Materials for lightweight design – how to treat them right

The appropriate handling of raw materials in lightweight design structures is the key success factor for preserving resources, enhancing sustainable production, and reducing costs. Unfortunately, practical experience often shows that designing and handling rules for new materials are not being respected in the industry. The idea behind the project LightRight was to develop a European-wide ISO EN 17024 certified professional training system to provide relevant, ready-to-use knowledge to enable the industry to treat lightweight materials in the appropriate way. In order to match the needs of the industry on this topic, a needs assessment has been conducted in four countries. Initially, the LightRight professional training system was designed in a blended learning format, but due to the COVID-19 crisis, the consortium had to reshape the format into a full e-learning solution.

Economically and environmentally indispensable, lightweight structures have the potential to increase resource efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the attractiveness of the product.

According to EU regulations, the biggest need to reduce weight and CO2 emissions exist in the automotive and railway-related industry. So far, the production of lightweight products seems to consist of switching from “common” materials to “lightweight” materials without considering the complete value chain. Lightweight materials need new, more productive and eco-friendly design, construction, processing, repair, and handling. In both lightweight design and new materials, professional training courses already exist, but so far in a disconnected way. LightRight merges both by offering a new perspective. In addition, the certification according to EN ISO 17024 guarantees the validity and reliability of the content.

The course gives a comprehensive introduction to lightweight manufacturing; it brings several concepts of engineering and design together.

Beate Brede, Project Coordinator at Fraunhofer IFAM

LightRight has successfully installed a unique professional training course system on lightweight materials. It provides certification according to ISO EN 17024 standard and an integrated participant management system. The development of the training material has been achieved thanks to a fruitful collaboration between first-ranked European universities and companies, under the coordination of a research and technology organisation. This project success stems from the complementarity between the skills of pedagogical and subject matter experts that permit the courses to be modern and industry-relevant.

Lightweighting Professional course goes online

In 2019, 63 participants registered for the Introductory Module. In 2020, 127 participants registered for the seven material modules, and five registered for the Introductory Module. The consortium has reacted to the COVID-19 crisis promptly and flexibly by moving from the initially blended learning to a completely online format.

The e-learning course extends to four weeks. The participants get access to course materials in instructional videos, texts, slides and self-assessments via Moodle. In addition to these asynchronous self-learning phases, regular intervals by synchronous meetings with the instructors and all participants happen. At the end of each module, there are intensive online revision phases to prepare for online exams, which are also compliant with the ISO 17024 standard.

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