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Since 1950, research on highly stressed metallic structural materials has been conducted at the Leibniz Institute for Materials Engineering - IWT in Bremen. But the history of Leibniz-IWT goes back to the 1940s: At that time, dissatisfaction with the existing heat treatment technology in Germany prevailed. Industrial companies were faced with the question of how to prevent material-related component failure.

IHT building in Bremen-Lesum

Paul Riebensahm, professor at the Technical University of Berlin, organized the first Hardening Colloquium (HK) in November 1941 to create a platform for the exchange of experts in the field of materials engineering and heat treatment technology. To this day, the HärtereiKongress, the successor to the Hardening Colloquium, is an annual international network meeting. At the same time, Riebensahm expanded his experimental field of hardening technology in Berlin with experiments and training programs. In 1943, the test field was moved from Berlin to Bremen during the Second World War to protect it from air raids. After the end of the war, the test field was moved to the production facilities of the Borgward automobile factory in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück.

The beginnings: Foundation of the IHT

On July 13, 1950, the Senator for Economics handed over a building of their own in Bremen-Lesum to the scientists and the "Institute for Hardening Technology" (IHT) was founded as the forerunner of today's Leibniz-IWT under the direction of the Borgward employee Hubert M. Meingast. Since August 1, 1954 Professor Otto Schaaber was director of the IHT for a total of 27 years. In the mid-1950s, the institute consisted of six research assistants as well as 14 technical and secretarial staff and soon achieved worldwide success in the field of heat treatment of metals with a new boriding process of steel refinement.

Transformation into a foundation and cooperation with the University of Bremen

In 1975, the IHT was transformed into the "Foundation Institute for Hardening Technology". As a foundation under private law, the IWT has since been supported by the State of Bremen and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wärmebehandlung und Werkstofftechnik (AWT). In 1981 the IHT signed a cooperation agreement with the newly founded University of Bremen. 

After the death of Otto Schaaber in 1981 Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Peter Mayr became the new head of the institute. Under Mayr, a close cooperation with the Department of Production Engineering at the University of Bremen, which was founded in 1983, was established and still exists today. There Mayr learned Klaus Bauckhage from the research field of process engineering and Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. P. Günther Werner from the field of production engineering. Together they founded the interdisciplinary structure of Leibniz-IWT in 1986, which is still unique today and combines the three disciplines of materials, process and production engineering. The IHT was given the new name "Stiftung Institut für Werkstofftechnik", or IWT for short.

Admission of the Official Materials Testing Institute of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen - MPA

On 01 January 1987 the Official Materials Testing Institute of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (MPA Bremen) was established at Leibniz-IWT. In 1990 Mayr, Werner and Bauckhage integrated the institute also spatially near the university with a new laboratory landscape in the Technology Park Bremen.

Topping out ceremony of the new laboratory building in 1989

Latest developments and acceptance into the Leibniz Association

Together with the three main departments, the number of staff also increased from 40 to 150 in 2000. In 2018, the Institute will have 209 employees, including 84 research assistants.

On February 4, 2016, Leibniz-IWT was awarded the Bremen seal of "excellent family-friendly" by Impulsgender Zukunft e.V.

In April 2017, the Joint Science Conference decided to admit the institute to the Leibniz Association. The official admission to the Leibniz Association took place on January 1, 2018 - since then, Leibniz-IWT has been operating under the new name "Leibniz Institut for Materials Engineering - IWT".