Lightweighting is about more than the right material

17.06.2015

 

››Plastic components have become vital in several areas and have slowly replaced other common heavier materials. However, the phase of lightweight technology development in which lighter materials can simply be substituted for heavier parts is coming to an end. The key concepts of conceptual lightweighting and multi-material design are growing in importance.‹‹

Conventional lightweight development depends on reducing mass and identifying the optimal implementation for materials. It is true in many cases that the replacement of heavier components with lighter parts capable of performing the same function makes products more efficient and improves their environmental impact. However, the ability to replace materials should not be mistaken for true resource efficiency. Some light materials may require excessive energy for their production in comparison to the energy saved by their lighter weight. Carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) have such an energy deficit due to the large amount of energy required for their production. At the same time, CFRPs enjoy wide popularity and have become almost synonymous with lightweight technology.

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