Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 5078-5087
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1048
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Material Selection (MS) is a crucial activity in product design process. Among years, several different material attributes and characteristics have been managed by practitioners in order to pursuit a coherent MS activity. In current times, attention upon MS has been mentioned in several studies, as a central activity to pursuit new production models. In literature, it is possible to find a number of methodologies and consequently, several tools for both academic and professional use. However, resistance has been found when introducing innovative materials to design projects, because interpreted as a risk factor. In order to figure out young designers perceptions upon materials and their central role in the design process, a virtual survey has been prepared.

In line with the current mixed-mode lessons due to COVID-19 disease, an online survey has been submitted to an international students population, constituted by 95 students at the first year of Master studies in Product Design at Politecnico di Milano University. The survey population presents differences in background knowledge due to different field of previous studies, however the young practitioners, being at the first year of Master degree, already had the opportunity to identify and recognize their way of working.

The questionnaire has been structured in order to present very thoughtful questions upon how they try to manage material-related information to pursue an MS activity, which are priorities in their own opinion and what kind of material properties mainly affect their own choices. In a second section of the questionnaire, the young designers have been asked to describe their expertise in terms of MS and to map their knowledge about material libraries, MS tools and software.
Finally, more qualitative information has been collected, in order to understand the level of knowledge in terms of recognition of materials and manufacturing processes already embedded into existing products. Also, some reflections upon smart and circular materials as well as additive manufacturing processes have been mapped.

In this paper, the authors will not only discuss the results coming from this activity but focusing on how the insights emerged from the questionnaire have been deployed to customize as much as possible the course lesson calendar, in order to provide missing notions to the audience and empower the MS methodology. Specific interventions with targeted lessons and related activities have been organized and realized to provide course attendants focused educational moments. In order to verify the effectiveness of the proposed educational path, final verification of knowledge sedimentation has been submitted to students.
Material selection, design education, virtual lessons.