Engineers require a large range of materials to fulfill the requirement and performance of designs. These materials may be subjected to extremes of conditions so that no one material is adequate for all purposes.
Everything that can be seen, everything that can be touched or used is a material. All are made up of numerous atoms arranged and bonded in specific ways to create materials as they are known. Click here for further information on atomic arrangements (bonding). These arrangements of atoms and bonds are the fundamental basis of the properties of materials, properties which can be modified, within limitations, to enable the material to perform a wider range of duties.
The most common metallic materials in engineering are "STEELS". There are many types of steels which can be broken down to two types:
Low Carbon Steel (LCS)
Medium Carbon Steel (MCS)
High Carbon Steel (HCS)
From this selection an engineer who requires a plain carbon steel which can be cold formed into a certain shape e.g. a car body panel, would select a low carbon steel, as this material has the desired property i.e. Ductility . An engineer who requires plain carbon steel which can be used to cut other materials, including steel, e.g. a cold chisel, would select a medium carbon steel as this can have the desired property, Hardness