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The Research Complex of the Federal Cluster of Excellence will be expanded

Finance Minister Unland: “One of the most important milestones for top-level research in Saxony is achieved with the construction of the MERGE-machine” - Two more construction phases are to follow

After a nearly one-year building phase, the construction of the MERGE-machine in the new research buildings at the Technische Universität Chemnitz was initiated. On a press tour on June 1st, 2015 Saxony’s Finance Minister Prof. Dr. Georg Unland and the Rector of the Technische Universität Chemnitz, Prof. Dr. Arnold van Zyl, informed attendees about the progress of work at the Cluster of Excellence.

The State Minister Prof. Dr. Georg Unland stated: “One of the most important milestones for top-level research in Saxony is achieved with the construction of the MERGE-machine. The addition of three new halls delivers the Technische Universität Chemnitz the research spaces that it needs for the successful Cluster of Excellence MERGE. Thus, the best conditions are created for the university to shine on the international stage with outstanding research achievements in one of the key technologies of the future.”

“Through the work of the Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE, the TU contributes once more to strengthening the scientific region of Chemnitz. With the new research hall, the Free State of Saxony provides the structural facilities to continue the excellent work done at MERGE under optimal conditions and thereby strengthen the profile of our university. Hence, this project that is so important for the economic development in Saxony gets a highly visible excellent structural framework on our university’s campus. In the immediate vicinity of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research institutes, a new link between basic and applied research as well as high-level university studies is being established in the future field of lightweight construction”, says Prof. Dr. Arnold van Zyl, Rector of the TU Chemnitz. Thus, the students of the new Master’s programme Merge Technologies for Resource Efficiency will also benefit from these framework conditions.

The planned research complex consists of three directly linked halls. The slightly higher-built hall will house the core of the new research facility, the so-called MERGE-machine. It is a newly developed multi-component injection moulding complex for the combination of different material systems for multifunctional lightweight construction. The west facade of the research hall will receive a translucent glazing. The other two halls will house experimental and research courses, storage areas and functional rooms.

Under the project management of the Chemnitz branch of the state-owned enterprise Sächsisches Immobilien und Baumanagement (SIB) a usable space of a total of 3,257 square metres is being built. The completion of the research hall that is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and state funds is scheduled for October 2015. Commissioning of the MERGE-machine is planned for August 2015. The costs of the first phase amount to approximately 12.6 million euros. In the coming years, two further construction phases of the complex will take place, the total investment is expected to amount to approximately 30 million euros. Funding is provided from EU and state funds.

Keyword: Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE

With the Federal Cluster of Excellence “Merge Technologies for Multifunctional Lightweight Structures” (MERGE), the Technische Universität Chemnitz is one of the winners of the Federal Excellence Initiative. This nationwide unique project includes around 100 scientists working in the area of technology fusion in lightweight construction. Their common goal is to merge manufacturing processes that today are separate in the processing of different material groups such as textiles, plastics and metals. Multi-component parts can thus be mass produced more cost- and energy-efficiently. In the future, multifunctionality will be achieved in one processing step only. The Federal Cluster of Excellence was established in 2012 within the Excellence Initiative of the federal and state governments at the TU Chemnitz. Through 2017, it will be funded with 34 million euros.

Measuring roughly 25 metres in length, 10 metres in width and 8 metres in height and a total weight of about 200 tonnes, the MERGE-machine represents the heart of the resulting MERGE Technology Centre. It will be used in the future as a manufacturing complex for the combined processing of plastic and metal-based materials, from which, using the basic technologies of forming and injection moulding, components with dimensions of about 1.5 metres x 1.5 metres are produced. The facility can simultaneously process different plastics systems and, due to process combination, it is also more energy-efficient than splitting the process onto multiple machines. A central clamping and locking device for moulding tools with high precision movement with two oppositely arranged injection units for thermoplastic materials serves as the main system.

(Author: Mario Steinebach, Translation: Sarah Wilson)

Mario Steinebach

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