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Category Summary

A chemical element is the purest form of a material. Each single chemical element can be distinguished by its atom number and has unique properties. The elements are ordered by their atomic number in the periodic table of chemical elements (periodic table). Most chemicals are of no or little value to product designers, engineers or manufacturers in their pure form. The majority of materials are traded and processed as an alloy, compound or mixture.

Most industries have their own classification, but these rarely cover all types of materials. This is why we have chosen to order materials by the most commonly used classification in material science:

  • Ceramics
  • Composites
  • Metals
  • Polymers

The class of Other materials is added for fuels, gasses and liquids. These materials are not commonly found in finished products, but may be needed during the production and distribution stages of a products life cycle and their properties can be of value for production cycle or life cycle assessments.

In some cases a material may appear to be misplaced, because this classification may not be in accordance with the common classification used in a certain industry. If you can't find a specific material in our Browse & Explore menu, please try the Search tool. In many occasions a material will show up this way.

Category Details


The Matbase database contains data on almost every engineering and manufacturing material and more data is added constantly:

  • Chemical properties
  • Electrical properties
  • Mechanical properties
  • Optical properties
  • Thermal properties
  • And environmental properties



Ceramics are inorganic, non-metallic materials created by bonding at least one metal and one non-metal in to a solid body. The ceramic compound is created by keeping the material mixiture in the desired shape and heating it and then let it solidify by cooling down or by bonding the different elements by one or more chemical reactions. A combination of processes is also possible. Ceramics may have a crystalline structure, traditional, refractory and technical ceramics, a non-crystalline or amorphous structure, various types of glass or a partly crystalline structure, like ceramic glass.


Composites are combinations of at least two materials which remain identifyable as seperate materials within the composite. One or more materials give the composite its shape and one or more materials improve its strength. Composites may be natural, like wood, or man-made like fiber reinforced polymers.


Metals are metallic elements or alloys. They share very good heat and electricity transferring properties, electric and thermal conductivity. The most used metals are iron (Fe) based alloys, ferrous metals, but aluminium, copper, magnesium, nickel, titanium and zinc based alloys are also very common.


Polymer materials are made of large molecules, polymeres, that are made up chains or linked rings of repeating monomere units. Polymer materials are available as solids, thermoplasts or thermosets, or elastic solids, elastomers like rubber. Thermosets are fixed in a specific form which cannot be altered without destroing the material. Thermoplasts can be heated and formed into other shapes over and over again. Elastomers can be one of both. A thermoplastic elastomer can be turned into thermoset by crosslinking its molecules, without losing its elastic properties.

Other materials

This group of materials contains substances that are used in manufacturing processes, but may not be found in the end result. The may be vital in the manufacturing process as fuel, cooling agent, catalyst, cleaning fluid, filtering agent or in another form.

Classification Sources


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