Originally Published MPMN
Originally Published MPMN September 2004
On-line Platform Targets Users of Plastics
Grant Wilson, Business Development, Medical
In the world of on-line communities, the Omnexus Web site is where plastics suppliers meet the end-use industries. SpecialChem (Paris, France), an on-line innovation and solutions hub, expanded its coverage by acquiring the existing Omnexus platform from major plastics suppliers in December 2003. On June 11, the company launched a revamped version of the site.
The new Omnexus site represents the end-use industries in which plastics are most employed. These include the automotive, packaging, medical, electronics, and telecommunications sectors. The site is now devoted to articles about the latest technologies, polymer profiles, and trend updates.
Users can also access technical support from suppliers. More than 75,000 industry professionals are registered on the site, with 3000 new users added each month, according to Christophe Cabarry, founder of SpecialChem. With the added support, OEMs receive the help that they need while the suppliers open doors for extra business.
"OEMs are downsizing and have cut the product development resources," says Cabarry. "At the same time, suppliers of plastics and elastomers are reducing their technical support, which they used to offer customers for free."
In addition to support, Omnexus houses a variety of industry information. The site's innovation section organizes topics by applications, grades and materials, environment, and other categories. R&D data include patent details and papers relevant to specific industries. Materials are classified by common themes such as transparency, barrier and thermal properties, and adhesion. A global news service tracks market trends and industry events. "A team of experts scans the entire industry globally [to provide information to the site]," says Cabarry. "They spot the latest innovations from publications, conferences, patents, [and] press releases, and [keep tabs on] relationships among large producers and suppliers."
The site's polymer selector allows users to choose materials based on desired properties. A list of suitable polymers is created, showing a profile and cost index. Users can select from a list of properties to further narrow the choices, which are compared on a graphical chart. Strengths, limitations, applications, chemical resistance, and processibility are shown for each polymer.
For design advice, an on-line support feature connects the user with an expert. This area of the site focuses on metal replacement and transparency; a number of solutions already are available on-line. Data sheets identify needs and problems that medical engineers commonly face.
"OEMs can use the new Omnexus to find inspiration for [product] innovations, and to keep up with trends," says Cabarry. "Most users are not experts in plastics. We can help them to accelerate development and innovation."
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