Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM

Sustainable solutions for the optimized use of material properties and new material functions


The Fraunhofer IWM is a research and development partner for industry and public contracting bodies concerning the topics of component and systems reliability, safety, durability and functionality. The Fraunhofer IWM’s »mechanics of materials« approach is used to identify weaknesses and defects in materials and components, determine their causes and develop solutions that lead to the safer use of components as well as the development of functional materials and resource efficient manufacturing processes.

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Range of services at the Fraunhofer IWM


  • Solutions to avoid and control defects, crack formation, deformation, fracture, failure, wear and fatigue in materials and components when taxed with mechanical, thermal, chemical or electrical loads
  • Material characterization, component testing, damage analyses, failure diagnosis and microstructural analysis
  • Materials modeling, process and component simulation on the atomic, microscopic and/or macroscopic scale
  • Surface layer assessment, coatings, tribology, functionalization, bio-surface and interfacial analysis
  • Process and material development

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Digitalization at the Fraunhofer IWM


Workflows, data spaces, digital representations

The focus of the Fraunhofer IWM’s work revolves around materials information and materials data. Via the digitalization of materials, we achieve important contributions regarding the inclusion of processing materials into digitally consistent and connected value chains.


Understanding and influencing the effects and uses of hydrogen on materials

Latest Fraunhofer IWM research news and reports


02/23/2023 – Press Release

Sheet metal materials on the virtual test bench

Increasing demands on sheet metal forming processes require ever more extensive experimental characterizations of the original base materials. At the same time, the characterization tests used are constantly facing new challenges due to the use of thinner sheets of metal. The Virtual Lab of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg provides a remedy for this.


02/01/2023 – Research News

Changing shapes at the push of a button

Programmable materials are true shapeshifters. They can change their characteristics in a controlled and reversible way with the push of a button, independently adapting to fit new conditions. They can be used, for example, to make comfy chairs or mattresses that prevent bedsores. To produce these, the support is formed in such a way that the contact surface is large which, as a result, lowers the pressure on parts of the body. This type of programmable material is being developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Programmable Materials CPM, who plan to bring it to the market with the help of industry partners. One of their goals is to reduce the use of resources.


02/01/2023 – Research News

Additive manufacturing – simulated from start to finish

Additive manufacturing of tools using a laser powder bed fusion process offers a great number of advantages: It is economical, precise and allows for customized solutions. That said, it can be difficult to determine the optimal process parameters, such as the scan speed or power of the laser. 


11/23/2022 – Press Release

Bringing superlubricity for new slide bearings into application

20 percent of the energy generated worldwide is lost through friction. With new materials, surfaces and lubricants, 40 percent of this energy could be saved in the long term — equivalent to CO2 emissions of more than three gigatons per year! Superlubricity in machine elements is one way to achieve this goal. 


11/03/2022 – Press Release

Graphite lubrication now viable for rolling bearings

Oil is a well-known and widely used lubricant — less commonplace, however, is the solid lubricant graphite. Although graphite is used at low-contact pressure, the effects that occur here had previously only been understood to a limited extent. It was particularly unclear whether this lubricant could also be used at high-contact pressure.


10/04/2022 – Research News

Making the mobility of the future safe — Crash test dummies for e-scooters

Practical and environmentally friendly, e-scooters offer great flexibility. It is no wonder that more and more people are using this form of transport. However, this rise in popularity has been accompanied by an increase in accidents resulting in severe injuries.


06/06/2022 – Conference

International Conference on Programmable Materials

Hybrid Event on July 12-14, 2022. Global challenges such as climate change, renewable energy and individual mobility increase the necessity for a more efficient and sustainable use of our resources.


05/19/2022 – Press Release

Virtually frictionless — virtual material probe sheds light on the friction gap

Ensuring that power plants operate without breaking down and that vehicles run energy-efficiently ultimately depends on just a few atoms. A virtual material probe makes it possible to see, and therefore control, tribological processes at the atomic level.