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Lightweighting – a heavyweight opportunity for manufacturing

By Matt Sellens, Commercial Director.

Firmly established in the aerospace and automotive industries, the principles of lightweighting open up big opportunities for the manufacturing sector at large. And for engineers and designers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and boost the bottom line, those opportunities are just waiting to be grasped.

Lightweighting is something we get asked about – a lot. It’s not a new trend but rather an evolution driven by the combination of advanced materials and processes with the drive for economy and reduction in CO2 emissions.

Put simply, the principle is that if you need additional speed and efficiency, add lightness.  Proof that it works is firmly established in the aerospace and automotive industries with whom we’ve been solutions providers for almost two decades.

Light with heavy impact

“A McKinsey report, ‘Lightweight, heavy impact’, looking at how carbon fibre and other lightweight materials will develop across industries, forecasts significant growth. While the lightweight materials share is currently highest in aviation with almost 80 per cent, automotive is predicted to massively increase its share from 30 to 70 per cent by 2030.”

Carbon fibre – huge design scope

Carbon fibre offers huge design scope. Its cost gap to aluminium is also on track to shrink significantly over the next two decades, with forecasts based on the automotive sector making carbon fibre parts much closer in cost terms to comparable aluminium parts.

The McKinsey report backs this up, predicting that the industrialisation of carbon fibre means that costs have the potential to decrease by 70 per cent, benefiting manufacturing in its broadest sense. This all points to a continued move towards the increased use of carbon fibre as part of the drive towards greater efficiency and lower carbon emissions. The opportunities and benefits are ready and waiting for designers and engineers across all the sectors who are open to the next generation of possibilities.

Smaller and lighter for energy saving

The opportunities for lightweighting are everywhere and the designs of the future across all manufacturing sectors can make huge all-round improvements. While the benefits for lowering the carbon footprint are well known, for those seeking to make products that are easier and safer for people to use by being smaller and lighter, it all contributes to bigger picture savings.

For those ready to open up their imaginations to the possibilities it needn’t be intimidating. Choosing the right partner who already understands the concepts and possibilities across sectors can help to leapfrog the inevitable lightweighting learning curve, with endless opportunities ready to be grasped.

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