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08/21/2008 - Materials Handbook: A Concise Desktop Reference, Second Edition (2008)
by François Cardarelli, editor


ISBN 978-1-84628-668-1. Springer, New York, New York. 2008. Hardcover. 1,340 pages. $229.00.

REVIEWED BY: George W. Galanes, Midwest Generation


The Materials Handbook, A Concise Desktop Reference by Dr. François Cardarelli is what it is, a nicely packaged handbook of materials information for engineers. The book is in its second edition. My reason for requesting a professional review of this reference book was because so many times I had to use multiple reference books to locate physical, chemical or mechanical property data related to industrial materials. I believe the Materials Handbook, A Concise Desktop Reference is of benefit for practicing engineers either in the materials field or in other engineering disciplines.

To begin with, the Materials Handbook is subdivided into 20 main chapters that deal with a wide range of common and less common materials; metals (ferrous and nonferrous), electrical materials, ceramics and glasses, polymers and elastomers, minerals, rocks and meteorites, soils and fertilizers, cements, concrete and construction materials, timbers and woods, fuels and explosives, composite materials, gases, and ending with liquids. I found it rather interesting how the author, Dr. Cardarelli arranged material information based on a consistent template; general description and general properties, history, natural occurrence, processing and industrial preparation, industrial application and further reading. There really was a lot of information that the author provided that could overwhelm a practicing engineer. For some cases, prices were supplied for industrial materials, although I found this to be unnecessary because of the volatility of material prices in today’s markets.

The organization of the Material Handbook was logical in the sense that material categories were well defined and were grouped by subject area—metals versus nonmetals, and more common versus less common industrial materials. In addition, all listed materials in the Materials Handbook were identified by either black headers on the top of each page or by gray-colored tab boxes in the page margins on the right hand side with text supporting the material, as well as physical and mechanical property data listed in Tables or Figures.

One of the main benefits that I derived in using this Handbook throughout my book review period was the supporting engineering equations and background explanation regarding physical, chemical and mechanical property data, where applicable. For example, Dr. Cardarelli provided equations and associated explanation for establishing engineering and true stress strain curves, elongation, etc., and hardness testing. Other useful equations in the Handbook with suitable explanation were for gases and fluids applications. This is excellent reference information to have in an all inclusive materials handbook for practicing engineers.

The external appearance of the book was satisfactory. The book contains approximately 1,340 pages with a detailed Table of Contents, Index and Appendices A-I. The Appendices were as detailed in technical information as the main body of the text. For example, the list of Appendices included such diverse topics as background data for chemical elements, NIST thermochemical data for pure substances, natural radioactivity and corrosion resistance data for various materials. The text in the handbook is of acceptable quality for reading and the supporting Tables and Figures are crisp. Overall, the quality of the book is satisfactory.

My overall impression of the Materials Handbook is that it is indeed all inclusive as a desk top reference for obtaining basic information on physical, chemical and some mechanical property data for most industrial materials. This book is mainly suited for practicing engineers versus an academic setting. The Materials Handbook contains detailed background information that to some might be an information overload. However, in overlooking this aspect of the handbook, I believe practicing engineers would benefit by having this type of reference book handy for daily activities. For practicing Metallurgical Engineers, the Materials Handbook can be useful, but is really not a substitute for the ASM Handbooks, as a comparison.

For more on Materials Handbook: A Concise Desktop Reference, Second Edition, visit the Springer web site.


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