Adolf Ledebur (1837-1906), an expert in iron and steelwork, was the founder of research and studies in Foundry Technology at the Mining Academy. He took up the professorship of a newly established chair in Iron Metallurgy and also concerned himself with Foundry Technology (primarily iron and steel casting). Later on, in 1942, professor Uhlitzsch established the Freiberg Foundry Institute in the newly constructed building of the Ironworks Institute , in 1929. The Foundry Institute of the TU Mining Academy Freiberg, with its present director Professor Klaus Eigenfeld, now occupies an important place in research and studies in Foundry Technology in Germany.
Traditionally the areas of iron and steel casting materials, together with moulds and the moulding process, have been the main focus of the Institute. The two large, existing foundry testing rooms have all the important equipment necessary for foundry operation, and make practice-oriented training of students possible, together with the industry-oriented development of materials and products. The comprehensively equipped moulding laboratory makes provision for the repair, testing and research of all foundry related moulding systems. Classical research focus points in the area of moulds are bentonite-based moulding systems and inorganic chemical binders and moulding processes. Since the reunification of Germany, classic research focus points in the area of mould materials include moulding of light metals in sand and pressure castings, as well as the new field of fine moulding processes which is also an area of intensive development at the Institute. Through a number of industry contacts, the practical relevance of the Institute’s activities is ensured.
The student training at the Institute is currently divided into two fields. First, students can graduate with a (Master’s) degree in engineering after ten semesters of study. A second possibility offered at the Institute is a Bachelor’s degree in Foundry Technology, which can be obtained after seven semesters of study. Studying at the Institute basically involves three main areas: foundry process design, casting materials and moulding. These main fields can be supplemented with, for example, solidification simulation or economic and business aspects. Another integral part of the study programme is a practical semester in which students must work at a foundry for a period of six months. Students must furthermore solve technological problems independently, summarise the results and then defend their findings in public. This again highlights the practical approach followed by the Institute. The possibility exists, after successful completion of the Bachelor’s degree programme, to continue with further studies towards the completion of the (Master’s) degree in engineering. At present, about 100 students are studying in different semesters of Foundry Technology at Freiberg.
In addition to numerous connections with German universities, the Institute also collaborates with a number of foreign universities that offer training in Foundry Technology; for example, the University of Miskolc in Hungary, the Mining and Metallurgic Academy of Krakau, Poland or the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Presentations at meetings and conferences, joint research projects and the student exchange programmes, including doctoral students, result from these collaborations with other institutions. One of the recent highlights in terms of these international collaborations is the exchange of four students from the University of Johannesburg. These students have been studying in Germany since March 2012, with the goal of completing an engineering degree in Foundry Technology.