Database for Engineering plastics 1990-2003

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Database for Engineering plastics 1990-2003

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Database for Engineering plastics 1990-2003

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            Data source: Chinese Science Citation Database(CSCD)

Database for engineering plastics 1990 – 2003

Li Yingyong1*, Zhao Yingli1

1. Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, P. R. China


Abstract: The database collected over 170 types of common engineering plastics during 1990 – 2003, covering 20,000 brands and  15 categories manufactured by 4,000 chemical companies from 50 countries and regions. To optimize data usability, all the raw data have been standardized, in which items of the same nature were converted into the same units. The database presents a holistic view of the engineering plastics field. It informs the R&D and production staff of the characteristics of engineering plastics, thereby facilitating proper selection and molding of synthetic resin.

Keywords: engineering plastics; resin; brand; property

Database Profile:

Chinese title

1990 – 2003 年工程塑料数据库

English title

Database for Engineering plastics 1990 – 2003

Corresponding author

Li Yingyong (

Data author(s)

Li Yingyong, Zhao Yingli

Time range

1990 – 2003

Geographical scope

Around the world

Data format


Data service system



Source(s) of funding

Informatization Construction Special Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (INFO_115-C01-SDB1-01); Program of Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission (07DZ22904 & 11DZ2292000)



Database composition

The database is made up of one MS Excel document that contains two sheets: one sheet stores the brands info of engineering plastics and the other stores the properties info. The former contains 15,197 entries of data, and the latter contains 42,244 entries.

 1. Introduction

The plastics industry boomed in China in the 1990s, when the annual production of synthetic resin reached about 8 million tons (ranking fifth in the world), and more than 15 million tons of plastics were yielded during four consecutive years (ranking second in the world)1. In particular, the application of engineering plastics has maintained a rapidly growing momentum. Engineering  plastics is a type of plastics which can be used as structural material. It can withstand mechanical stress under a wide range of temperature, and can be used in harsh chemical and physical environments.

In recent years as research capacity developed, engineering plastics with a variety of performances emerged to meet the growing market demand, spanning various categories and brands. To process and import these data into database will greatly facilitate professionals’ search or query conducted in the plastics industry. It is on this basis that the project was initiated, as we believe it is of importance for the plastics industry and beyond.

There have been a number of plastics databases abroad, of which the most influential are PLASPEC and CAMPUS2. PLASPEC is the first online plastics database (, with patent protection in the US. PLASPEC contains information of nearly 12,800 categories, brands or suppliers in  the US. It provides free services enabling material of a specific type to be retrieved based on more than 90 performances and 150 properties. Of strong applicability, it permits searches via product suppliers, physical properties, mechanical properties, optical properties and electrical properties. CAMPUS was jointly built by four major German plastics manufacturers (BASF, Bayer, Hoechst and Huls) in 1987, with performance data imported by manufacturers themselves. This feature, together with the open access format, rapidly expanded its influence, attracting an increasing number of plastics manufacturers to join. Today CAMPUS has more than 50 plastics manufacturer participants in Europe, Asia and North America, including major global plastics manufacturers. But there has been no Chinese plastics manufacturers in CAMPUS so far. The fact that CAMPUS does not provide cross-manufacturer search is a reflection of the manufacturers' will.

Compared with foreign countries, China is still in a nascent stage in the construction of plastics databases. Only a few articles3,4 have reported some preliminary progress, with rather limited scale and applicability. Tongji University2 developed a Windows version database program according to ISO10350, which integrated one flow simulation module with one injection defects analysis module. The program is mainly used for the university’s computer application courses. Sichuan University, in collaboration with the National Institute of Plastics Processing and Applications, completed China’s first injection molding database of material properties in 1996, but it does not provide online service.

Plastics Science and Technology introduced Gu Zhengchao's method of optimal selection of plastics categories, which is achieved using RGII's GRIP computer language5. According to his method, plastics can be classified into eight categories based on transparency, mobility, impact strength, load type, heat resistance, rigidity, electrical conductivity, humidity and application environment. In 1998, Wu Chongfeng et al. proposed to develop an expert system  oriented towards the selection of plastics materials6. They used FoxPro and TURBO C computer language to develop an all-Chinese selection system which contained nearly 60 categories of plastics, including 2,000 entries of performance data from domestic and foreign varieties and brands. This system was more sophisticated than other systems in China at that time.

So compared with the vigorous development of plastics databases abroad, domestic plastics databases face the following problems: (i) limited means of  data retrieval, because databases cannot provide complete attribute retrieval, or do not offer online service; (ii) small scale; and (iii) low accessibility.

In light of previous experience, we developed the engineering plastics database for Web-based queries. The database contains over 170 types of resin (engineering plastics) from 20,000 brands and 15 categories, manufactured by 4,000 chemical companies in 50 countries and regions. The 15 categories are: blending alloy, functional plastics, special polyethylene for engineering and its copolymers, propylene copolymer for engineering, special polyvinyl chloride for engineering and its copolymers, middle and high impact polystyrene, styrene copolymer, nylon and its copolymers, fluorine resin, ester resin, ether resin, polysulfone resin, polyimide and its copolymers, thermo plastic elastomer and special performance resin. It focuses on resin brands from China, US, Japan and Germany. Detailed introduction has been given to some rapidly developing yet rarely-mentioned blending alloys, functional plastics and special performance resins.

The database collected information on engineering plastics during 1990 – 2003. The industry has maintained a rapid development momentum since then. At present, engineering plastics are mainly used in the fields of electronics, machinery, automobile, building materials, light manufacturing, and so forth. 42% of the world’s engineering plastics are used in the automobile industry, whereas the rate is only 10% in China. The automobile industry witnessed the fastest growth in plastics consumption in recent years. The rise of new demands will inevitably urge manufacturers to develop new brands and products suitable for timely industrial applications. The database will be maintained regularly, and we will continue to update and include new data so as to keep up with recent development of the industry.

2. Data acquisition and processing

2.1 Source description

Raw data of this database were collected from Encyclopedia of Chinese and Foreign Engineering Plastics1. They have been standardized and processed to build this database.

2.2 Process control

To  establish relationships among raw  data of  diverse sources and  types,  data acquisition was split into two steps: data import and data analysis. MS Access was used in data import, for the convenience of simultaneous multi-person performance as well as follow-up processing. Then the processed data with standard format was imported into MS SQL Server to build the engineering plastics database. Both the raw data and the imported records kept a data item called “chapter” for provenance purposes.

Data import was mainly to extract information and to convert free-style data into electronic format for follow-up processing. We indexed the raw data, imported the results into MS Access, and inserted identifiers in the specified place. For data of the same type, different Access tables were used for importing data of different sources, but they fit into a standard MS Access table format, for the convenience of follow-up processing.

The initial stage of data analysis was to ensure data integrity, that is, to check the omissions, abbreviations, and references in raw data and to make them complete where necessary. Then extract what we need from descriptive information according to data import specifications and categorize it for import, based on the identifiers and rules about data description. Data importing algorithm would determine the meaning and processing methods according to data item and its identifier information. After that, data analyzing algorithm would analyze specific contents of the free-style raw data using formal language syntax analysis, and check and locate errors in data indexing and import.

Figure 1 is a sample of raw data, and Figure 2 shows samples of raw data imported into the database.

Figure 1  Sample of raw data

Figure 2  Sample of raw data when imported into the data table

3. Sample description

The database records information on the brand, product name, place of production, manufacturer and performance parameters of engineering plastics, among which the performance parameters consist of  such aspects as tensile yield strength, elongation at break, impact strength, heat distortion temperature, vicat softening point, linear expansion coefficient, dielectric constant, bending elastic modulus, relative density, and so on. The plastics' characters and usages are also introduced. Raw data have been standardized and optimized for maximal applicability. For example, due to different data sources, the units of tensile yield strength ranged from kilogram-force per square centimeter to kilogram-force per square meter, thousand pounds of force per square inch, and so on. We then normalized the unit to Mpa, which made it convenient for horizontal comparisons between products from different manufacturers.

Table 1 shows the brand data set of engineering plastics, including information on countries of origin and export corporations. Table 2 is the performance data set, including brand ID and specific attributes.

Table 1  Brand data set of engineering plastics

Table 2  Performance data set of engineering plastics

4. Quality control and evaluation

Raw data of this database are mainly from Encyclopedia of Chinese and Foreign Engineering Plastics1, which is a handbook of scientific data about engineering plastics. The handbook was written by a Senior Engineer from Cixi Science and Technology Commission of Zhejiang Province, who had 30 years' experience in plastics processing and application, which guaranteed the reliability of the raw data.

The performance data came directly from chemical companies. To ensure the reliability of these data, we checked with these chemical companies on a random basis. For example, the engineering plastics of “Brand = ZytelST811HS” was manufactured by Dupont Co. Ltd. in the US, with a tensile yield strength of 44 Mpa. Our inspector found this product's Stress at Break (3OC, 50 mm/min) being 44 Mpa at the official website of Dupont ( ), which confirmed the accuracy of this entry.

A further spot check was employed for quality control during data import7. A random manual selection of 500 entries of data showed an error rate of 2‰. Moreover, technical methods were employed to verify the reliability of the raw data. For example, the heat distortion temperature (HDT) of engineering plastics is usually within a certain range, so a suspicious HDT value of 4000C must be further checked by another means. In case it cannot be verified whatsoever, the data entry would be removed from the database.

Many of the vacancies in the database result from the vacant data items in the Encyclopedia of Chinese and Foreign Engineering Plastics, while some are a result of removing suspect data during quality audit.

5. Usage notes

The database provides Web-based online access, where users can perform searches by product name & brand, place of production, manufacturer, product category, attribute, or combined conditions.

First, by product name & brand. This can  be  performed on  the  homepage of the database. Users can key in (part of) the product name or brand in the keywords textbox and click the “Query” button. A list of qualified products will be generated. For example, if we input “super tough nylon” and click “Query” (Figure 3), a list of search results will be generated (Figure 4). A click of the specific item will direct users to further information of the product. Figure 5 displays the webpage of detailed information when Brand = “N50”.

Figure 3 Database homepage for keyword search by product name & brand

Figure 4 Webpage displaying search results

Figure 5 Webpage showing detailed information when Brand = “N50”

Second, by place of production. “Place of production” is used to designate the country where the product is manufactured. Products from a certain place will be listed if we click the combobox and select the place of production.

Third, by manufacturer. Click the combobox, select a manufacturer, and all the products made by this particular manufacturer will be listed.

Fourth, by category. A click of the hyperlink “Engineering plastics directory” will direct us to a tree structure as shown in Figure 6, where another click of the icon can show or conceal detailed catalogue/information of respective items.

Figure 6 Tree-structured directory of engineering plastics

Fifth, by attribute. Select the attribute and a proper relation symbol, input the value, click the “Query” button, and all qualified brands will be generated.

Sixth. by combined conditions. Combined conditions include brand category, place of production, manufacturer, (part of) product name, attribute value, and so on. Select or write a proper condition (conditions will only be effective when the default is modified), and the products meeting all conditions will be listed.

Take blending alloy as an example. If we input a  combination of  conditions (Figure 7) – select “Blending alloy” from "Product category”, “China” from “Place of production”, “≤ 70” from “Bending strength”, and “≤ 5” from “Relative density”, a click of “Query” will generate a list of results (Figure 8).

Figure 7 Webpage for inputting a combination of search conditions

Figure 8 Webpage showing search results via combined conditions

Technicians and researchers specialized in plastics processing and application can search the database through simple description of product attributes to obtain the product information. This also makes possible a comparison of products’ attributes, merits and shortcomings, which can help broaden users’ vision during material selection.

However, let it be noted that as chemical companies manage to constantly improve their products’ performances, the information in this database only represents that particular period. Users may process and optimize the data to obtain products with better performance.

Authors and contributions

Li Yingyong, MSc,  Senior Engineer; research area:  cheminformatics. Contribution: framework design and retrieval techniques.

Zhao Yingli, MSc, Senior Engineer; research area: cheminformatics. Contribution: database design, basic data processing and data management.


1. Sun S. Encyclopedia of Chinese and Foreign Engineering Plastics. Hangzhou: Zhejiang Science and Technology Press, 2003.

2. Zhong S, Zhang J & Li P. Present situation and future of plastic materials database. China Plastics 15 (2001): 15 – 20.

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4. Tang Z, Lu Y,  Pan Y et al. Characteristic data and database for injection grade plastics. Engineering Plastics Application 21 (1993): 37 – 42.

5. Gu Z & Ying T. Selection of plastic varieties in the initial design of injection mold based on plastic selection fact database. Plastics Science and Technology 6 (1995): 30 – 33.

6. Wu C & Jiang S. Computer aided design (CAD) system for selecting plastics material. China Plastics 12 (1998): 34 – 41.

7. Zhou J, Zhu C & Chen W. Data quality management and quality control of chemical structure data. Scientific Database and Information Technology Symposium Vol. 10. Beijing: Weapon Industry Press, 2010: 393 – 399.

Data citation

1. Li Yingyong & Zhao Yingli. Database for engineering plastics 1990 – 2003. Science Data Bank. DOI: 10.11922/sciencedb.530.44



How to cite this article: Li Y & Zhao Y.  Database for engineering plastics 1990–2003. China Scientific Data 2 (2016), DOI:10.11922/csdata.530.2015.0030