Materials Update

June 19, 2002

Materials Sourcing Tool Gets Upgrade

Global materials information provider IDES is adding a sourcing feature to its current website lineup. Aimed at making molders' lives easier, this function will enable users to combine the materials selection and sourcing processes.

For more on virtual sourcing, IMM spoke with Mike Kmetz, president of IDES. "What are designers and molders looking for when they begin the process of selecting and sourcing materials?" asks Kmetz. "They want the lowest-cost material that will still meet application requirements. They need sourcing information such as where to buy, availability, pricing, and samples. Finally, to make an informed decision, they must know what equivalent materials exist, how to process the materials, and what the design parameters are for the chosen material."

Molders currently find materials information on material supplier or distributor websites, Web sources such IDES, and Pocket Specs books published by IMM and IDES. These sources can be used to select materials and find equivalent resins, as well as obtain information on design and processing.

By adding Sourcing to its Prospector products, IDES believes it is addressing the needs of molders and designers for greater efficiency and ease of use. "This feature provides manufacturer contact information, distributor contacts, RFQ capabilities, and eventually will offer resin ordering," says Kmetz. Ordering will be accomplished by integrating the IDES system with distributor and supplier systems.

"Sourcing a resin is one of the most challenging aspects of developing a plastic product," he says. In feedback from customers, IDES has put together the following list of questions faced when sourcing materials:

  • Am I using the most cost-effective plastic?  
  • What is the price and availability of this plastic?  
  • Who are all the distributors that I can buy from and how do I get in touch with them, quickly?  
  • Where can I get a sample in a hurry?  
  • Who do I contact to get more help?  
  • Where can I get a data sheet with processing information?

"With the added sourcing feature," he says, "we now have the capabilities to provide a molder with one place where all these questions can begin to be answered."

A Walk Through the Process
Here is an example giving the step-by-step details of the new feature:

  • Step 1: Begin the material selection process. There are nearly 40,000 materials cataloged in the IDES database. Prospector has detailed information for all of them. Let's say you are interested in a specific nylon, Zytel 101. You click on a product name search first.  
  • Step 2: Choose product family. Click on the Zytel family of products then click Search to see results.  
  • Step 3: Click Shopping Cart for Zytel 101. Review a table of results, click a data sheet if necessary, and then click the shopping cart icon for Zytel 101 to see sourcing options.  
  • Step 4: Review sourcing page for supplier/distributors. The main sourcing page shows detailed information on the supplier and distributors of this material. From this page the user has many options. He or she can contact the supplier or distributors directly, send a mass RFQ to all supplier/distributor contacts at one time, and order samples online.

Sourcing will eventually include full online resin ordering, live chat directly with supplier and distributor customer service, and real-time pricing and availability. For samples, IDES has partnered with a major North American resin distributor to fulfill requests. Generally, the requests are filled within 2 hours during normal business days.

The sourcing feature is available in a new product from IDES called

Prospector Express, which includes material supplier and distributor contact information for nearly 39,000 resins from 390 global suppliers. The site can be navigated by generic family, manufacturer, product name, or grade.

While Prospector Express is targeted towards molding professionals looking for a specific product or data sheet, designers without an exact material in mind can turn to Prospector Pro. This tool has the same sourcing feature and database search capabilities as that of Express. Searches can be based on properties, applications, requirements, or end-use demands. Prospector Express is $49.95 per license per year; Prospector Pro is $495 per license per year. To learn more about these features, visit

Contact information
IDES Inc., Laramie, WY
(307) 742-9227;


Comments (0)

Please log in or to post comments.
  • Oldest First
  • Newest First
Loading Comments...