In October 1922, the "Research Institute and Trial Office for Precious Metals" took on his work. In a time, when the precious metals industry in Schwäbisch Gmünd struggled with immense physical and financial burdens, it was in urgent need of support from the scientific community. Even then, the institute was characterized by its independence and its application-oriented research for business and industry. This has not changed until today.

On the initiative of representatives of Gmünd precious metals industry and the then head of the National Higher Technical School for the Precious Metal Industry, Professor Walter Klein, the „Verein für die Probier- und Forschungsanstalt für Edelmetalle in Gmünd e.V.“ was founded end of 1921. Less than a year later the Institute was opened with laboratories, a library and study rooms in the premises of the technical school. According to the statutes, its task was to support the local industry in all aspects of the investigation and processing of precious and base metals. In 1926 the department „Electroplating and Metal Coloring" expanded the Institute. In retrospect this was a landmark decision since Electroplating and Electrochemistry still belong to the most important research fields of the fem.

By the late 1920s the premises of the Technical School already were too small for the Institute. In 1937 the State of Württemberg began to set up extensive new buildings on the site, which could only opened in 1948 after a long interruption due to WWII. However, the Institute quickly grew out of the new buildings. Prof. Dr. Ernst Raub, who joined the Institute in 1928 and took over the management in 1934, turned the Institute into a significant and world-renowned research institute in the field of precious metals. Cutting the cord from the Technical School and establishing its own building for numerous laboratories and over thirty employees was the logical result of the promising development of the Institute. The State Ministries recognized this development and began with site selection and planning in 1954. After two years of construction the fem moved out and entered the new building in the Katharinenstraße, where the fem is located to this day. The new tasks also changed the name: The Institute became the „Research Institute for Precious Metals and Metals Chemistry“, short: fem.

In the following four decades the Institute continuously expanded its expertise in materials science and surface technology. The new departments Analytics, Aluminum Surface Technology and Physical Surface and Thin Layer Technology took account of the technological and industrial change and considerably expanded the fem’s interdisciplinary research opportunities and services. In 1971 the management of the Institute passed over from father to son. Professor Dr. Christoph J. Raub shaped the Institute for almost 25 years. In 1995, Dr. Hermann Jehn took over the management, and since 2001 Dr. Andreas Zielonka manages the fem’s activities.

After the distinctive brick building was extensively renovated from 1997 to 2000 and equipped with new housing technology and modern instruments, the opening of the administrative building followed three years later. The so-called Applikationstechnikum is the last building extension so far: Here you will find numerous highly flexible laboratories for business-related research setups, the electron microscopy and the high-resolution X-ray computer tomography.

The past nine decades witnessed so many economic and technological upheavals as never before. The Research Institute in Schwäbisch Gmünd also has had to adapt again and again to new conditions. A wise and far-sighted leadership and research work that takes into account both continuity and flexibility, was and still is the basis for the success of the fem.


Opening of the Research Institute with the departments Precious Metals and Electrochemistry/Electroplating in Schwäbisch Gmünd/Germany

Founding of a pilot workshop for Electroplating 

New Building in the Katharinenstraße 17

Founding of the department Environment Analytics

Founding of the department Aluminium Surface Technology

Founding member of the European Academy of Surface Technology (east)

Founding of the department Physical Surface and Thin Layer Technology (PVD)

Recognition of accredited Testing Laboratory according to DIN EN 45001 (DAP)

Opening of a building extension with laboratories and office space on 350 sqm

Comprehensive renovation of the building from 1958

Opening of the administration building

By combining the departments PVD and Material Physics the department Plasma Surface Technology and Material Physics is founded

Successful evaluation by the Ministry of Economics Baden-Württemberg

Commissioning of the 3D X-Ray-Computertomography

Award of the certificate „audit work and family“

Third successfull re-accreditation according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025

Opening of the second building extension, the Applikationstechnikum

New research activities: Additive Manufacturing and Battery Technology