Dr. Brigitte Hammer
Dr. Brigitte Hammer: A working life for steel
Not all types of steel are the same - who knows that better than Dr. Brigitte Hammer. Because her life - or rather her working life - is dominated by steel: For the last 30 years Dr. Hammer has been devoting all her mental energy to this metal. This petite lady with brown curly hair develops and optimizes multiphase steels for the automotive industry as a Project Coordinator. "I don't have my own department, but borrow the team members for the projects concerned from other departments," explains Dr. Brigitte Hammer.
Developing and testing new recipes
So success is on her side: She has so far participated in a total of 19 different patents, twelve of which relate to steel developments. But what form does the daily working life of a steel developer take? “First of all we think about which parameters we could fine tune; for example, changing the composition of the steel,” explains Dr. Hammer. “The resulting new recipes are first produced in the pilot plant in Dortmund - a type of mini-steelworks where we work with quantities of approximately 100 kg instead of 250 tons as in the Production Department. During pilot production it is also possible to reproduce all other important production steps on a small scale and vary them at less expense and more easily than in the factory. If the results from the laboratory phase look promising, the next step is field testing. There the production and properties of the steel are optimized and tested in numerous analyses.”
Her love for steel began at a young age
Even at school, the steel expert was attracted by the natural sciences. “My talents are very one-sided,” the native of Duisburg admits. It was her father who finally tipped the balance with his advice: Brigitte Hammer studied metallurgy, with the focus on metals science. For her doctorate she focused her attention on copper, before committing herself to steel at Thyssen in the year 1984. Initially she worked in the field of stainless steel. Then she changed over for ten years to researching into electrical steel. Here she improved the magnetic properties of steels for transformers, stators or rotors. Subsequently she worked in the field of material modeling and simulation; and finally in the area of multiphase steels. What is so fascinating about steel? “Its versatility,” answers Dr Hammer, without having to think. “I will enjoy carrying on for a few more years yet, it has never been boring.”