Materials are physical substances used as inputs to production or manufacturing. Raw materials are first extracted or harvested from the earth and divided into a form that can be easily transported and stored, then processed to produce "semi-finished materials". These can be input into a new cycle of production and "finishing processes to create "finished materials", ready for distribution and consumption.
An example of a raw material is cotton, which can be processed into thread, and then processed into cloth, a semi-finished material. Sewing and cutting the fabric turns it into a garment, which is a finished material. Steelmaking is another example—raw materials are extracted, refined and processed into steel, a semi-finished material. Steel is then used as an input in many other industries to make finished products.
Partial Comparison of Materials
|Polymers||Secondary||soft, ductile, low strength||insulators||translucent/ transparent|
|Ceramics||Mostly Ionic||brittle, glassy, elastic||Insulators|
|Semiconductors||covalent||??||Between conductors and insulators|