How functional integration can benefit you

Multifunctional products offer great potential for lightweight construction. We explain how you can benefit from functional integration in glass fibre-reinforced plastics.

Reading time: 08:00 min.

Multifunctional products change lightweight construction

Have you ever come across 2-in-1 shampoo and shower gel or 4-in-1 laundry detergent on the supermarket shelf? So-called multifunctional products exploit the benefits of functional integration and combine several properties of fundamentally different products in a single product. Multifunctional products make sense not only in the domestic sector, but also in the industrial sector. This is because: Functional integration is an important part of lightweight design.

The aim of lightweight construction is to conserve resources throughout the entire product life cycle. These include factors such as the reduction of material volumes, the reduction of production and assembly costs, the options for further recycling or the reduction of usage and maintenance costs. Lightweight construction plays a particularly important role in moving vehicles such as commercial vehicles and rail or road vehicles of all kinds. In these industries, lightweight construction can bring improvements in key criteria such as payload and power-to-weight ratio, fuel consumption and emissions or wear. Multifunctional products help here by combining different properties in one product through functional integration and thus significantly changing lightweight construction. Glass fibre-reinforced plastics (GRP) are particularly popular materials, as they can be used for lightweight construction. In this article, you will learn how you can benefit from functional integration and the role played by glass fibre-reinforced plastics.

What is functional integration?

What does functional integration actually mean? The objective of functional integration into design is to cover as many technical functions as possible with a minimum of components. Functional integration is also referred to as function integration, functional unification, integral functional utilization or multifunctional use. Specifically, the purpose of a function is to fulfil a task. Depending on the design, however, a product can still also fulfil several functions at the same time. In theory, the product could consist of one or more components. However, functional integration focuses on increasing the properties of an individual component with the aim of it being able to fulfil several functions. Prof. Jan Robert Ziebart, professor at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in the Engineering and Mathematics Department, specializes in design and explains functional integration as follows:

"Functional integration is a design process that changes a technical system with a given function in such a way that additional functions are fulfilled by the system and/or the number of components is reduced".

Functional integration is therefore a constructive process in which a product can be expanded with additional functions. The resulting advantages can generally increase the economic value of your product.

How you benefit from functional integration

Perhaps you are asking yourself the question: What is the point of all this? Functional integration is anything but a simple procedure – but it is never pursued without a reason. Functional integration has a positive effect on the quality, costs or production time of a product. Essentially, functional integration should optimize the entire value creation process of the company and generate product improvements as well as maximize customer benefits in a best-case scenario, without additional costs.

Functional integration can lead to material savings, weight reduction by saving components, cost reduction, increased performance, increased reliability, and ease of installation, among other things. The increased reliability and quality of the product can also prevent malfunctions. It is also possible to save on components and thus also minimize material and installation space.

Furthermore, material utilization can be optimized, resulting in lower material costs. The graph shows the benefits of functional integration in terms of quality, cost and time.

Innovations in the plastics industry from multifunctional products

Functional integration is an important development focus, especially in the plastics industry. The merging of different functions into one component opens up increasingly demanding application areas for plastic products. Entire components can become lighter if one component performs several functions. As a result, they contribute to the efficient use of resources and at the same time are suitable for an increasing number of industries. The best example of this is glass fibre-reinforced plastics (GRP). The material enables the combination of different functions in one product, and with so-called multifunctional products, facilitates the development of ready-made solutions for every possible industry. We explain in detail how glass fibre-reinforced plastics are generally composed in the article "Glass fibre-reinforced plastics – a definition". LAMILUX Composites is a multifunctional products specialist. With its versatile GRP solutions, it offers customer-specific solutions for every application in a wide range of industries. Customer benefit is the top priority for the GRP manufacturer. LAMILUX Composites therefore focuses on added value through visual appearance, functional integration and the reduction of work steps. The following examples illustrate how this is implemented.

Conclusion: Functional integration benefits lightweight construction

The integration of several functions on one functional element is the solution for lightweight construction. In particular, the comprehensive advantages of functional integration in GRP are driving the trend towards lightweight construction. For example, the process of functional integration can have a positive effect on the product life cycle. The implementation and procedure of functional integration always depends on the objectives, products and scope of application. In this case, professionals such as the specialist for fibre-reinforced composites LAMILUX Composites. would be delighted to advise you. With multifunctional products in its portfolio, the GRP manufacturer provides versatile materials for automotive construction, the container and building industry as well as the medical sector. Whether for the interior and exterior fittings of motor homes, last mile vehicles, commercial vehicles and buses as well as medical rescue or transport trolleys, multifunctional products made of glass-fibre reinforced plastics offer excellent solutions and thus combine current specifications for lightweight construction and an ever-increasing range of functions.

Learn more in the LAMILUX Academy

Are you interested in learning more about the versatile application areas of LAMILUX Mehr-in-1 products? Then the LAMILUX Academy is the right place for you. In webinars, the professionals from LAMILUX will give you numerous insights into the world of glass fibre reinforced plastics. Whether it's the tank container industry, mobile units, vehicle construction or value retention and TÜV-certified quality: exciting webinars await you.