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UPDATED: One-stop material specification: UL acquires IDES

IDES (Laramie, WY), creator and curator of the authoritative resins database for the plastics industry, has been acquired by UL (Northbrook, IL), the global independent safety science company. Sara Greenstein, UL's senior VP, and Mike Kmetz, president and founder of IDES, told PlasticsToday that the deal reflects the consummation of a longstanding appreciation for the complementary data and clients the two businesses served.

IDES (Laramie, WY), creator and curator of the authoritative resins database for the plastics industry, has been acquired by UL (Northbrook, IL), the global independent safety science company. Sara Greenstein, UL's senior VP, and Mike Kmetz, president and founder of IDES, told PlasticsToday that the deal reflects the consummation of a longstanding appreciation for the complementary data and clients the two businesses served.

IDES' popular Prospector online service, which combines plastic materials data sheets, was initially offered on floppy disks after the company's 1986 founding before a portion of it was sold in a printed format as the Pocket Performance Specs for Thermoplastics, an annual print edition of the data sheets launched by Injection Molding Magazine and IDES in 1996. After the continued rise of the Internet, as well as increased printing costs, Prospector became 100% digital, although Kmetz told PlasticsToday he still gets inquiries for the old Pocket Specs books.

In conjunction with the acquisition announcement, UL unveiled the next-generation version of the Prospector online service, which combines plastic materials data sheets and UL plastic identification reports within a single searchable interface. "Right out of the box, we wanted to announce something significant," Kmetz said, noting that by "far and away" one of the most popular requests by IDES' 350,000-plus users was a greater integration of UL data into Prospector.

"We had included some UL information on materials in the past, asking for it from suppliers, but it was sporadic," Kmetz said. "Now we have the information directly from the source."

IDES Prospector is widely accepted as the industry standard for plastic material specification and is used by 319,000 design engineers and processors during polymers selection.

In a release, UL said individuals and companies seeking plastic materials on the basis of their mechanical properties and other attributes can now visit IDES.com and find the polymer data sheet and UL verified data in one place.

"We have known each other for quite a while," Greenstein told PlasticsToday. "We're recognized as two trusted sources in the industry, and we saw some highly complementary capabilities for our data. This goes beyond the tool; Mike's team and technology help UL expedite the flow of information. It's a big win for clients and customers, we're already getting an enthusiastic response. We view this as the place for manufacturers and engineers to find what they need."

Search queries and results will now include data from UL's plastics recognition yellow cards, including independently verified materials attributes like small scale flammability and ignition, mechanical, electrical, and short term thermal tests. More than 60,000 different plastic materials have yellow cards, which are trusted by product makers and specifiers for qualification.

Greenstein said in a release that UL is "thrilled" to add IDES. "The Prospector tool gives UL a dynamic medium for converting our data into accessible intelligence that can inform and speed decisions throughout the plastics supply chain," Greenstein said.

In the same release, Kmetz called the merger "an exciting combination that is bearing fruit already," noting that the Prospector upgrade as part of UL is a "tremendous milestone" and will be "the first of many more to come."

Speaking on potential future projects, without the ability to offer specfic details, Kmetz and Greenstein said they will be in consultation with their numerous users on where the combined business should go next. "The goal is to help product makers take what is an abundant amount of information and turn all that data into useful intelligence," Greenstein said. "Combining is the first step, but not the last step."

"We know there are significant user needs beyond plastics," Kmetz said.

While yellow cards can still be found at ULiQ, UL IDES Prospector will eventually become the exclusive resource for yellow card information. ULiQ is to remain the destination for UL list searches in other product categories, including appliance wiring materials, printed wiring boards, switches, electrical insulation systems and restricted substances.

Greenstein said IDES's leadership and team will "stay intact and grow," and the data, combined officially late on the night of July 24, will continue to live at the IDES.com URL.

TAGS: Materials
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