The world of today is characterised by decreasing natural resources and climate warming through increasing CO2 emissions. The emission of greenhouse gases is considerably influenced by the transport sector, which shows extreme growth rates globally. Especially in the transport sector a massive reduction of resource consumption can be achieved by using lightweight structures.
Providing efficient, lightweight solutions entails the synergetic combination of different material groups, which are currently processed using manufacturing technologies that have discrete working mechanisms and linking processes. Considerable additional savings of energy and material can be attained by merging the individual material-specific manufacturing processes to technologies suitable for the mass-production of lightweight structures.
The vision of the Cluster of Excellence is to tap into the joint resource potential of merged technologies and lightweight structures by adopting an integrated approach. Thus, the Chemnitz Cluster MERGE is pursuing a long-term strategy of bivalent resource efficiency (BRE strategy) which is a competitive factor for Germany as a production site and for the protection of jobs within the manufacturing sector.
The hybrid construction of multifunctional lightweight structures unites passive or active components, which must be combined to meet specific requirements. The fundamental production methods that form the basis for this research are textile, plastics and metal processing methods, which are characterized by
- suitability for mass-production, reproducibility, flexibility,
- economic significance in all application areas,
- a broad spectrum of basic processes and principles,
- predestination for hybrid lightweight structures.
In addition, active components such as sensors, actuators and generators in electronic modules can be integrated into the production process using in-line or in-situ procedures, thus adding a further stage of functional lightweight construction.
The concentration of research expertise is intended to reduce the resource and cost expenditures while improving climate protection resulting from the reduced CO2-emission, all within the five-year funding period. In view of increasing shortages of resources, the long-term vision is to direct the development of merged technologies towards ever-greater sustainability. Strategies for the use of renewable and almost inexhaustible raw materials, as well as for the improvement of recycling processes, are to be investigated.
The MERGE Cluster of Excellence will contribute significantly to the strengthening and concentration of competencies through the exploitation of the joint saving potential of technology merging and of lightweight structures. This will sharpen the competitive profile of Chemnitz as scientific location considerably. To achieve these aims, the TUC treads new paths with regard to organisation, management, staffing situation and education.
Through complex hybridisation, highly networked and interdisciplinary expertise can be successfully generated by grouping the superordinate branches of science together in an interacting communications and operations platform.
The Cluster’s new BRE strategy aims to bridge the existing gap between different approaches of manufacturing-oriented and computational engineering-oriented disciplines on the one hand and engineering and natural science on the other hand. Only then can a symbiosis of ideas, methods and model systems be established to provide merged manufacturing technologies for multifunctional lightweight structures. The exchange of the scientific expertise on the interacting platform will be of vital importance for imparting fundamental knowledge to gain innovation.