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New partner: Tampere Region (Finland)
In terms of population, the Tampere region is the second largest in Finland with 445 000 inhabitants, which is 8,6% of the whole population of the country. The area of the region is about 14 800 sq. km and is located in the heart of Western Finland about 1 80 km north-west of Helsinki. The region is largely fragmented by lakes and covered by forest with the dominating feature of the landscape being two large lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi, separated by a rapid on which the town of Tampere is located. Tampere, the third largest city in Finland with 180 000 inhabitants, has made its name as not only an industrial and commercial city but also as a significant cultural centre. In addition to its varied industry, Tampere boasts many technology parks and centres including two universities and several laboratories of the Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The main geological feature of the region is a slate belt, estimated to be some 1.5 billion years old, which crosses the entire length of the region. The natural and cultivated landscape is dominated by topographical variation and the constant proximity of water. The vegetation is rich and the region has many plants not found further north in Finland. Large areas in the north of the region consist of forested wilderness including two large nature reservations. Forestry is carried out in ale sub-regions but the southern and central areas are generally more fertile and most farming is carried out here. The climate cycles through four clear seasons from modest snow covered winters with lowest temperatures of -20 to -30°C and short daylight to intense and warm summers with a lot of daylight.

The economy of the region (1995 figures) is mostly industry based (33.3% of employment in the region compared to 26.2% for Finland as a whole), trade, services and the public sector (61.7% for the region compared to 66.6% for Finland) whereas the importance of the agriculture and forestry sectors is relatively low (5.2% compared to 7.2%).

Old industrial structures have gone through dramatic changes during the last few decades with special emphasis on « know-how intensive » sectors particularly mechanical engineering and automation, information technology and health care. This is reflected in the technological community in Tampere-Hervanta, the many « high-tech » businesses and laboratories of the Technical Research Centre of Finland, and the departments of the University of Technology.

Tampere University of Technology provides higher lever education in technical sciences and architecture, engages in research and product development and furthers technical and scientific development not only in the Tampere Region but in the whole country. The student population of 8 000 includes both undergraduate and post graduate students and studies are run in nine departments, Architecture, Automation, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Technology, Industrial Engineering and Management, Information Technology, Materials Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

The Institute of Materials Science forms the core of the Department of Materials Engineering. All materials (metals, polymers, ceramics) are within the scope of both education and research. The institute has close relations with industry as well as with other academic institutions and research institutes both in Finland and abroad.

The Laboratory of Ceramic Materials and Coatings with an academic staff of 20, is the only one of its kind in Finland and, in both teaching and research, it covers all aspects of engineering ceramics from processing to property-structure relationships. The most recent focus of interest has been on porous ceramics, membranes and filters as well as on surface engineering and the most studied engineering properties are mechanical behaviour, wear and corrosion resistance. Tampere University of Technology hosts the national brick laboratory and the secretariat of the Finnish Ceramic Society. Hot gas cleaning filters for gasification and pressurised fluidised bed combustion as well as ceramic dewatering elements based on capillary water removal have been developed with industry. The environmental applications of the ceramic filters in cleaning industrial waste waters have been studied in association with the local environmental agency.

The focus in surface engineering has recently been on thermal spraying. The laboratory has in-house plasma spray (APS), high velocity oxyfuel (HVOF), detonation gun (DG) and flame spray (FS) equipment and several units for polymer spraying. The research includes development of metallic, ceramic and cermet powders, in-situ diagnostics of thermal spraying, and the structure and properties of sprayed coatings. The studied applications include paper machinery and process engineering components, energy production equipment, gas turbines and diesel engines. Research is also ongoing on the deposition and characterisation of CVD and sputtered coatings. Functional surface properties and the basic mechanisms controlling these properties have recently attracted growing research interest. These include the control of surface energy and surface charges together with desired engineering properties in order to obtain anti-fouling, self-cleaning or other functional surfaces. The studied applications include ceramic membranes, paper machinery components, moulds for injection moulding of plastics and diverse components for the process industries.

The laboratory has taken several measures in advancing technology transfer to SMEs. The successful establishment and demonstration of a « Coating Clinic » resulted in the concept of technology clinics which have now been launched in other technology fields in Finland. In the coating clinic the expertise of the laboratory was used to solve the surface engineering problems of SMEs and to promote the latest surface technology developments in local industries.

The ceramic industries in the region include the lamination, bending and tempering of automotive and industrial grasses as well as the related production of equipment for this sector, the development and processing of new inorganic pigments for the paper industry and the production of refractories for different industrial applications. Ceramic craft products are produced by several small companies and small campus companies are now emerging specialising in the areas such as the production of glassy carbon and the provision of an expert service for slurry based ceramic processing. Ceramic coatings are produced by two companies for different industrial applications.

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