From Nordan Symposia
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Materials are physical substances used as inputs to production or manufacturing. Raw materials are first extracted or harvested from the earth and divided into a form that can be easily transported and stored, then processed to produce "semi-finished materials". These can be input into a new cycle of production and finishing processes to create "finished materials", ready for distribution and consumption.

An example of a raw material is cotton, which can be processed into thread, which can then be woven into cloth or used in the making of paper. Further processing may yield garments or books respectively. Steelmaking is another example—raw materials are mined, refined and processed into steel, a semi-finished material. Steel is then used as an input in many other industries to make finished products.

See also