February 15, 2011
Getting Cars Onto The Road Faster
Auto manufacturers are looking for shorter production times, faster logistics processes, new materials and technologies. A novel software platform will help companies to achieve these goals by reducing not only the development times but also the development costs.
The auto industry faces major challenges. New models are entering the market at ever shorter intervals, products are becoming more complex, and the trend towards electric cars requires modified vehicle structures. European production sites are coming under increasing cost pressure from low-wage countries. Cost reductions, shorter production times, new materials and innovative assembly techniques are needed if companies are to remain competitive. To achieve these goals, 23 business and research organizations are participating in the EU's Pegasus project (www.pegasus-eu.net). One of the research partners is the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal, which is contributing its expertise in the polymer engineering sector. The project partners have jointly developed a software platform to reduce development times and costs.
A further example application: So that components such as the LED tail lights can be dismantled more quickly, they are bonded using a special adhesive. For this the research scientists at Fraunhofer ICT and their project partners developed a new microwave-active adhesive bonding system. When irradiated with microwaves the individual components lose their adhesion and can be easily taken apart. This means that parts can be efficiently recycled into different categories. "In addition, we dyed the fender using newly developed pigments based on special nanoparticles," states Huber. These nanostructures can be worked in particularly evenly, to dye plastics such as polypropylene. This means fewer pigments are needed than usual. "We have also taken the importance of protecting the climate into account. Further developments in local fiber reinforcement of structural vehicle components will reduce weight and therefore emissions of CO2," the scientist adds, and sums up: "All in all the IDEE system will shorten development times, cut the number of assembly steps and reduce the amount of material consumed." IDEE is still under development, but it can already be used to produce simple components. The software should be ready and available to the auto industry in about a year's time.
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