Temperature 101

We thought we’d bring in our master product designer, Solomon Tibebu with Solosphere, to give us a primer on various laws of nature and material properties to understand the science behind our serveware.   Solomon has his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins, so he actually understands all of this stuff, whereas we at served just wanted cold potato salad.  served has been partnering with Solosphere almost since the beginning, and he’s a great partner who can help navigate every part of the product design process from ideation to manufacturing for durable consumer goods.  Check Solosphere out here  (https://www.solosphere.co/).

Physics | Thermodynamics

Important dynamic and equilibrium phenomenon considered in product design.

  •  Thermal Energy — The internal energy contained within a substance as a result of molecular vibrations. Hotter substances have higher thermal energy per unit of the substance and thus exhibit a higher temperature.
  • Heat — Thermal energy in transfer between two substances due to a temperature difference between them. A substance cannot have heat as it is a measure of how thermal energy flows.
  • Heat Transfer Modes — The different ways by which thermal energy flows (heat) from one system to another:
  1. Conduction.  The process by which thermal energy is transmitted from one atom/region of a substance to a neighboring atom/region by direct contact and due to a temperature difference between them.
  2. Convection.  The transfer of thermal energy from one region of a fluid or gas to another region or object due to the displacement of its molecules.  The movement is caused by the density differences within the substance as a result of temperature differences or by an external force acting on the molecules.  The movement is caused by the density differences within the substance as a result of temperature differences or by an external force acting on the molecules (e.g., water boiling or a fan forcing hot air to move across a room).
  3. Thermal Radiation.  Thermal energy from the vibrations of protons and electrons that is converted and emitted as electromagnetic radiation (e.g., heat energy felt from a fire at a distance).
  • Evaporation & Condensation — a process in which matter turns from a liquid to a gas and vice versa. While technically considered a mass transfer process and not a heat transfer one, evaporation can carry thermal energy away from a system and transfer it to another when the evaporated liquid or the gas condenses and cools on the surface of the other substance.

 Material Properties

Key intrinsic thermal properties considered in material selection & product design.

These properties are considered during the design phase, along with other properties such as mechanical and electrical depending on the application, to determine what materials best meet the required performance and functionality of the end product.

  • Temperature — A physical property of a material and a measure of the thermal energy contained within its body (this differs from heat).
  • Thermal Conductivity — A measure of a material's ability to conduct heat across its body (i.e., transfer thermal energy). Materials such as metals have a high thermal conductivity and are able to conduct heat at a higher rate than materials with a low conductivity such as rubbers or plastics.
  • Emissivity — The ability of a material's surface to reflect, absorb, or transmit energy in the form of thermal radiation. Materials with a low emissivity such as smooth & shiny metals, reflect more thermal radiation energy than materials with a high thermal emissivity, and thus prevent radiant heat energy from being absorbed and heating up the material or passing through the material.
  • Specific Heat — The amount of energy in the form of heat required to increase the temperature of a unit mass of material by 1 degree.
  • Heat Deflection Temperature — Or heat distortion temperature (HDT) is the temperature at which a polymer sample deforms under a specified load. It is essentially used to gauge the stiffness of plastics and rubbers when they are exposed to higher temperatures.


Note: Some properties can vary depending on the surrounding temperature and pressure and are thus typically given for the Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP) of 0° C and 1 atm.

Written by Bryn Wilson

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