Because of limited natural resources and future challenges of global climate protection, the economical use of raw materials and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will require intensive efforts. The passenger and freight traffic can distinctly contribute to those efforts by reducing the fuel consumption and thus saving CO2 emissions. An important step to lower the fuel consumption of cars is to reduce their weight.
That is why the chair of Automotive Lightweight Design develops lightweight construction concepts especially by using high strength steels, hybrid-constructions (e.g. steel-CFRP) and also lightweight materials (e.g. aluminum). For assembly and material verification static, cyclic and dynamical tests can be performed.
Due to exhaustible raw materials and demands on climate protection, the reduction of vehicle masses in order to reduce fuel consumption is an important measure. Therefore, the main focus of the group "Automotive Lightweight Design" is on innovative lightweight solutions for the automotive and related industries with regard of materials, processes and applications. As the economic efficiency is a critical issue for most industries, the cost structures of different process-routes are also taken into account in order to develop components and applications, featuring high performances as well as balanced cost-to-weight ratios. For example, load-bearing components made of ultra-high-strength steel processed by the press-hardening technique could be mentioned here.
Another important research field pursued is the development of load adapted parts. Within these parts, the material properties in different sections of a component are adjusted depending on specific product-requirements, e.g. the mechanical loading. Thus, low or high strengths as well as brittle or ductile areas can be locally tailored by an appropriate selection of the applied process-route. Techniques used in this area are for example the partial inductive heating and quenching, whereby the evolution of the microstructure as well as physical properties can be modified within a short period of time.
Furthermore, the research focus is on materials and process fundamentals for the development and manufacturing of hybrid components. Here, different materials, e.g. metals and fiber-reinforced plastics, are combined and processed in order to allow for a symbiotically usage of the specific advantages of each material.
Regarding the technical equipment, the chair provides different possibilities for studying material as well as component properties. This covers a wide range of static, cyclic and dynamic tests as well as microstructural studies. In addition to 3 axle tests with static and cyclic forces up to 80 kN, cupping tests with temperatures up to 800 °C can also be performed. Crash tests can be performed with impact velocities of up to 25 m/s and impact energies up to 31 kJ, whereby this test facility can be equipped with an a high speed 3D camera system in order to analyze, for example, local strain distributions.
Furthermore, the group of Automotive Lightweight Constructions utilizes main CAD and simulation tools, such as SolidWorks, Abaqus, LS-Dyna and Hyperworks.