A study of the materials and manufacturing processes involved in a selected product

Inspecting a toaster for parts

Inspecting a pump for parts

Report Instructions

  • Choose a product that has components made from a range of  materials and processes. This must include various metals and plastics, and possibly ceramics. Most electrical appliances and electric tools are very suitable.
  • No less than 25 components. (Although this might be achieved by taking something "apart". For example: A light bulb, or an electric motor contains many internal compoents of various materials and manufacturing processes.
    The ideal product would be something like a broken 4" angle grinder, although we don't want a dozen repeated projects!
    It is nice to find an exploded assembly diagram - often seen in a repair or instruction book. Otherwise the components will need to be photographed and labelled (CAD models are not required).


Example products

Most electrical appliances and hand power tools are very suitable. Do not pull apart electrical products if you are not competent to reassemble them safely - which is why it is preferable that the product is discarded.  Look for something that has components that are machined, cast, injection moulded, possibly sheet metal. Special treatment processes such as hardness are found in most cutters, tools and bearings. Powder metallurgy is common in bronze bearings. Die castings are common in tool and appliance gearboxes, motors. Injection moulded components are seen almost anywhere plastic is used. Many components are plated for corrosion resistance and appearance. Take note of "hidden" materials such as platings, coatings, adhesives and printing. Take note of "hidden" processes such as heat treatment, plating, finishing such as polishing.

Larger products could also be used, but this may be a problem if you have parts to bring in for identification.

Part 1:
List all the components. (There should be at least 25 parts). Give every part a number, and also make up names for each component - an interesting task in itself! Designers and engineers often get the job of making up a name for something, and it's not always easy. Try to make each name unique. 

Part 2:
Identify/estimate/assume the material that each component is made of.
State how you made your identification.
List some alternative materials that could have been used instead.

Identify/estimate/assume and describe the processes that were probably used to produce each component listed in Part 2 - from the semi-finished materials. (i.e. Don't describe the process of making a steel spring from iron ore, but from steel wire)
Identify post-treatment processes such as heat treatment, coating, plating, painting etc for any relevent components.

Example exploded assembly drawing from a manual: (This is an angle grinder)


A student's photograph of a dissassembled carburetor. This photo would have numbers or letters added for identification for reference in the report.

Relevant pages in MDME
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