Audi, Voith create partnership for composites development

Automaker Audi will work with German industrial firm Voith to develop carbon fiber composite materials and manufacturing technologies for use in automobile design and production.

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Audi AG (Ingolstadt, Germany) and Voith GmbH (Heidenheim, Germany) on Feb. 16 announced the signing of a letter of intent regarding a development partnership. The goal of the partnership is to promote industrialization of fiber-reinforced materials, particularly through development of a highly automated process chain for high-volume automotive production.

The planned long-term and exclusive partnership between Audi and Voith is to focus on the further development and highly automated production of fiber-reinforced materials for use in automotive projects, with an emphasis on reducing vehicle weight. 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,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG. “We are concentrating on the manufacturing and recyclability of fiber-reinforced materials in the interest of a sustainable material cycle. After all, part of our corporate responsibility is to face the challenge of harmonizing economic and environmental interests as we move toward using fiber-reinforced polymers in high-volume production. With Audi and Voith, the right partners have come together to handle these challenges.”

For several years now, Voith GmbH has been 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 development partnership being announced today, 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.

“For Voith, technologies for the use of fiber-composite materials in industrial production are a key strategic competence. Given the ever-greater requirements for efficiency, coupled with the need to protect the environment and conserve resources, we are certain that this competence will be demanded by more and more markets in the future,” said Dr. Hubert Lienhard, CEO of Voith GmbH. In Audi, Voith has found an attractive partner that already possesses solid experience in lightweight construction and that has successfully introduced new materials into high-volume production.

Audi promotes its development for wider use in automotive production at its Neckarsulm site in Germany in a technical research unit for fiber-reinforced polymers that is connected to the Lightweight Design Center.

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