Post 334 – by Gautam Shah
We seek material objects with perfect combination of Engineering attributes, Dimensional features and Surface properties. Our quest is further complicated when we require materials in very large quantity and consistent quality. We often need the materials locally and immediately. The quest for the materials proceeds along these courses.
We usually have some idea how a particular material will function in a given situation. And so we SELECT the most appropriate material for its probable response. We primarily pick such materials off the surface of earth or mine it. But it would be very rare for anyone to find a Natural Material with perfect combination of all the essential qualities.
Natural materials have certain inherent efficiencies. We retain these, yet widen our options by dressing, cutting, and carrying out other modification processes. The size of a Modified Natural Material, remains the same or in most cases gets decreased. It is also not possible to achieve a material with distinctly different qualities, then what the nature offers.
Natural, modified (and often manufactured materials) have limitations of size, and variations of colour, texture, patterns, etc. One needs to assemble a larger entity. Agglomerated Materials are composed by closely placing the units with or without an alliance (exchange of ions), or by joining or adhering with an agent. The agglomerated materials also have a new variant, -the joint. The agglomerated entity remains as weak as its weakest constituent, usually the joint.
Quality of natural, modified or agglomerated materials can be tempered with certain treatments and processes. The treatments are like annealing, hardening, seasoning, wetting, etching, ph balancing etc. Processed materials can have treatments that are surface bound or affect the whole body of the material.
In spite of all the modifications, aggregation and processing the dimensional limitations of materials remain. An assured quality can only be achieved by producing a new material out of a raw material. Manufactured Materials are produced from raw materials that apparently have little or direct use. Manufacturing involves several levels of processing, before the resultant product can have some utility. Manufactured materials have completely different quality in comparison to their ingredients. Manufactured materials have some dimensional limitations, as imposed by the methods of manufacturing (batch size, machine capacity -eg. textiles, rexine, plywoods). Though, coatings and other deposition techniques overcome the size restraints.
A manufactured-material is further processed to create Components, or several materials are mixed to form Compounded Material-Product. Natural and manufactured materials are also combined to create Composites (e.g. composites, co-extrusion), or chemically blended (co-polymerization) to form Synthetics. Components, compounded material-products, composites and synthetics, all are further exploited geometrically, to form Systems. Such systems have dual, Functional and Structural identities.
The term Synthesis refers to how materials are made from naturally occurring or man-made chemicals. The term Processing means how materials are shaped into useful components to cause changes in the properties of different materials. –The science and Engineering of Materials : Askeland & Phule.
We primarily endeavour to create Single Material Objects. Single material-objects, be it natural or man-made have inherent efficiencies. We try to achieve the state of a single material efficiency by integrating (composites) or by synthesizing materials (synthetics). Such materials are commercially called multi purpose materials.
A Multi purpose material to be effective requires redefining of the geometry (form of construction) of the entity. Such redesign takes years of research effort. Human ingenuity, however, can outpace such attempts by inventing superior, but totally a different entity, for the given situation. The superiority of a newly invented entity may happen, because of its unitary structure, or as a multiplex system of simpler and lesser number of elements.