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  4. Materials & Manufacturing Methods

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Materials & Manufacturing Processes

The Material – The Basis

Materials form the basis for our vehicles and production processes. However, their importance extends even further. With their haptic and visual properties, they convey the product experience and quality understanding of the Volkswagen Group.

We work on the best possible material for each customer requirement, Group segment, vehicle design and component. The functions of materials optimize component performance, design, convenience and customer safety.

We are forging ahead with a change of perspective towards entirely new materials. We focus not only on classical parameters such as strength and deformation but also on the entire spectrum of mechanical, chemical and electrical properties. For the optimization of materials, we pursue a holistic approach covering material utilization and the production process. Thanks to simulation, we gain an even deeper understanding of material behavior right down to the level of the atom.

We put this know-how to use both in the development of new materials and in flexible and efficient production processes. Virtual technologies improve the economic viability of these processes. Our joining technologies open up entirely new possibilities for the Group with respect to the material mix and shaping processes. The results are tailor-made, optimum materials and material combinations that meet the highest requirements as regards sustainability, cost effectiveness, safety and appearance.

We consider the materials used within the system, cooperate with developers, production and assembly experts and are a reliable, inspiring partner for research institutes and suppliers.

Sustainable Materials for Interior applications

Exhibition of sustainable material approaches

The exploration of natural resources and the development of ecological components lead to a new class of sustainable materials. The research is focused on tailored production and processing of, as well as refinement, of methods for sustainable materials for interior applications. In addition to it‘s performance, the availability of a material from ethically responsible sources is essential, i.e. “no food for car components”.

Our goal is the transformation of today’s interior to an ecological interface between car and driver. That can be realized by the development of new high-quality materials from sustainable sources and components. Ideally resource-friendly agricultural products and byproducts are combined and upgraded in eco-friendly processes while generating an added value regarding their appearance compare to commonly used polymers.

Developing New Magnesium Sheet Alloys

Amongst metallic lightweight construction materials, Magnesium offers the highest weight saving potential, approaching that of carbon fibre reinforced composites. While magnesium alloys are state of the art for cast components in the drive train and interior of cars, magnesium sheets have only been used in niche applications to date (e.g. roof of the Porsche 911 GT3RS). One of the reasons is the limited material property spectrum covered by commercially available systems. Materials research conducted at  Volkswagen in collaboration with Helmholtzzentrum Geesthacht and POSCO is targeted at identifying and testing novel alloy systems that offer a substantial broadening this property spectrum. Thus, a novel alloy could be developed that shows significant improvement in low temperature formability. These developments form the basis of reducing the complexity in magnesium-component manufacturing within the automotive industry.

Volkswagen Group Research is responsible for studying the feasibility of this matter and not its use as standard equipment. The use in vehicle production is not currently planned at this time.