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“Chemnitz is not only the lightweight centre of Germany but also of Europe and beyond”

The Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE at Chemnitz University of Technology underlines its internationally renowned lightweight competence at top-class international conference

“Chemnitz is not only the lightweight centre of Germany but also of Europe and beyond”, said Prof. Antonio Lanzotti, Head of the Mechanical Engineering Committee at University of Naples Federico II in Italy during his visit of the 3rd International Merge Technologies Conference (IMTC) at Chemnitz University of Technology. From 21st to 22nd September, more than 200 scientists from 13 countries as well as representatives of economy, industry and politics met to exchange the latest research results in the field of lightweight construction.

Among them was also Prof. Suchart Siengchin, President of the King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB), who was impressed: “The competence in lightweight engineering that the Cluster of Excellence MERGE shows is of immense importance for research and development worldwide. MERGE is a role model for us and its international work has influence all over the world. Climate protection, saving of resources and sustainability are a global challenge, especially for future generations, and we will gladly face them along with our partners in Chemnitz.” To this end, a MERGE branch office was recently established in the Thai capital city.

MERGE’s international radiance advantageous for the Strategy of Excellence

Uwe Gaul, State Secretary of the Saxon State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts, emphasised the outstanding importance of the Chemnitz Federal Cluster at the IMTC: “MERGE as a Federal Cluster of Excellence provides an important contribution for fundamental research in the field of lightweight engineering and the development of novel technologies for lightweight structures on a large scale. Saxony’s and Chemnitz’ locational advantage arises from the ideal merging and mutual support of competences in mechanical engineering, production engineering, textile and plastics engineering.” He said he was confident, that MERGE will successfully pass the complete application procedure of the Federal and State Strategy of Excellence. On 29th September 2017, the German Research Foundation will announce which draft proposals for the Strategy of Excellence will be shortlisted and which universities can submit their full proposals until February 2018. “As the only German Cluster of Excellence in the field of lightweight research, with its scientific successes and international radiance I am sure that MERGE has excellent chances for continued funding”, said Gaul and added: “With regard to this progress and these innovations it is very important to me to reiterate, that the State government will continue to invest in the future of the research location Chemnitz - on a high level and reliably as always.”

“The Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE is a great contribution to the internationalisation of our University”, said Prof. Gerd Strohmeier, President of Chemnitz University, at the IMTC. In this context he referred to MERGEurope - a network of 400 partners in science and industry from Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, which has been led and established primarily by Chemnitz University – and to the European Lightweight Construction Alliance (ELCA). In its launching phase, this alliance connects groups with more than 1,000 European businesses and research institutions in the field of lightweight engineering in the area of mobility and transport. Partners of this alliance are from Great Britain, France, Italy, Sweden and Germany. The University’s President emphasised MERGE’s success in the “Internationalisation of Leading-Edge Clusters” programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research: “MERGE is the only one of the current 43 Federal Clusters of Excellence that has been successful in this programme and receives funding from it”, said the President and added: “I am convinced that MERGE is not only an outstanding flagship for Chemnitz University of Technology but also for the Free State of Saxony and the Federal Republic of Germany.!

Promising work on the future

Guests from the Unites States of America were also impressed by the Chemnitz top-level research, including the Deputy Mayor of Chemnitz’ twin city Akron/Ohio, Samuel DeShazior. “Akron is the birth place of the polymer industry in the US. There we have a kind of intellectual gymnasium, a place for proof of concept for new ideas. MERGE works the same way. We have many interesting interfaces for our scientific communities and will solidify our commitment to work together.” Timothy Eydelnant, consul general from the USA, was also thrilled by the research performance:  “The work conducted here is amazing and work on the future, in the best possible sense.”

At the IMTC conference dinner, the Saxon State Minister for Environment and Agriculture, Thomas Schmidt, emphasised the competences for the future and innovative strength of the Cluster of Excellence: “Lightweight engineering is the science of the future with the technology of the future. An age of opportunities is beginning and Chemnitz can play an integral part in it. Which is why I hope that MERGE will be allowed to continue.”

Background info: Key Technology Lightweight Design in the Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE

Mobility, the emission of environmentally harmful greenhouse gas and global warming are increasingly problematic and call for resource efficient production processes and components with optimised weight. This is a central challenge which can only be met with market-oriented solutions and applications. This is where multifunctional lightweight design comes in as a key technology of the future. Bringing together professionals from different scientific areas and technological fields it can take advantage of interdisciplinary strategies.

The Federal Cluster of Excellence “Technologies for Multifunctional Lightweight Structures” (MERGE) of Chemnitz University of Technology was successful in the Strategy of Excellence programme of the Federal and State governments of Germany and has since been the first and only Federal Cluster of Excellence in the field of lightweight construction.  In this nationwide unique project approx. 100 academic researchers and technicians have been working on the technology fusion of multifunctional lightweight structures since 2012. The main objective is the merging of currently separate production processes during the processing of different material groups such as textiles, plastics and metal and to equip components and semi-finished products with sensor and actuator technology. This would lead to a more cost- and energy-efficient large-scale production of multi-component parts. Large enterprises as well as several small and medium-sized enterprises are involved in the Federal Cluster of Excellence, making up the whole value chain ‘from the material to the lightweight structure’. The Cluster’s project results serve the leading markets of automobile industry, aerospace, mechanical engineering and microsystems technology.

Until 31 October 2017 MERGE will have received 34 million Euros in funding from the German Research Association DFG. An additional bridge funding of 6.5 million Euros has been granted until 31 December 2018. The Free State Saxony will invest about 30 million Euros in the construction of a new three-part building.

Homepage of the Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE: https://www.tu-chemnitz.de/MERGE

For more information please contact Prof. Lothar Kroll, Coordinator of the Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE, or Dr. Jürgen Tröltzsch, Scientific Director, phone 0371 371 531-13910, e-mail: imtc@tu-chemnitz.de

Matthias Fejes
27.09.2017

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