Material Selection Guide for Mechanical Design

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The manufacturing industry is rapidly developing. Mechanical design products are getting more complex. The products have higher and higher technical requirements. Especially in design, material choice is crucial. It affects performance, durability, and cost. It is now an indispensable part of product design. We select materials based on their physical and chemical properties. We also consider their environmental impact, sustainability, and economic efficiency. Choosing the right materials cuts costs and boosts performance. It also greatly improves quality and competitiveness. This helps the company grow sustainably. In this article, we will discuss the basic principles of choosing materials and design. We will cover common types of materials and their uses. This will help you better understand picking materials in mechanical design.

Material Selection Guide for Mechanical Design

Material types and characteristics

In mechanical design, material choice affects a machine or structure. It impacts performance, reliability, and cost. The following are the common types of materials and their main characteristics:

Metallic materials

Metallic materials have metallic properties. They are made of metallic elements or mainly metallic elements. It mainly includes steel (carbon steel, stainless steel, alloy steel), aluminum, copper, titanium, and other common materials. These materials are common in mechanical processing. They are widely used.

For example, steel is strong and tough. It resists corrosion. We can change its properties with heat. It is good for applications under high stresses and loads, like structural components, shafts, and gears. Aluminum and its alloys have low density, good electrical conductivity, and better corrosion resistance. Commonly used in aerospace and automotive manufacturing to reduce weight. Copper and its alloys conduct electricity and heat well. They are often used as wires in electronics. Titanium and titanium alloys have high strength and corrosion resistance. They maintain high strength and low density. They are suitable for aerospace and sports equipment.

Non-metallic materials

Non-metallic materials also have a place in mechanical design, such as plastics, rubber, ceramics and composites. These materials are often lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and insulating. They are suitable for specific environments or requirements. For example, ABS is an engineering plastic. It is commonly used to make housings for electronic devices. They use it to cut weight and give insulation. Rubber is used in automobile tires to provide cushioning and grip, and in seals to prevent leakage.

Ceramics make parts for high-temperature environments. For example, they make spark plug insulators for engines. In aerospace, carbon fiber composites are widely used to make aircraft structural components.

Composite Materials

Composite material is new. It is made by combining two or more materials with different properties. This is done through physical or chemical methods. It has the advantages of light weight, high strength and corrosion resistance, so it is more and more widely used in modern mechanical design. Common types of composites are fiber reinforced composites, particle reinforced composites, laminated composites and nanocomposites. In the aerospace industry, they are mainly used in airplane fuselage, wings, engine parts and so on. In the automotive industry, they are mainly used in the body, chassis, interior parts, drive shafts and so on. In wind power generation, they are mainly used in wind turbine blades and towers.

Technology is advancing. Demand for applications is increasing. So, the use of metals, non-metals, and composites in mechanical design will grow. Intelligent composite materials will bring more innovation. They will bring more possibilities for mechanical design. Choosing and using materials well can improve the performance. It can also improve the reliability of mechanical products. It can also make products lighter and more multifunctional.

Selection of suitable materials for mechanical design

Basic principles of design material selection

When selecting materials for design, you must follow basic principles. These principles ensure the materials meet the design requirements. You must also consider factors like cost, environmental protection, and sustainability. The following are some common basic principles of material selection and design.

Principle of performance requirements

Meeting the needs of product design and functionality is the main rule of material selection. The material’s performance must meet the basic requirements. These requirements are for using the product or structure. Before choosing the material, you need to clarify the product’s function and performance needs. This includes strength, hardness, and elasticity. It also includes resistance to abrasion and corrosion. It has conductivity for electricity and heat, and so on. For example, in mechanical design, you need to choose materials that can handle the working load. In making electronic products, you need materials with good electrical conductivity and insulation. In high-temperature environments, you need good heat-resistant materials.

The principle of good workmanship

Material processing technology is also an important factor to consider in the selection process. The chosen material should be able to adapt to needed processing methods. These include casting, welding, and cutting. This ability is needed to meet the product design requirements. The chosen material can’t use the existing processing tech. This will make the final design of the product costly and hard to make. It will hinder mass production.

Economy principle

The principle of economy is a material selection design process can not be ignored. To meet needs for performance and process, we should consider material costs. We should choose low-cost, easy-to-buy materials to control product costs. The cost of materials includes its purchase price, processing costs, transportation and installation costs and other aspects. In the design of material selection, comprehensive consideration is needed to ensure economic efficiency.

Principle of safety and environmental protection

Global integration is developing. The environmental awareness of countries is increasing. Material selection and design of safety and environmental protection is also increasingly emphasized. On one hand, the materials must follow safety standards. These can be international or domestic. They ensure that using the materials will not harm people. On the other hand the selected materials should be renewable or recyclable as much as possible to reduce the impact on the environment. For example, when choosing materials for medical devices, safety is most important. Materials that can cause skin allergies or interact with drugs should not be used.

Stability and Reliability Principle

The stability and reliability of materials are related to the service life and safety of products. If the selected material is not stable, it will affect the safety of the product. If the selected material is unreliable, it will shorten the life of the product. Therefore, the selected materials should have stable chemical properties, not easily affected by the external environment and deterioration or corrosion. At the same time, the material should also be reliable. It can be used long-term while keeping stable performance.

Innovative and forward-looking principle

In the material selection process, should also pay attention to innovative and forward-looking. In the selection of materials, you can actively try to use new materials to improve product performance and quality. At the same time, it should also watch material technology. This will prepare for future product upgrades. For example, in the field of new energy vehicles, to pick battery materials, we should watch for progress. We need new materials that are high-performance and high safety.

Basic principles of design material selection

Steps in the selection of materials for mechanical design

Material selection is crucial in mechanical design. Reasonable choices can improve product performance and cut costs. The following will take you to understand the specific steps. They cover mechanical design material selection.

Demand analysis

First, we must clarify the function and use of mechanical parts or products. We must also consider their environment, service life, and performance needs. The analysis must consider the mechanical, physical, and chemical properties. It must also consider adaptability to the environment, economy, and other needs.

Preliminary material screening

Demand analysis shows the results. They did a first screen of materials that may meet the requirements. On the one hand, material databases (e.g. MatWeb, CES Selector) can be utilized for screening. Instead, you can refer to material manuals and related standards. They show the types of materials that meet the basic performance requirements for material selection. You choose based on the degree of matching and a preliminary screening of several candidate materials.

Material Performance Comparison

Detailed performance comparison of the preliminary screened materials. The Ashby diagram method can visualize and compare how well different materials perform. It does this on two-dimensional diagrams. These can be strength-density diagrams, hardness-cost diagrams, and so on.

Conducting tests and verification

For critical parts or important products, you may need to test the material. This is to ensure that the chosen material can meet the actual use requirements. Laboratory tests and prototype tests are mainly conducted. The tests are the tensile test, fatigue test, and corrosion test. They happen in the lab. Prototype testing is to make product prototypes and test them in real conditions. This is done to see the actual performance of the materials.

Final material selection and optimization

We did comprehensive demand analysis. We also did preliminary material screening. We compared material performance and verified tests. This led us to make the final determination of the material type. At the same time, the selected design materials are optimized to ensure that the best results are achieved.

Steps in the selection of materials for mechanical design

Specific application of mechanical design materials

The selection of materials in mechanical design has many uses in different fields. It must be considered fully based on various working conditions, performance needs, and costs. The following are specific applications of mechanical materials in some fields.

automobile manufacturing

Body structure: Cars are using more and more high-strength steel, aluminum, and even carbon fiber. This is to make the car lighter and improve fuel efficiency. They do this while keeping the body strong and safe. For example, the body frame of Audi A8 makes extensive use of aluminum alloy materials.

Engine parts: The cylinder block and cylinder head usually use cast iron or aluminum alloy. Cast iron has good wear resistance and stays stable at high temperatures. It is suitable for heavy loads.

Temperature environment: Aluminum alloy is light. This helps improve the engine’s power-to-weight ratio.

aerospace field

Aircraft structure: The wing and fuselage structure of large passenger aircraft widely use aluminum alloy and carbon fiber reinforced composite materials. The fuselage of the Boeing 787 airliner uses a lot of carbon fiber composites. This cuts the plane’s weight and lowers fuel use.

Engine components: Turbine blades are made of high-temperature alloys, like nickel-based ones. They can work under the harsh conditions of high temperature, high pressure, and high speed.

machining equipment

Machine tool bed: gray cast iron is usually used because it has good vibration damping and wear resistance, and can ensure machining accuracy.

Cutting tool: high-speed steel and carbide are common cutting tool materials. High-speed steel is good for slow cutting and making complex tools. Cemented carbide is harder and more wear-resistant. It is good for fast cutting.

the energy field

Wind turbine blades:Wind turbine blades use mainly glass fiber composites or carbon fiber composites. They withstand huge wind loads while staying light.

Oil drilling equipment: drill pipes are usually made of high-strength alloy steel to withstand the high pressure and complex stress situation underground.

Electronic Equipment

Equipment shells: Aluminum and aluminum alloys are used in equipment shells. They are used in cell phone and laptop computer shells. They are used due to their good thermal conductivity, lightweight, and corrosion resistance.

Electrical components: many electrical components require good electrical and thermal conductivity, so the design material requirements are high. Copper and its alloys have 3 key properties. They have high electrical and thermal conductivity. They also have corrosion resistance. They are widely used in making electrical connections and for heat dissipation. For example, conductive components, heat sinks, cables, and other components.

Specific application of mechanical design materials


In short, picking the right materials is key. It helps to make your engineering project work well. This guide covers the properties and uses of many materials. It includes metals such as aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. It also covers the key principles of choosing materials for mechanical design. It gives specific steps to help us get the best raw materials for our products. This ensures our products meet our customers’ needs and environmental standards. Yonglihao Machinery provides high-quality CNC machining services as well as metal stamping services through a careful selection of materials. We meet the needs of different industries. If you have such needs, please contact Yonglihao Machinery. We will give you professional and top-notch service.


Designers commonly use aluminum and aluminum alloys. They also use steel and stainless steel in mechanical design. They also use copper and copper alloys, titanium, and titanium alloys.

Aluminum and its alloys have advantages. They are light and have good electrical and thermal conductivity. They also resist corrosion.

 The disadvantage is that it degrades at high temperatures.Its strength is limited compared to steel. Some high-performance aluminum alloys cost more.

Steel and stainless steel have advantages. They have high strength and hardness and good toughness. Stainless steel is also corrosion resistant.The disadvantages are that it is heavy. Also, ordinary carbon steel rusts. And, stainless steel costs more.

Copper and copper alloys have many advantages. They have excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. They also have corrosion resistance, good ductility, and antibacterial properties.

Disadvantages: heavier weight, higher cost and easy to oxidize.

Titanium and titanium alloys have many advantages. They have high strength and low density. They also have great corrosion resistance, good biocompatibility, and high temperature performance.

They have disadvantages. These include high cost and hard processing. They also have low wear resistance and poor heat conductivity.

Choosing the right surface treatment improves material properties. But, it requires considering many things. These include material needs, material properties, treatment method traits, cost, and feasibility. It also requires testing and optimizing through experiments. After all that, you can pick the right treatment method.

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