In its Automotive business segment, Fraunhofer IFAM develops technologies, ideas, and solutions for the automotive value chain.
Clients include manufacturers of cars and commercial vehicles (OEMs) as well as their entire supply chain. Production and operation of motor vehicles have to meet high standards in terms of energy and resources efficiency. Increasingly, novel materials like fiber-reinforced plastics are finding their way into cars. Fairly recent shaping techniques such as additive manufacturing are found alongside “traditional” techniques like casting. Fraunhofer IFAM uses its competencies to develop new combinations of technologies and processes for the automotive industry.
Lightweight solutions are – not least to the need to reduce CO2 and other emissions – in high demand, often leading to a combination of vastly different materials (“materials mix”) in the vehicle. This in turns creates new challenges in terms of manufacturing technologies. Finding techniques for joining (different) materials in the context of a highly automated production geared at high volume output is a key enabler here.
The growing number of electrical drives found in automobiles poses another challenge. This is partly due to safety and comfort functions. The increasing electrification of the vehicle’s powertrain (towards “electromobility”) has bestowed an additional boost to this, as has the idea of a connected car, eventually leading to autonomous driving. This opens up perspectives for novel components in terms of materials, technologies and techniques to master electrical and/or thermal insulation (or conductivity).
Fraunhofer IFAM’s broad portfolio for the automotive industry includes
- complex or lightweight metal components, using casting or powder technologies
- polymer components, in particular fiber-reinforced plastics
- joining techniques, especially for novel materials or joining different materials
- process automation in manufacturing (adhesive bonding, finish, coating, functionalization of surfaces, sensors)
- components for electric drives and their design
- workforce qualification in adhesive bonding technology, fiber-reinforced plastics, and electric mobility