Innovation is about taking the existing and sometimes radically changing or redesigning it in a process
Schumpeter described as “creative destruction.” It creates something new by banishing what exists to the past. This is precisely the potential offered by lightweight materials. They make it possible to move beyond current thinking and pave the way for new solutions.
Any reference to lightweight materials or construction inevitably involves an extremely broad variety of areas, transcending many different sectors of industry. There are new production methods such as additive layer manufacturing (also referred to as 3D printing), which allow developers to think far beyond the horizon. Nature shows us how new components can be made to withstand strong loads. The result? A more efficient use of materials only put in place wherever and whenever absolutely necessary.
Efficiency is a key facet to lightweight materials. Not only is less material required in the production process, but less energy is also needed to make a component if it requires less material. This is especially the case with end products such as automobiles or airplanes, although the equation is just as valid for all other kinds of machines and their constituent parts.
It goes without saying that lightweight materials hold major potential in economic terms. One particular reason for this is the way such technologies disrupt existing value chains, changing how they function and gearing processes toward future demands. At the LVI, our job as the association of regional industry in Baden- Württemberg is to bolster the competitiveness of our members in the state of Baden-Württemberg. We achieve this in the field of lightweight construction by fostering and promoting networks between key players in R&D and experts in design, development, simulation, production, and manufacturing. To share the knowhow held by industry and research in Baden-Württemberg with other key players in production technology, automation, CAE, simulation, fiber composites, lightweight metals, and plastics, we have been working with the German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF) as well as other industrial partners. Together we have established the AFBW, a fiber-based materials consortium called the Allianz Faserbasierter Werkstoffe Baden-Württemberg e.V. We are also a member of the Leichtbauzentrum Baden-Württemberg (LBZ-BW e.V.), we collaborate with Carbon Composites Baden-Württemberg (CCBW), and we are members of the advisory board of Leichtbau BW GmbH. In addition, we use our position in industry to keep downstream sectors of industry (such as mechanical engineering, the automotive industry, their respective suppliers, and the aerospace industry) up to date with lightweight technologies.
Driving the interests of lightweight materials also drives the competitiveness of Baden-Württemberg as a region of industry and this is in keeping not only with our core competences but also with the tenet of resource efficiency. At this point, I would like to come back to Schumpeter, who observed how economies and companies are able to safeguard and build on their competitiveness in the face of change, and that profits are the reward for successfully taking advantage of change.
On that note, I would like to wish you a pleasant read of this latest edition of Transfer magazine, and I hope that it provides you with many interesting insights into the world of lightweight construction.
With kind regards,
Senator E. h. Wolfgang Wolf is a managing board member of the LVI, which is the association of regional industry in Baden-Württemberg. In this role, he is also an alternate member of the Steinbeis Foundation Board of Trustees.
Wolfgang Wolf can be contacted by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org