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ThinKing September 2018 – Just one step: Finished hybrid plastic and metal hybrid components manufactured in a single press stroke



Compared to other comparable components and procedures, the “E-LFT” process by Weber Fibertech GmbH enables a weight reduction by 30 to 50 percent.

Weber Fibertech GmbH has its own patented “E-LFT” process to manufacture cheap lightweight components out of fiber composite materials that are used in vehicle chassis structures – all in a one-step procedure which can be done with hybrid materials as well. A specially developed multiform process can fuse unformed sheets of metal with plastic parts in one single press stroke. The fully automatic manufacturing procedures enables rapid cycle times. Compared to other comparable components and procedures, this process can reduce weight by 30 to 50 percent.

The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg is presenting this innovation as its ThinKing for September 2018. Leichtbau BW GmbH awards this distinction each month to offer a platform to innovative products and services in the Baden-Württemberg lightweighting sector.

“Our process originally derives from the idea to produce a complete and extremely light but strong chassis with minimal investment costs,” says Friedbert Schmitt, managing director of Weber Fibertech. The company from Markdorf near Lake Constance has made efficient lightweight technology its motto. Based on the idea of the scalable manufacture of complete chassis, processes were developed which allow thermoplastics with long or continuous fibers and other materials to be combined together in a one-shot extrusion press process.

With the “E-LFT-Hybrid” process long fiber composite thermoplastics can be combined in the desired form with metal or aluminum. One special aspect of this process is that the product is formed in a single production step. “The components are produced in one single press stroke. In combination with the plastic, the unformed sheet metal pieces, such as aluminum, are shaped all during same step”, explains Schmitt. The “E-LFT Decor” process even allows components to be combined with fabrics or felts, for example for use in a vehicle interior. “As a result, we can reduce costs by eliminating the need for additional interior cladding,” notes Schmitt.

Weber Fibertech primarily produces components for the construction of chassis and vehicles, including tailgates, battery casings or for seat components which are used in the Daimler E-Class. The parts produced by the company based in Markdorf also include complex structure components used for machinery manufacturing as well as in the construction and transport industry.

High-strength components with high stiffness
The company implements its patented “E-LFT” process which allows the combination of different materials with UD profiles, organic sheets, tapes with glass or carbon fibers with large and midsize plastic components based on cheap thermoplastics. Currently, pieces up to a size of about two square meters can be produced. “Since we are already working in the basic matrix with fiber lengths of ten to twelve millimeters, we already end up with components that are very strong and stiff,” explains Schmitt. Seat shells for example are parts that place a huge demand on the stiffness of the material according to Schmitt. “We include additional continuous fibers as it is required regarding to the load, primarily on the basis of cheaper glass,” says Schmitt. This enables the economic development and production of very light components with high strength and stiffness as well as positive mechanical properties.

About Weber Fibertech
Weber Fibertech is part of the Weber Group. Weber Fibertech became known for its development of the tailgate for the Smart which used fiber composite technology to cut weight by 45 percent over the first generation of tailgates.