• Industry is solution provider for CO2 reduction
• Ecological product design is gaining importance
• Focus on sustainability opening up new fields of application for lightweight constructions
At the annual meeting of the VDMA Hybrid Lightweight Technologies working group, which took place on 12 February, 2021, it became clear that the industry is intensively addressing holistic concepts of lightweight construction, offering its customers worldwide customized solutions for CO2 reduction. In the automotive sector in particular, there is growing pressure from supply chains to live up to the guiding principle of climate-neutral manufacturing and to be able to prove this with data. In the context of taxation based on CO2 intensity, monetary benefits can also be generated through CO2 savings.
Ecological product design is gaining importance
In addition to sustainable production, the recyclability of plastics products is becoming increasingly important against the background of resource conservation and the goal of a functioning circular economy. It is still a challenge for materials and process technology to combine the benefits of use of new lightweight material composites with good ecological product design in terms of recyclability. Industry and research are working together on new methods for the material recycling of hybrid lightweight components, which improve the eco-balance and, at the same time, offer economic advantages. In the development of new lightweight components, design for recycling must have the same priority as functionality and production efficiency.
Consideration of the carbon footprint is becoming increasingly important for mechanical engineers. The chairman of the VDMA working group, Marc Kirchhoff, TRUMPF, states: “In addition to the own production location, it is the degree of energy and resource efficiency of the machines that we deliver to our customers. But we can also score points with the positive CO2 balance of the lightweight products manufactured on these machines. The focus on circular economy and CO2 footprint opens up new fields of application for hybrid lightweight construction and drives development – not least the digitalization of production processes!”
To the overall context: Achieving the climate targets and a more sustainable use of raw materials is guiding policies and legislation worldwide when it comes to implementing new regulations for sustainable business. The European Union is aiming for climate neutrality by 2050 as part of the Green Deal. To achieve this goal, the EU is planning concrete measures for this year. These include, for example, the planned CO2 pricing or quotas for the use of recycled materials in order to promote the circular economy for plastics.
But sustainability goals do not only play a role in Europe. CO2 regulations per climate protection and the expansion of renewable energies are also on the agenda of the upcoming five-year plan of the Communist Party in China – one of the most important sales markets with growth potential for lightweight construction technologies.
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