Transatlantic Cluster Initiative

Delegation Trip Summary - Lightweighting Technologies & Materials

With the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative, GACC Midwest identifies synergies in cutting edge industries, leveraging the power of clusters on both sides of the Atlantic. After our first program had focused on metalworking, the second installment centered on exploring the innovative potential of the lightweighting sector.

Why Lightweighting
Innovation in lightweighting technologies is a crucial development for the future of industries and societies around the world. Germany and the US are both leaders in this dynamically evolving sector, which follows the core principle of increasing quality, competitiveness and resource-efficiency across industries. The reduction of weight, material and energy in production processes is vital in a world of increasing populations and limited resources. The innovative technology has global potential.

Lightweighting in Germany
The German lightweighting cluster landscape is very diversified and covers the whole value chain. The six German main clusters represent over 2,000 members with a total number of more than 260 R&D players (Source: Germany Trade & Invest). Given the central role lightweighting plays across industries, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs invests 900 Mio EUR into innovation in the sector, which employs about 250,000 workers in Germany.

US Delegation Tours German Clusters
As Germany and the US are both leaders in the field and cooperation is pivotal for innovation, GACC Midwest brought together German and US clusters in lightweighting to address future challenges. After a successful road show in the US, nine American business, research and cluster representatives joined a trip to Germany in June 2017.

The group explored cutting-edge manufacturing innovations at various locations throughout Germany. The delegation looked at polymer technologies at Fraunhofer ICT, and visited the MAI Carbon cluster with cooperation between large-scale German companies, SMEs, and R&D organizations from the automobile, aerospace, mechanical and plant engineering. They also got insights into the research landscape at Technische Universität Dresden’s Institute for Lightweight Construction (ILK) as well as the The Institute of Textile Machinery and High-Performance Materials (ITM), one of the worldwide leading education and research facilities due to its innovative strength and interdisciplinary research performed along the entire process chain for high performance textiles.

Continuing the Transatlantic Dialogue
The group did not only visit research facilities and German lightweighting companies. They also met with representatives from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as well as SelectUSA/ US Consulate General of Munich, Germany Trade & Invest and the U.S. Commercial Service to discuss how to facilitate future transatlantic cooperation in the field. Opportunities for cooperation does not only lie in the huge potential of the lightweighting sector, but also in addressing some of the challenges that come with this innovative field, such as the recycling of carbon composites, the production costs of lightweight materials as well as the energy demand for producing goods made from lightweight materials.

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German Partners






Jessica Ferklass

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