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Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen special exhibition

News International-French

23 Jun 2014

With carbon fibers into the future: A lightweight material and its social significance. The exhibition will last until 14th of September 2014.

Carbon fiber composite material (CFRP) or just carbon fiber – everything there is to know about this innovative textile material will be on center stage in a special exhibition at the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen. CFRP applications in automobile industries, sport, medicine and aerospace are portrayed as well as production, processing and recycling of this novel, light and extremely robust material.

We live in a fascinating time: within slightly more than 100 years the powered aviation has evolved tremendously. Claude Dornier was one of the pioneers at Lake Constance who pushed ahead the conquest of the airs with his inventions. For his Do X - the biggest airplane in the world at that time - he used "aluminium", a light metal nearly unknown in aircraft construction at that time and, by doing so, went beyond the boundaries of the design possibilities of those days.

The development of carbon fibers and with it reinforced plastics (CFRP) in the second half of the 20th century was a further decisive step towards ever lighter and therefore more energy-efficient aircraft. As manufacturer of air and spacecraft as well as weaving machines, the Dornier company worked as early as 40 years ago intensively with this technology having always pioneered the use of new materials in lightweight design. Speedbrakes made of carbon fiber fabrics for the Alpha Jet developed by Dornier and Dassault as well as parts of the AEROS satellites - proofs that technologies used already in the 1970s by Dornier have now a promising future.

This new material finds application in fields where low weight and, at the same time, high strength are required. By using CFRP 80% weight saving compared to steel and 50% weight saving compared to aluminium alloys can be achieved. Another advantage is the corrosion resistance of CFRP. For this reason, steel is being replaced in the industry and construction sector by carbon composites in various countries.

Recent examples for the future potential as well as the application of CFRP are, among others, the first mass-produced vehicles made out of carbon fibers and the new Airbus A350, whose structure is to a large extent out of carbon fibers (53% of the total weight of the aircraft).

20% of the carbon fiber composite materials are used in the aviation sector, 16% for sports and leisure articles and already 64% for applications in the industry and construction sector. This proves that the material plays an important role not only in aerospace but also in other economic and social areas.

Lesser weight and higher load carrying capacity – these advantages of carbon fiber composite materials (CFRP) are perceived and used in many countries. The annual production volume clearly reflects this trend. In 2008 50,000 tons of carbon fibers were produced worldwide – for 2013 a production volume of 95,000 tons is planned and for 2015 120,000 tons are expected.

Tendency: further double-digit rate growths. In 2008, eight known carbon fiber producers existed worldwide – since then the number of producers has more than tripled. Specially the Asian market, particularly in China and Korea, has seen a massive increase.

The special exhibition in the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen is inspired by those developments, the future potential for the use of carbon fibers as well as the pioneering work accomplished by Dornier in the use of novel materials in lightweight design. "With carbon fibers into the future – a lightweight material and its social significance“ spans the gamut from history to production methods to applications as well as to the potential of this material for the future. The social relevance as well as the expected impact on the environment are also illustrated.

Addressing technicians as well as the broad public – with a special program for children and youth – this novel material with its applications is explained in detail and vividly displayed in numerous exhibits.

The exhibition will last until 14th of September 2014.