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Fast access and exchange of materials data between research, design and manufacturing teams working on different sites worldwide, is a challenging issue to be addressed during the product cycle in materials engineering. Another important issue is safeguarding high investments made into materials research, meaning that experimental data must be properly conserved, easily be located and quickly be retrieved. Materials databases (MDBs) are powerful tools to address these problems.
Various categories of MDBs exist for different requirements, for example containing standards data on metallic alloys and plastics or more complex database applications needed for design analysis. MDBs are basic elements for establishing knowledge based and expert systems .
With the emergence of the Internet, the capability of MDBs increased. Web-enabled MDBs provide a more centralized management and conservation of Materials data. Finding and accessing the required data is faster than to search for them in a traditional manner, e.g. from handbooks or Microsoft Excel files. In particular the dissemination of public research results has improved, as the data are accessible over the World Wide Web. However, only a few web-enabled materials applications exist at present on the market. Examples are:
- the Materials databases] of NIMS (National Institute for Materials Science) in Japan offers materials data.
- Matweb is a freely accessible online database with technical data sheets for over 69,000 materials.
- IDES provides a free online database with access to 75,000 data sheets on plastics