Successful product design and manufacturing requires the consideration of several perspectives including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, materials engineering, manufacturing, sourcing, and supplier quality. This article discusses the materials engineering perspective for product design and manufacturing. It is an abbreviated version of the free webinar Leveraging Metals Engineering
Materials science is concerned with understanding the relationship between a material’s composition, microstructure, and properties and the effects of manufacturing processes and composition on a material’s microstructure.
Materials engineering involves applying materials science knowledge to the engineering of products and manufacturing processes.
An engineered product is a collection of materials in the shapes of components and weld, solder, or adhesive joints. In fact, up to 70% of the cost to make a product is due to its materials. Therefore, it makes sense that getting the materials right will have a big impact on a product’s success. However, many organizations have difficulties getting the materials right, and they end up facing common problems such as:
Many of these problems can be avoided by applying the materials engineering perspective to product design and manufacturing decisions.
What do you see here? A pair of scissors? Sharp metal blades and plastic handles? As a materials engineer, here's what I see:
Furthermore, people will not buy the scissors or it will cost too much to manufacture if the blade or handle materials do not meet these requirements. The same concept applies to any product.
Product performance, reliability, and cost depends on component and joint performance, reliability, and cost, which depends on component and joint mechanical construction and the materials used for a component or joint. Mechanical construction refers to the shape, dimensions, and features of a component or joint.
Focusing on the materials used for components and joints, designing and manufacturing a successful product requires two things:
Whether a product meets all its performance, reliability, and cost requirements depends on whether a design team selects the appropriate materials. The process of selecting materials is discussed in the Materials Selection lesson of the series.
Controlling the variation of the properties of the materials used in a product requires
In conclusion, including the materials engineering perspective as part of product design and manufacturing enables selection of materials that have been optimized to meet performance, reliability, and cost requirements and control over the variation of the composition, microstructure, and properties of the materials so that they consistently meet their specifications. When both of these happen, the likelihood of product success is greatly improved.