There are a host of decisions that need to be made when you're designing a new product. One of the first, and biggest, is the question of material selection.
Which material to use has less to do with what it looks like than what it's used for. In other words, form — what it looks like, what materials are used, how big or small, what colors — follows function.
One of our crack engineers helped us create a flow chart to help answer the question: Should I make my product/part from plastic or metal?
Perhaps it's obvious, but the answer to that question is determined by the application or use of the part/product. For example, does the product/part need to conduct heat? If yes, metal is the best option. Nope? Go for plastic.
There are other questions to ask along the way, of course, but this chart will give you an idea of which type of manufacturing process is best suited to the materials and what form that should take. Make sure to check out the links at the bottom of the page for more information on some of the processes mentioned in the chart!
[Click on the graphic to enlarge and download for printing.]
Read more about designing parts/products for manufacturing out of either metal or plastic: