How the Volkswagen Group is working on the lightweight-construction solutions of the future

At the Open Hybrid LabFactory in Wolfsburg, industry experts and scientists are working on a common goal: They are developing materials and production processes that will enable our cars to shave off weight and, thus, reduce their environmental impact.
"Hybrid" – that is, a mixture – this is the idea that makes the LightweightCampus tick. The reason: The researchers there are mixing materials that have all sorts of different properties, like metal, plastic and textiles, in their hunt to find optimal solutions. The end products of their work will be components for use in serial production that are as light as possible while also being stable and economic.

One glimpse into the heart of the research factory, the Technikum, shows just how this works in practice. One of the factory's halls is filled by a textile machine that covers a distance of 30 meters, the length of seven Volkswagen Golfs. The sides of the machine are equipped with high racks containing rolls of glass fiber that are fed into the machine by means of spools. The mixing process takes place in the middle section of this gigantic piece of equipment:  At certain places, the machine combines the bright glass fibers with dark carbon fibers to create a stable fabric. "Carbon fibers are lighter and more stable than glass fibers. But they are also more expensive," said Felix Eichleiter, a member of Volkswagen component development and the Managing Director of the Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V.. "An optimal fabric will use carbon fibers in precisely those areas that are subject to special wear. These are exactly the places where they should be used. This is what we are working on here."

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