The number of engineering materials is large: estimates range from 40 000 to 80 000. The designer must select from this vast menu the material best suited to his task. This, without guidance, can be a difficult and tedious business, so there is a temptation to choose the material that is “traditional” for the application: glass for bottles; steel for cans. That choice may be safely conservative, but it prevents the opportunity for innovation. Engineering materials are evolving faster, and the choice is wider than ever before. Examples of products in which novel choice of material has captured a market are as common as plastic bottles instead of glass, or aluminum cans instead of steel. It is important in the early stage of design, or of re-design, to examine the full materials menu, not rejecting options merely because they are unfamiliar. And that is what Material Innovation is all about.

“Materials, of themselves, affect us little; it is the way we use them which influence our lives”
Epictetus, AD 50-100

“Today, with more materials than ever before, the opportunities for innovation are immense”
Joop van Tuil