On 2nd August, the sustainable "NaMiKo Smart" centre console received an "Honorable Mention" in the Altair ENLIGHTEN AWARD, the most important lightweight construction and sustainability award in the automotive sector. A German project consortium comprising Automotive Management Consulting GmbH (AMC), BMW M GmbH, csi entwicklungstechnik GmbH (csi) and the German Institutes for Textile and Fibre Research (DITF) was responsible for the design, development and manufacture of the "NaMiKo Smart", the structure of which is largely made out of sustainable raw materials.
The future of lightweight construction: the "NaMiKo Smart" project
Every year, the Altair ENLIGHTEN AWARD honours international lightweight construction and sustainability solutions for the automotive industry. These are solutions that stand out particularly on account of their innovation, USPs or engineering craftsmanship. As the load-bearing structure of the "NaMiKo Smart", consisting of a bio-based cellulose fibre and a matrix system with a high bio content, was produced in an innovative "NFK in 3D" filament winding process covered with "smart textiles", the centre console, developed by the German project partners, is an outstanding example of the direction in which lightweight construction transport is moving in terms of materials, technology and sustainability concepts. There were therefore many good reasons for the judging panel to award the "NaMiKo Smart" a prize in "The Future of Lightweight Construction" category.
Sustainable lightweight construction: "NFK in 3D" structure
Weighing only 400 grammes, the developers proved in the feasibility study for the "NaMiKo Smart" how the use of material in the load-bearing structure can be reduced to a minimum, thanks to resource-saving "NFK in 3D" technology. In the future – thanks to an end-to-end digital process chain and the "form follows force" principle - only as many bio-based cellulose fibres will be used as are absolutely necessary – not a single extra fibre.
Measurable and assessable sustainability: the SUSTAINABILITY VALUE
Apart from the materials used, all other economic and environmental development impacts were analysed and optimised in the development and manufacture of the "NaMiKo Smart". The project stakeholders use the software-based SUSTAINABILITY VALUE Analysis developed by AMC GmbH to identify and make any adjustments needed at the earliest possible development phase. This identifies sustainability criteria, such as the availability of materials, water consumption, biological degradability or recycling data, for the use of natural resources. By contrast, sustainability criteria, such as the component mass, logistics and transport parameters and the CO2 footprint during the usage phase, are documented and considered for the use of materials and energy. The SUSTAINABILITY VALUE works end to end.
Pre-process chain, usage and recycling phase
Falco Hollmann, who works in Innovation Management, Lightweight Construction & Sustainability at BMW M GmbH, stresses: "Generating momentum now that will help to significantly reduce the pre-process chain footprint is the first key step to achieving our climate goals." It is not enough to promote a circular economy if there is no "cradle-to-cradle" solution at the end. The recycling solutions need to take into account realistically achievable targets at the outset. "Methods, including the SUSTAINABILITY VALUE analysis, help us to direct our focus most effectively at the development stage."
Digital process chain and "front-loading"
As digital sustainability is also one of the key tasks of our time, the "NaMiKo Smart" project is also supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and the Jülich Research Centre (FZJ). The end-to-end digital CAE-CAD-CAM process chain, for which csi entwicklungstechnik is responsible, opens up totally new possibilities in sustainable lightweight construction. The use of the digital process chain enables key sustainability targets to be achieved at the "front-loading" stage. Sustainable lightweight construction is also a key issue for the German Institute for Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF), which was involved in the scientific side of the development of the "NaMiKo Smart".
Paradigm shift: ecology, economics and social issues at a glance
Rainer Kurek, Managing Partner of AMC GmbH and Project Coordinator for the "NaMiKo Smart" consortium, concisely summarises the technological paradigm shift in sustainable lightweight construction:"The inner logic and holistic systemically sustainable character of the "NaMiKo Smart" project lies in the aim of positively balancing sustainable quality with a sustainable price. This is the only way of intelligently and cost-effectively achieving CO2, energy, transport and climate change targets. The consortium's common focus is on how "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)" - "Environmental Social Governance (ESG)" and the "Green Future" demands of politicians can be fulfilled.
The development of the "NaMiKo Smart", which had its public launch at the AMC-LEICHTBAU SYMPOSIUM and the HANNOVER MESSE 2022, has done more than just attract the attention of the judging panel of the ENLIGHTEN AWARD. Far more, it meant that additional partners could be acquired for the project. GRADEL SÀRL, based in Ellange in Luxembourg, signed up for the industrialisation process for "NFK in 3D" and von der Linden GmbH became our project partner in the use of bio-based resins.