NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 41-68

„Für bestimmte Anwendungsgebiete best geeignete Werkstoffe…finden“

Zur Praxis der Forschung an Ersatzstoffen für Metalle in den deutschen Autarkie-Phasen des 20. Jahrhunderts
  • Günther LuxbacherAffiliated withInstitut für Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte, Abt. Technikgeschichte Email author 


The focus of this essay is on substitute materials, particularly the research on substitute metals. The two periods of autarky in Germany were of primary influence on this field. Engineers and construction engineers proved most important in this context despite inter-institutional cooperation between the disciplines of metals research, materials testing, and technical mechanics. Engineers had to solve construction problems respecting the materials used and to analyse components in terms of economic efficiency. However, the research on substitute metals not only meant the substitution of one substance for another. It also implied economizing and recycling scarce materials. These activities required tacit knowledge. Engineers succeeded to some degree but the German war economy paid a high price for it. Each technical system demanded a case-specific approach. Typically a loss of effectiveness, reliability and durability of the products containing substitutes had to be taken into account.


Technikgeschichte Kriegswirtschaft Ersatzstoffe Metallforschung Erfahrungswissen

“Detecting the Most Suitable Materials for Certain Applications”. The Practice of Substitute Metals Research in the Phases of German Autarky during the 20th century


History of technology war economy substitute materials metal research knowledge by experience