On March 29, 2023, ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SMT) broke ground on a new multifunctional factory at its Wetzlar site in Central Hessen. In the future, 150 new employees will manufacture products in the more than 12,000-square-meter facility. ZEISS is responding to the worldwide growth in demand for microchips in the semiconductor industry. The company currently employs 380 people in Wetzlar, up from 170 six years ago.
ZEISS is also expanding its research and development site in Rossdorf near Darmstadt, where the company will invest over EUR 20 million in buildings and equipment and create new jobs.
Both investments are part of a long-term growth strategy for the entire ZEISS Group and demonstrate the global player’s commitment to the state of Hessen as an exceptional location for optical engineering.
“We are committed to Hessen as a business location,” says Andreas Pecher, Member of the ZEISS Executive Board and President & CEO of ZEISS SMT. “The expansion of the building infrastructure and the modernization of existing buildings will safeguard our long-term competitiveness and the innovative edge of our research and development activities.”
Central Hessen has attracted worldwide attention as a unique industry hub for optics, electronics, and mechanics. In addition to ZEISS, the region is home to global brands like Leica Camera AG, Leica Microsystems, Bosch, and Pfeifer Vacuum. But many small and medium-sized companies in the optics sector are also based in the region. For example, PVA Tepla, located in Wettenberg not far from Wetzlar, produces the single crystals from which wafers are cut to make microchips. The company relies on technology from ZEISS in Wetzlar. Over 90 businesses in Central Hessen, each with at least 50 employees, are active in the optics sector. And over 250 Central Hessen companies in the electronics and mechanic sector are closely associated with the optics industry.
The region’s reputation for optical engineering also stems from its distinctive academic landscape. For example, Central Hessen has the highest density of students in Germany. And all three universities – Philipps University in Marburg, Justus Liebig University in Giessen, and the Technical University of Central Hessen (THM) – as well as the Siegen University close-by in North Rhine-Westphalia have chairs for physics and chemistry. Furthermore, the region is home to a joint optics center where industry and academia can come together for research and development projects. The center boasts a unique degree program in Optical Technology.
“In Hessen, we very much appreciate having key research facilities such as the universities in Giessen, Marburg, Siegen, and Frankfurt close by,” says Katrin Ariki, ZEISS Site Manager in Wetzlar. “So we feel very much at home in Wetzlar and are looking to continue growing here.”