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What's hiding in Delft?: The material library

This collection of material samples is not a library in the traditional sense of the word. All samples are on display to be touched and tinkered with.

The material library is located on the ground floor of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering in the main hall, underneath the ‘Made Of’ sign. It’s accessible to everyone at any time: students, PhD researchers and staff members alike. The developer and coordinator of the library, Dr. Elvin Karana, said: “Material suppliers find it very difficult to reach designers, especially the young designers. My idea was to devote a material library that would link the material industries to the creative industry here, the student.” Funding was obtained via the WO Sprint project, and the library was opened in January 2012.

Three main collections were provided by sponsors: Sabic for plastics, Kvadrat for textiles and Centrum Hout for wood. Around 200 companies provided samples which were grouped under different themes such as sustainable, smart and senses. There are some interactive materials on display too, like a two-way memory spring which reacts to heat.

There is a dedicated section for material-related graduation projects and PhD studies. “It has become a platform for students to present their works, together with suppliers to present their samples,” said Karana.

Regular exhibitions are organised as well. Previous exhibitions have focussed on 3D printing, glass and ceramics, designing with cork, and lightweight materials and structures.

“I really want to keep our students updated. The library is a source for creative thinking through tangible things. Students can really have a hands-on experience. The whole idea was to bring these materials to the students so they can see them every day. I thought that would really inspire them to go and touch and find applications,” said Karana.

The library is currently being renewed, now that the initial three year sponsorship period is over, and the renewed version is expected to be complete by the end of February 2015.

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