Self Paced Course - Start anytime

Materials and Materials Processing (

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We will focus primarily on the concerns of the materials engineer—the person interested in choosing materials to make a finished product.

This self-contained course presents a sampling of the fields of Materials Engineering and Materials Science. This course is intended primarily for engineering students who are not planning to major in either Materials Engineering or Materials Science. We will focus primarily on the concerns of the materials engineer—the person interested in choosing materials to make a finished product. This selection is determined by compromises among material properties, ease of fabrication, and cost. In contrast, the materials scientist is concerned with understanding the relationships between material properties and the internal structure of a material—that is, atomic bonding, arrangements of atoms, grain structure, and other microscopically observable features. We leave most of these associations to advanced courses, which will use more chemistry and physics than needed for this course.

The course is divided into four units:

Unit 1: Ways That Materials Can Fail – What Can Go Wrong?

Unit 2: Classes of Engineering Materials – What Do We Have?

Unit 3: Comparison of Engineering Materials – ­Which Is Best?

Unit 4: Processing of Materials – How Can We Shape It?

In Unit 1, we will look at available handbook properties and laboratory test results that characterize a material’s strength or weakness to failure. We will concentrate on mechanical property failures, leaving electrical and other types of breakdown to other courses. Our concerns will be:

Static, steady-state applied forces (Elastic Deformation)

Ductile materials (Plastic Deformation)

Brittle materials (Fast Fracture)

Cyclic, vibration forces (Fatigue Failure)

High temperature environments (Creep Deformation)

Corrosive environments (Oxidation and Wet Corrosion)

In Unit 2, we will identify four major classes of the tens of thousands of available materials: metals, polymers, ceramics, and composite materials. We will examine specific examples from each category.

Unit 3 is a synthesis of the first two units. We will see the consequences of the numerical handbook values defined in Unit 1 in evaluating the materials in Unit 2.

In Unit 4, we will look at how we process our materials to obtain the desired configurations for our products. Your study will include a look at casting, mechanical forming, sintering, and joining. Not all materials can be processed with all procedures.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

- describe the common mechanisms by which engineering materials fail;

- associate common descriptive words like strong, tough, and brittle with engineering handbook values;

- describe the laboratory tests that measure these handbook values;

- describe the general internal structure of each major class of engineering material: metals, plastics (also known as polymers), and ceramics;

- compare the strengths and weakness of the major materials classes;

- identify examples of combining materials from different classes to fabricate composite materials, often with unique properties;

- select candidate materials for various engineering design scenarios;

- rank competitive materials using handbook data;

- identify the principal concerns of common materials processing techniques; and

- examine advantages and disadvantages of alternative processing techniques when selecting materials.

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