Materials and Design

3rd Edition

The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design

Authors: Michael Ashby Kara Johnson
Paperback ISBN: 9780080982052
eBook ISBN: 9780080982823
Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
Published Date: 3rd February 2014
Page Count: 416
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Materials are the stuff of design. From the very beginning of human history, materials have been taken from the natural world and shaped, modified, and adapted for everything from primitive tools to modern electronics. This renowned book by noted materials engineering author Mike Ashby and industrial designer Kara Johnson explores the role of materials and materials processing in product design, with a particular emphasis on creating both desired aesthetics and functionality. The new edition features even more of the highly useful "materials profiles" that give critical design, processing, performance and applications criteria for each material in question. The reader will find information ranging from the generic and commercial names of each material, its physical and mechanical properties, its chemical properties, its common uses, how it is typically made and processed, and even its average price. And with improved photographs and drawings, the reader is taken even more closely to the way real design is done by real designers, selecting the optimum materials for a successful product.

Key Features

  • The best guide ever published on the on the role of materials, past and present, in product development, by noted materials authority Mike Ashby and professional designer Kara Johnson--now with even better photos and drawings on the Design Process
  • Significant new section on the use of re-cycled materials in products, and the importance of sustainable design for manufactured goods and services
  • Enhanced materials profiles, with addition of new materials types like nanomaterials, advanced plastics and bio-based materials


Materials Engineers & Students, Product & Industrial Design Professionals and Students

Table of Contents



10 Chapters: Materials and Design

Chapter 1. Introduction


Further Reading

Chapter 2. What Influences Product Design?


People and the Market

Science and Technology

Sustainability and the Environment

Economics and Investment Climate

Aesthetics, Behavior and Industrial Design

Some Examples…

Material Evolution

Materials and Society


Further Reading

Chapter 3. Materiality, Design, and Creativity


Ways of Thinking

The Design Process

The Design of Pens – an Example

Sources of Inspiration


Case Studies from IDEO


Further Reading

Chapter 4. Materials: The Stuff That Surrounds Us


The Engineering Dimension: Technical Attributes

Usability: Ergonomics and Interfaces

The Environment: “Green” Design and Sustainability

Aesthetics: The Five Senses

Personality: Building Emotional Connections


Further Reading

Chapter 5. Manufacturing: Shaping, Joining, and Surfaces


The Engineering Dimension: Technical Attributes

The Other Dimensions

Expression through Joining


Further Reading

Chapter 6. Form Follows Material


Materials and Architecture

Materials and Products

Identifying a Feature List

The Compressor: Design Language

Household Appliances: Design Language

The Inverse Process: Product Archeology


Further Reading

Chapter 7. Material Selection


Classification and Indexing

An Information Structure for Product Design

Material Selection for Product Design



No. of pages:
© Butterworth-Heinemann 2014
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Michael Ashby

Royal Society Research Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University and Former Visiting Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art, London, UK Mike Ashby is sole or lead author of several of Elsevier’s top selling engineering textbooks, including Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design, Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, Materials and the Environment, and Materials: Engineering, Science, Processing and Design. He is also coauthor of the books Engineering Materials 1&2, and Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor Emeritus, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

Kara Johnson

Since publishing the first edition of Materials and Design in 2002, Kara Johnson has worked at IDEO, a global design firm and strategic consultancy. Kara leads their efforts in Materials, with a focus on Manufacturing. Her work is primarily about linking a company’s brand and business strategies with the products they make.

Affiliations and Expertise

Director of Materials, IDEO - Global Innovation and Design Firm


From the first edition:
"...well-written and easy-to-read...unique and a worthwhile reference for designers, engineers, and suppliers."--Adhesives & Sealants Newsletter, 2006
"Well presented, easy to read with concise descriptions. Very suitable for students on courses which involve art design and the use of modern materials"--Derrick Parker, Univ. of Portsmouth, Dept. Mech. & Manufacturing Eng
"I believe materials engineering faculty should use this book at some point in their materials engineering curriculum. It can then be a resource for students as they travel through the major. The same can be said in an ideal world for industrial engineering, industrial design, and maybe even mechanical engineering."--Blair London, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
"I don't know of any similar book. I used Ashby & Jones's Engineering Materials I & II for many years, but these are more technical and probably better as stand-alone texts for an engineering course. I think Materials & Design would be an excellent supplement to an Engineering Materials course, and could serve as the primary text in Industrial or Product Design course focusing on materials."--Gary Benenson, City College of New York