To fight against climate change, new technologies will also be required for commercial vehicles in order to be able to operate without harmful emissions in the future. Composite materials offer great potential and a wide range of technologies.
This applies in particular to the topics of lightweight design, hydrogen drive systems and multi-material applications, which manufacturers of trucks, construction and agricultural machinery as well as supplier companies discussed with scientists from the Technical University of Kaiserslautern and Economics Minister Daniela Schmitt on November 25, 2021. The largest German commercial vehicle cluster, Commercial Vehicle Cluster GmbH, together with Composites United West, had invited the participants to Leibniz-Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH (IVW).
IVW focuses in particular on thermoplastic fiber composites. They enable cost-efficient semi-finished products, simple shaping possibilities, weldability and material recycling. The Technology Center Thermoplastic Composites at IVW acts as a development catalyst for regional and national medium-sized and large companies along the entire process chain. For materials development, component design and process optimization, customers are supported "from the white sheet of paper to the tested component". With a new, fully automated production process on an industrial scale, combined forming and injection molding processes are also possible in short cycle times at low costs. The result is function- and weight-optimized hybrid components that can have both, continuous fiber reinforcement and discontinuous fiber reinforcement areas. An absolute world first, which unfortunately could only be viewed virtually during the Innovation Day at IVW due to the pandemic, is a system for the additive production of continuous fiber-reinforced plastics. This enables laying speeds of up to 4 m/s (240 m/min) to be achieved for the first time. The laying area is 3500 mm x 1500 mm, which also makes the system interesting for the development and testing of future commercial vehicle structures. Absolutely worth seeing are also new multi-material developments, which, for example, enable extremely good energy absorption (important for crash behavior) or even structures that can be formed at the push of a button, so-called "Smart Structures", as offered by the IVW spin-off CompActive GmbH https://compactive.de/ .