Plastics provide unbeatable mechanical properties, resulting in a vast potential for conserving energy and resources as well as light-weight construction. Fiber-reinforced, particle-filled or foamed plastic and sandwich structures in particular are capable of withstanding highest loads, or absorb significant amounts of energy. In addition, they can be provided with special properties, including, for example, protection against radiation or against the influence of weather, enhanced fire-retarding properties, specific optical properties, electrical or thermal conductivity, sensor and actuator functions or self-healing capabilities.
For manufacturers to be able to offer leading-edge, competitive products that are highly responsive to market demands, the development of plastics has to be tightly interwoven with the development of components and systems. This is the only way in which ever more challenging demands regarding the service behavior of materials, components and complete systems can be met, high-end and long-life products provided with the necessary ageing, failure and repair properties, and autonomous monitoring of structural integrity and functional capability guaranteed in safety-critical areas.