Material properties are important considerations when designing a structure. In this post, we'll explore some properties - anisotropy, homogeneity, and more.
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All components of the structural model have material - the substance from which something is made. Commonly used are:

  • Metals
  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Plastics

The choice of material would depend on the component's purpose. For example, a steel beam might work if this member supports a floor.

Material Properties

Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Materials

Homogeneous and heterogeneous: position and scale

Homogeneous and heterogeneous have something to do with "how consistent something is." When someone says the former, its properties are uniform throughout; otherwise, it is the latter.

This property depends on the position. Let's look at a steel beam. 

When we analyze any point, we expect it to look the same greyish metal. We can say it is homogeneous.

On a side note, this property depends on scale. Let's go back to our steel beam example. 

If we investigate its microstructure, one may find flaky fragments, such as iron and carbon; At this scale, steel is heterogeneous.

Anisotropic and Isotropic Materials

Difference between isotropic and anisotropic materials

Scientists have discovered that properties depend on direction. When properties change along a path, it is anisotropic. On the other hand, when properties remain the same, it is isotropic. Let's look at examples:

A great example of the former is wood. Its strength perpendicular to the grain differs from its strength parallel to it. On a side note, wood is also orthotropic - the properties change when analyzed along orthogonal axes.

For the latter, steel is a good example. The strength is the same no matter what direction we analyze.

It is important to note that this property also depends on scale.

Composite Materials

Difference between non-composite and composite materials

We can combine objects of different substances to form composites. For these materials, properties change. Generally, we do this for several reasons, such as to increase strength and stiffness.


Materials such as metals, wood, concrete, and plastics make a structure.
Homogeneous are those whose properties are the same at any point while heterogeneous are those that vary. It will depend on position and scale.
Anisotropic are those whose properties change in path. Isotropic are those that stay the same. These properties will depend on scale.
Composite materials occur when two or more materials act together.
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Created On
June 5, 2023
Updated On
February 23, 2024
Edgar Christian Dirige

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