Cars are Made of That? (Day 10)

May 13th, 2019

Our itinerary for today included a morning visit to SGL, a manufacturer of carbon fiber components of automobiles. I knew prior to our trip that many nice cars were made from carbon fiber components, but I was still excited to witness the production process to see how it all comes together to form automobile components.

We left the hotel at 8:15, and after a short bus ride, we arrived at the SGL location. I was very impressed with their facility; it was very modern and new with many carbon fiber accents throughout, which made the location much cooler. We looked through the gallery on the main floor, and we saw some cool stuff. For instance, we saw the side vent cover made of exposed carbon fiber for the Audi R8, as well as an example of the BMW i3 chassis that we would learn about later.

SGL Facility
Audi R8 Air Vent Cover
Carbon Fiber Wheel Produced with SGL Carbon Fiber

We began our official visit with a brief lecture about the company and its products from Herr Dr. Tilo Hauke. We learned about SGL’s work with graphite, expanded natural carbon, and carbon fiber products, which was a much broader range that I expected going into the visit. We learned about SGL’s cooperation with BMW to develop carbon fiber chassis for the BMW i3 and i8 models. Herr Dr. Hauke informed us about SGL’s research into future manufacturing techniques, such as additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing allows SGL a greater degree of freedom in designing complex vehicle components while reducing waste generated by traditional manufacturing techniques, such as milling. Herr Dr. Hauke’s presentation was very interesting, and his colleague followed up with a brief overview of SGL as an employer. To be honest, the informative overview was a much better recruitment technique than that employed by Faurecia. It felt as though SGL was interested in having us as employees, but by no means were they forcefully recruiting; it was much more informational.

BMW i3 Chassis

After the presentations, we took a short tour of some of SGL’s facility. We saw the production of carbon fiber thread from beginning to end, as well as the formation of different types of carbon fiber components. I never saw carbon fiber as individual threads, and it did not resemble the mats that automakers use for lay-ups at all, so that was very cool to see. Their facility was impressive, and I was especially impressed by the machine that the company uses to weave the carbon fiber threads across a mold before baking it.

The tour returned to the main building, where the team had lunch. We had some excellent halupki with rice and gravy. The site visit wrapped up after that, and we headed back to the hotel after an early day. Our Continental group took advantage of this opportunity to work on our presentation. Fortunately, we had coordinated with the rest of our group prior to meeting to make sure that we were all on the same page as far as researching. As a result, we could focus on simply creating the presentation, aesthetics, and inserting information into the PowerPoint. It is looking like our presentation is shaping up very nicely for Wednesday.

After we finished, the guys on the trip wanted to celebrate Eamonn’s birthday, so we all reserved a table at Sausalito’s, a Mexican restaurant on the Maximilianstrasse. I had some really good tacos, and we all had a good time. 

Tomorrow, we are visiting Ulm and climbing 768 steps to the top of the tower. I’m really excited to see it, but I hope I can make it up all of the steps!

P.S. Car of the day is a white 911 GT3.

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