Thuringian Centre for Mechanical Engineering at TU Ilmenau: Investing in the future

ThZM supports Thuringian industry in the transformation to a state-of-the-art di
ThZM supports Thuringian industry in the transformation to a state-of-the-art digital production economy
The Thuringian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society today (15.04.2024) allocated six million euros in funding to the Thuringian Center for Mechanical Engineering. In a global market characterized by strong competitive pressure, the innovation center, which is coordinated by the TU Ilmenau, can now realign its future strategy towards energyand material-saving production technologies and an efficient circular economy, thus consolidating its role as a driver of innovation for Thuringian industry.

Since it was founded in 2013, the Thuringian Center for Mechanical Engineering (ThZM) has been highly successful in supporting the state’s manufacturing industry in the application of innovative mechanical engineering technologies across the entire process and production chain. In the eleven years of its existence, the innovation center has contributed to increasing the efficiency of more than 170 Thuringian companies, primarily from the mechanical engineering, metal and plastics processing and automotive supply sectors, through joint projects with industry using modern and resource-saving production technologies. Five research institutions are involved in the ThZM with their respective research infrastructures: the TU Ilmenau, the Ernst Abbe University of Applied Sciences Jena , the Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences , the Gesellschaft für Fertigungstechnik und Entwicklung in Schmalkalden and the Günter Köhler Institute for Joining Technology and Materials Testing in Jena. The expertise of the scientists ranges from application-oriented basic research to industry-oriented research.

However, despite the successes that the ThZM has achieved in modernizing Thuringia’s small and medium-sized enterprises, the manufacturing industry in Thuringia is still facing major challenges. Companies need to digitalize their work processes and production, while climate change and the long-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are affecting operations. With high global competitive pressure, rapidly rising energy prices, scarce raw materials, disrupted supply chains and a lack of demand from abroad are placing a heavy burden on manufacturing companies.

In particular, the European Commission’s Green Deal goal of making the EU greenhouse gas-neutral by 2050 requires far-reaching changes in the industry. As the manufacturing industry accounts for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, companies must use innovative technologies in order to achieve the specified targets. In order to make manufacturing companies in Thuringia fit for the future, the new strategy of the Thuringian Center for Mechanical Engineering focuses on four key areas:
  • Development of energyand material-saving production technologies to reduce resource requirements
  • Development of recyclable production strategies for the manufacture of reusable, repairable or recyclable products
  • Optimization and development of production processes for the treatment and processing of locally renewable raw materials
  • Development of digital production management tools to increase resource efficiency and reduce waste

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the ThZM sees potential for the manufacturing industry above all’in the promotion of an efficient circular economy and in the development of production technologies that conserve energy and materials. As Thuringia is a state with few raw materials, the innovation center wants to focus on plastics that are reinforced with natural fibers from locally available raw materials such as wood and fiber plants and thus establish a sustainable regenerative economy. If companies succeed in digitalizing their processes quickly and using resource-saving technologies and modern recycling technologies in their production, Thuringia could become a pioneer in modernizing its economy with the help of the ThZM innovation engine.

Prof . Gunther Notni
Mechanical Engineering
+49 3677 69-3820