Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg

Electromobility and lightweight construction in focus

The demand for unrestricted mobility and the requirements concerning future models and regulations present new challenges for the industrial and research sectors of the automotive branch. The fundamental objectives which need to be fulfilled are the reduction of energy consumption and the improved management of resource conservation. The systematic utilization of lightweight structures is one way of achieving this. Today’s lightweight construction solutions offer enormous potential for further development and extensive application in motor vehicle manufacture through combinations of different materials. The development of new production procedures for hybrid components can also accelerate the application of new lightweight materials. Currently, these processes are only suitable for niche products, due to prohibitively high costs and inefficient use of resources.

Within the framework of the public-private partnership “Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V. (OHLF)” and through an interdisciplinary solution approach, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, represented by its institutes IFAM, IWU and WKI, is addressing the opportunity of developing the entire process chain for lightweight structures and testing this under near-series conditions. The currently commonplace project-based working methods for individual or partial solutions should thereby be avoided. The holistic consideration of the entire process, including the integration of recycling concepts, will ensure that an environmentally sustainable process and material development is attained.

Development goals

The work at the Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg concentrates on the three major topics “Textile manufacturing chain“, “Hybridization with metallic matrix“ and “Components for electric vehicles“. In cooperation with our partners, solutions for the technological challenges of resource-saving and cost-effective lightweight construction will thereby be developed, and contributions will be made towards socio-ecological issues such as increasing efficiency, reducing traffic-related emissions, and recycling lightweight vehicle components.

Vehicle production requires enormous amounts of diverse raw materials which can only be obtained to a limited extent from domestic resources. As a country with limited material resources, the availability of raw materials, the possibilities for raw material refinement, resource efficiency, the use of recyclates, the processing of renewable raw materials and the efficient combination of different materials to form hybrid materials or components are all important location factors.

Network of industry and research

Within the framework of the OHLF in Wolfsburg, intense collaboration between representatives from industry and research guarantees implementation and exploitation in production and fabrication processes. The public-private partnership OHLF was initiated in 2012 under the management of the Automotive Research Center Niedersachsen of the Technische Universität Braunschweig and is funded within the framework of the “Research Campus“ initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The goal is to develop materials, manufacturing and production technologies that are suitable for mass production for the economically and ecologically sustainable production of hybrid lightweight components utilizing metals, polymers and textile structures. For this purpose, the OHLF maps the entire value chain for hybrid components: from the conceptual design, through the production of carbon fibers and textiles as well as the hybrid production process, and on to recycling.

The Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg is integrated into the OHLF in terms of content, structure and location. The main research focuses planned for the Project Center were determined in close cooperation with the other OHLF partners. They are designed to complement and supplement the work of the participating research facilities, exploit synergies and considerably expand the expertise as a whole. This will result in the development of new technological solution approaches and thereby to a strengthening of all the partners in international competition.  

The establishment of the Fraunhofer Project Center Wolfsburg has been funded by Federal state resources within the “Niedersächsischen Vorab“ program. 

Grant No. VWZN2990.