Most manufactured items contain a large number of individual components, often using a surprisingly wide variety of materials. Examining a manufactured item (article) can help to understand what materials are commonly used in manufacturing and why.
It is important to keep in mind economic factors as well as the properties of materials and the specific purpose of each component. This means it can be quite a complex procedure to identify, with confidence, the materials within an article. It is usually done by considering a range of all appropriate factors and making use of some of a broad range of identification techniques.
This TLP suggests some factors that may be considered in attempting to identify the materials used in various articles. It will also give some examples of where these factors may be important.
The other DoITPoMS TLPs provide a wide variety of information about the functional and mechanical behaviour of materials, as well as a range of information on techniques for examining materials. This TLP will not aim to describe all of these, but will link to them.