Summer ’97 Volume 3.2

Using the Internet to find information for product design

In today’s time-constrained workplace, you can spend a great deal of valuable time trying to find the information you need to make product design decisions. What materials will be most cost-effective and meet my requirements? What new technologies can I utilize to develop this product more efficiently? Questions like these send individuals on an endless search for information.

Unfortunately, not many have the luxury of time. Unforgiving deadlines and customer demands make the ability to find information quickly a necessity.

Over the past few years, the Internet has rapidly evolved as an ideal tool for locating this needed data. However, with the incredible vastness of the Internet, knowing where to go is key to success.

Currently, a growing number of sites cater to the needs of product designers and engineers. From materials selection and design software to educational programs and article archives, the Internet can provide a great deal ot information at the click of a mouse.

Materials Selection

There are a number of company-specific sites on the Internet that allow you to search product lines by brand name, intended application, and properties. These include: GE Plastics (, Bayer Corporation (, BASF (, Polymerland (, and M.A. Hanna (

When searching for materials from a multiple number of vendors, there are several online material databases to visit. Some offer free access to information, while others require a fee tor their information. Some of these include: IDES (, and Plaspec (

In addition, the Material Engineering Center at Dow Plastics offers its PAMS (Processes and Materials Selection) system on the Internet to help designers match material and fabrication requirements with product and economic requirements (

Supplier and product selection

In addition to materials selection, there are several sites that allow users to locate and interact with suppliers of products and services. Some of these sites support online ordering as well.

Developages ( allows users to locate companies that can assist with all areas of product development - from design and prototyping through sales and logistics.

The Plastics Network ( features a Sourcing Center that allows users to search for specific plastics-related products and services. The site, which provides secure online ordering, enables users to compare vendors of similar products and services to get the best value.

Articles, Educational Information, and Networking

In addition to sourcing vendors and selecting materials, the Internet makes it easy to locate article archives, register for educational programs, and network with other professionals.

Many industry trade associations have Web sites that provide a number of resources for designers. For example, the Web site of the PD3 (Product Design and Development Division) of the Society of Plastics Engineers ( contains a Design Forum or chat area where users can discuss design challenges and exchange advice. They also provide a schedule of educational programs and links to helpful design articles.

The IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America - provides similar links, as well as opportunities to locate reference materials, job openings and suppliers.

Tom Rodak is Marketing Manager at Commerx, Inc., which developed The Plastics Network.

Datapoint enters the information superhighway

It is our pleasure to announce that Datapoint Testing Services has joined the World Wide Web. Our vehicle can be found in the fast lane of the information superhighway at

Our site is packed with useful information. You can read about the services we provide and the laboratory equipment we use, view our complete test catalog, even read Datapoint. We will be frequently updating the site, to keep you informed of the latest activities and changes taking place at our facilities.

Our web site gives you access to detailed information about our services. View our test catalog to learn more about each test we offer, including how the test is performed, the test standards that are followed (ASTM or ISO, where applicable), the number and type of specimens we need to perform the test, and more. You can even download an order form.

Read about our Research Support Services: our commitment to the research community to be your satellite laboratory. Our Proficiency Testing Programs are also described. Participate in these interlaboratory studies to examine how your lab stands in comparison to others in the industry.

See our newsletter, Datapoint, in full color and with hot links. You can read the latest issue before it arrives in the mail, or view back issues that you wish you hadn’t thrown away. You will be able to access issues by month, or by searching for a keyword.

We hope that you find our new Web site a useful resource. So the next time you’re cruising the Information Superhighway, and getting nowhere in rush hour traffic, switch into the fast lane where things are really happening, and there are no speed limits —

Good news for ABAQUS users

With the support of HKS, the devel opers of the ABAQUS suite of analysis software, Datapoint Testing Services is now offering material modeling data for use in ABAQUS. “We at HKS are very pleased to have Datapoint Testing Services as a source for polymer characterizations to be used in ABAQUS.” states Mark Bohm, Senior Staff Engineer at HKS.

For details on the specific models that we offer for ABAQUS,view the test catalog on our web site (or the ‘97 Price List), under “Structural Analysis TestPaks®”.

Mechanical testing enhancements

Recent enhancements of our mechani cal testing capabilities allow testing at an expanded temperature range, from -40 C to 150 “C. Creep and fatigue testing can be performed at temperatures up to 100 “C

Upcoming events

Bridge the Gap Conference. Co-sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers Product Design & Development Division and the Industrial Designers Society of America Central New York Chapter. Sept. 4-6, Buffalo, NY.

IBEC 97. International Body Engineering Conference and Exhibition. Sept. 30-Oct. 2, Stuttgart, Germany.

Blow Moulding Technologies for the 21st Century. ‘97 Blow Moulding RETEC. Oct. 1-
3, Boucherville, Quebec.

The 1997 Moldflow User Group Conference (MUG97). Oct. 6-8, Detroit, Ml.

North American C-MOLD Users’ Conference. Oct. 19-21, Providence, RI.

Mechanical Properties of Polymers and Composites, 2nd Edition

Lawrence E. Neilsen and Robert F Landel. Marcel Dekker, Inc.: New York, 1994. ISBN# 0-8247-8964-4.

This book presents a valuable resource for engineers and designers seeking to apply structural analysis and other advanced methods to the design of plastic parts. The reader learns what to expect for the mechanical properties of polymers and develops a grasp of how plastics respond to various applied stress conditions. The book introduces mechanical tests and polymer transitions, moving onward into chapters on elastic behavior, creep and stress relaxation, dynamic mechanical properties, stress- strain behavior and strength. It also covers abrasion, fatigue, friction and stress cracking. Additionally, the effects of fillers and fibers on these properties are considered.

By seeking to correlate these properties back to molecular structure, the reader gains an understanding of how to select the right kind of plastic for a particular application. Further, the reader learns what kinds of properties are needed to elicit the desired behavior of a plastic product and how to interpret the results in the fullest sense. By knowing what properties result in a particular behavioral characteristic, the engineer can design experimental strategies to maximum benefit.

In-depth coverage is given to time-dependent behavior and visco-elasticity, an issue which is intrinsic to understanding the behavior of polymers. The book also covers composites and the unique set of problems associated with these highly complex materials.

For the plastics CAE analyst, the book proves invaluable in the selection of the right material models to simulate a particular phenomenon and also to evaluate the quality of material properties that are used in the models. By gaining a knowledge of the expected behavioral trends of these materials, the pitfalls of unrealistic material models can be avoided. This book is clear and concise, permitting the reader to draw immediate practical benefit toward solving day-to-day problems. Accompanied by an extensive and up-to-date bibliography, the book presents an excellent starting point for more detailed study should the need exist.

This book was provided for review by Marcel Dekker Inc. (212-696-9000,, and reviewed by Hubert Lobo, president of Datapoint Testing Services.

Internet? Intranet? What’s it all about?

By now you’ve probably heard about the Internet in one way or another. Maybe you’ve listened to talk about the Web’ or the Information Superhighway’ or the ‘lnfobahn’, or perhaps seen all those funny dots and letters on your TV screen during commercials.

The Internet is a legacy of DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which originally developed it as a way to manage strategic defense communications in a post-nuclear war environment.

The Internet we know today is a much different creature - a free-wheeling international communications net, enabling text, image, audio, and even video transmission throughout the world. It has grown to the point where nearly anyone can connect to the net through a modem or through an employer’s high speed data connection, using a PC, a network computer, or even a TV set. For a moderate fee you can gain access to electronic mail, usenet newsgroups, audio broadcasts, and a host ot other things. An entire industy has sprung up to offer Internet connections and services.

The largest share of activites on the internet are those dealing with the World Wide Web (WWW, or ‘The Web’) - a graphical environment where programs called ‘browsers’ are used to navigate through reams of information stored on ‘servers’. Two of the more popular browsers are Internet Explorer (from Microsoft), and Navigator (from Netscape). The basis for the Web is the idea of ‘hypertext’ that words or objects on your computer screen provide links to underlying or related information. This concept was developed by Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN European physics lab in Geneva.

The information provided to Web browsers is mostly in the form of pages written in HTML (HyperText Markup Language). An HTML file tells the browser how to format received text and graphics on the user’s computer screen. In addition most browsers can accept ‘plug- ins’. These are add-on programs that give the browser the extra bells and whistles needed for viewing and listening to multimedia presentations, which might include sound files, movies, animation, or VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) scenes.

Many companies now use Web sites to advertise their business and provide technical support to their customers. Universities, government agencies, and organizations use sites as data repositories and as general- purpose communications tools. Individuals create ‘Home Page sites as a means of self- expression or as a way to exhibit their avocations.

To help find these sites, there are searchable databases with names like Yahoo, Lycos, AltaVista, and Hot-Bot. Some sites, such as Yahoo (, also provide a hierarchical subject index to aid in searching. Most searches are based on keywords, and with so many people and companies registering their site locations, trying to find a site can be a daunting task. Generally, the best way to find a specific site or subject is to use a search engine that allows logical or boolean searches.

Some companies are setting up ‘intranets’, using browser technology to manage information on their own internal computer networks. An intranet allows business and technical information to be shared quickly and efficiently. Some intranets allow limited access to the company’s suppliers, who can then access things like CAD files, product specifications, and manufacturing schedules quickly and easily.

If you are interested in learning more about the Web and the Internet, there are many books available, and many technical magazines now run regular columns pointing to specific useful information. One of the best places for information is of course the Web, where the Yahoo index on ‘Computers and Internet’ links to reams of information on topics ranging from the history of the Internet, how to create your own Web page, and how to make Internet phone calls, to FTP file transfers, chat rooms, and Usenet newsgroups.

Jim Rioux and Steve Spanoudis are with Lexmark Corporation’s Plastics Technology Lab in Louisville KY