Over 50 percent less weight per component and still safer – plastics make it possible. One positive side effect is that less weight saves money. The aviation industry in particular has recognised this and has been working at full speed on lightweight components for its aircraft for many years.
The importance of weight for the aviation industry becomes particularly clear when you look at the raw figures. For example, saving one kilogramme on an aircraft leads to three tonnes less fuel consumption over the aircraft’s 20-year operating life. That makes € 1,500 less cost per kilogramme saved. So there’s a lot to be gained in both environmental and economic terms if you invest money in the right way. This shows that the use of high-cost materials also pays off in aviation.
The situation is similar in the passenger car sector. You can save about 0.3 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres if your car is 100 kilogrammes lighter. That’s a saving of 900 litres for a service life of 300,000 kilometres. This translates into a saving of 1,350 euros over the given service life if petrol costs 1.50 euros a litre.
Lightweight construction therefore benefits airlines and car manufacturers, but also you personally. This not only also saves natural resources, but has additional effects too. A lower vehicle weight protects shock absorbers and tyres, for example, while at the same time improving driving dynamics.
It is CFRP that is responsible for the often enormous weight savings. These carbon fibre-reinforced polymers are also referred to colloquially as carbon. Carbon is, for example, twice as light as aluminium and five times lighter than steel. Nevertheless, the material has excellent mechanical properties.
This is one of the reasons why carbon is so widely used in aviation as well as in racing and in the sports and leisure sector. It is increasingly becoming the dominant high-performance material for road bikes. Other plastics also contribute to making many moving objects lighter and more efficient every day.
No matter whether it’s a car, motorbike, plane or tram. Plastics make many things lighter every day.
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