Some industrial sectors have an especially high relevance in the export drive of the German economy. Vehicle construction, mechanical engineering, the chemical industry, electrical engineering, information and communications technology, as well as the power industry together have a substantial part of Germany's trade balance surplus. All of these sectors profit especially from developments in materials research.
New results in materials research have significant effects on new products and production processes. They open up new markets and enable more efficient production. Not less important for production in Germany is that materials research can lead to enormous cost reductions in production. Materials make up more than 50 percent of production costs in manufacturing. Improvements in resources efficiency could lead to considerable competitive advantages.
Industry must transform innovations in materials into competitive products and processes. This holds true also for technical safety, sustainability and the conservation of resources.
The understanding of the properties of materials and their systematic construction has been devoped over in the last 150 years together with with new methods in solid-state physics and chemistry. Ever since, new findigs have been used to suit materials to specific needs with a growing precision. Modern materials development is highly interdisciplinary: experts from mechanical engineering, medicine, biology, and computer science are needed just as well as experts from chemistry, physics and materials sciences.Since the 1970ies, the BMBF has been supporting materials sciences and selected areas in chemical engineering. Nano technology was added at the end of the 1990ies. The technological development and the coalescence of different research areas led to the integrationof the former programmes "Materials Research" and "MaTech - New Materials for Key Technologies of the 21st Century" as well as the research area "Chemical Technologies" into a new Programme.
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