Both developments dominated this year's edition of Composites Europe, held for the 13th time with 365 exhibitors from 30 nations. Event organiser Reed Exhibitions registered 8,148 visitors from 71 countries (2017: 63). The Composites Europe trade fair held in Stuttgart in an even year for the first time, followed on from the previous year's results (8,342). With these figures it underlined its importance as an international industry get-together. This is also reflected by the slightly higher share of international trade visitors (46% over last year's 42%). Also striking is the list of companies that came to Stuttgart: nearly the entire automotive industry - from Audi, BMW, Bugatti, Daimler through Ford, Honda and Mitsubishi to Opel, Porsche, Toyota, and Volkswagen - was represented here.
It was a similar picture for the aerospace industry. One in four visitors represented an enterprise active on this market as an OEM or upstream supplier. "This is a proof of quality underlining that the decision to hold the event annually in Stuttgart was driven by the market," says Hans-Joachim Erbel, CEO Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH as the organiser of Composites Europe.
Growth of the European Composites industry goes onAt present, the market for glass fibre reinforced plastics (GRP) is growing by 2% against the previous year to a volume of 1.141 million tonnes. This is the result found by the annual market report of the industry association AVK - Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe, which was presented at the beginning of Composites Europe in Stuttgart. This means the Composites industry is following overall economic developments.
"The outlook for the Composites industry as a whole is good, the potential is enormous," says Dr. Elmar Witten, General Manager of AVK. The automotive sector, which is the most important market for selling fibre reinforced plastics in Europe today, is currently undergoing a fundamental change. In addition to higher requirements made on exhaust gas and emission values new drive concepts such as e-mobility are contributing to a restructuring of the sector and opening up new perspectives.
Big response to Lightweight Technologies Forum (LTF)The lightweight construction theme plays a central role here, as Werner Lohscheider from the German Ministry of Economics and Energy stressed on the occasion of the opening of the "Lightweight Technologies Forum": "To us lightweight construction is a key technology we use to modernise and strengthen Germany as an industrial location - in a sustainable manner. After all, this is a broad and strong basis for adding value and creating jobs, also for today's and tomorrow's markets."
Fibre reinforced Composites bring their strengths to bear especially in multi-material lightweight construction. After all, the requirements of modern lightweight construction can be met less and less with a single material while hybrid lightweight construction is becoming increasingly important instead. An approach that underlies the Lightweight Technologies Forum: "With this cross-material forum, we have created a format that brings together the Composites industry and the application industries for integrative and hybrid lightweight construction," says Olaf Freier, Event Director of Composites Europe. The forum celebrated its premiere in 2016 and has developed very successfully since then. A total of 26 companies presented materials, tools and exhibits this year - from fillers, bonding agents and presses for laminating different materials to hybrid semi-finished products. One highlight was the feasibility study of a car seat that will weigh as little as eight kilograms.