Powder metallurgy is essential for the automotive industry, among others. It also determined the life of Richard Kieffer. After studying chemistry, Kieffer first worked for Bayrische Metallwerke in Dachau. He was then largely responsible for the success of Metallwerke Plansee, where he worked for 30 years on the development of hard metals and the production of new sintered materials, on new manufacturing processes such as arc and vacuum melting, and on large-scale metallurgy of refractory metals. From 1964, Kieffer established a powder metallurgy group at the Vienna University of Technology and conducted research on the production of extremely hard cutting tools.
For his work he received the Auer-von-Welsbach Medal in 1952, the Medal of Merit of the Swedish Academy of Engineering in 1954, the Erwin Schrödinger Prize in 1975, the Industry Award of the Society of Carbide and Tool Engineers in 1979, and the Grand Decoration of Honor in Silver for services to the Republic of Austria in 1976.