BRITE/EURAM'95 had one session devoted to manufacturing technologies which examined new trends in manufacturing as well as the complementarity and coordination between Community research programmes. In this context there was a presentation on Targeted Research Actions (TRA) on machine tools. Under BRITE/EURAM III, Targeted Research Actions (TRA) aim at coordinating sets of thematically interrelated research projects (clusters) with the objective of strengthening and broadening the impact of the expected results coming out of individual projects with respect to European-wide strategic and industrial priorities. The main deliverable will be a well-defined consensus, amongst the key participants, on the most appropriate technologies capable of providing the expected solutions to medium- and long-term industrial problems taking into account the criteria of improved industrial competitiveness, reduced environmental and social impact, increased European exploitation and European dimension. The benefits emanating from the implementation of the TRA's are classed into the following three areas: - The contractors: "Real time" exchange of mutually relevant information on technological aspects for increased future exploitation; increased motivation to achieve targeted objectives and deliverables on time and on cost; widening the scope of specific activities of the individual projects and enlarging the scientific and technical framework towards a more global technological solution for the concerned area; increased awareness of future technology trends among different sectors serving specific industrial objectives; - The programme: Better coherence between running projects; improved coordination of the contractual aspects (especially deliverables); encouragement for improved project excellence (scientific, technical, economic); improved global and comparative vision of the prospective impact of results of projects on a specific area; having a positive impact in creating "technology and business networks of excellence"; - Strengthening the European Community in general: Strengthening of industrial competitiveness through the development of sound and proven scientific and technological frameworks and increased dissemination of quality information to the European industry for enhanced productivity and manufacturing. The TRAs aim, through the subsequent implementation of networks, to increase the cooperative and synergistic effort with other Commission programmes, other European initiatives such as EUREKA, and organizations such as CEN and CELENEC. Targeted Research Action on Machine Tools Machine tools play a leading role in the productivity of manufacturing systems and future competitiveness of several major European industries will depend upon their future investment in advanced production systems. The main strategic aim of the EC machine tool manufacturers is to maintain their leading position in the world market. Demand requirements have shown a trend towards customization, an emphasis on flexibility so as to effect rapid model changes and to offer product options, request for a greater ability of machines to reduce lead times, inventories and manpower, and an interest from the customer in complete process solutions. The changing business environment of the user requires the ability to deal with increased product variety (variants), reduced batch sizes and shorter delivery times. This is against demands for high quality, lower cost products (with zero defects), increased productivity and product flexibility that utilises new materials all of which is subjected to an increasing environmental awareness. These factors related to the manufacturing scenario, dictate key elements of the technical characteristics of machine tools. The considerations mentioned previously clearly indicate that the European machine tool industry is faced with a dilemma between, on the one hand, its own pursuit of standardization, specialization and increasing production volumes and, on the other hand, an increased demand of its users for diversification, flexibility and support. As a solution for this dilemma, the technical content of the BRITE-EURAM III programme has been established, discussed and refined within a group of industrialists, representative of the machine tool sector, component suppliers and machine tool users. The view of research centres and universities working in this field has also been incorporated. The scientific and technological objectives mainly address multifunctionality, modularity and reconfigurability of machine tools and also development of new and improved production systems able to provide increased speed and accuracy. Proposals for TRA projects received under the BRITE/EURAM III call for proposals are still being evaluated. Around 65 proposals covering this field were received in response to the calls for proposals issued under BRITE/EURAM II. Eleven of these have now been selected for funding. These are: - MAREA: Study and definition of the machining workstation reference architecture; - KERNEL: Kernel of advanced machine tools; - OPTIMA: Integration of fibre optic sensors for the monitoring of advanced machine tools; - ITEMS: Innovative technologies for machine tool slideways; - EURO BEARING: Increase of speed and lifetime of spindle bearing systems by the use of angular contact ball bearings with ceramic balls and coated races; - GRICERAM: Development of a speed-stroke grinding system for enhanced machining of advanced ceramics; - KERNEL II: Construction of two demonstrators according KERNEL and CEDAM methodology; - NEMPRO: Development of new machining processes for automotive applications; - CLEAN-TECH: Clean and cost effective technology for highly precise and reliable components; - SIMSI: Improvement of surface integrity and material fatigue strength by high speed CBN grinding using small wheel diameters; - CAMATT: Concerted action on machine tool and manufacturing. Centred on the mission to promote and demonstrate the development of new machining systems capable of simultaneously leading to increased productivity and flexibility, the expected achievements of TRA on machine tools will focus on: - Availability-reliability; - Higher machine accuracy and higher quality of manufactured components; - Modularity and flexibility as an answer to user requirement demands; - Improvement of machine performance; - Development and use of new materials; - Contribution to new manufacturing processes and new tool developments.