Global markets are pressuring the materials industries to reduce the time span between materials research and materials development. In particular, current approaches to the development and insertion (deployment) of advanced materials in military systems are too time-intensive and expensive. Despite the large investments in defense systems, insertion is not certain, since materials development is often not linked to the system designer needs, with the results frequently being that the materials do not meet their requirements. There is potentially a high payoff for developing methodologies that will accelerate the insertion of materials, thereby saving millions of investment dollars. All industries engaged in developing advanced materials are searching for new methodologies to solve these problems.
Once a new material has been developed, it must be characterized and modeled. Otherwise, components using it cannot be analyzed, and consequently, it cannot be used in engineering products. Therefore, exploiting the full benefits of new (and existing) engineering materials requires specialized informatics tools for data capture, management, analysis, and dissemination. Advances in computing power, coupled with computational modeling and simulation and materials properties databases, will enable materials scientists and engineers to meet these challenges.
The articles in this issue of MRS Bulletin show a variety of applications of the methodologies that are employed in using materials informatics approaches to materials and engineering product development.