In Material Science & Engineering, understanding the material selection process is vital to engineering any application and/or part design. Material selection is the foundation of all engineering applications. This selection process can be divided into four parts:
- Requirements: What is the problem that the material is required
to do? Answering this question is the foundation for the following
material selection process. Requirements can be vague (it is a strong
structure) to very specific (keep the structure strong only if...).
For example: a table that is needed for study that is leveled at
a slight angle and can hold a number a pounds.
- Possible materials: Now knowing the problem, you need to know
the playing field. There are materials that makes sense to use such
as metals for the body frame of a car. Some others don't: you cannot
use paper to build a bicycle. Much of your search depends on the
required specifications to solve the problem. For example: we will
need a certain kind of wood (A,B,C) and some nails (X,Y)
- Physical principles: Being specialized in Material Science & Engineering,
the knowledge of each physical principle of each material can lead
to an understanding of its mechanical, electrical, thermal and optical
properties. With the knowledge and the learned techniques to modify
materials to change the material properties, you will reach the
goal in satisfying the requirements. For example: make the wood
more fire resistant and polished, create the nails to be more durable
or long lasting.
- Selection: Finally, it is common to find several materials other
possible materials to best fulfill the requirements. This is where
you decide. Other factors (such as time and money) would be introduced
to help select the wisest choice. For example: we choose wood C
because is has a nice shine and is fire resistant, nail Y is better
than nail X even though X is more durable, it damages the wood over
To develop a better understanding of material selection refer to the Ideal Material, the Selection Process, and the Bicycle Materials Case Study.