Fusion has entered the engineering era. Moving from plasma science to experiments demonstrating the benefits of modified torus shapes and advanced divertor geometries, the ‘field’ has become an ‘industry’. Investors focus now on whether superconducting magnet joints are feasible in large tokamak designs and how to deliver net energy to grid. As with all technology trajectories, materials are the key enabler. For fusion materials, the three big challenges remain resilience to the combined damage effects of tritium, transmutation and neutron bombardment (a veritable ‘triple whammy’), achieving suitable irradiation strategies for adequate damage studies (with optimal use of modelling as complementary science) and defining material safety and waste guidance in an era of evolving regulation.