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Company News, 2000-12-04, 01:00 AM

Dortmunder OberflächenCentrum: Industry and research join forces

After a construction period of 14 months Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG (TKS) inaugurated the DOC surface center (Dortmunder OberflächenCentrum) on the site of the company's Westfalenhütte steel mill at an official ceremony on Monday, December 4, 2000.

The DOC is Europe's largest center for research into the coating of flat-rolled steel. It brings together and expands activities previously carried out at various TKS sites. At the same time the DOC represents a bridgehead to industry for applications-oriented research institutes belonging to Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG). The well-known equipment manufacturer SMS-Demag is involved as an industrial partner. The aim of the collaboration - which will be mainly project-based - is to develop and commercialize innovative surface technologies. "The DOC links the coating know-how of experts from industry, development and research", said TKS executive board chairman Dr. Wolfgang Kohler. "This strategic investment puts us in the forefront of technological development in this area and makes us a partner of choice for customers seeking intelligent steel products". The DOC is organized as a GmbH (limited liability company) and its main shareholder is Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG.

With a total investment of around DM40 million Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG has built a state-of-the-art complex on a 9,000 square meter site. As well as an existing office building it includes a two-story service laboratory and two test buildings. The first of these houses various simulation facilities and a new pilot plant for developing new products and technologies for continuous surface treatment. Building 2 is fitted out with laser, PVD and plasma coating equipment belonging to the Fraunhofer institutes, who will have up to 20 staff carrying out innovative R&D work. Other TKS departments such as materials development, applications engineering, metallography and surface analysis are located in the direct vicinity to provide further synergies.

"Various already commercialized products and technologies will be further developed and optimized at the DOC in close collaboration with the operating units of TKS", says Dr. Karl-Ulrich Köhler, executive vice president technology at Thyssen Krupp Stahl AG. "In addition, work will be carried out in a private public partnership of TKS and FhG in conjunction with other industrial partners and institutes to unlock the potential of surface technologies not currently used for steel strip coating such as vapor deposition, plasma and blasting processes in order to develop new coating systems and new improved products."

"In ThyssenKrupp Stahl we have found a dependable partner more ready than most to give innovation a chance and to act quickly and in a non-bureaucratic way", says Prof. Dr. Eckhard Beyer, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Materials and Blasting Technology IWS, Dresden. In addition to the collaboration with FhG, a tightly meshed research network will be set up including the Dortmund universities and the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Düsseldorf.

"Building on the 36 staff already employed in TKS's research departments a further 40 highly-qualified employees and 5 apprentices will be added", says TKS chairman Kohler. "The DOC will create jobs in the steel area and at the same time strengthen R&D expertise in the Dortmund region," allowing Dortmund to look to the future with confidence.

Dortmund, December 4, 2000

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