Selection strategies for materials and processes

M. F. Ashby, Y. J.M. Bréchet, D. Cebon, L. Salvo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

313 Citations (Scopus)


Engineering design draws on tens of thousands of materials and on many hundreds of processes to shape, join and finish them. One aspect of optimized design of a product or system is that of selecting, from this vast menu, the materials and processes that best meet the needs of the design, maximizing its performance and minimizing its cost. The problem, still incompletely solved, is that of matching material and process attributes to design requirements. Some of these attributes can be expressed as numbers, like density or thermal conductivity; some are Boolean, such as the ability to be recycled; some, like resistance to corrosion, can be expressed only as a ranking (poor, adequate, good, for instance); and some can only be captured in text and images. Achieving the match with design requirements involves four basic steps. (1) A method for translating design requirements into a specification for material and process. (2) A procedure for screening out those that cannot meet the specification, leaving a subset of the original menu. (3) A scheme for ranking the surviving materials and process, identifying those that have the greatest potential. (4) A way of searching for supporting information about the top-ranked candidates, giving as much background information about their strengths, weaknesses, history of use and future potential as possible. In this paper we review the strategies that have evolved to deal with this problem, the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
JournalMaterials & Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Engineering design
  • Expertise management
  • Materials and process selection softwares
  • Selection strategies

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