How German world-class companies use carbon fibre
Carbon fibre is increasingly celebrated as a wonder material and it’s no doubt it has made revolutionary changes in engineering. Its unique combination of high strength and low weight has helped engineers in many sectors, including aerospace, automotive and wind power.
Rise of carbon fibre through the aerospace industry
The German aerospace industry has enjoyed unprecedented success in applying carbon fibre over the last two decades. Airbus, an international pioneer in the aerospace industry and also PFH’s collaborative partner in the Composites programme, for more than 30 years continues to shape the future by using composite materials.
The application of carbon fibre reinforced plastic reached new proportions with the A350 XWB, which boasts a significant application of composites throughout. Most of the A350 XWB’s wing is comprised of the lightweight carbon composites, including its upper and lower covers. Measuring 32 meters long by 6 metres wide, these are among the largest single aviation parts ever made from carbon fibre.
Automotive is picking up on composites as well
Germany is recognised in the world for its outstanding automotive industry. It is home to 41 automobile assembly and engine production plants with a capacity of more than one third of the European automobile production. According to McKinsey, vehicle manufacturers will need to increase lightweight component levels from 30 to 70 percent by 2030 to compensate for electric drive weight increases and more efficient engine technology. That shouldn’t be a problem for Germany’s vehicle manufacturers.
The BMW 7-Series has been pointed to as the future of composites in the automotive industry, where carbon fibre has been selectively applied in a mixed-materials strategy. The 7-Series features a B-pillar made with Hexcel carbon fibre, as well as two carbon fibre roof arches. All-carbon fibre composite hood can be found on the BMW M4 GTS. And the BMW i3 electric model is the first mass-produced car with a carbon fibre passenger cell. It’s no doubt that BMW has been successfully implementing composites in their production.
New industries like wind turbines utilize carbon materials to reduce carbon emissions
The wind power industry has also experienced a positive change thanks to carbon fibre. Together with the aerospace and automotive industry, wind power is a core industry for a lightweight design. That means composites easily find their way in the production of, in this case, wind turbines.
Carbon fibre turbine blades can be longer and more rigid than traditional fibreglass models, making them more resilient at sea and more efficient in less breezy conditions. Nordex, a European company that designs, manufactures and sells wind turbines, has been using carbon fibre to reduce production costs, improve product qualities, functionality and to increase resilience.
Carbon fibre is the hot topic in the industry
The development of lightweight construction made from composites such as carbon fibre is important in consolidating Germany’s role as an international industry leader. It has helped establish Germany as a leading provider of innovative energy and resource-efficient products for future markets.
Studying Composites Masters programme in Germany is for sure an experience due to the majority of companies using carbon fibre in their production. And studying at PFH you’ll get to see first-hand how Airbus is using carbon fibre.
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