Specialty glass manufacturer SCHOTT has now officially opened a state-of-the-art CNC competence centre for its glass-ceramic ZERODUR in Mainz, Germany, by holding a festive reception.
Glass-ceramic components will be processed in accordance with individual customer specifications at the new production facility by using electronically controlled CNC machines. The investment amounts to more than 30 million EUR. Up to 70 highly qualified specialists will be employed here.
“By making this investment, we are creating the prerequisites that will enable us to meet our customers’ future requirements even better in terms of both volume and quality,” explained Dr. Frank Heinricht, Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT AG, with the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, and several customers in attendance.
“With ZERODUR glass-ceramic, a material created here in Mainz that is actually made to ‘reach for the stars.’ But in order for this to happen, ‘earthly’ foundations have to be created, which SCHOTT AG does in an exemplary manner,” the Minister President said. She then added, “The innovative company is the largest industrial employer and trainer in Mainz and sets standards as a glass industry leader in environmental protection and energy efficiency.”
The new production facility bears the name of Jürgen Petzoldt, the pioneer of glass ceramics at SCHOTT. Dr. Petzoldt was responsible for the development of the ZERODUR glass ceramic from 1966 and was also one of the fathers of the CERAN glass ceramic cooktop panels. From 1988 to 1996 he was a member of the SCHOTT Board.
The new CNC Competence Center is one of the largest investment projects in recent years at the main site in Mainz. It is also the largest component of a multi-part investment program for optics manufacturing in Mainz, which has a total volume of over EUR 40 million.
This also includes a CNC machine facility for processing glass-ceramic parts up to 4.5 meters in diameter, which was put into operation in 2017. “All these projects will serve to make our Advanced Optics Business Unit fit for the future,” Dr. Heinricht noted.
The glass-ceramic ZERODUR is known for its extremely low thermal expansion of almost zero and its resistance to extreme temperature shocks of plus 700 to minus 200 degrees Celsius.
ZERODUR has been considered to be the best substrate material for astronomical reflector telescopes for five decades and is also a pivotal material in aircraft navigation equipment, chip manufacturing, production of flat panel displays and precision metrology.
The most spectacular application example for the glass-ceramic developed by SCHOTT is currently the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) in Chile, which will receive a primary mirror 39 meters in diameter.
After its commissioning in the mid-2020s, it will be the largest eye for gazing into space.