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Material vs. Resource: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 24, 2023
"Material" refers to physical substances used to make things, while "resource" encompasses a broader range of assets, including materials, that can be used to achieve a goal.

Key Differences

Material is a physical substance from which things are made, like wood or steel, emphasizing the tangible aspect. Resource is a broader term, including not just physical materials, but also intangible assets like time or skills.
Material often refers to the fabric or substance in manufacturing and construction, whereas a resource can be anything useful or valuable, such as water, employees, or information.
Materials are usually components in a process, like bricks for building. Resources encompass a wider range, including natural resources like oil, human resources, and financial resources.
In an educational context, materials are specific items like textbooks or lab equipment, while resources refer to anything that aids learning, including materials, tutors, or online content.
Materials are often consumed or transformed in their use, like clay in pottery, whereas resources can include renewable or inexhaustible elements, such as solar energy or digital data.

Comparison Chart


Physical substances used to make things
Broader assets used to achieve goals


Primarily tangible substances
Includes both tangible and intangible assets


Wood, plastic, metal
Water, time, money, skills

Usage in Industry

Components in manufacturing
Assets in planning and operation


Often consumed or transformed
Can include renewable assets

Material and Resource Definitions


Fabric or cloth.
She chose a soft material for her dress.


A source of supply or support.
Water is a vital resource for life.


Items needed for an activity.
He gathered materials for the science experiment.


Natural features or phenomena that can be used.
The country is rich in mineral resources.


Substance from which things are made.
The sculpture was made of recycled material.


Financial assets available for use.
The company allocated resources for the new project.


Information or ideas for use in creating a book or other work.
The writer collected material for her novel.


An available means to solve a problem.
Online tutorials are a great resource for learning.


Relevant and significant.
Her testimony was material to the court case.


Skills or abilities of a group of people.
The team's resourcefulness solved the crisis.


The substance or substances out of which a thing is or can be made.


Something that is available for use or that can be used for support or help
The local library is a valuable resource.


Something, such as an idea or information, that is to be refined and made or incorporated into a finished effort
Material for a comedy.


Often resources An available supply, especially of money, that can be drawn on when needed.


Are all materials tangible?

Yes, materials are generally tangible substances.

What defines a material?

A material is defined as a physical substance used in the creation or construction of something.

Can material availability affect production?

Yes, the availability of materials can significantly impact production processes.

Can materials be renewable?

Some materials are renewable, like wood, while others are not, like plastic.

Is human expertise considered a resource?

Yes, human expertise and skills are considered valuable resources.

Is material always used in manufacturing?

While commonly used in manufacturing, materials are also used in art, construction, and other fields.

Are all materials considered resources?

While all materials can be resources, not all resources are materials.

Are resources always physical?

Resources can be both physical and intangible, like human skills or digital data.

How are resources managed in business?

In business, resources are managed through planning, allocation, and optimization to achieve goals.

What constitutes a resource?

A resource is anything that can be used as a means to achieve an end, including materials, time, information, or skills.

Can resources be natural?

Yes, resources include natural elements like water, minerals, and forests.

Do materials have alternative uses?

Many materials have versatile uses across different industries and applications.

Are resources finite?

Some resources are finite, while others, like solar energy, are considered inexhaustible.

Do resources have an economic value?

Yes, resources often have significant economic value and can impact financial planning.

How do technological advancements impact materials and resources?

Technological advancements can lead to the development of new materials and more efficient use of resources.

Are digital data considered a material?

Digital data is not typically considered a material but is a resource.

How do industries source materials?

Industries source materials through suppliers, natural resources, or recycling.

Do companies budget for material and resource acquisition?

Yes, companies typically budget for the acquisition and use of materials and resources.

Can the same item be both a material and a resource?

Yes, something can be both a material and a resource, depending on its use and context.

How does sustainability affect resource use?

Sustainability affects resource use by focusing on renewable and long-term resource management.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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