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Logo: IFW - Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Werkzeugmaschinen
Logo Leibniz Universität Hannover
Logo: IFW - Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Werkzeugmaschinen
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IFW History

The great discoveries of the 17th and 18th century in the natural sciences paved the way for the upcoming technological age. The rapid scientific growth did not lead to the expansion of the universities but to the establishment of technologically oriented societies, colleges and other institutions that all had to develop independently from the traditional universities
(Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Produktionstechnik (Hrsg.): Produktionswissenschaft, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Hochschulgruppe Fertigungstechnik. Greven & Bechthold, Köln 1987)

The idea of an independent Technical University itself was conceived and formulated in Vienna, in conscious separation, or even demarcation, from the classical notion of University. The aim was not the formation of a vocational school or a college but rather the creation of "Universitas Scientiarium Technicarum". Thus, in the 20s and 30s of the 19th century, the Polytechnics or Higher Vocational Schools in Munich, Dresden, Stuttgart, Hannover, Braunschweig and Darmstadt (Collegium Carolinum) were founded. Up to the end of the 19th century, these were focused almost exclusively on the training of engineers for design and research in the so-called classical machine engineering.

The Beginning: 1831 – 1876

Hannover was one major exception: In 1831, Karl Karmasch, who had graduated from the Polytechnic Institute in Vienna (Polytechnisches Institut Wien), became the founder and the first director of the – at that time – Higher Vocational School.* He was a representative of the Mechanical Technology study field, which, later on, evolved into Production Engineering.
*(Manegold, K.-H.: Technology State, andEconomics, University of Hannover 1831-1981, commemorating the 150th anniversary Verlag W. Kohlhammer.. , Stuttgart, 1981, pp. 35-73).

In his “Handbook of Mechanical Technology” Karmarsch offered a comprehensive compilation of the existing – at that time - knowledge on processes, machines and tools for production engineering and mechanical process engineering. His book became the reference work in German-speaking countries.

1876 - 1911

Hermann Fischer succeeded Karmarsch in 1876. Ten years after his appointment, he included "Machine Tools" as one of the study fields. Evidence of his successful work, his book “Machine tools” was the first German-language book on this subject. It examined the wood and metal working machines as well as cutting and forming machines and, thus, became a major baseline work.

1911 - 1937

In 1911 Friedrich Schwerd, who - until that moment - had been a technical director of the Grinding Mill Naxos-Union in Frankfurt / M., took over Fischer's Chair of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Organization. In 1925 he announced a special lecture on Production. With the help of significant governmental, as well as industrial, funding, Schwerd established the testing area in Hanover as the most considerable of his time. Schwerd and his colleague Schering also developed the famous spark optical test facility in order to study chip formation in motion. This was achieved with exposure times of 0.2 x10-6 seconds. In 1928, following the recognition that a manufacturing engineer is also responsible for workplace safety, a testing laboratory for grinding work affiliated to the Institute. Schwerd retired in 1937.

1938 - 1947

In 1938 Werner Osenberg took over and continued the successful tradition of scientific advancement: In the year of his appointment, he suggested the use of ceramics as cutting material and conducted his own experiments with it. The start of the WWII changed the situation dramatically: A major part of the Institute was destroyed, though relocation saved some of it.

1947 - 1970

In 1947, the Chair of Machine Tools was appointed to Otto Kienzle, who - until the end of the WWII - had held the Schlesinger's Chair of Business Administration and Machine Tools at the Technical University of Berlin. Otto Kienzle provided the production engineering in Hanover with new impulses: His research into fitting systems, his formulation of cutting force equations, tested both theoretically and practically, as well as his efforts in providing a comprehensive systematization of manufacturing technology have brought him international fame and recognition.

After the return of Werner Osenberg (1954), the subject area was divided into the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools (Osenberg) and the Institute for Machine Tools and Metal Forming (Kienzle). Osenberg explored the cutting of brittle materials with ultra-hard cutting tools and thus laid the foundation for the present-day stone testing grounds of the Institute. He also suggested using high grinding speeds of 80 m / s and higher and recommended process proposals as early as the 50s of the 20th century. Osenborg retired from his obligations on 14.04.1970, after years of meritorious teaching and research.

1970 - 2002

He was succeeded by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. mult. Dr. H.C. Hans Kurt Tönshoff, born in 1934. Following his various management positions in the machine tool industry, he was appointed as a full professor at the Technical University of Hanover in 1970. Until 2002, he was Professor and Director of the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools (IFW). Because of his exceptional contribution to the advancement of Production Science, Professor Tönshoff has also been appointed as an honorary fellow of the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP).


Professor Tönshoff is an honorary fellow of CIRP and has been actively engaged in its activities since 1975; he was a member of the CIRP Council from 1997 to 2000 as well as the President of CIRP from 1998 to 1999. Moreover, from 1989 to 1995, Professor Tönshoff was the Vice-President of the German Research Foundation (DFG) as well as a member of the Scientific Council of the Federal Republic of Germany (1980 - 1984) and Commissioner for Research and Technology of the State of Lower Saxony (1984 - 1986). In addition, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Thessaloniki.

2001 – to present

Professor Dr.-Ing. Berend Denkena has been Director of the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools since 2001. During the first year of his appointment, he managed the Institute jointly with Professor Tönshoff.

Having successfully finished his apprenticeship as a metalworker, Professor Denkena started studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hannover and began his employment as a researcher at IFW during the course of his studies. After receiving his doctorate, he left IFW and found employment at the Thyssen Machine Tool Division. In 1993 he took over a position of responsibility at Thyssen Production Systems in the United States. Several years later, he was appointed managing director of the Thyssen Machine Tool Development subsidiary, Hüller-Hille, in Ludwigsburg. In the following five years he was employed at Gildemeister Drehmaschinen in Bielefeld, where he led the Product Development Department.

The production technology in Hanover, nowadays represented by the six institutes comprising the Production Centre of Hannover, can thus look back on more than 180 years of scientific tradition.