Classification of material properties

Materials have different properties that make them unique. Knowing them will ensure that we select materials with the right properties to develop a given product. In this article we will see what and which are the properties of materials that we need to know in the industry.

What are material properties?

Properties are factors that qualitatively or quantitatively influence the response of a given material to the imposition of stimuli and constraints, e.g., forces, temperature, etc. Similarly, properties make a material suitable or unsuitable for a particular industrial use. In other words, when we refer to the properties of a material, we are talking about characteristics that we can perceive, measure or test.

The mechanical and physical properties of materials are determined by their chemical composition and internal structure, such as grain size or crystalline structure. However, these properties can be altered under certain conditions. For example, metalworking processes and heat treatment can modify materials and their physical properties such as density and electrical conductivity. This is really useful, as the new properties may be more suitable for certain applications.

In that sense, materials experts, such as the ones we have at Infinitia Research, will have the necessary knowledge to select raw materials and apply material characterization techniques. As we will see below, there are different types of properties that provide specific characteristics to the material.

Types of engineering material properties

Physical properties of materials

Physical properties are those that can be observed without changing the composition of the material. For example, some of the most important physical properties of metals are density, color, size and shape, specific gravity of the material and porosity among others.

Chemical properties of materials

They produce changes in the chemical composition of the material because they interact with other substances. This is a very interesting typology in innovation, since most materials, when in contact with other substances, can react creating new materials. Similarly, it can be used in forensic engineering to discover the deterioration and aging of the material by chemical reaction with the environment.

Thermal properties of materials

They are related to conductivity and refer to the properties that a material exhibits when heat passes through it. In other words, they refer to the characteristic behavior of a material under thermal load. Some of them are thermal conductivity, thermal expansion, specific heat, melting point and thermal diffusivity.

Magnetic properties of materials

The origin of magnetism lies in the orbital and spin motions of electrons and how they interact with each other. With this in mind, the magnetic properties of materials will determine the material’s capability for a particular magnetic application. One such example is permeability, a magnetic property that indicates the ease with which magnetic flux builds up in the material.

Optical properties of materials

This typology consists of the response of a material to exposure to electromagnetic radiation, especially visible light. When light strikes a material, several processes can occur, such as reflection, refraction, absorption and scattering.

Mechanical properties of materials

They are those that determine the behavior of a material under the forces applied to it and reflect the relationship between its response to a load and the deformation it undergoes. In other words, the mechanical properties of materials help us to measure how materials behave under load in order to achieve optimum system performance. Mechanical properties include, among others, density, hardness and elasticity.

Given the multitude of materials available, the possibility of modifying properties through alloys and different treatments, it is essential to have professionals capable of selecting the most suitable material to provide the performance we are looking for.

At Infinitia we are experts in materials and we have extensive experience providing solutions. Contact our forensic engineering team and tell us about your case.