Where would our world be today without coatings scientists involved in research and development? It has been their vision and endless persistence throughout recent history that has provided consumers with everything from decorative and aesthetic coatings for furniture, personal appliances, automobiles and bridges, to the color-transforming ceiling paint known as Simply Magic.

The process of developing new and improved chemical products to enhance consumer lifestyles continues today, perhaps more intensively than ever. In the chemical industry, like in every other global industry in the 21st century, product innovations and the speed to market of those innovations are critical to every company's success. At the same time, the proliferation of supplier companies, chemical formulations and raw materials make it more difficult than ever to "get out of the blocks" on a new formulation project. Complicating the process is the constant merger and acquisition trend, the divestitures and business segment reshuffling and the renaming of corporate business groups. Getting accurate and timely information on the "state-of-the-science" for raw materials can be incredibly difficult and complicated.

Prior to the 1990s, we utilized the limited and sometimes out-of-date resources (filing cabinets and bookshelves of technical documents) contained within the four walls of our organizations. We also relied on the relationships we built with key or preferred suppliers in the industry to acquire information on what these existing partners considered state-of-the-science. This conventional process of identifying and collecting raw material information to be used in designing the next breakthrough product typically took weeks or months before the actual design and testing process could begin.

Over the last six to seven years, the Internet has become a new resource for research chemists, providing access to a wealth of online information previously available only in paper form, and often not included in widely known library indexes. Today, most of the raw material suppliers in this industry have their own websites. These sites usually contain product and service information, general corporate data, investor relation's aids and general corporate brochures. While it can involve significant effort to comb through disparate information frameworks to finally get at technical data sheets, MSDSs or starting-point formulations, the research chemist is at least one step ahead of where he or she would have ever been without this tool.

In addition, various Internet search engines such as Yahoo and Google can sometimes serve as a basic starting point in searching for potential raw materials. However, unless one is aware of the name of a particular product that meets their needs, the chances of locating the specific product-related information within the World Wide Web is slim. A search on "acrylic" in Google, for example, yields approximately 2,800,000 results. More importantly, many of the technical document repositories that exist behind password-protected login screens and corporate firewalls are inaccessible to Google's search engine.

What information tool can speed access to raw material information? What tool is most likely to help the chemist develop the best new product formulation in the industry? What if there were an online library that combined the communication power of the Internet and the accessibility of the technical know-how of the industry and its suppliers? This search engine would be based on an industry-specific, single-point database covering all suppliers and raw materials, and offering search methodologies built from the perspective of the coatings chemist. This tool would have to be intuitive and timesaving for the formulators and chemists. Such a solution exists and can be found in the Chemidex® Cybrary® at www.chemidex.com.

Started in 1997, Chemidex is a recognized market leader in raw material product information retrieval and sales-lead generation for the coatings market and global chemical industry. The Chemidex Cybrary is a knowledge-based service that speeds formulators' product development while simultaneously enhancing chemical suppliers' sales efforts. The company's service web enables the sales cycle and invention process to speed information delivery and reduce the time-to-market for new products. Chemidex's proprietary search engines enable formulators to locate raw materials based on end-use application, physical property criteria and starting-point formulation performance criteria.

Access to the Chemidex Cybrary is free and is available to everyone within the coatings industry (participating raw material suppliers pay a fee to have their products included in the Cybrary). There are several key components within the design of Chemidex that make it a compelling and powerful tool.

Chemidex connects users directly to the technical data sheets, MSDSs, starting-point formulations, corporate brochures and other technical documents distributed by the raw material suppliers. Unlike the traditional filing cabinets found within the R&D labs, the Chemidex Cybrary is comprehensive, and in most cases, connects users directly to the document repositories contained deep within the suppliers' firewall-protected computer systems. This means that the moment a raw material supplier updates technical literature, it is immediately available within the Chemidex Cybrary - providing users with evergreen documentation. For the remaining raw material suppliers, our process allows their documents and literature to be updated within a day of changes or updates.

The Chemidex Cybrary is designed to make it easy to find the information you want. As a result, Chemidex has designed very unique and powerful search engines to enable formulators and chemists to easily and quickly pinpoint the most relevant raw materials based on formulation and application requirements. These search engines include the ability to search by Company Name, Product Type/Property and Keywords.

The Company Name search engine is perfect when you know the supplier of the raw materials needed. A click of the Company Name button results in a comprehensive list of their products, followed by brief product descriptions. Once products of interest are found, simply select them to find the most current product information provided directly from the raw material suppliers' websites.

Select the Product Type/Property Search button when you do not know the suppliers of the types of raw materials you need. Whether interested in resins, additives, colorants, solvents or even feedstock items, you will find a list of the specific product categories available. Your search-type category can be as generic as "show me all thickeners/rheology modifiers" or as specific as "show me the thickeners/rheology modifiers that are urethane associate thickeners." You then have the option of adding additional physical property parameters such as pH, flash point and % solids based on your specific needs before seeing the list of suppliers and their specific products that meet your needs.

The most powerful component of the Chemidex search engine is the Keyword Search. The keyword search offers a comprehensive and completely up-to-date filing cabinet in the lab with all the technical literature from more than 100 of the leading raw material suppliers. It is like simply speaking or typing keywords to describe the topic or product of interest and having all the relevant information being handed to you in seconds.

Imagine opening a 20- to 30-page document to view its contents and having the keywords jump out from the page to allow quick evaluation to determine the true relevance of the information. That is the ultimate power of the Chemidex Cybrary.

In addition to just finding the products of most relevance and interest, Chemidex takes you the next step by allowing you to view additional supporting literature such as MSDS or starting-point formulations, save the document for future review, or even communicate directly with the raw material suppliers with a click of a button. For one of the most reliable and dependable methods to request samples, select the "Request Sample" button. Chemidex not only sends your request immediately to the specific individual responsible for processing your request within the specified raw material supplier, but also provides you with all the specific contact information for that person, including e-mail and phone for follow up if necessary. Assuming no special instructions are provided to expedite delivery, typical expectations for delivery of a sample requested through the Chemidex Cybrary is three to five business days.

Chemidex dramatically improves the first stage of the development process and overall project efficiency for those formulators and chemists that use it. The rapid, intelligent access to chemical information that Chemidex brings becomes a source of advantage to a company, as well as a huge building block for the research chemists.

To learn more about the Chemidex Cybrary or to register for free, visit www. chemidex.com.

Chemidex Reloads for Next-Generation Cybrary, Early 2004

The many significant enhancements include the following:
  • Search Engines - dive into the data faster than ever by combining the functionality of all search engines within a specific search query.

  • Search through formulations based on intended application, company name and keywords.

  • Save search queries for future inquiries.

  • Sample Requests - quickly request samples directly from a search results list.

  • Track sample request history.

  • View the entire Cybrary in your primary language. Initial languages offered to include English, German, Italian, Spanish, French and Chinese (simplified Mandarin). English will be the default document language if the document to be viewed is not available in your primary language.