Materials Book

anybody know a good book for materials, processes, and picking materials for certain designs

For plastic materials I suggest you look at the book by John Brydson which is the industry ‘Bible’:

You can usually find it in any University library and Tech training establishments.
Robin Enderby

Jim Lesko has a book, Industrial Design: Materials and Manufacturing, but he’s in the process of revising it. It’s not bad and it organizes the information in an interesting way. It’s worth looking at.

Many students and young professionals have asked me this same question and I have yet to find the “ultimate” book for industrial designers on good material and process selection (maybe I’ll have to write one - yeah righ, when I have the time).

But seriously, there isn’t always a straight forward answer to this. You choice of material and process is often driven by a whole series of issues ranging from part function and cost to manufacturing quantities and assembly issues.

Unfortunatley, most of the books out there are generally aimed at engineers and are very dry. They don’t delve too deeply into examples of why one material or process was chosen over another.

I know that I haven’t given you much of an answer, but a clue for me has been to look at the products around me and try to figure out why the manufacturers chose that material or process. A bigger hint is that sometimes they didn’t pick the right one. :wink:

I am working on a database of teaching materials that someday will become an online database for designers to reference. But in the meantime, check out the web sites of manufacturers like Bayer and GE Plastics to see how they are applying their materials.

Feel free to post with a specific application and maybe we can help further…


I have about the same question as boxty, but for materials apart from plastics and metals, cause for that I’ve a really good book from school. You think the one of Jim Lesko would work fine?


I can highly recommend Mass Production Technology by M. de Leeuw from the Carleton University Industrial Design Program. Im not sure if its available (i doubt it) anywhere else but the campus bookstore, but perhaps you can get it if you drop the ID dept. a line.

The first volume is all about materials, mostly plastics. everything from PP, PA, PMMA, PS, etc. covers standard uses, material specs, etc.

The second volume covers manufacturing techiques including injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, sheet metal forming, slip casting, die casting etc. For each, there is a detailed explanation of the process, including diagrams of the molds and machines, and also includes handy formulas for draft angles, part thickness, etc.

I use these almost daily as a reference and havent yet found anything NOT covered by these book in my 5 year professional experience.

overall tone and language is pretty easy too. Mass Pro is a second year course so the books are targeted to non-pro designers giving a good intro and overivew of all the processes.



There are also all the books by Chris Lefteri, “Inspirational Materials for Design”. There is a book for each main materials groups, and the classification is made by production process. At the end, you get some details on processes, then it’s up to you to get more technical info.
It’s a good start to get a first orientation on processes, and there are usually quite a lot of references and links towards the end of the book to help you in further researches.
And the photos are beautiful sometimes :slight_smile:
There are books on:

  • Wood
  • Plastics (vol 1 and vol 2)
  • Glass
  • Ceramics
  • Metals
    and a good one will be out in June 2007 called “Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design”. sounds good, but we’ll just have to be a little patient…

I’m reading one now that so far is pretty good as a general guide to the stuff ID’s are looking up all the time:
Process, Materials, Measurements - “All the details Industrial Designers need to know but can never find.”
From Rockport Publishers.

^ nice ID handbook to keep on hand.

^ nice ID handbook to keep on hand.

Oh I recommend Materials and Design (Ashby), it’s worth it’s weight.

…and CHEAP too.

→ I suppose this is gone?

Anyway… Anybody knows if both techniques ánd materials are discussed in “Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design” by Michael Ashby and Kara Johnson, and does it contain materials apart from plastics and metals? More tips are still welcome…


I’d recommend Mike Ashby / Kara Johnson’s ‘Materials and Design’ for a general overview of materials, especially from an ID perspective where aesthetic characteristics are just as important as performance criteria, although I found coverage of wood and composites a bit thin.

If you want a bit more detail on the range of metals, plastics and wood materials available to industrial designers, with tips on handling design details in real products, have a look at Andrew Taylor’s booklets at There’s also a booklet explaining ceramics and glass materials with processing tips.

In the Materials and Design book the Granta Cambridge Engineering Selector software is frequently used for material and process selection. (
Price; approximately 1000£ :confused: !! Are there any alternatives?