Engineering Materials - Introduction

The knowledge of engineering materials and their properties is of great importance for a design engineer. A design engineer must be familiar with the effects which the manufacturing processes and heat treatment have on the properties of the materials. The engineering materials are mainly classified as:

1. Metals and their alloys, such as iron, steel, copper, aluminum etc.
2. Non-metals, such as glass, rubber, plastic etc.

The metals may further be classified as:
(a) Ferrous metals; and (b) Non-ferrous metals.

The ferrous metals are those which have the iron as their main constituent, such as cast iron, wrought iron and steel.

The non-ferrous metals are those which have a metal other than iron as their main constituent, such as copper, aluminum, brass, tin, zinc etc.

The important mechanical properties of metals are as follows:

1. Strength. It is the ability of a material to resist the externally applied forces without breaking or yielding.
2. Stiffness. It is the, ability of a material to resist deformation under stress. The modulus of elasticity is the measure of stiffness.
3. Elasticity. It is the property of a material to regain its original shape after deformation when the external forces are removed. This property is desirable for materials used in tools and machines. It may be noted that steel is more elastic than rubber.
4. Plasticity. It is property of a material which retains the deformation produced under load permanently. This property of material is necessary for forgings, in stamping images on coins, and in ornamental work.
5. Ductility. It is property of a material enabling it to be drawn into wire with the application of a tensile force. A ductile material commonly used in engineering practice (in order of diminishing ductility) are mild steel, copper, aluminum, nickel, zinc, tin and lead.
6. Brittleness. It is the property of a material opposite to ductility. It is the property of breaking of a material with little permanent distortion. Cast iron is a brittle material.
7. Malleability. It is a special case of ductility which permits materials to be rolled or hammered into thin sheets. A malleable material should be plastic but it is not essential to be so strong. The malleable materials commonly used in engineering practice (in order of diminishing malleability) are lead, soft steel, wrought iron, copper and aluminum.
8. Toughness. It is the property of a material to resist fracture due to high impact loads like hammer blows. The toughness of a material decreases when it is heated. This property is desirable in parts subjected to shock and impact loads.
9. Resilience. It is property of a material to absorb energy and to resist shock and impact loads. It is measured by the amount of energy absorbed per unit volume within elastic limit. This property is essential for spring materials.
10. Creep. When a part is subjected to a constant stress at high temperature for a long period of time, it will undergo a slow and permanent deformation called creep. This property is considered in designing internal combustion engines, boilers and turbines.
11. Fatigue. When a material is subjected to repeated stresses, it fails at stresses below the yield point stresses. Such type of failure of a material is known as fatigue. The failure is caused by means of a progressive crack formation which are usually fine and microscopic size. This property is considered in designing shafts, connecting rods, springs, gears etc.
12. Hardness. It is a very important property of the metals and has a wide variety of meanings. It embraces many different properties such as resistance to wear, scratching, deformation and machinability etc. It also means the ability of a metal to cut another metal. The hardness is usually expressed in numbers which are dependent on the method of making the test.

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you very much. Read more basic concepts of mechanical engineering here:

  2. Why steel is more elastic than rubber

    1. The strain produced in the steel is comparatively smaller than the strain produced in the rubber.

  3. Thank you sir,you are explained all the property in simple way.

  4. This is very educative, thank you so much.

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