Germany-based Voith and Fraunhofer Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Umformtechnik (IWU) have presented a lightweight construction and manufacturing concept for a high-speed train at the Chemnitz Trade Fair.

Developed using fibreglass and aluminum foam, the conceptual model saves up to 20% in weight, compared with standard vehicle designs.

Fraunhofer IWU department composite design head Thomas Hipke said: "We decided on aluminum foam as the material, because we can achieve weight savings of 20% with the sandwich structure, compared with conventional manufacturing using GFRP or aluminum with the same stiffness."

The research project forms a part of the European regional development fund and secured funds from the Free State of Saxony.

Voith CEO Jens Pohl said: "With this project, we had the rare opportunity to be proactive and collaborate with our project partners on alternative designs for a light high-speed train."

Voith has worked with its customers in the automotive and rail vehicle industry, including MFPA Leipzig and KUKA Systems, on solutions for designing components and vehicles that are lighter and more efficient.

In response to customer requests from China and Taiwan, the company has developed the lightweight model as a solution that is cost-efficient and simple to produce.

MFPA Leipzig was responsible for material characterisation and KUKA Systems provided knowledge of forming technology and the corresponding tool design construction. Fraunhofer IWU was responsible for the technology and tool development of the foam within the project.

Image: The conceptual model assumes weight savings of up to 20% compared to standard vehicle designs. Photo: courtesy of Voith.