Material Selection Process


Bicycle Materials

Parts & Design

Case Study



In Material Science Engineering understanding the material selection process is the key to engineering any application and/or part design. Material selection is the foundation of all engineering applications and design. This selection process can be defined by application requirements, possible materials, physical principles, and selection.


The design or function of the part/application is the application requirements. The application requirements are specific given the application.


The possible materials are simply the only materials that can be used in the application. Possible Materials are defined by the application requirements. For an example you cannot use clothe to build a bicycle.


Physical principles are methods of changing a material that are learned through material science techniques. Using material science physical principles we can change material properties. Three common physical principles we can use for functional material strengthening are densification, composites, and alloying. There many manufacturing techniques used to strengthen and form materials as well.


Densification is the most common and necessary way to strengthen any material. In general, this increases the tensile strength by reducing the porosity of the material.


The standard composite rule of mixtures is when the standard matrix is soft/pliable and the reinforcing material is tensile strong. One the major reasons for the prevalent use of composite materials in construction is the adaptability of the composite to many kinds of applications. The selection of mixture proportions can be aimed to achieve optimum mechanical behavior of the harden product. Selection can result in the change of the strength, consistency, density, appearance, and durability.


The alloying of metals is one of the oldest and most fundamental material processing techniques. An Alloy is a solid solution that is composed of two or more elements. There is a solvent (majority composition) and a solute. The Solute element can strengthen the overall solid solution by different element size, density, and other material properties.


Given the application requirements, possible materials, and physical principles we can select the best material. Thus in the selection of a material: First, we decide on the requirements of the application. Second, we decide on the possible materials we can use in the application. Third, we decide what changes in the material properties are needed. Lastly, we decide which material out of the possible materials best fulfills the requirements of the application given possible changes in the material properties.