The fourth Annual General Meeting of Composites United e. V. (CU) took place as an online event on November 24, 2022. The CU presented the approximately 90 participants with a program that, in addition to a review of the work done in the past year, the presentation of numerous ongoing activities and the outlook for 2023, was characterized by the topics of the energy crisis and sustainability.
Berlin (December 02, 2022) The economy is currently facing major, successive challenges: First the Corona pandemic, then the war in Ukraine. Rising prices for energy and raw materials, existing and new supply bottlenecks, and inflation add to this. “The last year was again very challenging for our members, and overall there is a great deal of uncertainty,” was how Prof. Dr. Klaus Drechsler (Head of the Chair of Carbon Composites at the Technical University of Munich; Head of Fraunhofer IGCV and Spokesman of the CU Presidium) described the situation in the industry in his welcoming speech. “The goal of our association is to jointly face the challenges and develop solutions. We as CU will continue to support and strengthen our members in the best possible way.”
Together through the crisis
To this end, the CU last year expanded its leadership team to include an extended presidium. With this expanded leadership team, the CU has a broader technological base and now covers all fields of application for fiber-based lightweight design applications. “In order to continue to lead the association successfully into the future, we must represent the interests of the CU members in the best possible way and make them clear to politicians. With the expanded Executive Committee, we are perfectly positioned to do so,” says Prof. Drechsler.
The rejoining of the umbrella association Composites Germany e.V., which was announced during the general meeting, is also intended to strengthen the industry’s position. The trade association represents the capabilities and interests of the German fiber composite industry and research along the entire value chain and acts as a joint “mouthpiece”. By re-entering, Composites Germany combines the forces of the two leading composites networks in Germany, Composites United e. V. and AVK – Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe e. V. As associated partners, Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA working group Hybrid Lightweight Technologies support the goals of Composites Germany to advance the future topics of high-performance composites and automated production technologies in and for Germany.
Member interests as a guide
The results of the CU member survey conducted in May 2022 show that technological topics, such as the exchange of know-how in the context of working groups or theme days, as well as information on and initiation of research and development projects, are particularly relevant for the companies and research institutions. Networking opportunities and the provision of current market information are also considered very important by members.
“The results of the survey are the thread for action in the Executive Committee and the management,” said Dr. Tjark von Reden (CU Chief Executive Officer) in the management report. “With the establishment and expansion of the CU Competence Atlas, for example, we have responded to the desire for more networking opportunities. With “CU Knowledge,” we have launched an information service for our members and will summarize the state of affairs on current topics in information papers based on scientific findings.”
As in the previous year, the association will be active at the most important industry meeting points: At JEC World in April 2023, the CU and its members will again present the diverse competencies of the composites industry at a joint stand in Paris. Together with Deutsche Messe AG, the CU is also organizing the LightCon conference fair. This will take place in Hanover in June 2023 under the motto “Lightweight design as the answer to energy and material scarcity”.
In order to better support members in initiating research and development projects, the CU intends to further develop the funding catalog, offer more information events and expand the existing “Project Workshop” event format, according to Prof. Drechsler, spokesman for the executive committee.
Sustainability at the top of the agenda
“Sustainability and environmental efforts are also at the top of the agenda for CU members, and CO2 reduction as a major contribution to climate protection dominates current discussions,” emphasized Dr. Gunnar Merz (CU Chief Executive Officer), who moderated the members’ meeting.
An industry-specific look at challenges and fields of action was provided by the key note “Aviation without climate impact – options and fields of action”. Klaus Kalmer, Head of Engineering, Premium AEROTEC GmbH, emphasized in his presentation that the reduction of CO2 emissions is only one necessary step to reduce the impact of aviation on the climate. New aircraft architectures, environmentally and altitude optimized flight routes to avoid or reduce the formation of condensation trails, alternative fuels and propulsion systems as well as formation flights to fly with less energy consumption are further research approaches for sustainable and thus future-proof air traffic.
“Last year, even under difficult conditions, we moved a lot so that our members can master the challenges of the current time,” concludes Prof. Drechsler. “We were able to attract many new members, which shows that we are on the right track with our composite topics. I look forward to continuing to help shape and develop the composite world together with our members.”
After the official part of the general meeting, the CU had invited members to take part in the relaxed finale in the interactive CU Christmas World. On the online platform MixUp-World, the guests had the opportunity to relax, exchange ideas and network over a virtual mulled wine.