Product Design (Smart & Modern Materials)

Overview of Smart Materials

HideShow resource information

Basis Of Smart Materials

- New consumer products are designed using smart & modern materials often making the easier or safer to use.

- You need to know their main characteristics & their applications.

- Smart Materials change physically in a response to an When they are warmed they become soft & pliable.

- Some Smart Materials can also be called “Modern Materials” because they have only been around since the 60’s or 70’s.

- But not all “Modern Materials” can be called smart because they do not change physically to an input.

1 of 14

Thermochromic Pigments

- Change colour in response to heat.

- The Thermocolour Kettle.

- Baby feeding bowls, spoons, cups etc.

- Thermocolour film thermometers, battery test strips.

2 of 14

Thermochromic Pigments used in Packaging

- Video game featuring UV Screen thermochromic ink on the cover. 

- Black thermochromic ink disappears when activated, revealing graphics printed in conventional ink.  

- Thermochromic interactive ink is ideal for multi-media packaging.

3 of 14

Phosphorescent pigments

- Absorb large amounts of light.

- Mixed with acrylic paints to produce glow in the dark signs, clock faces & hands,that can be seen 24 hours a day.

4 of 14

Shape memory alloy

- Nitinol an alloy of nickel & titanium.

- When a current is passed through the SMA it gets smaller by 5%. When the current is switched off it resumes its original length.

- Used in bioengineering & spectacles.

5 of 14

Piezoelectric devices

- When a quartz crystal is compressed a small electric charge is produced.

- Used in spark igniters and movement sensors.

- Conversely when a voltage is applied the quartz crystal pulses a small amount.

- Used in quartz time pieces & micro positioning applications.

6 of 14

Modern Materials Fibre optics

- Glass fibres or strands are capable of transmitting information over long distances very quickly.

- When multiplexed one fibre can replace hundreds of copper cables.

- Used to telecommunications, radio, telephones.

7 of 14

Liquid crystal displays

- Alphanumeric displays in calculators, electronic dictionaries, mobile phones, PDA’s & laptops.

- In their normal positions the crystals allow light to pass through, but when a small voltage is applied their orientation changes blocking out the light.

8 of 14

Engineering Timbers - Glulam

- Laminating large span beams, straight & curved made to measure.

- Large spans can be factory made & transported to site.

- Defect free timber is glued together and end glued to make long thick laminated pieces.

- Small sectioned timber that would normally go waste can be used, so it has some environmental benefit.

- D block is built using glulam.

9 of 14

Anodised Aluminium Sheet

- Aluminium sheet can be plated with coloured pigments.

- This can be engraved using laser cutters.

10 of 14

Coated Metals

Coated Metals -

- Metals can be coated with polymers (PP & PET) either for decoration or protection.

- Packing examples include food & soft drinks cans and paint & varnish containers.

- Nickel coated steels are used to protect the surface from corrosion in brake pipes & car suspension parts.

11 of 14

Metal Foams

- Aluminium can be foamed in much the same way as polystyrene to give a lightweight yet rigid material that can be sandwiched between 2 other aluminium sheets.

- This gives high impact resistance and can be used in vehicle design and military applications.

- It can also be used to filter liquids.

12 of 14


- Polymorph as all the characteristics of a tough engineering material yet fuses and becomes mouldable at just 62°C. It can be heated with hot water or even a hair dryer and then moulded by hand.

- Used in gum shields & modelling of handles & orthopaedic aids.

13 of 14

Man-Made boards

- Flexible MDF – Grooved MDF which can be bent into curved shapes.

- Flexible Plywood – 3 layers, middle layer is much thinner than the 2 outer open grained layers. Can be bent into curved shapes.

- Aeroply - Very thin flexible high grade plywood.

- Maplex - used as an MDF substitute without the potentially harmful resins.

- Hexaboard – Exterior quality birch ply with a hard phenolic resin coating which has been embossed with an hexagonal pattern so it can be used as a walkway stages, aircraft, factories, vans etc.

14 of 14


Josie J.Hodkinson


these d.t cards have just saved my exam THANKYOU

Similar Design & Technology resources:

See all Design & Technology resources »