What are materials?
The characteristics of a technologically literate person
includes understanding the nature of information, materials
and systems and the relationships between them.
This section of the site is dedicated to developing an
understanding of the materials commonly used to meet
needs and extend capabilities.
Materials have many different qualities and can be classified
as natural (eg. wood, stone, metal and clay), synthetic
(eg. glass, concrete and plastics), and mixed (or
composite) - natural materials modified to improve properties
(eg. leather, plywood, composite boards and paper).
The qualities (the inherent or distinguishing characteristics,
or properties) of the materials are what interest the
designer. These can be discussed under three headings: the
physical, chemical and organoleptic.
(see Glossary below).
There are many questions that must be answered about possible
material choices when designing and testing - prior to making.
These web pages are intended to assist students (and teachers)
to make appropriate choices and to provide users with quality
hyperlinks on where to look for further information.
Material qualities & background information:
chemical properties Those determined by the atomic
and molecular composition and structure of the substances
involved. How a material reacts with the environment or
composite Formed of distinct parts or components,
material The substance or substances out of which
a thing is or can be made.
natural Produced or existing in nature.
organoleptic Relating to perception by a sensory
organ. Involving the use of sense organs.
organoleptic properties Those forming a class which
can not be included in either of the physical or chemical
properties. They manifest themselves in the contact of substances
with the organs of taste, touch, and smell, or otherwise
affect the living organism.
physical properties Those which result from the
relations of bodies to the physical agents, light, heat,
electricity, gravitation, cohesion, adhesion, etc., and
which are exhibited without a change in the composition
or kind of matter acted on. They are color, luster, opacity,
transparency, hardness, sonorousness, density, crystalline
form, solubility, capability of osmotic diffusion, vaporization,
boiling, fusion, etc.
synthetic Produced by chemical synthesis, rather
than of natural origin.
system A group of interacting, interrelated, or
interdependent elements forming a complex whole. A functionally
related group of elements - such as - a group of interacting
mechanical or electrical components; or a network of structures
and channels, as for communication, travel, or distribution.