Light, lighter, ultralight - Composite components from REHAU
Dr. Ahmad Al-Sheyyab and the future of lightweight design.
Growing safety demands and increased comfort requirements challenge the industry . Vehicle weights have to be reduced further. For this reason, the subject of lightweight design is gaining in importance and moves the worl of mobility. On land, at sea and in the air: Everywhere, intelligent lightweight construction solutions from REHAU are already helping to offer particularly material- and resource-saving alternatives to conventional construction methods. We understand lightweight construction to be a design philosophy, and as a polymer specialist, we deal with efficient manufacturing and the sustainable use of synthetic materials in a variety of ways.
“How light the future can be?”, we ask ourselves for that reason. Dr. Ahmad Al-Sheyyab, REHAU employee and Manager of the Composite Technologies Department, looks precisely into this significant question as a graduated lightweight expert. In 2001, the Jordanian came to the University of Erlangen for his master’s program, and established first contacts with REHAU within the framework of his doctorate. Ever since then, the 41-year-old has been attending to this “fascinating field of activities”.
But is the plastics industry per se the lightweight construction industry? By means of the composite technology, it is possible to set up a component adequate to handle the load by combining different properties. The advantages of both components are combine in the process and produce something new. The call for novel lightweight solutions is becoming louder and louder in many industries - the versatility of our company is benefiting from this: “REHAU has a very broad range of products. This bears a great potential, which permits us to branch out into several different directions and offer lightweight solutions for various industries: from the aircraft industry to the furniture industry.”
Together with his team, Dr. Al-Sheyyab has been developing technologies, which could revolutionize the material-based lightweight design: “Our task in the field of Research and Development is to sensibly use the available synergies. We are the interface to the industry specialists and check every new idea for relevance and possible applications of materials or processes for respective alternatives.” Many of the highly modern developments, however, are still met with skepticism in the market, which, in part, does not seem entirely ready for them yet.
The lightweight potential of composite materials has been brought forward decisively, especially under the aspect of energy efficiency. Based on the newly developed high-performance extrusion profile, it is possible to replace aluminum profiles with thermoplastic materials and introduce an endless fiber-reinforced stiffener by employing a special process. In the end, the component does not only fulfill the stringent mechanical requirements, but convinces also with optimized thermal insulation properties. Thus, the REHAU profile increases the energy efficiency of air-conditioning systems many times over, for example.
“How can simple things be upgraded and designed lighter?” is one of the thoughts which Dr. Al-Sheyyab sometimes has in everyday life. However, the lightweight design expert is sure about one thing definitely: “The field for new composite approaches is vast, and most certainly has a good future.”