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Materials Selection for Engineerin

g Design
Materials Selection
 The designer of any product, other than s
oftware must get involved with material se
 Only occasionally will the exact grade of m
aterial be specified by the customer.
 Even then the designer must understand t
he material to be able to design the produ
Decisions, decisions!

So many materials, so much information.

How do we decide?
How do we begin to choose?

First we need to look at the function of the

product – product analysis
Product Analysis

 Just what it says – analyse the product!

 What does it do?
 How does it do it?
 Where does it do it?
 Who uses it?
 What should it cost?
What influences product design
Case Study – a bike
 What is the function of a bike – obvious?
 How does the function depend on the type
of bike?
 Racing
 Touring
 Mountain bike
 Commuter
 Childs
Case Study – a bike (2)

 How is it made to be easily maintained?

 What should it look like (colours etc.)?
 What should it cost?
 How has it been made comfortable to ride
 How do the mechanical parts work and int
Component or system?

 1st problem is…….

Is it one component or a system of compo
nents working together?

A spanner is a component, a cordless scre

wdriver is a system.
System Analysis

 When we analyse a system we need to br

eak the system down into individual comp
onents and then analyse each one.
Cordless screwdriver
System Analysis – the bike

The bike breaks down (we hope not!) into v

arious parts:
 Frame

 Forks

 Wheels

 Saddle

 Etc.
System Analysis – the bike (2)
We now need to look at the following for ea
ch part:
 Requirements (mechanical, ergonomic, ae
sthetic etc.)
 Function

 How many are going to be made?

 What manufacturing methods are we goin

g to use?

Oh No!
We have to actually make it!

This is a key question which has a massive i

nfluence on materials selection.
e.g. The frame, what materials could we use
Frame Materials

 Steel –
Strong, stiff, heavy, but cheap
 Aluminium –

weaker, lighter, more expensive than steel

 Composite (CFRP) –

strong, stiff, very light, but expensive to buy

and to fabricate
Bike Frame
Frame Design Detail
What Properties?
 Mechanical –
Strength, modulus etc.
 Physical –
Density, melting point.
 Electrical –
Conductivity, resistivity.
 Aesthetic –
Appearance, texture, colour
 Processability –
Ductility, mouldability
 And last, but not least……….
Cost, cost, cost!
Where do I find the data?

 Textbooks
 Databooks
 Manufacturer’s literature
 Internet Sites

 Good for general information

 Some have tables of properties
 Not good for detailed specifications and pr
 A useful first point of call

 One of the quickest sources of detailed inf

 Usually contain grades and specifications a
s well as properties.
 Small and perfectly formed – pocketbooks
 Easy to navigate around
Manufacturer’s literature

 Variable in quality and usefulness.

 Often only cover their products.
 Usually do not compare materials.
 Can be biased.
 Good for final selection before ordering.
Internet Sites

 Can be a real minefield.

 Lots of poorly presented information.
 Google searches bring up lots of rubbish.
 Hard to find technical information.
 Best to use non-commercial sites.
Materials Selection Charts
Modulus - Density Chart

 Modulus spans 5 orders of magnitude

 0.01 GPa for foams to 1000 GPa for diamond
 The charts therefore use logarithmic scale
s, where twice the distance means ten tim
 This makes it possible to show the full ran
ge on one chart,

Materials Selection Charts
Materials Selection Charts

 Allow easy visualisation of properties

 Show lots of different materials
 Can be ‘drilled down’ to specifics
 Show balances of properties
e.g. strength v cost
 Ideal for a first ‘rough cut’ selection

1. Think about the design from ergonomic

and functional viewpoint.
2. Decide on the materials to be used.

3. Choose a suitable process that is also ec

Steps 2 & 3 may be iterative. Don’t forget t
he ……………
Bigger Picture
Is the product performa
nce driven or cost drive
This makes a huge differ
ence when choosing ma
Manufacturing Process
Although we usually choos
e materials first sometimes
it is the shape and process
which is the limiting factor.
Case Study (2) Drink Container
 What are the requireme
Case Study (2) Drink Container
 Provide leak free environment for storing liquid.
 Comply with food standards & protect liquid fro
m health hazards.
 For fizzy drinks, withstand pressure.
 Brand image & identity
 Easy to open
 Easy to store & transport
 Cheap for high volumes
Possible Materials

 Steel
 Aluminium
 Glass
 Plastic
 Paper