Spring 2021 - IAT 336 D100

Materials in Design (3)

Class Number: 7815

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Prerequisite: IAT 233.



Introduces material properties and performance in the context of interactive artifacts. Covers criteria for material selection, including durability, environmental effects, tactile properties, manufacturing processes, compatibility and effects of particular forms of use.


This course provides students with an understanding of materials choices in designing interactive objects and environments. The range of available materials and manufacturing processes is vast but all choices must respond to the requirements posed by the particular artifact being designed. The course, thus, aims first at understanding the criteria that affect material choices in design such as:

  •   Physical properties of materials
  •   The design process
  •   Human factors/interaction
  •   Social aspect of Materials (connotation)
  •   Natural Forces that act on materials
  •   Manipulation and the affordances of materials
  •   Manufacturing/Fabrication methods including Rapid Prototyping
  •   Environmental factors
  •   New advances/trends in material science

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Course Objectives

This course is intended to:

  • Provide students with an introduction to materials used for designing physical interactive objects and environments
  • Introduce students to the physical properties (stresses, strains) of design materials in different environments
  • Encourage students to distinguish the affordances of materials in relation to human factors in a range of design contexts
  • Provide opportunities for students to improve through practice, prototyping techniques while undertaking small design projects
  • Encourage students to investigate various production techniques and finishing processes to satisfy design and material requirements in the context of a project.

Learning Outcomes

Upon satisfying the course requirements, students will be prepared to:

  • Explain the selection of appropriate materials in relation to the design process and
  • Equirements of the final design project taking into account social and environmental responsibilities
  • Describe a range of natural, external forces (e.g. corrosion, physical stresses and strains) and how they impact on material properties and characteristics in different environments
  • Distinguish the affordance of materials in relation to human factors as identified in design requirements [e.g. aesthetic, functional, social, ergonomic, and cognitive] in different design contexts of mass-produced consumer products
  • Demonstrate hand (physical) and rapid (automated) prototyping techniques (e.g. blue foam modeling, styrene, vacuum forming and 3D printing) in specified design contexts
  • Specify appropriate fabrication techniques; mass production processes (e.g. injection molding, die casting and forging metals) and finishing processes (e.g. surface treatments including painting, sandblasting, plating etc.) to satisfy specific design and materials requirements


  • Project 1 15%
  • Project 2 + Assignments + Quizzes 25%
  • Final Project +Assignments + Quizzes 40%
  • Safety Training Excercise 5%
  • Participation 15%


Note: The instructional format is 2 hour lecture / 2 hour lab.  

Assignments are designed to apply in-class lessons to practical applications. Students are expected to, critically, analyze their processes, methodologies and project outcomes, as well as those of their peers.


IAT 233: Spatial Design is a requirement.

Online Etiquette: Students will be advise of online etiquette piror to class behind. Student will be expecting a email from the instructor 2 - 3 week piror class starts to to prepare the following:    Software installation, material and tool purchases for assignments.   In the first introductory email we will also go over expectation of this class. 



Material Costs:

Students may spend upwards to $100 over the semester for incidentals for lab and final project assignments e.g. printing posters, additional material purchases or specific hand tools. This is in addition to the non-refundable $72.85 Undergraduate materials fee paid with your tuition.


Instructional Format and Learning Activities

Several learning methodologies including: lectures, workshop demonstrations, film screenings, guest speakers and field trips are used to develop practical skills.

Reading and Research: 1 hour Lectures: 1 hourWorkshop Sessions: 2 hours Assignments: 3.5 hours

Total Hours: 7.5 hours (per week)


“Prototyping & Modelmaking for Product Design” (2012) by Bjarki Hallgrimsson; Laurence King Publishers


"Sketching: The Basics" (2011) by Koos Eissen, Roselien Steur; 1st Edition; BIS Publishers
ISBN: 9789063692537

“The Art & Science of Material Selection in Product Design” (2014) by Michael Ashby, Kara Johnson; 3rd Edition; Butterworth-Heinemann [ Available Online SFU LIBRARY ]

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).