Lightweight construction - Design for recycling


Lightweight construction is one of the decisive future and key technologies for achieving necessary climate and sustainability goals. Mechanical and plant engineering can make a valuable contribution as an enabler.

The targeted climate protection goals and the sustainable use of raw materials are leading to changes in legislation that are also having an impact on mechanical and plant engineering. Under the buzzwords CO2 price and recycled material quotas, new framework conditions are emerging for the industry. How to take advantage of these changes, seize the opportunities for one's own company and also overcome the challenges was the subject of the event on September 22. The exchange of experience also addressed the funding opportunities available in the field of lightweight construction and what successful cooperation within the framework of a joint project might look like.

In order to better assess the composition and level of knowledge of the participants in the virtual exchange of experience, a preliminary survey was conducted. According to this, due to the focus on "design", participants from the development and construction departments were represented to a large extent. Persons from the areas of management and business development also participated in the event. When asked about their own level of knowledge, slightly more than half stated that they considered themselves to be "beginners" in the subject areas of "lightweight construction" and "design for recycling" in particular. Opportunities for mechanical and plant engineering are seen, among other things, in the use of lightweight construction to increase resource and energy efficiency - and thus also a possible reduction in costs.  Challenges mentioned by the participants included the need to build up more expertise in lightweight construction and the fact that questions of cost and feasibility had not yet been fully clarified.

Dámaso López Ruiz, project manager of the VDMA Hybrid Lightweight Technologies working group, took up the issues raised and gave an overview of lightweight construction from the association's perspective. According to him, lightweight construction is one of the decisive future and key technologies and has the potential to make a significant contribution to achieving necessary climate and sustainability goals for numerous industries. Due to its importance, the topic is supported, among other things, by the Lightweight Construction Technology Transfer Program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. This funding program helps to consider lightweight construction know-how in German mechanical and plant engineering in all its facets - from raw materials to finished products, as well as the latest manufacturing technologies and a wide range of applications - and to provide new impetus. Funding is provided for individual and joint projects between companies, research institutions and universities. Small and medium-sized enterprises receive special support through the SME bonus. Using the example of the "Digital Design for Recycling Process" project, Prof. Schlichter Managing Director of ITA Augsburg gGmbH, among others, demonstrated how such cooperation between universities and companies can work.

The exchange of experiences showed that the demand for carbon fibers will continue to increase - but with it also the waste of fibers that accumulates during production or at the end of the product life cycle. It is therefore important to take a development approach to closing the loop on lightweight products - the "design for recycling" approach can achieve this.


The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network for mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is run by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).