Process Techniques for Engineering High-Performance Materials: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Process Techniques for Engineering High-Performance Materials

1st Edition

By Tim Oberle

CRC Press

493 pages | 323 B/W Illus.

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Most processed materials retain a memory of their production process at the molecular level. Subtle changes in production—such as variations in temperature or the presence of impurities—can impart performance benefits or drawbacks to individual batches of products. Some product developers have taken advantage of this process dependency to tailor properties to specific customer needs. In other cases, poorly engineered processes have resulted in serious failures. Process Techniques for Engineering High-Performance Materials explores practical strategies to guide you in systematically developing, improving, and producing engineered materials.

The book describes an R&D approach that is common to many material types, from polymers, biochemicals, metal alloys, and composites to coatings, ceramics, elastomers, and processed foods. Throughout, hundreds of examples illustrate successes and disasters in the history of materials development. These examples clearly show how product management and development tactics are constrained by the nature of the production process and the strategy of the company.

The author offers practical advice on how to:

  • Foster creativity in an industrial environment and avoid factors that unintentionally suppress technical innovation
  • Develop products when the properties of the product are highly dependent on processing variables
  • Avoid the inevitable scale-up problems that occur on process-dependent materials
  • Get the most out of expensive trial work in a production plant environment
  • Combine products into a systems solution to customer problems

Highlighting important rules for product development, this book helps you better understand the mechanics of engineering processed materials and how to adjust your processes to improve performance.


"This is an excellent guide to understanding the impact of the engineering process of new products and processes which are essential for our growth and enhanced quality of life. The process has far-reaching and long-term implications, both good and bad, and this book provides an opportunity to consider how developments are done, not just the end result."

—Alan S. Weinberg, Vice President Global Technology, Cryovac (Retired), USA

"[The author’s] composition style and content make for an interesting format for the reader. He uses analysis of well-known historical and current events from many areas of human experience that underline the techniques he is reinforcing for successful processing of high-performance materials. This format should resonate with many R&D engineers, design engineers, and manufacturing engineers as well as other related manufacturing professionals, who will be able to identify with the examples given. The subject content … will appeal to any engineering and manufacturing professional who is looking to develop a comprehensive ‘road map’ from an original concept or idea to executing a plan, including research and leading to comprehensive quality-based volume production. … Graduate students developing a career path in many engineering disciplines would benefit from this approach to problem definition and resolution."

—John Simpson, Retired Project Engineer, USA

"This book is comprehensive and exhaustive in understanding the issues encountered in developing and manufacturing a fit-for-use high-performance material or product, and in validating its reliability and consistency in both lab scale trials and real application conditions. I like the narrative style and the numerous and enlightening real-world case studies brought as examples. This kind of hands-on approach makes the text very appealing for the audience to whom it is directed. A key learning out of this reading is that it is far more efficient to design quality (fitness-for-use) ahead of time than it is to readjust a wrong design in a never-ending project with an expensive repair job."

––Francesco Arena, Program Director Fluids Europe, Sealed Air, Italy

Table of Contents

Introduction to Process Dependency

The Process, the Product, and Its Ultimate Life Span

The Process

The Product

The Knobs

Product Life Span

Types of Process Deficiencies


Fitness-for-Use Testing

Finding the Critical Properties of Process-Dependent Products

FFU Tests

Getting Creative with FFU

Know Thy Customer


Technical Creativity and Idea Generation

Creativity in an Industrial Environment

Reality Check on the Innovation Climate

Fostering Technical Innovation

Formalized Brainstorming

Mechanics of Creative Development

Organizational Hostility

Overcoming Systematic Barriers to Innovation

Needs Bank and Opportunity List


Finding Product Opportunity

Market-Driven Organizations

Manufacturing/Process-Centric Approaches

Balanced Approach

Paradox of Product Evolution

What to Look for in a Product Opportunity

Cold Calls by Outsiders

Customer Requests

Customer Modification of Your Product


Prioritizing Project Proposals

Prioritization Styles

Considering Risk

Considering Process Factors When Prioritizing

Project Review


Evaluating Critical Parameters in the Process

Things We Want to Understand

Proactive Record Keeping

End-to-End Data Collection

Auditing Product Performance

Active Experimentation

Customizing Products for Niche Markets

Tracing the Process Paths


Organizing Development Projects

Defining the Product

Conflicts in Creating Specifications

Costing Concerns for Dynamic Products

Planning for a Quality Outcome


Project Execution and Oversight

Project Problems

Project Organization

Project Execution Guidelines

Basic Steps

Intellectual Property

Development Resources


Small-Scale Trials

Tools for Small-Scale Development

Procedures for Small-Scale Development

Barriers to Effective Projects

Managing the Development Organization

Retaining Samples and Information



Development Trials on Large-Scale Equipment

Trials from the Manufacturing Point of View

Preparing for a Plant Trial

Running a Plant Trial


Types of Plant Trials (From the Plant Perspective)

Types of Plant Trials (From the R&D Perspective)

Equipment Considerations for Plant Trials


Managing and Controlling the Process

Detecting Process Variability

State of the Process

Asking the Right Questions

Functional Responsibilities

Dealing with Trade-offs

Technical Decision Making

Anticipating Risk

Failure Analysis and Corrective Action


Controlling Raw Materials

Material Guidelines in the Development Phase

Material Rules for Industrial Scale-up

Material Considerations During the Specification Writing Step

Qualifying Second-Source Raw Materials


Complex Manufacturing Situations

In-Line Process Trains

Considering Outsourced Production

Qualifying a Toll Vendor

Managing the Relationship


Human Factors

Human Input on the Plant Floor

Organizational Behavior

Technical Behavior

Marketing/Sales Behavior

Economics of Scarcity


Managing Customer Expectations

Customer Mentality

Customer Input

Knowing Where You Stand

Getting the Business

Keeping the Business


Proprietary Systems

System Trade-offs

Developing Products for Proprietary Systems



About the Author

Tim Oberle holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. His employers have been the American Can Company, W.R. Grace, and Sealed Air Corporation. This experience includes research, manufacturing, and commercial and management roles in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Over the course of 33 years in the industry, he has performed polymer processing, converting, and fitness testing on packaging and cushioning products. These activities routinely involve the engineering of process-dependent materials. Tim has 12 issued patents and additional patents pending.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Chemistry / Industrial & Technical