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Lightweight Construction in the Agricultural Sector

This prototype of a carbon fiber monocoque consists of over 1000 cuttings, 100 inserts, and 20-30 foams.

In this case, it is the central chassis element of a high-performance sports car. In the automotive sector, the use of CFRP monocoque chassis has long been established.

However, research and development projects in the agricultural sector have also been underway for some time. While it seems logical and consistent for utility vehicles such as transporters, sweepers, and the like, especially regarding their advancing electrification, it admittedly appears quite "innovative" in the context of ton-heavy agricultural machinery.

The use of lightweight construction here is also justified by developments over the last decades: to be able to efficiently and quickly work on growing agricultural areas, for example, harvesting machines have become increasingly powerful, but also larger and heavier.

The high weight and increasing dimensions reach their limits in terms of road traffic approval and applicability in the form of significant soil compaction. High fuel consumption also reduces profitability.

So, as much as the call for lighter, more efficient machines may be from an industrial standpoint, the challenges for development companies of heavy-duty chassis made from composite materials are significant:

  • complex design of thick-walled composites in combination with the attached massive frame structures.

  • demanding conception of all fasteners and connecting elements, especially inserts, for optimal introduction of high loads into the composite structures.

  • very elaborate dynamic structural testing.

However, development could be worthwhile for manufacturers in many ways:

  • Reduced fuel consumption with constant performance

  • Closed surfaces for better cleaning and durability

  • Weight reduction of the chassis system by up to 50%

  • Higher torsional rigidity of the frame structure

It will be exciting to see if lightweight subsystems will find their permanent place in the agricultural machinery park. What do you think?



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