Selecting plastics without stress

Most design engineers have a good deal of knowledge about the materials they work with every day. But when it comes to new materials, the sheer amount of information around, the job of tracing its original sources, as well as data reliability, become a serious problem.

Materials databases, even in their most primitive form, are intended to address some of these difficulties. But to be really useful to the engineer, materials information needs to be easily accessible and objective, which requires something a bit more sophisticated. Rapra Technology, has now produced an answer: the first knowledge-based system for the intelligent selection of plastics on a CD-ROM.

KBS Plastics can capture experience and `good practice’, often built up over many years by individuals in its expert system. It provides all the software needed to create a customised in-house system, as well as Rapra’s own technical literature on thermoplastics, a multimedia encyclopedia with in-depth data on materials, properties, processes, finished products and environment and analysis.

The `Activity Modules’ section comprises a collection of separate programs for materials selection, design, mould filling simulation, identification of sensitive issues in plastics, hardness and general unit conversion. In addition, there is commercial and technical information on instruments used for testing plastics.

Best of all, design engineers will be able to take advantage of the many years of Rapra’s own problem solving expertise, based on its technical consultancy over the years. For example, Rapra did a study of some 5000 failures collected over 25 years. Two general observations emerged: more than 80% of failures could be classified as brittle fracture, and more than 80% of the failures could have been avoided by the application of public domain rules, criteria, information and data. Rapra has encapsulated many of these important rules within KBS Plastics, and for the engineers who are working with these materials, this system could be well worth the investment. This new `electronic consultant’ can be rented at £3000 per year. Rapra members get a price reduction.

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