Lightweight construction is sturdy, resource-efficient and, of course, lightweight, making it the go-to solution for all types of products. Next-generation fibre composites, a class of materials that combines high-tensile fibres and plastics, play a central role in this. The Bremen Fibre Institute (FIBRE) has been conducting research into these and other materials since 1969. The institute is now celebrating its 50th year.
Lightweight construction using fibre composites has become a firm fixture in modern industry thanks to its many advantages. Components made using this material are very light and provide high performance in terms of their mechanical properties. Not only are they very robust and rigid, they also handle dynamic stresses particularly well and are corrosion resistant. Such components provide a particularly efficient way of saving energy and resources in the manufacture and operation of products, but the materials are very demanding in terms of their product-specific ‘composition’, manufacture and component design. Today, the market is dominated by two materials: fibre-glass reinforced plastic (FGRP), used in the construction of modern wind turbines, and carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP), used in the manufacture of high-performance products for the space and aeronautics industries, for example. Thanks to its excellent mechanical properties, carbon fibre is “the king of reinforcing fibres”, according to Christoph Hoffmeister, a process engineer at FIBRE since 2002.
The independent institute, which runs two key sites at Bremen University and the newly opened ECOMAT research centre (see information box) in Airport-Stadt Bremen, can also call on the expertise of the Composite Technology Center (CTC) in Stade and its fibre laboratory at the Bremen Cotton Exchange.