Just returned from a trip to Germany to visit BMW's Landshut production plant and Premium AEROTEC's Augsburg facility. The visits were organised by the COMPOSITES EUROPE trade show, where both companies will be exhibiting on 27-29 September in Stuttgart.

BMW is developing its carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) technology for use in its upcoming i3 and i8 models. At Landshut it is already producing CFRP roofs for its M3 model. In a new production hall at the site it is scaling up and optimising this process to make it suitable for the mass production of the passenger cell of the i models, which are based on BMW's new LifeDrive vehicle architecture.The company is using a high pressure resin transfer moulding (HP-RTM) process and is aiming to reduce the production cycle time to a "low single-digit number of minutes."

The BMW i3 electric vehicle is scheduled for launch in 2013.

At its new Augsburg facility Premium AEROTEC is preparing to start manufacture of CFRP components for the Airbus A350 XWB passenger aircraft. Premium AEROTEC will manufacture the composite fuselage. In the climate-controlled composite lay-up hall at Augsburg we saw a test panel being produced using a fibre placement machine, various tools, a multi-functional transfer and turning station, and the stringer positioning tool. In the adjacent autoclave hall, the autoclave, milling and drilling equipment, measurement and NDT devices, frame bonding and various other facilities are already in place.

The A350 XWB is also scheduled for launch in 2013.