Choosing a material to use is a vital part of the design process. Sometimes, you may need to make prototypes with different materials before settling on the perfect option. This is all part of the designated developmental process to ensure that your final component is always durable enough for the job.
Material selection is made easy since material data is so readily available. This is why you can use the existing data to guide your decision. However, there are tests that you can run to be sure of your choice.
Finding the right material starts with in-depth research. However, creating prototypes before putting anything into mass production is always advised. The prototypes can be made with various materials. This will allow you to test and compare the different materials with each other. That way, you can be sure you've chosen the right option.
When choosing materials for manufacturing components, there are tons of options out there. The various materials have individual pros and cons that need to be considered. This will help you find the ideal material for your project. Here's a quick look at the most popular materials and their durability:
Stainless steel is a versatile and durable material that is ideal for manufacturers when designing components. The most significant advantage of stainless steel is its exceptional corrosion resistance, thanks to the presence of at least 10.5% chromium which creates a protective layer on its surface.
This property makes it perfect for use in harsh environments such as the marine, chemical, and food processing industries. Because the material is so robust, it can withstand heavy loads and extreme temperatures, making it ideal for use in high-temperature applications.
It is also aesthetically pleasing with a modern look and can be polished to a mirror-like finish or given a brushed finish for use in decorative applications. Moreover, it is an easy material to work with and can be formed into intricate designs, making it a popular choice for custom components.
Plastic is a synthetic material that's derived from organic polymers. This material is incredibly popular in several industries such as the medical field. Plastic is used to make packaging and components, highlighting the versatility of the material.
Plastic can be molded in different ways to add strength to the component. This material is not as strong as steel but does have an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. This makes it one of the most versatile, affordable, and practical materials in use today.
Brass is a widely used material in component design due to its numerous beneficial properties. It has excellent machinability and can be easily shaped into complex components. Brass is imperishable and can withstand wear and tear, making it ideal for frequently used components like fittings and valves
It also has good corrosion resistance–resistant to rust and tarnishes–making it a suitable choice for outdoor applications. Brass also has good thermal and electrical conductivity and is useful for electrical and plumbing components. The material’s warm, golden color can be polished to a high shine, making it ideal for decorative components.
Manufacturers often choose aluminum for component construction due to its many advantages. Its lightweight quality is perfect for portable devices and machines.
Aluminum is also adaptable and long-lasting, which enables it to withstand tough conditions, making it useful for various applications. With its high strength-to-weight ratio, aluminum is particularly beneficial for creating sturdy structures without adding excessive weight.
Aluminum's ease of use allows for creating unique and intricate designs with precise accuracy. The material is also resistant to corrosion, non-magnetic, and has excellent electrical conductivity. The combination of these qualities makes aluminum a superb choice of material for component manufacturers. It has widespread use in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, and construction, due to its unique set of properties that can enhance the component's performance, durability, and efficiency.
Alloy steels are used when high strength and wear resistance are required. Chrome steel (52100) is a primary workhorse material in the bearing industry. Internal combustion engine components that must last millions of cycles are typically made from alloy steel. To achieve some of these required properties alloy steels require heat treatment after the initial soft machining operations. Typically after heat treatment, the components are finished to the exact dimensions by grinding.
Although alloy steels have been made for centuries, their metallurgy was not well understood until the advancing chemical science of the nineteenth century revealed their compositions. Alloy steels from earlier times were expensive luxuries made on the model of "secret recipes" and forged into such tools as knives and swords. Today alloy steels find uses in various applications, from everyday hand tools and flatware to highly demanding applications such as in the turbine blades of jet engines and in nuclear reactors.
Because of the ferromagnetic properties of iron, some steel alloys find important applications where their responses to magnetism are very important, including in electric motors and in transformers.
As mentioned above, the durability of a component is incredibly important. This ensures that the final product is strong enough for its chosen application. While the materials are strategically selected from the start, testing is a great way to determine whether the components are strong enough.
There are a few different kinds of tests that you can do to ensure that the chosen material is strong enough. Here's a quick look at the most popular tests that companies often use.
Stress testing is one of the most popular options. This test involves putting the component under high thermal or mechanical stress. This helps you understand the breaking point of the component to see if it's tough enough for the job.
Materials can also be tested to see how they hold up in different environments. This includes changing the humidity level and spraying on salt. Additionally, you can expose the material to UV radiation to see how lengthened sun exposure can have an effect on the material.
Chemicals are a great way to see how tough a component actually is. Chemicals can be added to the material to see how well it fights off corrosion. If your material has corrosion protection, this will push it to its limits to determine its effectiveness.
Material selection is a vital part of the design phase. Choosing the right material to work with will ensure that your component is durable enough for its purpose. While there are tons of data that you can use during the selection process, there are also tests that you can do after production to ensure your component is durable and robust.
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