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A strong fundament to enable excellent research

The Federal Cluster of Excellence "MERGE Technologies for Multifunctional Lightweight Structures” looks back to its first period of establishment and achievements

  • Melanie Ploner and Michael Heinrich, working within the Cluster of Excellence inspect a novel stitched sensor arrangement, which is applied on a textile fabric (Photo: TUC/Hendrik Schmidt)

About a year ago, on 15 June 2012, the international reviewer group and the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee of the German Research Foundation (DFG), announced to fund the Technische Universität Chemnitz (TUC) initiative "Merge Technologies for Multifunctional Lightweight Structures - MERGE”, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Lothar Kroll. Since then a lot of strategic plans have been made. Around the official start of the Cluster of Excellence "MERGE” on 1 November 2012 the main task of the Central Management and the related Interacting Research Domains (IRD) was to integrate the new structure to facilitate a proper start of this Cluster. Applicants for dozens of job advertisements from all over the world have been interviewed and carefully selected. The Central Management consists of experienced key personnel to cope with the coordination of more than 20 institutes, 38 participating researchers and far more scientific and technical personnel and hence to allow the employees from the different IRDs to focus on their excellent research topics.

This Cluster is a prime example for an interdisciplinary research project at the TUC. Therefore with the resolution of the University Management and the Senate from mid-November 2012 a new central facility as a university institution was established. As a central facility MERGE enables a multidisciplinary cooperation in the fields of research and education across the faculties and institutes and is supervised by the Central Management of the TUC. Furthermore, the first construction stage of a new research centre is planned to be completed by 2014. This MERGE Technology Centre will host those technologies necessary to combine them into multifunctional lightweight structures.

After essential decisions have been made, the official Launch Event of MERGE took place on 30 January 2013. The Rector Prof. Dr. Arnold van Zyl, the Mayor of Chemnitz, Ms. Barbara Ludwig, and the leaders of the clusters´ six IRDs as well as the representatives of industrial and scientific partners pointed out that this is the only Cluster in the field of forward-looking key enabling technologies for lightweight structures. Prof. Kroll said that: "Our Launch Event sets the appropriate frame for new researchers to get in touch with their colleagues from other research institutions and to meet the partners from the industry”. With its decision the DFG and German Science Council are highlighting the significance and necessity of enhancement of resource and energy efficiency for future technological and product developments.

MERGE was represented in an internationally visible environment with booths at the trade shows JEC Europe in Paris and Hannover Messe 2013. Scientists led discussions about selected applications in lightweight structures to establish new contacts and form interdisciplinary and trans-sectoral networks. With events at the Campus, MERGE gains high visibility and perception by the students and staff of the TUC.

One of the next milestones will be the International Merge Technologies Conference (IMTC). It takes place 24-25 October 2013 at the Virtual Reality Center of Fraunhofer IWU and is aimed to present the latest developments and results for the resource-efficient mass-production of lightweight structures.

To have a closer look at all passed events and further information about the Cluster of Excellence MERGE, visit

For further information please contact Katarina Weiß, phone +49 (0)371 531-38377, mail

(Authors: Marco Müller and Katarina Weiß)

Mario Steinebach

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