I am driving our company to a Model-is-the-master paradigm (model based definition, MBD), so that part creation/change begins with the model and filters down to drawings, bills of materials, CAD PDM (ModelManager), ERP (Oracle, IFS, SAP). All this information is transferred electronically so it can all remain tied to a specific revision of a part, and while there maybe duplicate information in the model, the drawing, the PDM, and the ERP it will all match because it is all electronically synchronized.
We work in a regulated industry that requires us to to control certain chemical substances so our materials must all tested. In the event of a failure of our product we must supply a report of the mass of each material used in each assembly. If the material is tied to the model, a report can easily be generated where as in our current work environment (where the model is not the master, just a design tool) we have to start with a BoM, load each model, confirm it matches the drawing, measure its volume, look up its material, look up that material's density, do the math and record the mass, move on to the the next part.
The above scenario is fairly limited in scope but I believe this enhancement is also very valuable to companies trying to conform to CE, ROHS, and WEEE initiatives.
This information may also be passed on to manufacturing in an ASME Y14.41 electronic dataset scenario.
Material selection and application - there should be a base list of common materials (e.g. Aluminum 6061-T6, Nylon 6/6, Steel 1018) that is corp/site/user customizable.
(1) Upon selecting material the density of the part will be set
(2) Upon selecting material Rendering Base Color/Texture will be set
(3) Material selection will carry forward to ModelManager Masterdata on save, along with volume of the part being saved (mass can be calculate from volume and a lookup of the desnity).
(a) ModelManager Masterdata will also be able to carry additional directly related material information, such as:
i. abbreviation (typically two character)
ii. Material testing results (ROHS compliance for instance).
Treatment selection and application - there should be a base list of common treatments (Electroless Nickel plate, Hard Anodize per Mil Spec..., Heat treat to Rc 58), that is corp/site/user customizable.
(1) Upon selecting Treatment Rendering Base Color/Texture may change, e.g. chrome plate, or black anodize.
(2) Treatment selection will carry forward to ModelManager Masterdata on save.
This information should be able to be carried forward to FEA. With the possible exception of FEA variations, the information should be contents only. If using instance functionality for material/treatment it should be protected from inadvertent changes.
In addition, there are many modules and dialogs, where you can set specific attributes to parts like density, color, hatch pattern, transparency, reflectance, pressfit, specific thermal and stress values, rendering texture, ...
It would be much better to collect them all into one central material database and change them for a part by assigning a material to it.
Just think of the many steps you can save when investigating the different consequences for changing from one sort of plastic to another one.