Extreme lightweight construction through new sandwich structures
Sandwich structures are an essential part of modern lightweight construction. They consist of a lightweight core material covered by face sheets on both sides, wherein the core materials can be, for instance, rigid foams, honeycombs, thermoplastic cores or nap cores. Resin-impregnated woven fabrics or other carrier materials (so-called prepregs) can be used as face sheets. Despite the advantages of sandwich structures, like a high flexural stiffness and buckling strength, they are still very time-consuming and costly in production. In addition, the necessary integration of functional elements, such as inserts or load input elements, requires complex process steps. Sandwich structures have therefore not yet achieved a breakthrough for mass products.
The aim of the MAI Sandwich project is therefore to develop a novel and cost-effective manufacturing process for the production of new weight-optimised sandwich structures with high functional integration for use in automobiles and aircraft. In doing so, the new sandwich structures are to be made from both a new core and new CFP-based coatings using recycled carbon fibers. To realise the project objectives, three different process routes will be examined with particular attention to segregated and recyclable material usage, which is intended to result in different sandwich materials.
Figure: Process routes for the production of sandwich structures and combined sandwich solutions
By developing three novel thermoplastic sandwich composites with additional functional integration, it will be possible to realize new lightweight materials which have improved properties and a significantly-reduced cost structure compared to conventional sandwich structures. As a result, in the case of success, new construction methods for the production of components and new products can be made available for the aerospace and automotive industries. This will also strengthen Germany as a location and enhance the visibility of the MAI Carbon Leading-Edge Cluster.