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


12/07/2023 – Press Release

Making extremely thin lubricating films predictable

Prof. Michael Moseler and Dr. Kerstin Falk from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg have succeeded in clarifying the mechanisms of boundary lubrication and making them predictable. This opens a path to new design possibilities for high-performance tribosystems. They present their groundbreaking approach in a renowned scientific journal.


10/04/2023 – Research News

Using deep learning to classify steel materials objectively

Rolling bearings are installed wherever something is in rotation. The wide range of applications extends from large wind turbines to small electric toothbrushes. These bearings, which consist of steel components, must be carefully selected and tested with regard to their quality and the application in question. The grain size has a crucial effect on the mechanical properties of the steel. Up to now, the size of the microscopic crystallites has been assessed by metallographers by way of visual inspection — a subjective and error-prone method. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, in collaboration with Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG, have developed a deep learning model that enables objective and automated assessment and determination of the grain size.


09/01/2023 – Research News

Virtual lab calculates optimal lubricant composition

Mechanical bearings and gearboxes — like those used in electric vehicles and wind farms — are often treated with lubricants to avoid friction and wear. However, these components might be under voltage. This would impair the effectiveness of the lubricants to such a degree that the tribological contacts are damaged. As part of the Lube.Life joint research project, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM have developed a virtual lubricant lab, which can be used to predict the effects of electrical fields on lubricant stability. As a result, customized formulations for new lubricants can be created.


06/21/2023 – Workshop

Online Workshop »The MarketPlace« June 21

This webinar is the first ever opportunity for you to join the MarketPlace community! You will be guided step-by-step through the fundamental platform features from initial registration to workflow construction. Don’t miss this unique chance to be part of this revolution and push your material modelling topics to the next level.


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.