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eCAADe 2014

EAD 10
Knowing by Designing
ICSA 2013
eCAADe 2013

Challenging Glass 3

IASDR 2011

IASS 2010



[10] Material

[11] Natural Polymer

[12] Metal

[13] Chemical Polymer

[14] Ceramic

[15] Composite

[20] Product

[21] Rod

[22] Strip

[23] Sheet

[24] Stereometric

[25] Fluid

[30] Process

[31] Cutting

[32] Machining

[33] Shaping

[34] Forming

[35] Printing

[40] Connection

[41] Substansive

[42] Adhesive

[43] Welded

[44] Stiched

[45] Mechanical

[50] Finishing

[51] Polished

[52] Coated

[53] Laminated

[54] Electrochemical

[55] Printed

[60] Orientation

[61] Uniaxial

[62] Biaxial

[63] Radial

[64] Multiaxial

[65] Amorphous

[70] Structure System

[71] Form-Active

[72] Surface-Active

[73] Section-Active

[74] Vector-Active

[75] Hybrid

Taxonomy for Spatial Construction

In literature there still is discussion about material differentiation. Often the discussion argues new materials that don’t fit well in former models. Most literature agrees on the distinction of material families in three groups being: Metals and Alloys, Ceramics and Glasses, Polymers and Elastomers (Martin, 1996). In some cases the fourth group represents Composite Materials. Others argue that because of the exceptional qualities of Carbon, this material should be a group in itself (Bucquoye, 2002).

In this frame taxonomy, user friendliness and materials used in artistic design are favored over a theoretical watertight theory. Because of a rich use of resin based structures, composites are used as an individual subtype. Because of wood being of great importance in construction and architecture, a distinction is made between natural polymers and chemical polymers.

Natural Polymers:
The subtype of natural polymers consists of all polymers that don’t have a chemical origin. In most cases the material doesn’t consist of any oil based elements. In some literature these natural polymers are described as natural composites. Being based on a combination of fibers of cellulose and collagen and having an advantage on the combination of both should fit them in composites better than polymers (Martin, 1996). Without going into molecular detail, in art education this distinction is difficult to teach. In this case, wood should be discussed together with polyester composites and epoxy honeycomb construction. This is why all materials consisting of mostly natural polymers are combined in this group.

Hardwood (Ash, Aspen, Birch, Cherry, Elm, Hazel, Mahogany, Maple, Oak, Teak), Softwood (Cedar, Pine, Pruce), Paper (Offset, Flattened, Layered), Cardboard (Honeycomb, Corrugated, Pressed), Leather, Skin and Bone

The subtype of metals consists of all materials consisting of a metallic bonding of electrons. Both metals and alloys are represented in this group.

Examples: Base metals (Aluminum, Copper, Iron, Tin, Lead, Nickel, Titanium, Zinc), Noble metals (Silver, Gold, Platinum), Metals used in alloys (Chrome, Cobalt, Magnesium, Nickel) and Alloys (Bronze, Brass, Cast Iron, Steel)

Chemical Polymers:
The subtype Chemical Polymers consists of all oil based materials. Both polymers and elastomers are included in this subtype.

Thermosetting Polymers (Polyester, Bakelite, Melamine resin, Epoxy resin), Thermoplastic Polymers (EVA, PTFE, ETFE, PET, PVC, PP PE) and Elastomers (Neoprene, Silicone)

Ceramic Materials:
The subtype Ceramics consist of all materials that are no metal or polymer. The subtype includes stone like products as well as glass.

Examples: Traditional Ceramics (Pottery, Terracotta, Stone, porcelain), Technical Ceramics and Glass

The subtype Composites consists of matrix materials, within which the combination of material properties is superior to those of the individual components.

Examples: Resin Sandwiches, Carbon Sandwiches and Reinforced Components.

The subtypes of Material Products consist of a combination of standards used in metal, wood and ceramic industries. Some distinctions seem unnecessary at first sight. For instance, a narrow plate can be a strip, and a narrow strip can be a rod. In application in design and geometry, and communication in workshops and education, the distinction proved rather valuable.

A rod is a product of a long length with a width to height ratio of about 1 to 1. Using these materials in, for instance, weaving and wickerwork won’t harm the structure geometrically.

Strip: A strip is a product of a long length which is wider than its thickness. The resistance while bending the material is different in one direction to the other. Using these products in double curved geometry will affect the behavior of the strip along its line.

A sheet is a thin product with a surface area that is no more than two to three times longer than its width.

Stereometric: A stereometric product has a thickness in x, y to z direction. The thickness of x to y to z is one to another no more than two to three times bigger.

A fluid is a product in liquid state.

The supertype Material Processing consists of procedures that can be used to manipulate Material Products (Ashby, 2007) (Kula, 2009).

Cutting: The subtype Cutting consists of all procedures that deal with segmentation.

Examples are: Procedures using material removal (saw, water-, sand-, and laser-cutting, burning) and Procedures without material removal (cutting, nibbling, and punching)

Machining: The subtype Machining consists of all procedures that involve manipulation of solid materials.

Examples: Drilling, Milling, Material Turning and Sanding

The subtype Shaping consists of all procedures that relate to reshaping of products in a solid state. In these procedures, products can be heated to soften them and make them easier to manipulate.

Examples: Bending, Folding and Embossing

The subtype Molding consists of all procedures that involve shaping liquid products. In the process the products harden over time.

Examples: Casting, Forging and Extrusion.

The subtype Printing consists of all 3D printing procedures.

Examples: Printing Procedures: LOM-Laminating and Fused Material Deposition.

The supertype Material Connection consists of procedures that involve the joining of materials. The description is chosen as a noun to communicate a part of a design instead of an action (Ashby, 2007).

Substantive: In Substantive connections, no additives are used. The connection is created by mainly machining of the material or product. Glue can be used to support the connection but has no crucial role in its structural integrity.

Examples: Dovetail-, Tenon- and Tongue-Connection

Adhesives: In Adhesive Connections, adhesive play the most important role.

Examples: Glue, Tape and Mortar

Welding: The subtype Welding involves all procedures that join products using heat. Both procedures that do use additives and don’t belong to this group.

Examples: Soldering, Arch-, MIG-, TIG-, Friction-, and Laser-welding

Stitched: Stitched connections involve all joints created by a thread.

The subtype of fasteners involves all connections using mechanical devices.

Examples: Bolt, Nail, Screw and Rivet

The supertype Material Finishing involves all procedures used for finalizing the surface of a product or object. This treatment can have an ornamental value, protective value or a combination of both (Ashby, 2007) (Kula, 2009).

Polishing: The subtype Polishing contains all techniques used to smoothen a surface. All procedures contain continuous friction and material removal. Sometimes an additive is used to accelerate the process.

Examples: Sanding, Polishing and Sand-blasting

Coating: The subtype Coating involves all wet surface treatment applied without electrical charge. Most coatings dry over time.

Examples: Paint, Varnish, Enamel and Glaze

Laminating: The subtype Laminating involves all dry surface treatment. Most laminating procedures involve the use of adhesives to connect the laminate to its surface.

Electrochemical Coating: This subtype involves all surface treatment applied by using electrical charge. Because of these characteristics, these procedures are mostly used on metals.

Examples: Chromizing, Galvanizing and Anodizing

This subtype contains all techniques that apply specific figures to a surface.

Examples: Press, Print, Stamp, Offset, Laser-jet and Laser-press

The supertype Orientation is introduced because material and construction orientation can have great influence on a system. In composite engineering, for instance, material orientation has great influence on the material behavior under tension or compression. In structural geometry in general and weaving geometry in specific, orientation of its components has great influence on the structure’s stability.

The names of the subtypes are Uniaxial, Biaxial, Radial, Multiaxial and Amorphous. The behavior of the patterns speaks for itself.

The last supertype consists of Structural Systems as described in the same titled book by Heino Engel. In the description of these systems he focuses upon visual explanation with regard to the design effects of the structures. In his work he makes a distinction between form-active, surface-active, section-active, vector-active and hybrid systems. All systems are explored visually in different forms and application. This image oriented aspect of the work makes it very applicable in education in arts and architecture (Engel, 2007).


Ashby, M., Shercliff, H., Cebon, D. (2007) Materials engineering science processing and design, Elsevier, UK

Bucquoye, M. (2002) From Bakelite to composite: design in new materials, Oostkamp : Stichting kunstboek, België

Engel, H. (2007) Structure systems, Hantje Cantz, Ostfildern

Kula, D., Ternaux, E. (2009) Materiology. Materialen en Technologieën: De Gids voor Creatieven, Frame Publishers, Amsterdam

Martin, J. (2006) Materials for Engineering, Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge