Skip to Main Content

Material ConneXion Library: About the Collection

Library News Item

Library Categories

The collection contains eight material categories defined below. Information about each item can be located on the physical panels in the room.

Carbon-Based logo in dark grey and white

The carbon-based category includes materials whose main constituent is carbon in the form of diamond, graphite, buckyballs, nanotubes, or carbon fiber.

Cement-Based logo in light grey and white   

The cement-based category includes materials that are composites of Portland or other cement with additives such as sand, glass, metal fibers, or other aggregates.

Ceramics logo in orange and white   

The ceramics category includes materials with a molecular combination of a metal such as aluminum or zinc and a non-metal such as oxygen or carbon to create hard, durable, heat-resistant, and electrically insulating materials.

Glass logo in light blue and white   

The glass category includes materials that are amorphous or crystalline structures of ceramics based upon silicon and oxygen (SiO2) that are transparent or translucent.

Metals logo in dark blue and white   

The metals category includes materials with a single metallic element or combination of metallic and other elements (alloy) that produces ductile, durable, electrically, and heat-conductive materials that tend to reflect light.

Naturals logo in green and white   

The naturals category includes materials that have been grown or mined from the earth.

Polymers logo in purple and white   

The polymers category includes materials that are consist of long chain molecules, mostly carbon based, which are synthetic, moldable, colorable, and lightweight.

Process logo in red and white   

The process category includes materials created with manufacturing methods that combine deposit, form, foam, or otherwise manipulate a material.

MCX YouTube Videos

The definitions can be found on the Material ConneXion YouTube page under,  "What is a... ?".

Please note that not all the videos have close-captions.

Sustainability Icons

compostable icon in black and white   COMPOSTABLE

A compostable material biodegrades substantially under specific composting conditions. It is metabolized by microorganisms, being incorporated into the organisms or converted into humus.

recycling logo in black and white   EASILY RECYCLABLE

A material that can be recycled in a municipal recycling system with little or no energy required to separate it from other materials in its current use.

low carbon footprint logo in black and white   LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT

Material or process that demonstrates a significant reduction in overall carbon footprint.

recycled materials logo in black and white   RECYCLED

Materials that have been previously used in an application that are reprocessed for use in another application.

leaf logo in black and white   RENEWABLE CONTENT

Renewable materials are substances derived from a living tree, plant, animal, or ecosystem which has the ability to regenerate itself.

low toxicity logo in black and white   LOW TOXICITY

Material or process that demonstrates a significant reduction in the use of toxic or restricted chemicals.

biodegradable logo in black and white   BIODEGRADABLE

A degradation caused by biological activity, especially by enzymatic action, leading to a significant change in the chemical structure of the material. This is not a certifiable property, rather just a general term for degradation of organic matter.

feather logo in black and white   LIGHTWEIGHT

Materials that demonstrate a significant reduction in weight compared to existing products used for that particular application. Honeycomb materials can be considered lightweight compared to solid MDF or lumber.

How to Read a Material Board

In the MCX room, you will find that the materials are mounted on grey panels. Each material board is made up of several elements:


An MCX board with arrows pointing to where the MC number, category, and description are located

  • The material: A sample of the material mounted to the panel to view and touch
  • MC number: An identification number for the material that corresponds with the database
  • Category: One of the eight categories that the material is organized within
  • Description: A short explanation of the material and its qualities