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Computerized databases for plastics materials.

COMPUTERIZED DATABASES FOR PLASTICS MATERIALS Tens of thousands of polymer-based materials are available to design engineers today, each with a theoretically infinite property set. Optimizing material selection by reading data sheets has become an impracticality of major proportion. But now to the rescue come the electronic databases, which allow material selection to be computer driven from complex property profiles, which even include cost.

At this year's ANTEC, in a roundtable discussion initiated by Dr. John Schmitz (Chairman, Computer Users Forum, a Special Interest Group of the Society of Plastics Engineers), 16 modern platics pioneers described the emerging technology of plastics materials properties information. They described databases accessible on the phone line, databases on tape, floppy disk, and CD, and databases that serve the printed page. They offered free information and expensive information. They represented manufacturers and consortia who promote the use of their own products, publishers who compile universal information, services that focus on specific performance areas, and a database that exists solely to organize other propeties databases.

Together, in their present forms, the databases are an embryonic segmented solution to the problem of making the enormous quantity of properties information readily available. "House organ" databases are limited to house materials, although they generally deliver the broadest and most complete information. "Universal" databases struggle to obtain up-to-date properties and complete data sets, but enable comparisons of competitive products. Databases that focus on specific performance areas do not address a full range of properties. Graphic data presentations, when available, are incomptible with one another, and data formats are inconsistent, making comparisons difficult. Also, information users are pushing for more and more data specific to their unique situations.

The future: The 1990s marketplace will become the driving force behind plastics materials properties databases, replacing the pure creativity of the 1980s pioneers. Formats, contents, and delivery technologies will be in a cost/performance competition. A fascinating evolution will occur as data acquisition and delivery technology converges, diverges, and matures into a powerful plastics engineering instrument.

PLASPEC: The Engineering and

Marketing Databank

A complete, accurate, and up-to-date central information resource for plastics engineers and professionals is provided through PLASPEC. The system is updated daily and is accessed through any computer or terminal equipped with a modem.

The aim of Plaspec is to have one resource that engineers can use to get the information they need for initial material selection. By providing information on materials available from all suppliers through one source, the engineer has to learn only one system, thereby saving time and ensuring that all material choices are presented and the best decision can be made.

Among the information provided in Plaspec are detailed characteristics on all available grades of plastic materials. Over 60 searchable characteristics are listed and include special features of the materials, property data, and price. Information can be displayed on screen or downloaded to a disk or printer.

Also available through Plaspec are PLASPEC News and a machinery specifications and selection databank. Finally, detailed information on plastics processors is available through the Plastics Technology Manufacturing Census. For additional information contact:

Abbe Scheiner (800) 752-7732 PLASPEC 633 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017





In 1977, International Plastics Selector (IPS) was formed with the stated goal to produce the "world's largest, most comprehensive and accurate databases available for polymer materials." IPS currently maintains and publishes four specific hardcopy databases, covering 10,000 grades of material, targeted toward the plastics industry. Up to 50 properties for each material are listed, including all physical, mechanical, electrical, and flammability properties.

As an extension to the printed matter, and to meet the growing demands of the engineering community, IPS has entered the personal computer marketplace with the addition of "Selector." This PC-based polymer database is a joint venture with Integrated Design Engineering Systems (IDES), Inc. Selector software provides a window into the IPS database, allowing the user to select, sort, and display any of the property values. Hardcopy reports on selected materials are easily generated.

Future product plans include a CD-ROM product and expanded European databases. For additional information contact:

Judy Morgon (800) 447-4666 International Plastic Selector D.A.T.A. Business Publishing P.O. Box 26875 San Diego, CA 92126


The Plastics

Technical Evaluation Center

PLASTEC is an information analysis center sponsored by the Department of Defense to provide the defense community with technical information services applicable to plastics, adhesives, and organic-matrix composites. Chartered in 1960, Plastec has been engaged in compiling authoritative technical information and automating its access. Since its inception it has maintained a bibliographic data file. In 1975 it developed its first computerized, numerical database dealing with technical data describe the effects of energetic materials (propellants and explosives) on polymers.

Plastec has continued its database activities to provide centralized, numerical data describing the effects of military environments on the deterioration of polymeric materials. One of two other programs developed deals with chemical warfare materials (agents and decontaminants) and the other with resistance to conventional chemicals and outdoor enrivonments. In conjunction with Plastec's affiliate adhesives laboratory, an adhesives database has also been developed. It contains numerical property data for adhesive joints with supporting adhesives technology information and military lessons learned.

The Plastec databases are available to government agencies and their contractors on a need-to-know basis and upon payment of a service fee. Subscribers require a VT100-compatible terminal and modem for access through conventional telephone lines. These programs are intended as central repositories for engineering data and are used in materials evalations.

Computerized plastics properties databases for engineering design have not been pursued and represent the biggest challenge to the plastics community. They require comprehensive compilations of material property data tested over the wide variety of environments. Also, the data should be statistically valid and from credible, documented sources. For additional information contact:

John Nardone (201) 724-4222 Plastics Technical Evaluation Center (PLASTEC) Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) US Army Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command (AMCCOM) Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000


PLASCAMS is a knowledge-based plastics materials selection system that will take the operator from an initial specification to a material and a supplier. Knowledge-based systems, often called expert systems, are method of programming developed as a branch of artificial intelligence. The method involves representing and applying the knowledge of experts in order to solve problems in a particular domain--in this case, materials selection.

Materials selection is carried out using two search routines that enable the user to search over 75 material properties. The first is based on an elimination procedure and is termed "single property search." This is designed to identify materials that satisfy certain essential criteria.

The second search routine, termed "combined weightings search," can be viewed as an optimization procedure that can rank or order a short list of those materials with the essential properties. The operator achieves this by entering weighting values to bias the search to meet his requirements.

Each of the materials contained in Plascams has been assigned a ranked value judgment in the range 0 to 9 for each of the searchable qualities. For certain qualities, in addition to assigning a value judgment, a specific property value also has been filed. This is the case for properties such as maximum continuous operating temperature or dielectric constant.

Materials information is presented in the form of tests, data sheets, and lists of commercial suppliers. The texts indicate particular strengths and weaknesses of a material together with typical applications. The data sheets cover short-term mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties plus some processing data and material costs. Commercial suppliers are listed with their trade names and addresses. A trade name search facility is included. For additional information contact:

Mike Hough (0939) 250383 RAPRA Technology Ltd. Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 4NR England

MPD: The National Materials

Property Data Network

The National Materials Property Data Network, Inc., is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1984 to address a critical national need for easy, on-line access to high-quality, well-documented numeric material property data for engineers and scientists. The MPD network works with technical societies, associations, universities, government laboratories, and private industry to provide high-quality databases and to aid in development of standards for material properties data storage.

The heart of the MPD network is single-point access to many sources of materials property data with a common easy-to-use interface. Materials covered inlcude the conventional ferrous and nonferrous alloys as well as polymers, ceramics, and composites. Mechanical properties are highest priority, with a range of other properties included both as background for the mechanical properties and as specialized resources. Users of the system are able to access individual test data or design values from important handbooks such as MIL-HDBK-5. A well-developed metadata system (data about data) is incorporated to help the user deal with the terms, definitions, units, and abbreviations common to the many and varied disciplines of materials science.

A pilot network has been developed with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy at Stanford University. This network, currently available to sponsors, sets the groundwork for a publicly available production version, which will be availble on-line in 1990 on STN International, the Scientific and Technical Network. For additional information contact:

Mary K. Clor (614) 447-3600 National Materials Property Data network Inc. 2540 Olentangy River Rd. Columbus, OH 43210

The Dow Materials Engineering

Center Database

The Materials Engineering Center (MEC) of the Dow Chemical Co. has developed a computerized engineering database for plastics. The properties parameters needed to specify materials for engineering design, both of the part and of the tooling, are defined. The properties include mechanical, thermal, rheological, electrical, physical, optical, ignition, and permanence. Test procedures and fabrication methods supporting the property data are characterized, and can be selected. The effects of time, temperature, and other environmental conditions are also indicated. The database also covers a thorough system of material identification and test data validation. Thus, it satisfies the needs of engineers for effective implementation of plastics in durable goods.

Information can be retrieved by selecting a combination of properties based on a specific set of conditions, or by specifying a property of various environmental or processing conditions, or both.

Dow's MEC database offers a well-developed capability for selecting, evaluating, and standardizing the data used by researchers and engineers working with structural polymeric materials. The database operates on a mainframe computer and is accessible through a modem or a network link. The database currently covers about a 100 records and 1000 fields. It has a dynamic system of operation and maintenance to satisfy the needs ofnew polymer, process, and application technologies. For additional information contact:

Ligaya S. Petrisko (517) 636-1245 Materials Engineering Center The Dow Chemical Co. 433 Building Midland, MI 48667


In Europe, materials databases are commonly used by materials producers to distribute their product information, free of charge, to clients. Clients can then use the database system to assist in the selection of materials.

Competition between producers has contributed to the rapid advancements that have taken place in this field, as each producer tries to obtain a competitive edge. At the same time, however, the necessity to satisfy clients has meant that considerable emphasis has been placed on the development of database systems with the same data structure and offering data measured according to the same testing standards.

Modern microcomputer databases offer performance that far exceeds that of the older mainframe systems. They enable data from producers to be combined with records of the user's own experiences. Such systems are available at a low cost and will undoubtedly dominate the industry.

Future developments will include data transfer from producers to clients via telephone networks, i.e., by the use of modems, and expert systems to assist in materials selection. For additional information contact:

Sven Kulldorf 01-711-135 Polydata Limited I.D.A. Unit 16 111 Pearse St. Dublin,

Ireland 2


Thermofile, a nationally distributed computer database program, runs on any MS-DOS-based PC. The user inputs ranges of property values, and the program determines which materials satisfy those ranges. The computer searches through all the property data sheets, checking up to 30 properties, to find the right materials for the user's needs. By remembering what it last searched for, the computer allows the user to narrow down the list of materials by tightening up on the property ranges. And the computer lets the user perform "what-if" scenarios that weren't possible before. In a short time, the user has the right product for his particular needs.

Thermofile is self-explanatory, walking the user through the necessary steps. It describes the test methods used, allows English or scientific values, and breaks down Thermofil's (the company's) nomenclature. Materials can be viewed in either spreadsheet format or a listing of all the properties for one material. For additional information contact:

Dough Imshaug (313) 227-3500 Thermofil, Inc. P.O. Box 489 Brighton, MI 48116

EDD: GE Plastics Engineering

Design Database

GE Plastics' Engineering Design Database (EDD) contains properties and information not found on datasheets, design books, or in ordinary databases. The EDD is unique in that it provides engineering data, analysis tools, and design and material selection assistance directly to the user.


* Tensile stress-strain

* Tensile creep

* Tensile fatigue


* Coefficient of thermal expansion

* Rheology

* Specific heat

All data are generated at several temperatures, stresses, strain rates, and times--providing a complete matrix of data. The programs allow for interpolation to application-specific conditions. All data are generated in controlled environments using ASTM guidelines for the highest accuracy.


* Rib-stiffened plate analysis program that calculates the load-deflection behavior of a plate of any size with a number of rib configurations and boundary conditions.

* Cooling analysis program utilizing a 1-D finite difference calculation to solve for the temperature gradient through the thickness of a material.


* The material descriptor provides an educational session on plastics. It includes basic definitions of polymers and their various form, descriptions of GE resins, and the effects of various additives on design parameters.

* Design assistance module, created by experienced engineers, cover topics important in plastics design including:

Stiffness Agency considerations Strength Design for assembly Creep/stress relation Fatigue Impact testing/analysis Design features Structural calculations CAE assistance Agency considerations Design for assembly Design for moldability Structural foam design Blowmolding design Thermal considerations Glass reinforced resins

The menu-driven, graphic EDD is directly accessible through a 1200/2400 baud modem and graphics terminal--free of charge. The PC or terminal must support Tektronix 4XXX graphics. For additional information contact:

Gerald G. Trantina or David A. Ysseldyke (413) 448-4827 GE Plastics 1 Plastics Ave. Pittsfield, MA 01201

Du Pont


Polyfacts is a means of electronic partnering with Du Pont by providing users with the ability to select and work with engineering plastics and with Du Pont resources. Polyfacts is constantly changing and growing to meet user needs, and is available exclusively through salesman referral. The equipment needed by users to connect to this on-line service is an Apple, MacIntosh, or IBM PC or compatible. Polyfacts is built in modules, which are described below.

Material Selection. Materials are selected based on criteria such as mechanical properties, thermal properties, etc. The database includes information on du Pont engineering plastics and generic information on other plastics.

Graphics. Curves are available for stress vs. strain, property vs. temperature, and weathering. There are two types of graphics. One type works with any terminal. The other works with IBM PCs or compatibles and interacts with the mainframe. When the user wishes to view a graph, it is automatically drawn and stored on the PC.

Electronic messaging allows users to send messages, ask questions, and communicate with Du Pont via electronic mail.

The Applications Guide allows users to enter an application type and get a list of similar applications and the products used for those applications; or users can enter a product and get a list of applications that use that product's key properties.

The Processing Guide provides users with a troubleshooting guide and general processing information for each resin.

Tech Topics provides copies of all the technical processing articles written by Du Pont technical experts. The customer can find a technical article either by title or by topic. For additional information contact:

Roberto Bautista (302) 774-4968 E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Inc. Wilmington, DE 19898


A Computer-Aided Materials Database

CENBASE/Materials includes technical specifications and price-break data from over 12,000 unique grades of thermoplastics, thermoplastic elastomers, thermosets, composites, and metals. The data are sourced from more than 170 raw material supplier catalogs worldwide. Physical properties covered include processing, thermal, optical, and electrical and mechanical material characteristics. Material classes can have their own set of 36 physical properties.

Data are considered public domain information. The publisher assumes no responsibility for correctness of manufacturers' data ano no validity testing is performed. Priority is assigned to acceptance of data based on ASTM test methods. Entries are carefully compared with source data to assure accuracy and to verify spelling. The database is updated quarterly for subscribers.

The software interface includes two programs. One is designed specifically for retrieving information on materials. The other is used for materials data management. The data retrieval program uses a simple, easy-to-operate, query-based material selection technique or an easy-to-use data volume browse command. The data management program includes full editing and database creation facilities. It includes a full-screen text editor as well as simple data entry screens.

Cenbase/Materials is supplied on floppy disks requiring IBM PC/XT/AT/PS microcomputer or compatible with a minimum of 512K RAM, a graphics monitor (either monochrome or color), and 20 MEG or larger hard disk. The complete program requires 12 MEG. A CD/ROM version is also available.

The Cenbase/Materials database may be purchased with a variety of options, including data retrieval only, with or without quarterly updates, single user or LAN, full software features (both data retrieval and materials data management), and more. Program disks are copy protected. For additional information contact:

Chris E. Nunez (714) 893-2471 Infodex/CENCAD 12872 Valley View St., #10 Garden Grove, CA 92645

MAT.DB: Materials Properties Data System

Mat.db is ASM's commercially available materials properties data system for DOS-compatible personal computers. It was developed for end-users interested in building their own database as well as for users who simply want to access precompiled databases. Mat.db is designed to maintain information on the properties and processing of engineering materials. The system provides a flexible format for structuring diverse data types into a unified system. This format can accommodate information on metals, plastics, composites, ceramics, and even wood. Once computerized with Mat.db, these diverse data compilations are accessed by Mat.db via a common user interface.

The system has two fundamental components: Mat.db (the database management system itself) and database, (collections of materials property data on 5-1/4-in floppy diskettes). Any database developed for use with Mat.db can be read by anyone with the Mat.db system. Becauses of this flexibility, Mat.db serves as an efficient communications tool for distributing large amounts of computerized materials property data in a format than can be immediately utilized by the recipient.

Future plans include mini and mainframe versions, support for SQL user interfaces, support for CD-ROM, links with artificial intelligence programming languages, and integration with finite element programs or other calculation type programs that require material property data as input.

For additional information contact: Timothy L. Gall (216) 338-5151 ASM International Metals Park, OH 44073

AMDBS: Advanced Materials Data Base System

For purposes of computerizing materials information, the ASTM identifies three generic material classes: metals, ceramics, and polymers, and the three associated composite material classes (metal-matrix, etc.). The present AMDBS system is focused on polymer-matrix composites. In particular those using graphite, aramid, and glass fibers, in both thermoset-and thermoplastic-matrix materials, are emphasized.

Since many repairs also involve metal alloy components, the initial AMDBS release contains database with mechanical and physical properties data from MIL-HDBK 5E in addition to MIL-HDBK 17A and AFWAL properties data for advanced composite materials. A limited collection of manufacturers' data for neat resin and single-strand fibers is also provided, making five databases in the present system. There are also three distinct classes of information supported by AMDBS: design data, lab test data, and analysis data.

The information necessary to describe an ASTM test (the material sources, processing, physical environment, instrumentation, and all the other data specified directly or indirectly by Committee E49) is not normally of interest to the designer. Only a subset is required for design work. However, the designer requires data from many different property tests collected in one record for comprehensive material evaluation.

Yet another class of material information is required for analysis, which can take the form of pseudo properties that are in fact parameters in a material model collected together with actual properties. The scope of the AMDBS includes all three classes, but the exchange of data among the three is limited to exports in specific directions and formats. ASTM and IGES standards for material data exchange were used where available even if only in draft form.

AMDBS is currently available only over a terminal-based network of VAX work stations. For additional information contact: Dr. Edward L. Stanton (714) 540-8900 PDA Engineering, Inc. 2975 Redhill Ave. Costa Mesa, CA 92626

CAMPUS: Computer Aided Material

Preselection by Uniform Standards

Under the name CAMPUS, the four leading German chemical manufacturers--BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, and Huls--have jointly developed standards PC-DOS software for a plastics database on floppy disk. Other plastics manufacturers are welcome to use the database. The customer is also in a position to build up his own comprehensive plastics information system on his own computer, using the indivial floppy disks. The data management programs, the database structure, and the type of characteristic data are identical for each of the different plastics manufacturers.

Normally, a database is judged by technical aspects such as speed, size, comfort, and user friendliness. However, the quality of a search depends on the quality of the data stored in the database. The data needs to be informative, reliable, up-to-data, and comparable.

Campus contains data on the production of specimens and the following property ranges: processing, mechanical, thermal, electrical, optical, reaction to external influences, and other properties. Although the table was essentially compiled for thermoplastic molding compounds, it can also be used for thermosetting plastics, where applicable. By observing the ISO guidelines, this national (German) set of values is geared to the requirements of international standardization. For additional information contact:

Dr. Jurgen Schmitz 49-214-3031482 (Fax) KU-A-KFC, Geb. B207 D-5090 Leverkusen West Germany or Kishor Mehta (412) 777-2804 Mobay Corp. Mobay Rd. Pittsburgh, PA 15205-9741


Engineering Properties On Screen

EPOS, the computer software program of LNP Engineering Plastics, is no newcomer to the database field. The database, which is offered free to customers, was developed in 1985 by ICI, and since then has been successfully used in seven different languages throughout Europe.

Like other database, EPOS is an electronic material selection program that searches the range of products for the best materials match for an application. The user enters property ranges for the most important criteria from a series of menus, and quickly reduced the numbers of materials in the range to a manageable number. What makes EPOS different from databases offered by other materials suppliers is the comprehensiveness of its data and products range. Hundreds of LNP composites are included for consideration in a simple, easy-to-use presentation.

EPOS was designed to be user friendly, hardware compatible, and easily maintained. The program can be run on most PCs with at least 192 KB RAM and two floppy disk drives or a hard drive. A database of nearly 600 composite materials is included, and over 50 different material properties are defined in the system, making it what LNP says is the most comprehensive database distributed free of charge to customers. In addition, EPOS contains data on chemical resistance for over 750 different chemicals. Price information by the pound and by the cubic inch is also included. For addtional information contact:

Carlos Carreno (215) 644-5200 LNP Engineering Plastics 412 King St. Malvern, PA 19355


Underwriters Laboratories

Data Services

Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an international leader in independent third party product safety certification, has developed a plastics information resource available exclusively to its clients through a new UL data services (ULDS) program.

The program has been designed to allo access to UL's database resources through trained researchers. Computer-directed searches are conducted that provide written reports of the information requested.

The plastics query database (PQD) can answer such questions as:

* What grades of Nylon are rated 140[degress]C with a 94V-0 flame rating and are available from listeen in the U.S.?

* What are all the elastomeric materials with 94V-0 flame ratings?

* Which polypropylene materials with a temperature index of 120[degress]C or greater are available from listees in Germany?

* Which recognized PVC materials meet direct support requirements according to UL-746C?

In addition to the PQD, UL has developed an appliance wiring materials (AWM) query database with similar search features. AWM database provides answers to questions such as:

* What wire styles are suitable for use as internal wiring of appliances, rated 105[degress]C, 300 V, and are oil-resistant?

* What are the construction details of AWMS Style 1007?

* Which AWM listees for Style 2464 are located in Pennsylavania?

Registration with ULDS also provides access to all UL's nonproprietary listing, recognition, and classification (LIS) records, including the most recent listings not printed in UL's product directories.

The LIS database responds to requests such as:

* Provide a list of all recognized flame retardants and color concentrates under the company name General Color and Chemical.

* Provides a list of all companies and products undet the category "coatings for use on recognized printed wiring boards (QMJU2)."

For additional information contact:

Jerri Cavagnaro (516) 271-6200 Underwriters Laboratories 1285 Walt Whitman Rd. Melville, NY 11747
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Author:Dieckmann, Dale
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Article Type:directory
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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