Lightweight solutions strengthen Swedish competetiveness and growth – for a more sustainable world
Our strategic research and innovation agenda for lightweight
To contribute to and develop innovation within lightweight, a strategy is needed. That is why LIGHTer and SIP Lightweight is run by our strategic research and innovation agenda. The agenda's starting point is in the actual needs that has been expressed by various industries. By using the agenda, we hope to link, but also define projects and areas of research so that we work with focus towards our goals.
The agenda is available below.
Please contact us to order a printed copy of the agenda.
Prior to the preparation of the agenda, an analysis of the lightweight area was made. You will find it below.
Recommendations Lightweight Agenda 2020–2022
- An even clearer lifecycle perspective that permeates the lightweight development. By continuing to refine and use our sustainability tools along the entire TRL scale we ensure that the developed solutions also meet the UN's sustainability goals.
- More multidisciplinary research and development projects to produce solutions that give radically lower weight. This requires more and more sustained funding that creates the conditions for larger and broader research groups.
- A coordinated national approach to create a stronger test and demo infrastructure with more facilities in the interplay between several Strategic Innovation Programmes (SIP) and other key stakeholders.
- To strengthen the entire value chain by improving the conditions for small and medium-sized companies to collaborate with large stakeholders. Opportunities to finance work in later parts of development projects are a key.
We have long known that we can develop more sustainable and at the same time lighter components. The challenge is to find the design and production solutions that make every innovation attractive to use even from a cost standpoint. It does not matter whether it concerns photovoltaic solar panels or automotive components, or if the company is called IKEA or Volvo.
If, for example, cast iron cannot be replaced by a composite in a profitable way, the improvement never reaches the market, no matter how climate smart it is. The general opinion within the aerospace industry is that every kilogram of reduced weight is worth about SEK 10,000 during the lifespan of an aircraft, in the form of, among others, reduced fuel consumption. It is therefore also the level that must be taken into account when it comes to possible increased production costs for lighter solutions.
More efficient development methods
The investment in LIGHTer Product Optimisation with the help of virtual solutions has turned out well. The network is an industrial initiative to boost the industry's ability to use optimisation methods early in product development. Optimisation methods are particularly suitable for new technologies, such as additive manufacturing, in industries with high quality requirements and short product development times.
The demands for even shorter and more predictable time schedules continue to increase on all global markets. Therefore, we need to further develop safer and faster ways to verify new technologies and development methods, prior to introduction into a business project.
Mixed material designs
We are the world leader within steel, but Sweden must strive for a leading position for the use of mixed materials too, for example, with steel and fibre composite. The durability and functionality of various materials and joints in different climates and temperatures must be ensured, while reducing weight.
In addition to material knowledge and developed joining methods, it also places increased demands on a broader competence in joint calculations. Today we see successful outcomes with sandwich materials that meet the demands of durability, lighter weight and the possibility of mass production at a reasonable cost. In parallel, effective recycling methods must be developed that make mixed materials fully sustainable.
Side by side with the development of multifunctional materials, it is important to continue improving material properties through continuous enhancements.
The gradual analysis and development of new materials result in components and products becoming stronger, having increased rigidity or lower density, for example. Improved properties not only mean functional advantages, but can also reduce the sustainability impact through lighter shipments and reduced material consumption.
The innovation theme, Innovative functions, has been added to this third Lightweight Agenda with the ambition to clearly stimulate completely new approaches and dare to test ideas that are judged to be a high risk. Within LIGHTer we prefer the concept high potential and by developing more funding models that provide long-term conditions to think in new ways and try radical ideas, we also hope to establish more projects in the category.
Multifunctionality is when two or more functions are integrated in a component or material and is one way of achieving innovative functions. One example is the area of structural batteries where LIGHTer Academy is a partner.
LIGHTer has created, and intends to continue to create, new structures for strategic Swedish research. LIGHTer Academy and LIGHTer PhD Network are good examples of initiatives that contribute to industry, university and interdisciplinary collaborative research.
From working in parallel and competing for resources, we now see how KTH and Chalmers) collaborate and, among others, have taken major steps in the research into carbon fibre that can store energy. This has been made possible by the LIGHTer Academy and was judged by Physics World to be one of the ten most significant scientific contributions in 2018.
Industry-based development projects
LIGHTer’s ambition is to strengthen several industries and supplier levels at the same time. Thus we have an annual call for innovation projects with two specialisations. We work both in projects whose results can be implemented within five years from completion of the project, as well as in more visionary projects at lower technology maturity levels.
It’s always the industrial needs that drive our projects forward. Through stimulating and finding the keys for this type of collaboration, we know from experience that we attain positive results.
Test and demo activities
One focus area in the years to come is to work to create more test and demo activities for small businesses. We must continue to increase availability, minimise risks to the business and to create synergy across the entire value chain and between various industries.
One path to a stronger test and demo infrastructure with more facilities can be an increased interplay between several Strategic Innovation programmes, but it is only part of a possible solution. Here we need to create stronger national coordination to literally create more space for Swedish lightweight development. LIGHTer has conducted several pilot projects with good results.
Exchange small and large companies
How would the optimum meeting place be structured to find the interplay between small technology oriented companies and Sweden's major global manufacturing industries? This is definitely a key issue that as a nation we need to find a variety of good answers to.
Involving suppliers in ongoing development projects with concrete assignments at an early stage, mitigates the step to a volume order and the ability to invest time and resources increases for more small and medium sized companies. This is an important parameter for success. LIGHTer’s regional nodes are a way to create more meeting places and this kind of development work will continue.
Through continuing to develop a forum for skills exchange and education, we see how the awareness of the role of lightweight in competitiveness is steadily increasing. LIGHTer reaches a broad target group through a combination of our web-based courses, seminars and workshops as well as our growing doctoral network PhD network.
With a multidisciplinary approach, we complement the industry's own training and also strengthen awareness of the need to collaborate. Here, of course, our regional nodes also play an important role in creating new skills development structures.
Regional, national & international coordination
The interplay between regional, national and global levels is one of LIGHTer’s many success factors. Today, we can point to several concrete examples where new research collaborations have culminated in new insights, radical research results and advanced excellence.
We constantly strive for solid collaboration with public financiers, industry-specific organisations and other strategic innovation programmes to create even more resources for lightweight projects. The great interest in our international lightweight conference shows that LIGHTer has established itself as a major player in Europe.
Management & coordination
The ability to coordinate financial resources and the roles of cross-industry parties is an important prerequisite for creating steadfastness and a clear direction in research and development projects.
We have built up a great trust in our role as a hub over the years. Our main driving force is that Sweden and each individual organisation should get the most out of the available resources. Our overall management function, combined with individual project managers within industry, academia or institutes, allows us to create opportunities together.