Functionally Graded Materials (FGMs), initially conceptualized in the ’80, have recently attracted a great research interest thanks to the advent of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. AM permits to gradationally varying the spatial composition or porosity inside an object resulting in a corresponding spatial change in material properties. The data about this new class of materials are radically different from the traditional engineering materials and require information about the object geometry. Moreover, traditional methods for product design are not sufficient to represent heterogeneous objects. The full exploitation of these technologies requires the synergy of material science, product modeling and manufacturing domain. Ontologies can play a crucial role for the integration, making the information accessible and understandable to both experts from different domains and machines. In this paper, a prototypical ontology for the characterization of FGM objects is proposed. Firstly, an already existing FGM ontology is analyzed, highlighting shortcomings and possible improvements. Then, the new ontology is proposed, focusing on the classes and relationships for accommodating material knowledge and geometrical information. The core idea, retrieved from the literature on heterogeneous object representation and transposed in an ontological fashion, is based on the mapping between the geometrical 3D space and the n-dimensional material space. After presenting the new ontology, a benchmark case study is described to test the effectiveness of this approach along with some competency questions an engineer might be interested in. The proposed ontology represents a first, crucial building block for a more complex system aiming to support the communication and knowledge sharing among different actors in engineering.

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