The cooperation of innovation and creativity require a close proximity. This philosophy is pursued at CTC Stade for the material and process development of polymer fiber composite materials (FCM). The successful network philosophy of Silicon Valley, in which research centers and potential customers (companies and suppliers) closely cooperate with each other, is being followed as a model for CTC Stade and its associates.
The application of carbon-fiber reinforced polymers is recognized as having the greatest potential not only for aircraft structures but also for those in transportation technology. Even compared with aluminum construction methods, a reduction of up to 30% in weight is possible which leads to considerable economic and ecological advantages. Correspondingly, the range of application of fiber-reinforced polymers in civil aircraft construction has steadily expanded in the past two decades, thus considerably contributing to the economic operation of commercial aircraft. Even today, 20% of the entire structure is already composed of fiber composite structures. The 20% mark in the Airbus A380, for example, will be greatly exceeded when CFRP wings are introduced. An "all-composite" passenger aircraft is expected by 2010.
Further penetration into the market - particularly in the field of general traffic technology - was not possible up to now due to manufacturing costs. Towards the end of the 1990’s, the BMWi and BMBF intensively promoted the use of fiber composite materials, particularly the development of new and more cost-effective manufacturing technologies in order to make fiber composite structures more marketable on a broader scale. This led to a number of promising individual technologies from research and developmental laboratories that, however, have the potential of remaining below the cost-per-piece for metal components available on the market only when they are integrated into new manufacturing technologies.
An essential goal of the network is the development of basic technologies that allow for the integration of individual technologies into a process chain when the materials and processes are adapted accordingly. This is an important prerequisite for the fulfillment of market requirements with regard to costs and production rates. The production rate requirements, in particular, have increased to the extent that they cannot be met with the production of components alone. With the introduction of new manufacturing technologies into the fiber composite manufacture of aircraft construction, requirements from other fields such as commercial or track vehicle construction are being met. This particularly paves the way to mass production as required by the automobile industry.
The "CFK-Valley" Competence Network was created with the following range of tasks in order to ensure its success on the market:
Kompetenznetz für CFK-Leichtbau Stade