Future trends in mobility, such as electrification or the circular use of raw materials (circular economy), in combination with new mobility concepts, such as shared mobility or autonomous driving, must meet new kinds of requirements. Due to longer running times and shorter service lives, innovative cleaning processes and surfaces are needed that are, for example, resilient and have dirt-repellent and antimicrobial properties. At the same time, flexible product design tailored to the user must be made possible.
Parallel to this, the requirements for sustainability and CO2 efficiency are increasing and thus exerting a massive influence on future vehicle design. In addition to the previous domains of economy, technical innovation and series quality, the sustainability of materials and surfaces as well as the associated manufacturing processes will play a decisive role in the future. In order to assess the potential of future technologies, a sustainability assessment along the entire life cycle from raw material, manufacturing and use to recycling is necessary.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a partner in the Open Hybrid LabFactory (OHLF) research campus, which was established at the Wolfsburg site as a public-private partnership for the research field of mobility. At the Fraunhofer Center Circular Economy for Mobility CCEM, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research IFAM, for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST, for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU, and for Wood Research WKI pool their expertise in materials science, component and process development, and production technology in a joint infrastructure in order to develop circular system solutions for future mobility in the sense of a circular economy.
The center focuses on automated production systems, future interior concepts, life cycle engineering and sustainable product design. In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Center for Energy Storage and Systems ZESS, the integration and disassembly of components for alternative drive concepts in vehicles is being investigated, among other things.
The Fraunhofer IST is working, among other things, on new manufacturing technology solutions to develop sustainable material and surface systems for future vehicle concepts. To this end, new functional coatings based on natural substances on bio-based or secondary materials are being investigated which combine, for example, long-term stable, dirt-repellent and antibacterial surfaces with very good tribological properties. Parallel to this, automated surface preparation processes are being developed that adapt their cleaning performance individually to the properties of the surfaces, materials and dirt type. To further improve the functionalities of components and make them smarter, processes are being developed that enable reversible integration of thin-film functional elements (e.g. sensor technology, heating, touch) via energy-efficient reversible low-temperature joining processes. An assessment of sustainability is carried out via so-called life cycle engineering throughout the entire life cycle (LCA, LCC).
The public-private partnership Open Hybrid LabFactory eV (OHLF) was initiated in 2012 under the leadership of the Automotive Research Centre Niedersachsen at the TU Braunschweig and is funded within the framework of the BMBF initiative ”Research Campus - Public-Private Partnership for Innovations”. In the course of further development, the Campus is addressing the urgent question of how industrial vehicle production can be designed sustainably and in the sense of a circular economy. To this end, work is being carried out jointly on the four research fields of ”Design for Circular Economy”, ”Processes for Reverse Production”, ”Circular Material Concepts” and ”Overall System Analyses and Design”, thereby incorporating virtual tools. In addition to the research institutions TU Braunschweig and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, partners in the Open Hybrid LabFactory include industrial partners such as Volkswagen AG, Magna Cosma, Magna Exteriors & Interiors, thyssenkrupp, IAV, Engel, Zwick/Roell and the City of Wolfsburg. Furthermore, more than 20 project-related research and industry partners are members of the OHLF.