Swedish multi-sectorial innovation network aims for a lighter tomorrow

The LIGHTer network works to coordinate what is happening in research, development, technology and competence development in Swedish industry.

In Sweden lightweight is one of the country’s strategic innovation areas. The LIGHTer (Mölndal, Sweden) network works to coordinate what is happening in research, development, technology and competence development in Swedish industry.

LIGHTer calls itself a “multi-sectorial lightweight arena.” When asked to explain, Fredrik Stig, vice director of LIGHTer and senior scientist at Swerea SICOMP (Mölndal, Sweden), a leading research institute in the field of polymer fiber composites, describes the network as “cross-disciplinary.” The network facilitates the creation of products with low weight across industries, materials and disciplines.

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The focus on lightweight serves to foster competitiveness, collaboration in industry, and also furthers environmental concerns. LIGHTer facilitates research within sectors ranging from automotive to aviation to energy to construction and infrastructure.

The network has more than 70 members from businesses, research institutes and academia. Industry members invest time and money into the network, and also contribute their perspective on what is important to further develop in order for the Swedish industry to continue to be competitive.

LIGHTer’s efforts include an academy that fosters collaborative research and networking, a PhD student network that organizes industrial courses and workshops, an international conference and research project facilitation.

The organization leads the Lightweight Strategic Innovation Programme which has open calls for research projects financed by the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova), the Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) and Formas (a Swedish research council for sustainable development). The research projects are partly financed by the Strategic Innovation Programme and partly funded by the participating industrial project partners through in-kind time and resources.

So far, a number of different fiber reinforced composite research projects have been initiated and, in some cases, also completed. Different aspects of fiber reinforced composites have been studied, such as material characterization using probabilistic analysis, joining, manufacturing, automation, mixed materials and optimization. A total of over 38 composite projects have been initiated since 2013 within the automotive and aerospace sectors, as well as in the sectors of wind power, furniture and consumer goods. 

“Although LIGHTer is a Swedish arena for lightweight structures, we do try to collaborate with our international colleagues,” adds Stig. 

The network holds the biannual LIGHTer International Conference. The 2017 conference focused on the goal of 50% lighter with lower costs, 50% lighter with shorter development times, 50% lighter through the use of mixed materials, and 50% lighter with improved properties and innovative solutions. LIGHTer’s next international conference will be in 2019.