What is Materials Engineering?
Materials Engineering applies the principles of science and engineering to the development, production and use of metallic, ceramic, plastic and composite materials. Understanding the relationship between processing, structure and properties of materials, enables materials to be engineered for specific end use requirements. A large part of materials is concerned with metals which are the mainstay of many engineering applications in today's transportation, agriculture, mining, construction and communications industries.
An area of significant growth has been plastics as they have replaced traditional materials in a wide variety of applications such as cars, computers, furniture, and packaging. Increasingly, advanced coatings are being used to extend the use of metals and polymers. Materials Engineering is increasingly concerned with the social and environmental impact of materials upon our society.
What is Process Metallurgy and Physical Metallurgy?
Metals are extensively used in engineering because of their special combination of mechanical and physical properties. They form the backbone of the built environment. Process metallurgy is concerned with extracting metals from their ores, while physical metallurgy is concerned with the development, production and final use of metals and alloys.
Process metallurgy includes the main areas of pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and electrometallurgy, used extensively to develop Australia's natural resources. Physical metallurgy involves the shaping, alloying, heat treatment, joining and testing of metals, alloy selection and failure investigation, providing the bulk of materials for manufacturing industries. As well as thousands of traditional alloys, there are exciting new developments such as aluminium-lithium alloys, shape-memory alloys, high-strength steels, rapidly solidified metals, and metal matrix composites. Process metallurgy looks at ways to improve the efficiency of processing and use of metals whilst minimising harmful environmental impacts is a key challenge to metallurgists today.
What is Ceramic Engineering?
Ceramic Engineering is concerned with the development, production and use of ceramic materials. Recently, an exciting new generation of high-tech ceramics has emerged from the application of modern science and technology. These materials include new electronic and magnetic ceramics, ceramic engine parts, space shuttle tiles, ceramic high temperature superconductors, biomedical ceramics and many other new products.
These feed off established yet demanding traditional areas of ceramics such as bricks, tableware, crockery, pottery, glass, refractories and cement, among the oldest of manufactured materials that continue as essential elements of modern life.
Want more information?
Dr Owen Standard
School of Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty of Science
Ph: (02) 9385 4437
Fax: (02) 9385 5956