bullet1 Introduction

As the title of this unit suggests the subject of this is "BASIC ENGINEERING MATERIALS" and it has to be stressed BASIC.

It is hoped that this learning episode will make you think "What is a component made from and why"

It will be impossible for anyone partaking in this learning object not to have any prior knowledge of materials. Depending on your age, prior education and experience your knowledge of materials will vary.  We will I assume that you may recognise copper for instance?  Perhaps!  We certainly wouldn't assume that you could tell the difference between thermosetting plastic and thermoplastic.

What we will assume is that since you have started to read this learning object you are intending to follow some discipline in engineering whether as vocational or simply as a hobby.  Therefore it is of great importance that you have at least a general idea of the material you will be working with.

Do not expect that after successfully completing this learning object that you will be able to recognise accurately every engineering material available.  This would be impossible for anyone.  Initially only the manufacturer can tell you that.  Other than that, metallurgist's  using Xray analysis or electron microscopes  could attain accurate information.

What you will be able to assess is whether a component is made from steel, perhaps not a particular steel, and how it was produced and so on.  I hope you will be assured that if you do need to know what a particular material is, or if you are uncertain, simply ask the manufacturer or supplier.

What we can assure you of is that if you are following any engineering discipline it will be required for you to be able to recognise common materials to at least the standard you will learn from this learning object

Select one of the above right buttons e.g. Next , Previous or Home to navigate through this learning object. Happy learning.

All materials contain atoms, atoms are the smallest particles of any substance that can be found. There are about 90 elements occurring naturally on earth and all materials are made from elements.  Click   here  to see the periodic table

Why is a basic knowledge of engineering materials important .  It would be very embarrassing if you did not know the difference between plain carbon steel and an Austenitic Stainless Steel .  It would be irresponsible if you were to make a component, which has to be welded from high carbon steel .  Obviously there are a vast amount of materials which can be used however this map will cover the more common materials you are likely to come in contact with in you workplace. these being:

  • Plain carbon steels
  • Aluminium
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Stainless steel
  • Cast iron
  • Thermosetting plastics
  • Thermoplastics

Engineers require a large range of materials to fulfill the requirements and performance of designs .  These materials may be subjected to extremes of conditions so that no one material is adequate .  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 a specific way to create the materials as they are known .  These arrangement of atoms and bond are the fundamental basis of the properties of the materials, properties which can be modified, within limitations, to enable the material to perform a wider range of duties.

Thus the objectives of this map are to:

  • Give you a basic understanding of the common physical and mechanical properties which make materials differ from each other as they will be individually described
  • Help to identify one particular material from another
  • Understand why one material is selected over another due to the first having better functional properties during service

Decide why a material may be preferred over another to produce components despite the fact that the latter may have better service properties.