What is advanced materials?
Advanced material is often refering to new innovative materials produced to substitue raw materials in industry and manufacturing. It can be new metal, composite, plastic or wood-based. As raw material is getting more and more scarce on our planet earth, finding new sustainable materials is one of the top priorities for sustainable innovation. EU’s Advanced Technology for Industry project (ATI, see page here) describes it as,
“Advanced materials lead both to new reduced cost substitutes to existing materials and to new higher added-value products and services. Advanced Materials offer major improvements in a wide variety of different fields, e.g. in aerospace, transport, building and health care. They facilitate recycling, lowering the carbon footprint and energy demand as well as limiting the need for raw materials that are scarce in Europe.”
Lightweight material for more sustainable manufacturing?
Lightweight materials are one of the main category within advanced materials today, and often closely linked to improved sustainability.
AIT´s Product Watch: Lightweight Materials (May 2021) categorizes lightweight materials in three types:
- Lightweight metals and alloys (e.g. high-strength steel, aluminium, magnesium, titanium)
- Polymer composites (e.g. carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP), glass-fibre reinforced
- Polymers (e.g. polycarbonate, polypropylene).
Furthermore, ATI estimates that the current market value of lightweight materials globally is approx. €116.6 bn (in 2019), and has an annual growth rate of approx. 8%. The main users on global scale is with no doubt the automotive and aerospace industry.
In Germany, lightweight material is considered an innovation contributing tio all aspects of sustainability. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) writes in an article about lightweighting (visited May 2023) that
“Producing lightweight products means using less material, and less material can mean lower costs and better properties. Using lightweight components is less energy-intensive, and leads to lower CO2 emissions. New production techniques can save further resources and energy /…/ Lightweighting is a perfect combination of three dimensions of sustainability – economic, environmental and social. State-of-the-art, digital product development and lower-cost manufacturing is an excellent fit with a responsible approach to resources, energy and the climate, as well as with high functionality.”
Furthermore, BMWK states that 44% of costs in manufacturing production is related to material, and 22% of German SMEs are using lightweight materials. Examples of two German use-cases and their sustainability impact:
- Wood-based CFC moulded parts for Automotive, Commercial & Railway vehicle manufacturing: reducing 50% in weight and 30% in energy.
- Floor panels with foam core for Railway vehicle manufacturing: reducing 30% in weight and 25% in energy.
Find more use cases examples and more information on the webpage on German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action here.