The symposium “New Machine Tools for Tomorrow’s Production,” which took place on October 15 and 16 in Karlsruhe, Germany, with around 170 participants, marked the formal conclusion of the research competition of the same name sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). An important role in instigating and supporting the research project initiative was played by VDW—the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association.
Over a period of three and a half years, 12 projects were sponsored within the “New Machine Tools for Tomorrow’s Production” framework, with a total government funding of €25 million. The companies involved contributed an equivalent amount of money. In its capacity as a member of the BMBF discussion group, the VDW exercised considerable influence in the choice of ideas and the selection of projects, and is instrumental in ensuring the transfer into practice of the projects’ findings.
“I am convinced that the social and economic benefits of the projects will be of a level several times higher than the research funding invested in them,” asserted Helmut von Monschaw, executive director of the VDW, in his welcome address at the symposium. He noted that the projects entered in the competition developed machines and production concepts that would determine future products and production structures. The projects dealt with challenges and requirements faced by machine tool and component manufacturers and their customers. Information about them is available at www.produktionsforschung.de.
“For the future of machine tool construction in Germany, it is imperative that research and development be vigorously pursued in order to maintain Germany’s position at the top of the world league,” said von Monschaw. He explained how government funding stimulates networks of cooperation among manufacturers, suppliers, customers, and partners in science and research, which sets in motion development processes that industry enterprises then can pursue and implement independently. Once discoveries and ideas generated by joint-research findings are transferred to marketable products, the companies can remain innovative of their own accord.
From a German machine tool building viewpoint, noted von Monschaw, the research projects sponsored are seen as taking seriously the branch’s market-related requirements and promoting the user-oriented aspects of technological progress.
The VDW will continue to cooperate closely with the BMBF and the project management agency Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe on defining research programmes for production in general and for machine tool construction in particular.
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