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How to go about Material Selection?


Pfeifer (2009) describes the material selection process as comprising of the following steps:

  1. Defining the product design requirements

  2. Identifying product element design requirements

  3. Identifying potential materials that can be used

  4. Evaluating each potential material to determine which of them meet the selection criteria

  5. Select materials

Defining Design Requirements

The first level of designing requirements come from the intended customer. The customers’ wants and needs are translated into technical design requirements. For instance, the intended customer may want the product to be lightweight, in which case you must quantitatively define what the mass of the product must be. In some cases, the client is a company that has specific requirements that are already in technical terms which can then be used directly. Additional design requirements are imposed by other “customers” or organizations. These include: Manufacturing organizations that are a part of the production process, industry organizations that set certain standards for reliability, safety, and product performance, the government which plays a regulatory role in several areas like product safety and operation. Lastly, legal organizations also have a role to play in terms of overseeing and controlling intellectual property rights. Cost also is an important factor that needs to be considered during the material selection process.

Identifying product element design requirements

The parameters considered above for defining design requirements need to be considered separately for each product element or subassembly in order to ascertain the product element design requirements.

Identifying potential materials that can be used

Once the design requirements have been identified and properly defined, a list of potential materials that can be used in each element of the product can be identified based on the relevant properties of materials that are required. These properties include the mechanical, electrical, thermal, physical, optical, and electrochemical properties.

In the process of identifying material properties, it is also essential to identify the manufacturing process that would be used to produce a product element as the manufacturing process used may also have an impact on the material’s properties. For instance, components that are machined out of wrought Magnesium Alloy will have varying properties when compared to those of the same component when it is die cast out of Magnesium Alloy.

Evaluating the Materials

Evaluating all potential materials is beneficial as doing so will help you determine which material has properties that would best meet all design requirements at the lowest cost. In order to assess all potential materials, you must obtain information regarding the materials’ properties, features, degradation characteristics, manufacturing possibilities, total cost to use, and variation in properties.

Selecting the Materials

On evaluating the materials, you should be able to determine if any of the potential materials listed in the previous steps satisfy the design requirements for each product element. If each element has a minimum of one viable material option, then you can proceed with the existing design into the manufacturing phase. If not, you may have to choose between developing a new design concept for the product element, modifying the product requirements, inventing a new material, or cancelling the product altogether.

Where does Magnesium fit in?

Magnesium is the lightest structural metal and has 30-100x higher damping capacity in comparison to other structural metals. It can offer the same density as most polymers options and can also sometimes be cheaper, as it can offer higher strength at lower wall thicknesses. When lightweighting is a requirement for the product, almost always Magnesium Alloys offers a great cost effective option.

If you want to learn more about how Magnesium Alloys or even talk about effective Material Selection for your product, Write to us at (or) Request a quote for your component from Exclusive Magnesium Pvt. Ltd. today.

Figure: Overview of the Material Selection Process

(Source: Pfeirer, 2009)


Pfeifer, M. (2009). Materials enabled designs (pp. 23-50). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann. DOI:

Pfeifer, M. (2009). Materials enabled designs (pp. 51-58). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann. DOI:

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