opole University of Technology promises to expand our capabilities, too.”
Prof. Lothar Kroll, Managing Director of the new Fraunhofer project centre, concretises: “The Fraunhofer Project Center for Advanced Lightweight Technologies unites the basic research being carried out at Opole University of Technology with the applied research of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The fusion of technologies in lightweight construction, for example, makes it possible to combine what have previously been discrete production processes for diverse materials, such as metals, plastics and technical textiles.”
The research conducted at the centre will make the production of lightweight structures for mobile applications energy- and cost-efficient as well as eco-friendly. The European car industry will be the ultimate beneficiary of this process.