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Big Blue Saw Blog

3 useful tools for choosing materials for your project

We often help our customers figure out which metal alloy or plastic will best suit their design. While we are making steady progress on our FAQ's on materials, I thought I would share a few of the great resources we use to help track down data such as density, strength, and thermal stability. screenshot

First, we have, a website that lets you compare two materials side-by-side, with useful bar graphs to illustrate the differences. For instance, take a look at their page which compares 6061 aluminum vs. acetal plastic.

Machinist-Materials screenshot

Next is Machinist-Materials which contains a lot of good information about materials, including this comparison of various kinds of plastics.

Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha screenshot

Wolfram Alpha caused a big stir when it launched almost exactly a year ago. While it's not the omniscient machine that many had hoped for, it does have a lot of great information about a variety of metal alloys, as well as polymers.

I did find myself struggling a bit at first, trying to figure out how to look up the properties of various alloys. The best approach I found is to begin by entering the general type of thing you're looking for like "aluminum alloy". Wolfram Alpha will then let you choose from a list of various aluminum alloys. From that list, you can find out that Wolfram Alpha refers to 6061 T6 aluminum alloy as "AA6061-T6", in case you want to look it up again later.

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