History of Fraunhofer IFAM

Half a century of applied research

It all started in 1968 with a working group: The roots of today's Fraunhofer IFAM were laid with the foundation of the AFAM working group for applied materials research from the Institute of Materials Science at the Technical University of Hannover.


With over 70 years, Prof. Alexander Mattig, together with his long-standing senior engineer Dr. Hans-Dieter Steffens, founded the practice-oriented research institute with a total of 25 employees in Bremen-Nord. The main focus of their work was welding technology with all its peripheral areas. The group's full attention was focused on the material and its influence on the joining process.

Without basic funding, AFAM was initially only affiliated with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. In 1970, it was then incorporated into the society as a working group. After consultation and agreement with the responsible federal ministries, the working group was incorporated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as an institute on January 1, 1974. AFAM became IfaM – Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Materials Research.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the focus of the work shifted to the branches of manufacturing technology, surface technology, material behavior, and structural and composite materials. At the institute, scientists were increasingly concerned with issues relating to adhesive bonding technology, aging of bonded joints, plastic coatings of metals and their quality assurance. The first bonding technology courses were initiated for the production of metal and wood bonding. New approaches were also pursued with the production of metallic powders under extreme boundary conditions. The basis for powder technology was thus created.

In 1992, IfaM received scientific support: a branch office for polymer composites in Teltow-Seehof and the branch office for powder metallurgy and composites in Dresden were integrated with 35 additional employees.

At the beginning of 1994, IfaM was restructured: the institute was subdivided into the departments "End Forming Production" headed by Prof. Hans-Dieter Kunze and "Adhesive Bonding Technology and Polymers" headed by Dr. Otto-Diedrich Hennemann. From pure materials research, the areas of work were systematically expanded over the years to include processing technology. In 1999, this was also reflected in the institute's name: Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM. Today, the institute is jointly managed under this name by Prof. Matthias Busse and Prof. Bernd Mayer.

With the expansion of new locations in Stade, Wolfsburg, Braunschweig and Helgoland, the number of employees has now grown to over 700. In total, IFAM researchers have written over 5500 publications and registered 1260 patents in the last 50 years.

A look back from the beginnings until today

Year Event(s)  
1968 Foundation of the "Arbeitsgruppe für angewandte Materialforschung" (AFAM) in Bremen-Nord under the direction of Prof. Alexander Matting  
1970 Integration into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft under the direction of Dr. Dieter Steffens  
1974 Incorporated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as "Institute for Applied Materials Research" (IfaM)  
1976 Dr. Hans-Dieter Kunze was appointed as new director of the institute  
1989 Conversion from defense to contract research begins  
1992 Integration of parts of the Central Institute for Solid State Physics and Materials Research of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR as the Dresden branch of the institute into Fraunhofer IFAM  
1994 Formation of two institute divisions (near net shape manufacturing and adhesive bonding technology & polymers), each with its own institute director – alongside Prof. Hans-Dieter Kunze, Dr. Otto-Diedrich Hennemann becomes institute director  
1999 Move into the new main building in the Bremen Technology Park  
1999 The institute is renamed "Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM".  
2003 Prof. Matthias Busse succeeds Prof. Kunze as director of the institute. This was followed by a thematic reorientation of the institute's "Near-net-shape manufacturing" department. The new name "Shaping and Functional Materials" marked the transition.  
2004 Move into the new building of the Dresden branch of the institute on the premises of the Fraunhofer Institute Center Dresden (IZD)  
2005 Foundation of the "Fraunhofer Center for Wind Energy and Marine Technology CWMT" (since 2009 Fraunhofer IWES) as a joint facility of Fraunhofer IFAM and Fraunhofer LBF   
2009 Establishment of the Electrical Energy Storage working group at the TGO in Oldenburg  
2010 Prof. Bernd Mayer takes over as institute director for the area of "Adhesive Bonding Technology and Surfaces", after it was temporarily managed by Dr. Helmut Schäfer and then Prof. Andreas Hartwig  
2010 Establishment of the Fraunhofer Project Group Joining and Assembly FFM at CFK Nord in Stade  
2016 Establishment of the Fraunhofer Project Center in Wolfsburg for electromobility and lightweight construction  
2018 Establishment of the Fraunhofer Project Center for Energy Storage and Systems ZESS in Braunschweig  
2019 Opening of the test center for maritime technologies on Helgoland