Course Title: Materials and Technology

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2009

Course Code: BUIL5374

Course Title: Materials and Technology

School: 320T Design (TAFE)

Campus: City Campus

Program: C5111 - Diploma of Arts (Furniture Design)

Course Contact : Tom O'Regan

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4150

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Contact name:       Julian Pratt - program co-ordinator

Phone:                     9925 4820
Fax:                           9925 4039

Nominal Hours: 60

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide participants with the skills and knowledge required to select appropriate materials and technology for furniture construction.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBK203 Materials and Technology

Learning Outcomes

1. Describe the major characteristics of trees
2. Discuss the major characteristics of wood
3. Describe the specific uses and qualities of particular timbers
4. Describe the major factors affecting the serviceability of timber
5. Discuss a range of materials used for contemporary furniture and sculpture
6. Discuss a range of technologies used in contemporary furniture manufacturing

Details of Learning Activities

Planned Learning Experiences

  • Students learn the major characteristics of trees through classroom lectures and tours of particular sites in

    East Gippsland , which will include: rainforest, logging coups, saw millers and processors
  • Knowledge of the major characteristics of wood is gained through lectures, classroom demonstrations and discussion of different timber samples and testing of physical characteristics of shrinkage, strength, gluing properties, machinability and surface qualities. Knowledge will also be gained through research into timber furniture products
  • Knowledge of specific uses and qualities of particular timbers is gained through lectures and classroom demonstrations of materials and site visits to timber yards. Students will do personal research into a particular timber of interest for class presentation
  • Knowledge of the major factors affecting the serviceability of timber is gained through lectures classroom and workshop demonstrations
  • Knowledge of the range of materials and technologies used for contemporary furniture and sculpture is gained through lectures and classroom demonstrations of materials, including videos of processes and materials that are impractical to access directly. Site visits to suppliers and processors and research assignments into materials usage will give students deeper understanding building on the classroom input

Teaching Schedule

WeekDateTopicsField tripsAssessment activity
1 9/2 -13/2Major characteristics of trees
Major characteristics of wood
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
East Gippsland camp
2 20/2Introduction to course
Major characteristics of trees
  Issue assessment tasks 1 and 6
3 27/2 Information sourcing and research skills

Library tour
• facilities & services
• research techniques

 4 6/3 Major characteristics of wood
• appearance characteristics
• mechanical properties
 5 13/3 Properties of timber, sourcing and purchasing timber Mathews Timber, Vermont 
 6 20/3 Timber species presentations Assessment task 1 presentations
 7 27/3 Timber species presentations Assessment task 1 presentations
Issue assessment task 2
 8 3/4 Wood
• moisture content
• seasoning
   Mid-semester break  
 9 24/4 Wood
• Calculating and costing
• Standard sizes
 10 1/5 Veneers and veneering
  Assessment task 2 due
Issue assessment task 4
 11 8/5 Manufactured board
• Types, properties
• manufacture
• sourcing and purchasing
 12 15/5 Manufactured board
• bent laminated furniture
 13 22/5 Timber – written test  Assessment task 3
 14 29/5 Textiles and leather  
 15 5/6 Textiles and leather Instyle Textiles 
 16 12/6 Plastics – types & forming  
 17 19/6 Plastics - polyurethane foam  
  Semester break  
 18 10/7 Review timber test  
 19 17/7 Glass and stone  Assessment task 4 due
Issue assessment task 5
 20 24/7 Glass Pilkington Glass 
 21 31/7 Composites  
 22 7/8 StoneAmalgamated stone  
 23 14/8 Metals - ferrous  
 24 21/8 Cutting technologies  
 25 28/8 Metals – non-ferrous Cutting technologies 
 26 4/9 New technologies   Assessment task 5 presentations
 27 11/9 New technologies   Assessment task 5 presentations
 28 18/9 Review and summary of course
  Assessment task 6 due
   End of course - mid semester break  

 Important note - dates of some classes and field trips may vary due to availability of field trip enterprises

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


While there are no compulsory texts, the following references will be useful for study and completing assessment tasks. They are all available from RMIT libraries. 

Walton John, Woodwork in Theory and Practice

Bootle, Keith R,Wood in Australia - types, properties and uses

Boland, D.J et Al.Forest Trees of Australia

Lefteri, Chris,Making It - manufacturing techniques for product design

Lefteri, Chris.Plastic, Materials for Inspirational Design

Byars, Mel.50 Chairs: Innovation in Design and Materials

Byars, Mel.50 Lights: Innovations in Design and Materials

Byars, Mel.50 Tables: Innovations in Design and Materials

Byars, Mel.50 Products: Innovations in Design and Materials

Other Resources

RMITs online learning resource Blackboard will be used extensively for communication and to distribute notes and presentations.

Students must familiarise themselves with Blackboard and other online learning resources

Overview of Assessment

Assessment activities are related to learning outcomes and are intended to help develop students research and study skills.
Assessment tasks include writing research reports, class presentations, an in-class test and the preparation of a materials resources file.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment task 1

Due date:   20 March 2009

Mark value:   8% of final course result

In class presentation & Information sheet– Identification and analysis of a specific timber
5 minute presentation of a timber covering areas such as basic botanical information, surface and mechanical properties, grain, location where grown and availability. Information sheet (up to two A4 pages)

Assessment task 2

Due date: 1 May 2009

Mark value:   10% of final course result

Research assignment – Timber furniture
Written assignment involving investigation of a contemporary wooden furniture item and analysing its use of materials


Assessment task 3

Test date: 22 May 2009

Mark value: 25% of final course result

Exam – Timber structure, conversion and seasoning
Written test using multiple choice and short answer questions on trees, timber properties and use, seasoning and tasks on preparation of timber for furniture manufacture


Assessment task 4

Test date: 17 July 2009

Mark value: 24% of final course result

Research reports
3 written reports involving investigation of contemporary furniture items constructed from materials other than wood


Assessment task 5

Test date: 4 September 2009

Mark value: 18% of final course result

Presentation of research project – New technology
15 to 20 minute group presentation of research into a new material or technology that could be used in furniture manufacture


Assessment task 6

Test date: 18 September 2009

Mark value: 15% of final course result

Research file – Materials library
Collection of information, samples and supplier details for materials used in furniture manufacture. It should encompass all areas of materials studied during the Learning Unit

Assessment Matrix

Course Overview: Access Course Overview