General Material Classifications

Gold bars would be included in the metals material group.There are thousands of materials available for use in engineering applications. Most materials fall into one of three classes that are based on the atomic bonding forces of a particular material. These three classifications are metallic, ceramic and polymeric. Additionally, different materials can be combined to create a composite material. Within each of these classifications, materials are often further organized into groups based on their chemical composition or certain physical or mechanical properties. Composite materials are often grouped by the types of materials combined or the way the materials are arranged together. Below is a list of some of the commonly classification of materials within these four general groups of materials.


  • Ferrous metals and alloys (irons, carbon steels, alloy steels, stainless steels, tool and die steels)
  • Nonferrous metals and alloys (aluminum, copper, magnesium, nickel, titanium, precious metals, refractory metals, superalloys)


  • Thermoplastics plastics
  • Thermoset plastics
  • Elastomers


  • Glasses
  • Glass ceramics
  • Graphite
  • Diamond


  • Reinforced plastics
  • Metal-matrix composites
  • Ceramic-matrix composites
  • Sandwich structures
  • Concrete