Topic 1 Material use

What would have happened if an umbrella was made from paper and you wanted to use it in the rain? This question is related to choosing the correct material for the correct use and thinking about its properties before developing a product.

Material is a physical substance that things can be made from. Around us we use different objects or products that come from a huge variety of different raw materials like stone, metal, wood, glass, rubber, plastic, etc.

property describes what a material is like, or its state of matter. Materials have different properties. For example, wood is solid and hard, paper is weak, cotton is absorbent, rubber is flexible, metal is strong but also gets acid, etc. Those material properties affect how the material will be used in the production of goods.

An umbrella could be made with paper but perhaps it should be strengthened with a different material to prevent that the paper melts in the rain. This would cost more time and money for the company making umbrellas. This is why companies check the properties of the different materials and experiment with them before they choose a certain material for their products.

Materials are used for different purposes according to their properties, e.g., wood is excellent for making chairs – it is strong enough to lift our weight. However, it needs to be vanished, so it stays protected from wood bugs that could otherwise destroy it. 

What does someone do when one of the lenses from their eyeglasses is broken? What if their metal chair gets acid? These products are very likely to end up in the waste bins. However, you might remember from previous modules that raw materials are limited resources, so we might do well considering ways that allow us not to put them to waste too easily.

Let’s move on to the next topic, where we can explore some other options rather than just putting broken products to waste.