Need to compare the mechanical properties of plastics from multiple suppliers? Or dig up chemical resistance data? Finding this kind of technical plastics information has, in the past, been an exercise in frustration for many engineers. IDES Inc., though, has now developed a new website that promises to cut down on the amount of searching, pointing, and clicking required to find plastics engineering content.
Called Plastics Web, the site combines new free offerings with IDES's established plastics database. "We've come to realize after 20 years in this business that we have a great amount of plastics technical content that we haven't exposed to our customer base," says Mike Kmetz, IDES's president and founder.
The free content, which requires no registration to access, includes a troubleshooting guide, ASTM test method descriptions, and a glossary that sorts out the alphabet soup of plastics acronyms. It also includes a section on chemical resistance. This portion of the site contains deep links to chemical resistance advice and data from various supplier and industry sites. Kmetz says the list, about 30 strong right now, isn't all inclusive but will grow over time.
For those willing to register with name, email, and job function, the site offers far more valuable features. Chief among them is Prospector X5, which lets users find, view, and compare data sheets on nearly 60,000 different grades of plastic from almost 500 global suppliers. Kmetz notes the Prospector functionality used to be offered as part of the company's subscription services. With the roll out of Plastics Web, Prospector has become free to any registered user whose job involves plastics specification.
IDES will still offer a premium service that provides software modules containing the company's most advanced plastics selection tools. These include a module for automotive specifications, a module that searches on mechanical property requirements, and a module that displays stress-strain curves and other multi-point data. Other modules offer pricing information and help users identify alternative materials that meet a set of application and cost requirements.
Pricing for the subscription services ranges from $99 to $1,500 per year, depending on the number of modules and users.
At press time, IDES was also finishing up a brand new plastics-specific search engine that will change how it serves up all of its free and paid content. Kmetz says IDES's home page (www.ides.com) will transform into something more Google-like—in that a search box will be the main element on the page. "Most of what you see on our home page today will disappear," says Kmetz.
Unlike Google, though, IDES's new search engine will only return technical results related to plastics. Some of these results will be from IDES's own databases. Others will be from industry, supplier, and publication sites that IDES has chosen to index. "The important thing about our search engine is that all the results will be relevant to engineers," says Kmetz. "If you type nylon into Google today, you'll get back results about pantyhose. That won't happen anymore."
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