In the 1980s, when much of our vocabulary underwent changes required by social phenomena, there was a parallel change in the technological realm: The word "metals" became politically, or rather technically, incorrect. This was due in large part to rapidly evolving developments in the area of materials substitution. By identifying and duplicating properties of metals, engineers could now use a metal matrix composite or a combination of plastics and ceramics rather than the actual metals. In order to remain current with this trend, associations and publishers that formerly focused on metals were required to adapt in order to encompass this new world of all forms of materials. Some associations and publications achieved this transformation more efficiently and elegantly than others.
The American Society for Metals, which had originally been formed by the merger of the American Steel Treaters' Society and the Steel Treating Research Society, changed its name for a brief period to American Society for Materials. Soon thereafter, following closely on the heels of the linguistic revolution in acronym formation, and coupled with the globalization phenomenon, the organization became ASM International, with the tag line The Materials Information Society. Another association, TMS, now known as the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society, can trace its founding back to the 1800s and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. It became the Metallurgical Society in 1949. Its current TMS acronym, adopted in 1989, covers all bases with minerals, metals, and materials, represented by the "M" graphic in its logo.
On the other hand, for some associations such as SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering), the "M" stood for "materials" from its inception. It is the "A" that underwent a transformation from "Aircraft" to "Aerospace" to "Advancement." Along a similar vein, SAE International began in 1916 with the merger of the American Society of Automobile Engineers, the American Society of Aeronautic Engineers, and the Society of Tractor Engineers to form the Society of Automotive Engineers. Fortunately the "A" in its name can represent both areas of vehicle technology.
This expansion of scope was not limited to U.S. organizations. In Germany, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Metallkunde changed to Materialkunde; however, its journal remains the Zeitschrift fur Metallkunde. The subtitle of the Zeitschrift is "International journal of materials research and advanced techniques." In Great Britain, the Metals Society merged with the Institution of Metallurgists to form the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, IOM3. And in France, in order that there be no confusion about what the "M" stands for in SF2M, the name includes both metals and materials (Société française de metallurgie et de matériaux), a redefinition of the former Société française des métaux.
Names of technical journals have also undergone a variety of changes. Elsevier eased the transition from Acta Metallurgica and Scripta Metallurgien to Acta Metallurgica et Materialia and Scripta Metallurgica et Materialia to Acta Materialia and Scripta Materialia. ASM International has not completed the metamorphosis. Its Metallurgical Transactions remains at the Metallurgical and Materials Transactions stage of development. TMS made the most efficient move when its journal went directly from Journal of Metals to JOM in 1988, thus avoiding vacillation between "metals" and "materials" and notwithstanding the shrieks of librarians.
As the emphasis on metals has shifted to materials, the information needed by researchers and the content of specialty databases has also altered. In this article, I will focus on online sources for property data of metals. Information on metals chemistry, the metals business, and alloy patents is readily available in specialized databases that have been evaluated many times in the past, based on the general content of the databases. …