Physical metallurgy, which links the structure of materials (primarily metals) with their properties. Concepts such as alloy design and microstructural engineering help link processing and thermodynamics to the structure and properties of metals. Through these efforts, goods and services are produced.
We live in a material world. Today, it is the role of materials science to study, develop, design and operate processes that transform raw materials into useful engineering products intended to improve the quality of our lives. It is often said that material science is the foundation upon which today’s technology is based, and real-world applications would not be possible without the material scientist. With such a broad-ranging scope, the question is, if we really need metallurgical engineers, why are we graduating so few of them? Part of the answer lies in the role metallurgists play in product design and manufacturing. Let’s learn more.
The industrial revolution thrust metals to the forefront of technology, and they have stayed there ever since, becoming the very foundation of our modern society. One cannot envision a life where transportation and communications systems, buildings and infrastructure, industrial machines and tools, and safety/convenience devices are not part of our daily lives. Today, other materials have emerged as complements for (or threats to) metal’s dominance. Composites are one such example.
Metallurgy has been leading human civilization from time immemorial. Man knew how to extract metals from ores, how to alloy metals to make them suitable for specific needs, and how to prepare high-purity metals and compounds for electronic applications. Looking back into the last century, it may be said that developments in metallurgy and materials science have played a significant role in several areas and impacted the economy and well-being of people. Every other branch of science and engineering has depended on advances in metallurgy to be applied in its domain. Development of superalloys for jet engine applications, development of carbon-carbon composites for wings of wide-bodied aircrafts, high-temperature superconductors, etc. are only a few examples to quote. It should also be mentioned here that the availability of excellent high-resolution techniques has contributed immensely to the understanding of the science and technology behind these developments, particularly from the point of view of structure-property correlations coupled with phase transformations.