Audi Ag and Voith GmbH form development partnership for fiber-reinforced materials for automotive production
Audi Ag and Voith GmbH signed a letter of intent regarding a development partnership to promote industrialization of fiber-reinforced materials, particularly through developing a highly automated process chain for high-volume automotive production. The development partnership is intended to further strengthen Germany’s position as a place for innovation.
The planned long-term and exclusive partnership intends to use the high potential of this innovative material to benefit lightweight construction and efficiency. With a focus on implementation in volume production, Audi and Voith are looking to apply themselves to developing new, innovative high-tech materials, in addition to industrialization and process engineering for conventional fiber-reinforced polymers. One approach involves environmentally-compatible fiber composite materials that offer ideal properties for use in the automotive industry as a complement to existing materials, with respect to both total energy balance and process engineering.
Fiber-reinforced polymers offer weight and strength advantages, which we have already put to use in the Audi R8 and the Audi RS 3, for instance. We want to use these advantages for high-volume production as well, and therefore the focus of our partnership with Voith is on specific car projects. We are concentrating on the manufacturing and recyclability of fiber-reinforced materials in the interest of a sustainable material cycle.—Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI Ag
For several years now, Voith GmbH has been intensively involved with the use of CFRP (carbon fiber-reinforced polymer) in industrial plant design, such as in lightweight construction components in paper machines or in drive engineering. With the help of the new development partnership, Voith will now be able to apply its technological know-how to the automotive sector as well. Voith sees major potential for growth in the use of fiber-reinforced polymers in high-volume production, especially in this market.
Audi regards lightweight construction as one of its core competences. Materials such as aluminum, steel and magnesium, as well as fiber-reinforced materials like CFRP, are used where they bring the most benefits in terms of lightweighting. Audi is promoting the development of fiber-reinforced polymers for wider use in automotive production at its Neckarsulm site in Germany in a technical research unit connected to the Lightweight Design Center. One focus of the partnership with Voith will therefore be to utilize the great potential of fiber-reinforced materials for innovative automotive architecture.
As another example of the focus on lightweighting, the Audi Space Frame (ASF)in the 2011 A8 is composed of 13 different aluminum alloys, helping to reduce body weight and increase body strength and stiffness. This stiffness improvement enables the car to be more responsive, precise and stable in its handling. Another benefit of the extensive use of aluminum is its ability to absorb vibration, creating a smoother and quieter ride. Compared to the previous Audi A8, Audi has increased the body stiffness in the 2011 Audi A8 by 25%, while reducing weight by up to 20%. At 509.2 lbs (231 kg) the 2011 A8 ASF has a 40% weight advantage over a comparable steel body shell.