At this year’s LightCon, which took place in Hanover on June 13, 2023, around 400 international experts discussed the importance of lightweight design against the backdrop of current challenges such as global warming, resource scarcity and rising energy costs. The conference, which was accompanied by an exhibition, proved to be a cross-industry meeting place that brought together people who work together to promote innovation and are committed to climate protection. LightCon offered guests the opportunity to learn comprehensively about different types of lightweight materials and technologies, while experiencing the latest industry trends on the spot. The program focused on effective production processes, sustainable materials, new energy solutions and the circular economy.

The Parliamentary State Secretary of the BMWK, Michael Kellner sent a video message (Image: Deutsche Messe AG)

Dr. Gunnar Merz, Chief Executive Officer of Composites United (CU), which is founding partner of the conference trade show, emphasized at the opening that the EU’s Green Deal could not be implemented without lightweight design. In his welcoming video message, Michael Kellner, Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), emphasized that lightweight design would play a central role in industrial transformation and in the German government’s strategy. He explicitly welcomed this year’s LightCon partner country – Poland – as the most important Eastern European trading partner. He also thanked the Korean delegation for coming. Representatives of companies, technology centers and industry associations from Korea had come to LightCon as part of a business initiation trip organized by the BMWK’s “Mittelstand Global” program to establish contacts with the German lightweighting industry.

The partner country of LightCon 2023 was Poland. Pictured: Grzegorz Piechowiak and Thomasz Salomon from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology with Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chairman of the Board of Deutsche Messe (Image: Deutsche Messe AG)
Łukasz Chrabański (PAIH), Paweł Jaworski (Polish Consul General in Hamburg), Grzegorz Oszast (PAIH), Dr. Gunnar Merz (CEO CU), Grzegorz Piechowiak (Polish Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Technology), Dr. Andrzej Czulak (PKTK), Martin Kretschmann (CU) und Thomasz Salomon (Ministry of Economic Development and Technology) (f.l.t.r.)
Grzegorz Oszast (PAIH) and Dr. Andrzej Czulak (PKTK) signing the Memorandum of Understanding (Image: Deutsche Messe AG)
Polish delegation visiting LightCon 2023 in Hannover (Image: Deutsche Messe AG)
South Korean delegation visiting LightCon 2023 in Hannover (Image: Deutsche Messe AG)

The Polish Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Technology, Grzegorz Piechowiak, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to strengthen the intensive economic relations in this topic as a partner country of LightCon: “Lightweight design materials and technologies are a key to meaningfully meeting the climate challenges of the future.”

The number of Polish guests as well as the broad political support clearly show how important German-Polish cooperation in the field of composite technologies is regarded. In addition to representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, the Polish Investment & Trade Agency and the Polish Cluster of Composite Technologies (PKTK), the Polish Consul General in Hamburg Paweł Jaworski and numerous companies were also guests and represented at the exhibition. They presented innovative solutions of the Polish industry and science as well as their country as an excellent cooperation and investment location.

In a ceremonial act, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Polish Investment & Trade Agency and the PKTK with the intention of strengthening the mutual relationship and cooperating even more closely in the future.

The LightCon also kept the promise of the program in terms of content: The organizers and speakers succeeded in creating a thematic arc from lightweight design and efficient production processes, including modern digital tools, to the circular economy and sustainable technologies.

In his keynote address, Prof. Dr. Jan Wörner, President of acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering, pointed out the importance of breaking new ground: “Inspiration comes from talking to people who have no idea what I’m doing.” In addition, he said, nature is an important source of inspiration for lightweight design: “Nature can do it, we have to look and learn.”

Keynote speeches by Warsaw University of Technology, Berlin Partner, Fassmer Schiffbau, Airbus Aerostructures and the German Aerospace Center made it impressively clear what an outstanding role research and innovation play, but also what leverage lightweight design gives industry to reduce CO2 emissions. In three parallel sessions, some 45 speakers from research, manufacturing and application repeatedly demonstrated how many starting points lightweight design offers for contributing to at least six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“With the TTP-LB, the lightweight design transfer program, we want to accelerate these developments and shorten the time-to-market of innovative ideas,” emphasized Werner Loscheider from the BMWK, after whose presentation four exemplary projects of the funding program were presented. All of these projects focus not only on lightweight design as a central theme, but also on the optimization of process chains, energy efficiency in the production and use phases, and a reduction in complexity in order to simplify or even enable the recycling of products at the end of their life cycle.

Above left: Lightweight innovation in the automotive sector from Fraunhofer LBF,
top right: Nicola von Tippelskirch from Ottobock with a Bionic Exoskeleton,
left: Accompanying exhibition of LightCon 2023,
above: In addition to the conference, visitors were able to learn about lightweight design innovations from the exhibiting companies (all images: Deutsche Messe AG).

This year, the VDI Medal of Honor was awarded to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Axel Herrmann (Director Faserinstitut Bremen e. V.; CEO Composite Technology Center GmbH). He received the highest award of the VDI society in recognition of his innovative strength, his work for lightweight fiber composite engineering and aircraft construction, and his commitment to young scientists.

Awarding of the VDI Medal of Honor, from left to right: Dr. Gunnar Merz (CEO CU), Marc Fette (CEO CTC GmbH), Prof. Axel Herrmann and Simon Jäckel (Managing Director VDI e. V.); Image: Deutsche Messe AG

The initial feedback from the participants shows that the networking at LightCon will lead to new projects, promising partnerships and joint action in the interests of lightweight design.

Dr. Gunnar Merz was also extremely positive afterwards: “The event has made it clear that lightweight design solutions have great potential to counteract the shortage of materials and energy and the associated rising costs. The innovations and developments presented today already focus on the issues of sustainability and circularity.”

In addition, Dr. Bastian Brenken, Managing Director of the Composites United Nord cluster, adds: “I am particularly pleased that the CU’s internationalization strategy is being consistently developed further. The fact that we were able to welcome Poland as a partner country today is the result of intensive cooperation between the CU and the PKTK. The visit of the Korean delegation was also an important opportunity for intercultural exchange and the strengthening of cooperation between our two countries in the field of composites.”

Both the Korean delegation and some of the Polish guests took advantage of the LightCon and followed the invitation of the CU to get to know the Stade and Augsburg sites and the CU members from industry and research based there in more detail and to gain an overview of the extensive, innovative research and development work in the field of composite materials.

More information about LightCon:

Advisory Board and Partners of LightCon 2023 (Image: Deutsche Messe AG)

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.