15. February 2017

MAI Carbon – Leading-Edge Cluster. Bundled competence for CFRP applications

Since 2012, the Leading-Edge Cluster MAI Carbon – an initiative of Carbon Composites e.V. – has been one of a total of 15 leading-edge clusters of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is being funded over a period of five years with around 40 million euros. A sum which must be counter-funded to an equal share by its project partners.

Carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) have enormous potential in lightweight construction – innovations by MAI Carbon make it utilisable

In the city triangle Munich-Augsburg-Ingolstadt, MAI Carbon is pursing the target of implementing CFRP technologies in large-scale industry for various user branches in Germany. In order to achieve this, springboard innovations throughout the entire component lifecycle are necessary, i.e. starting with the fibre and matrix material, over the production of components and product systems, right up to coherent recycling concepts.

The main concern is to make carbon material fit for large-series applications, and to develop the region to become a European centre of competence for CFRP lightweight construction which covers the entire value-added chain of CFRP technology and to assist the partners represented in CFRP key technology to a leading-edge position on the global market.

Special exhibition visitor magnet

Besides the technological development of CFRP, an important objective for MAI Carbon is to interconnect their partners and support the development of the expertise of the companies. The format of the Leading-Edge Cluster’s own “MAI Night” brings smaller to medium-sized companies together with the so-called “big players” by presenting different companies and welcoming selected partners. This has succeeded on ten occasions already.

Furthermore, it is being attempted to introduce the topic of Carbon Composites into the wider society, as well as supporting networking amongst partners. With the special exhibition “Tough stuff: carbon – the material of the future” (Harter Stoff: Carbon – das Material der Zukunft) more than 240,000 national and international visitors were reached in the Deutsches Museum, Munich and in its branch in Bonn from 2014 to 2016. Currently, this special exhibition is being hosted at the Technologiezentrum Augsburg (Augsburg Technology Centre) and can be viewed following prior application.

Future through successful stabilisation

In the meantime, the MAI Carbon cluster initiative has been able to clearly position itself. Besides the founding of the Carbon Composites e.V. division for the region of Bavaria, the cluster management is assuming control of the new support initiative “Campus Carbon 4.0” of the Free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) with 15 million euros – an initiative together with the University of Augsburg. Training and further training was already a central focus during the cluster initiative and which can now be continued within the scope of the JOBSTARTER plus project of the European Social Fund and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in collaboration with the IHK Schwaben (Swabian Chamber of Industry and Commerce). Within the scope of first steps in internationalisation, innovation bridges are being developed in the USA and South Korea. Requests from other countries have already been received and may provide further possibilities.