Hadfield Medal

For distinguished work to metallurgical practice, process/product development, metallurgical understanding or design engineering application of steel.

Hadfield Medal

The Hadfield Medal is presented in recognition of distinguished work in relation to metallurgical practice, process development, product development, metallurgical understanding or design engineering application of all types of steel. Can also be awarded in recognition of exceptional contribution to operational or business management within the steel industry and its value chain.

The winner will receive a medal.

Award judging

The award is judged by the IOM3 Iron & Steel Leadership Team.

Past winners

2021 -
2023 Dr Laura J Baker CEng FIMMM, 2022 Dr Sara Hornby CEng FIMMM, 2021 Dr David Hanlon

2001 - 2020
2020 S Carey, 2019 C Davis, 2018 J Jaiswal, 2017 J Beswick, 2017 J Ferriman, 2016 J Beeley, 2015 D Worsley, 2014 L Brimacombe, 2013 D Howarth, 2012 M Gray, 2011 I Craig, 2010 C Priday, 2009 M Boul, 2008 R B Smith, 2007 J W Marshall, 2006 R Alderice, 2005 D J Naylor, 2004 J Herbertson, 2003 R W Welburn, 2002 A L Vickers, 2001 I G Davies

1983 - 2000
2000 T J Pike, 1999 A Normanton, 1998 A L Benjey, 1997 P Nilles, 1996 R N Younger, 1995 T B Gibbons, 1994 M J May, 1993 I Earnshaw, 1992 P G Partridge, 1991 A Nicholson, 1990 P D Allen, 1989 J E Restall & W B Morrison, 1988 G B Brook, 1987 R Baker and G D Spenceley, 1985 S W K Shaw, 1983 G Hoyle


About Sir Robert Abbott Hadfield Bart DSc FRS

Sir Robert Abbott Hadfield who died in London on 30 September 1940, in his eighty-second year, was probably better known to the general public than any other metallurgist; certainly, the inventions and developments in metallurgy that are associated with his name merited for him the greatest recognition, and, in fact, such recognition was made to him during his lifetime.

Sir Robert was born in Sheffield in 1859; he received his general education at the Collegiate School in that city, and, having trained as a chemist, he worked for some time in the firm of Jonas, Meyer and Colver. In 1872 his father set up a works for the production of steel castings - a somewhat bold experiment for the times - and worked up a very successful business. In due course Sir Robert joined his father, and was only twenty-four years old when he took over the control of the firm; he succeeded his father on the death of the latter in 1888, the concern was converted into a limited liability company, and he became Chairman and Managing Director when he was no more than thirty years of age; he held these positions at his death.

Sir Robert's interest in alloy steels was aroused by reading a pamphlet describing the ferro-manganese alloys shown by the Terre Noire Company in Paris in 1878, and he commenced, in the laboratory belonging to his father's form, his investigations on the effect of progressive additions of manganese on carbon steel. It was already known that small additions hardened the steel, but that when the manganese content reached 3% the alloys became so brittle that they were useless. Sir Robert, however, raised the manganese content to much higher values, with the surprising result that when 12-13% was present an alloy with entirely novel properties was produced. This new steel became softer on being quenched, it was non-magnetic (despite its high content of iron), and offered a remarkable resistance to wear, the surface hardening under the influence of abrasion. This 'manganese steel' of to-day was discovered in 1882; a full account of it was given to the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Iron and Steel Institute in 1888. The new material found extensive application in the construction of machine parts and objects liable to heavy wear, and it was also used in making the protective helmets introduced in the 1914-1918 war.

In the same systematic manner Sir Robert investigated the influence of silicon. In fact, his researches on the manganese and silicon steels had a common origin, for in 1882 he had notified that a pair of mill-pinions containing 11/2% of silicon had a grinding action on one another; at that time he was researching for an improvement on the emery wheels of the day, which were liable to burst, and he hoped to make an abrasive alloy of steel. In his first experimental alloy he incorporated 4% of silicon and 8% of manganese, but it was not a success, so he tried the effects of additions of manganese and silicon repeatedly. Silicon steel was originally developed solely with the idea of obtaining improved physical properties in the cast or rolled form, and large quantities were used in the tops-sides of the Mauretania and Lusitania on account of its high strength. This research, however, also led to the introduction of the low-carbon silicon steels which possess such valuable electrical properties, including high resistance and low hysteresis, but it was not until about 1902, after years of patient research, that their exploitation began. Metallurgists all over the world took their share in this work, but to Sir Robert belongs the honour of having proved that silicon was not the bugbear that it had previously been considered to be.

While Sir Robert's name will always be associated more particularly with manganese steel and silicon steel, his interest was in no sense restricted to them only; on the contrary, there is probably no aspect of steel metallurgy to which he did not devote his attention, and the researches carried out by him or under his direction were innumerable. To The Iron and Steel Institute alone he presented twenty-three papers (not counting his Presidential Address), and many more papers were published through a variety of other channels. 

Sir Robert was also the recipient of many honours from all parts of the world. In 1908 he was knighted, and in 1917 he was made a baronet. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1909, and in 1925 he was made an Officer of the Legion of Honour; he was the Master Cutler of Hallamshire in 1899, and in 1917 he received the Freedom of the City of London. He was made an honorary Doctor of Metallurgy by Sheffield University (1911), and an honorary Doctor of Science by Leeds University (1912) and by Oxford University (1927). Among the many medals, awards and premiums which he received the following may be mentioned: The James Forrest Premium of he Institution of Civil Engineers (1906), the Elliott-Cresson Gold Medal of the Franklin Institute (1910), the John Fritz Gold Medal of the Engineering Foundation (1921), and the Thomas Turner Gold Medal awarded by Birmingham University (1923), while the Societe d'Encouragement presented him with their Gold Medal on three occasion, in 1980, 1893 and 1909.

Sir Robert was elected an Honorary Member of no less than twenty-seven scientific and technical institutions at home and abroad, including the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of British Foundrymen, the Institution of Welding Engineers (now the Institute of Welding), the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the American Society for Metals, the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, the Societe des Ingenieurs Civils de France, the Institut de France (Academie des Sciences), the Royal Swedish Academy, the Societe des Engenieurs de Liege and the Japanese Iron and Steel Institute. Sir Robert was President of a number of institutions at various times and occupied this post of honour in the Faraday Society for no less than seven years. He was also a Liveryman of the Goldsmith's Company.

Sir Robert took a profound interest for many years in the work of The Iron and Steel Institute. He was elected a Member of Council in 1890, and a Vice-President in 1895; in 1905 he commenced the two-year period of office as President. The Bessemer Gold Medal was presented to him in 1904.

With the passing of Sir Robert Hadfield the iron and steel institute loses one of its most outstanding figures. The Iron and Steel Institute mourns the death not only of a great metallurgist and industrial leader, but also of a good friend, for Sir Robert was one of the Institute's warmest supporters. Sir Robert's membership dated from the year 1879, and thus another link with the past is severed.

Journal of the Iron & Steel Institute 1940 vol.142, p.285-291

Nomination process

The following information is required to submit a nomination:

  • Nominee's title, full name, email address, IOM3 member grade (if applicable) and postnominals, company and position
  • Citation (500 words max) to support your nomination
  • Additional documentation (i.e. letters of support, CV, list of publications) to further support your nomination
  • Details of an external referee (only if the nominee and nominator are from the same organisation).

Please note you may save your nomination as a draft at any point during the process and complete at a later date.