The increasing use of fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) in automotive construction is presenting the automotive industry and vehicle workshops the challenge of providing economical repair methods. At RWTH Aachen University and in close cooperation with seven research institutes and around fifty industrial companies, new technologies are being developed for identifying and assessing damage. The project also covers the customized production of repair materials - so-called patches - and the actual carrying out of the repair, including quality assurance.
The background behind this research initiative is that new vehicle concepts are opting increasingly for FRP and especially carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP), because these materials have not only lower weight but also very high stiffness and strength. Advances in the efficiency of the production plants and a reduction in cycle times have resulted in FRP also being increasingly used in large-volume series production of vehicles. Furthermore, pressure from legislators to reduce CO2 emissions means that lightweight construction materials such as composites are being deployed in ever more vehicles.