The research facility in Stade was established in 2009 as one of the two research sites operated by the Center for Lightweight Production Technology (Zentrum für Leichtbauproduktionstechnologie; ZLP) and has been an independent site of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) since 2011. The research conducted in Stade aligns with the programmatic research approach of DLR. It caters to the upper level of the existing process chain in the development and manufacture of components made of carbon-fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP). Here, the work focuses on industrial-scale production technology.
Center for Lightweight Production Technology
The Center for Lightweight Production Technology (ZLP) is a national research facility within DLR consisting of one site in Stade and another site in Augsburg. It is equipped to handle the entire process chain for components made of fibre composites. The Center collaborates with the DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems in Braunschweig and the Institute of Structures and Design in Stuttgart to identify mutual research issues and to exploit synergy in the development of new technologies. The DLR site in Stade allows the scientific and industrial sectors to enhance cooperation in the research of new methods aimed at developing ideal production technologies.
Using one-of-a-kind, multifunctional, large-scale facilities, the ZLP develops strategies for manufacturing large, high-quality CFRP components in a cost-effective manner. To achieve this, every step in the process is studied, integrated and, using the appropriate technical infrastructure, reproduced on an industrial scale. This setup is also available to customers for flexible development and validation in tandem with the DLR production processes according to their requirements.
Research for the aerospace, automotive and wind energy sectors
Carbon-fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP) are used for, among other things, manufacturing next-generation commercial aircraft – they are lighter, more fuel-efficient and more environment-friendly with regard to pollutant emissions.
CFRPs are also increasingly used to manufacture automobiles and rotor blades for wind power generation systems. To meet this growing demand, high quality, cost-effective production methods are needed. The ZLP is conducting research on the industrial scale to be able to respond specifically and flexibly to the particular requirements of the respective industry.
The research conducted at the DLR site in Stade mainly focuses on highly productive fibre placement methods and sensor-guided, component-based control of thermally inert curing processes in autoclaves or open moulds to manufacture extremely large and complex components. The researchers in Stade are also working on fully automated manufacturing of high-volume components using dry textile semi-finished products in the resin transfer moulding (RTM) process. In addition to the aerospace sector, the processes being developed are also intended for use in the automotive industry and for the production of rotor blades for wind energy systems.
To conduct these research activities, the DLR site in Stade is equipped with the following innovative facilities:
- a fully-automated RTM process chain
- BALU research autoclave (420 degrees Celsius, length: 20 m, diameter: 5.8 m)
- a CNC-based multi lay-up facility for automated fibre placement (AFP) and automated tape laying (ATL)
- rotor blade mould for wind energy systems (length: 45 metres)
Institutes and facilities at the site
DLR Center for Lightweight Production Technology
DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems