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2

Selection of Materials and

Shapes

IIT, Bombay

Lecture

2

Selection of Materials - I

IIT, Bombay

Instructional objectives

By the end of this lecture, the student will learn

(a) what is a material index and how does it help in selection of material for a given

application, and

(b) how to develop material indices considering the appropriate material properties for an

intended service.

Selection of Materials

Appropriate selection of material is significant for the safe and reliable functioning of a part or

component. Engineering materials can be broadly classified as metals such as iron, copper,

aluminum, and their alloys etc., and non-metals such as ceramics (e.g. alumina and silica

carbide), polymers (e.g. polyvinyle chloride or PVC), natural materials (e.g. wood, cotton, flax,

etc.), composites (e.g. carbon fibre reinforced polymer or CFRP, glass fibre reinforced polymer

or GFRP, etc.) and foams. Each of these materials is characterized by a unique set of physical,

mechanical and chemical properties, which can be treated as attributes of a specific material. The

selection of material is primarily dictated by the specific set of attributes that are required for an

intended service. In particular, the selection of a specific engineering material for a part or

component is guided by the function it should perform and the constraints imposed by the

properties the material.

The problem of selection of an engineering material for a component usually begins with setting

up the target Function, Objective, Constraints, and Free Variables. The Function refers to the

task that the component is primarily expected to perform in service for example, support load,

sustain pressure, transmit heat, etc. The Objective refers to the target such as making the

component functionally superior but cheap and light. In other words, the Objective refers to

what needs to be minimized or maximized. The Constraints in the process of material selection

are primarily geometrical or functional in nature. For example, the length or cross-sectional area

of a component may be fixed. Similarly, the service conditions may demand a specific

component to operate at or beyond a critical temperature that will prohibit use of materials with

low melting temperature. The Free Variables refer to the available candidate materials.

IIT, Bombay

The Material Index (M) refers to an attribute (or a combination of attributes) that

characterizes the performance of a material for a given application. The material index allows

ranking of a set of engineering materials in order of performance for a given application.

Development of a Material Index (M) for an intended service includes the following steps.

Use constraints to eliminate the free variable(s) from the performance equation and

develop the material index.

Function:

Objective:

Constraints:

(i) Length L is specified, (ii) Must not yield under axial tensile load, F

Free variable:

Performance Equation:

F

y , where y is the yield strength of any material,

A

m

FL

y

m (F)(L)

y

(1)

So to minimize mass, we have to minimize the term, y . Or other way, we can maximize the

term y for the sake of our convenience (as the available material property charts are y vs.

IIT, Bombay

format). So the material index, M 1 , in this case becomes y and a material with higher

value of M 1 is expected to perform better in comparison to a material with lower value of M 1 . It

should be noted that the Material Index in this case provides a ratio between the ultimate tensile

strength and the density of the material. Thus, the Material Index (M 1 ) would provide a premise

to examine if a material with higher weight (density) has to be selected to ensure that the same

has sufficient strength to avoid failure.

Example 2: Selection of Material for a Light and Stiff Beam [Fig. 2.2.2]

Function:

Objective:

Constraints:

(i) Length L is specified, (ii) Must not bend under bending load, F

Free variable:

Performance Equation:

The Performance Equation can be developed considering the fact that the beam must be stiff

enough to allow a maximum critical deflection, , under the bending load, F. Thus, the

Performance Equation can be given as

F

EI

(C1 ) 3

(2)

where is the maximum permissible deflection, E is the youngs modulus, I is the second

moment of area. The stiffness, S, of the beam, can be written as, S = F and the second moment

of area, I, can be written as, I = b 4 12 .

The Performance Equation can now be rewritten by substituting one of the free

variables (edge length, b) as

IIT, Bombay

0.5

12S

(L) 3 0.5

m

E

C1 L

(3)

The material index, M 2 , in this case becomes E 0.5 and a material with higher value of M 2 is

expected to perform better in comparison to a material with lower value of M 2 . In other words,

the Material Index (M 2 ) will depict if a material with higher weight (density) has to be selected

to ensure that the same has sufficient stiffness (i.e. E) to avoid bending during service.

Example 3: Selection of Material for a Light and Strong Beam [Fig. 2.2.3]

Function:

Objective:

Constraints:

(i) Length L is specified, (ii) Must not fail under bending load, F

Free variable:

Performance Equation:

The Performance Equation can be developed considering the fact that the beam must be strong

enough so that it does not fail due to an applied bending moment, M, due to the load, F. Thus,

the Performance Equation can be given as

M

I y

(C 2 )

L

b / 2 L

(4)

where y is the yield strength of the material and I is the second moment of area. The second

moment of area, I, can be written as, I = b 4 12 .

The Performance Equation can now be rewritten by substituting one of the free

variables (edge length, b) as

IIT, Bombay

6M 3

(L) 3 2 / 3

m

y

C2L

or

6F

m

2

C2L

3

( L) 3

2y / 3

(5)

The material index, M 3 , in this case becomes 2y / 3 and a material with higher value of M 3 is

expected to perform better in comparison to a material with lower value of M 3 . In other words,

the Material Index (M 3 ) allows the examination if a material with higher weight (density) has to

be selected to ensure that the same has sufficient strength (i.e. f ) to avoid failure during service.

Example 4: Selection of Material for a Light and Stiff Panel [Fig. 2.2.4]

Function:

Objective:

Constraints:

(i) Length L is specified, (ii) Must not bend under bending load, F

Free variable:

Performance Equation:

The Performance Equation can be developed considering the fact that the stiffness of the panel

is sufficient to allow a maximum critical deflection, , under the bending load, F. Thus, the

Performance Equation can be given as

F

EI

(C 3 ) 3

(6)

where is the maximum permissible deflection, E is the youngs modulus, I is the second

moment of area. The stiffness, S, of the beam, can be written as, S = F and the second moment

of area, I, can be written as, I = wt 3 12 . The Performance Equation can now be rewritten by

substituting one of the free variables (panel thickness, t) as

IIT, Bombay

12Sw 2

m

C3L

1/ 3

( L) 2 1 / 3

E

(7)

The material index, M 4 , in this case becomes E 1 / 3 and a material with higher value of M 4 is

expected to perform better in comparison to a material with lower value of M 4 .

The above four examples depict the simple procedure to develop Material Indices for the

selection of suitable material for various structural requirements. These Material Indices can be

used subsequently to shortlist a range of suitable materials from appropriate Material Property

Charts in a graphical manner. The Material Property Charts display the combination of material

properties like Youngs modulus and density, strength and density, Youngs modulus and

strength, thermal conductivity and electrical resistivity, strength and cost, and so on. Figure 2.2.5

shows a typical Material Property Chart that displays Youngs modulus (in GPa) vis--vis

density (in Mg/m3) for a range of engineering materials in a log-log scale.

Figure 2.2.5 Material Property Chart of Youngs Modulus vis--vis Density [2]

IIT, Bombay

Exercise

Choose the correct answer.

1. The Material Index that can be used to select a suitable material for a light, stiff panel is

(a) E 1 / 3

(b) 1 / 3 E

(c) (E)

(d) E 3

2. The Material Index that can be used to select a suitable material for a light, stiff tie-rod is

(a) (E )

(b) 2 E

(c) (E)

(d) ( f )

3. The Material Index that can be used to select a suitable material for a light, stiff beam is

(a) E 1 / 2

(b) 1 / 2 E

(c) (E)

(d) E 2

4. The Material Index that can be used to select a suitable material for a light, strong beam is

(a) f2 / 3

(b) 2 / 3 f

(c) ( f )

(d) E 3

5. The Material Index that can be used to select a suitable material for a light, cheap and strong

beam is

(a) f2 / 3 C m

(b) 2 / 3 C m f

(c) ( f C m )

(d) C m2 / 3 2 / 3 f

Answers:

1. (a)

2. (a)

3. (a)

4. (a)

5. (a)

References

1.

G Dieter, Engineering Design - a materials and processing approach, McGraw Hill, NY,

2000.

2.

IIT, Bombay

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