A new website could save even the smartest engineers valuable time in their search for the perfect materials. Matmatch is a free database that allows users to input key qualities of what they need and then get paired up with a provider.
CEO Melissa Albeck is no stranger to the materials and engineering game. She's been coordinating the "business side" of engineering for over twenty years, so she's had plenty of experience with what works and what doesn't. She said Matmatch largely resulted from solving problems to what doesn't work.
"There are a few things that make us different," Albeck said in an interview with Interesting Engineering. "We're definitely the most comprehensive. We have over 90,000 materials so far and we're looking to grow the content... We also don't include just metals. We already have polymers and graphene. Access to a variety of materials, that's the backbone of the company."
Here's how it works. Users put in terms or phrases like "materials with a density greater than 1,500 kg/m cubed." They can even include their location in the search to help narrow down providers. Matmatch then provides a list of materials that could be an optimal fit for the project. All that's left for users to do is to peruse the list of providers and select the source supplier they need. Engineers can search by thermal, mechanical, and chemical properties to weigh out exactly what they need.
One of the most important features -- particularly for aspiring engineers still in school or worried about budgeting that valuable grant or funding -- is that Matmatch is a free database. It gives users free access to a buyer; other popular sites put up paywalls after a certain number of searches or when looking for particular materials.
The Matmatch team spent time researching the materials matching industry and found that 80 percent of the engineers and scientists interviewed just used Google to figure out the materials that suited the desired properties. Furthermore, Albeck said 75 percent of those engineers don't even find the materials they need.
Some of Matmatch's biggest suppliers are names most engineers know: Alcoa, ThyssenKrupp, Plansee, and VDM Metals. Albeck told Interesting Engineering that Matmatch won't just benefit users; businesses have a lot to gain by becoming a supplier for the website.
"Those [bigger names] are just the launch partners," Albeck said. "We're looking to get suppliers of all materials to make us the go-to place. We're open to small, big, and medium-sized suppliers. Matmatch is particularly attractive to specialized suppliers and for a lot of companies that need to reach a wide audience but don't know how to get one."
Albeck noted that while the service is open to anyone with internet access; however, the website currently has a focus on those living in Europe and the United States. The website will go live on September 20, and time will tell if it becomes the world's premier materials partner. However, with over 90,000 partners and a well-known metals company as its founder, Matmatch is certainly on its way to becoming an engineer's go-to website.
Matmatch officially launches September 20, 2017.