The Laboratory of Mechanical Metallurgy is, together with the Laboratory for Construction Materials, EPFL’s oldest laboratory!
The first laboratory of the Ecole d’Ingénieurs de l’Université de Lausanne (the “ancestor” school of EPFL) was founded in 1918. It was named “Laboratoire d’essais des matériaux” ( “Laboratory for Testing of Materials”), and was located on Place Chauderon in Lausanne. In 1927, this laboratory was subdivided into two divisions, on concerned with metals, the other with mineral-based materials.
In 1952, Jacques Paschoud is named professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the school, renamed in 1946 the Ecole Polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne (EPUL). The laboratory is renamed the “Laboratoires d’essais des matériaux de l’EPUL”, or “LEMEPUL”. In 1958, the laboratory moves from the Place Chauderon, and its two subdivisions are each relocated in two buildings on the chemin de Bellerive in Lausanne, near the lake and the overall campus of the Ecole Polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne.
In 1969, the EPUL, until then a school belonging to the Vaud canton (the Swiss equivalent to a state in the USA), becomes a Federal Institute of Technology, governed and funded by the Swiss federal government. As such, it is the (far younger) French-speaking sister school of Switzerland’s other Federal Institute of Technology, located in Zurich. It is renamed the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, EPFL, or ETHL in German).
Also in 1969, the Department of Materials is founded at EPFL, first as a research entity, and then in 1973 as an academic department with its own curriculum and engineering diploma. It comprises three laboratories, namely the metals laboratory headed by Prof. Paschoud and renamed the “Institut des métaux et machines (Institute of metals and machines, IMM)”, the “Laboratoire des matériaux pierreux (LMP)” headed by Prof. J.P. Daxelhover, and the “Laboratoire de Photoélasticité” headed by O. Rescher, chargé de cours.
The figures above show pictures of the IMM at the time, on the Chemin de Bellerive; some of these large testing machines are still at LMM (and functional). Later, within the Materials Department, three additional metallurgical laboratories are created: the Laboratoire de métallurgie physique (Laboratory for physical metallurgy, LMPH) in 1971 headed by Prof. W. Kurz, the Laboratoire de métallurgie chimique (Laboratory for chemical metallurgy, LMCH) in 1972 headed by Prof. D. Landolt, and in 1973 the Laboratoire des soudures (welding laboratory, LS), headed by Associate Prof. J.J. Chêne. In 1973, also, an annex building is erected for the IMM. Within IMM, Professor Paschoud heads the Laboratoire de métallurgie mécanique (Laboratory for mechanical metallurgy, LMM). Also at IMM, Mr. Roland Cachot directs a mechanical testing service for industry, with in particular a mission of failure analysis and certification of steel bars for the construction industry. This activity, still headed by Mr. Cachot, has remained with LMM and is currently active.
In 1982, Prof. Paschoud retires; his successor is Professor B. Ilschner, prior to that Professor and Rector of Erlangen University. Under Professor Ilschner’s leadership, research activities at LMM evolve to place focus on the high-temperature behavior of metallic materials, including studies of creep, or thermal and thermomechanical fatigue. In 1989, the Department of Materials, and with it the LMM, is relocated in its current building on the new EPFL campus in Ecublens. In the 1990’s, Professor Ilschner launches, among other activities, research on Functionally Graded Materials (FGMs), comprising in particular the incorporation of materials processing research among the laboratory’s activities.
In 1997, Professor Ilschner retires, and is replaced by the current director, Andreas Mortensen, formerly Professor at MIT. Current activities of the laboratory are of course described in detail elsewhere on this website; we encourage you to surf on…