3.042 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Materials Project Laboratory



The following list of resources covers the most common tools and labs used by 3.042 students, but is by no means complete. Students interested in processing techniques not included here should contact the instructors. Note: These facilities are not available for use by non-MIT-students, but are provided as a representation of the range of facilities available.



  • PC cluster
  • digital scanner
  • 3D printer
  • microscopes
  • hardness testers
  • CNC lathe and mill
  • CAM software
  • layup tables
  • injection molder
  • water jet cutter
  • 3D Scanner

By Purpose

  • Machine shop: lathe, mill, drill press, band saw
  • Metallographic equipment: sectioning, mounting, grinding, polishing, etching, etc.
  • Heat treatment equipment: various furnaces
  • Mechanical testing equipment: Instrons
  • Powder processing equipment: balance, pressing, milling and sintering
  • Encapsulation system for specimen test preparation
  • Foundry: metal casting, welding


Other Facilities


  • All students should be familiar with local safety guidelines and trained in their institutional safety program.
  • Students are never to work alone in a laboratory.
  • Each time a student team begins a new procedure or begins work in a new laboratory, they must develop a safety plan in coordination with a 3.042 instructor or the laboratory supervisor. When this plan is satisfactory to both the students and the supervisor, a copy should be given to the supervisor, and another placed in the Safety section of the team’s 3.042 binder.
  • Before working with or purchasing a material, the associated Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should be obtained, read, discussed with the supervisor, and placed in the team binder. Most MSDS’s are available from the Web; for instance see this site.

Design Concepts

Design is central in 3.042, and it is vital that your project be designed rationally at the outset. There’s a lot of art and intuition in the design process, but there are also engineering considerations that your previous subjects have prepared you for. A typical task list for design might include:

  1. Conceptualize and sketch the structure.
  2. Define the loads and constraints applicable to it.
  3. Select the materials (consider Ashby plots).
  4. Carry out approximate analyses, to include as appropriate
    • Stress, strain, and deformation.
    • Heat transfer and temperature expectations.
    • Processing, machining, and fabrication methods.
    • Cost and marketing aspects.
  5. Repeat steps 1 - 4 interactively until the design appears satisfactory.
  6. Prepare detailed design and fabrication drawings (SolidWorks or equivalent).

Cost Analysis (PDF)

Useful Texts

More information about materials selection is available from a variety of print and online sources.

Ashby, M. Materials Selection in Mechanical Design. Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005. ISBN: 9780750661683.

Dieter, George Ellwood. Engineering Design: A Materials and Processing Approach. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 1999. ISBN: 9780073661360.

Faupel, Joseph Herman. Engineering Design. New York, NY: Wiley, 1981. ISBN: 9780471033813.

McCrum, N. Principles of Polymer Engineering. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780198565277.

Planchard, David C., and Marie P. Planchard. Engineering Design with Solidworks. Mission, KS: Schroff Development Corporation, 2000. ISBN: 9781585030217.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008