The MMTA was pleased to interview the CEO of Matmatch, Melissa Albeck, to find out more about materials selection and how technology can help.
Can you tell us a bit about Matmatch, and how the company was founded?
Matmatch is a free-to-use, independent, online materials search engine that helps engineers and product designers to identify, evaluate and source the right materials for their projects. Our database currently has more than 80,000 materials for engineers to choose from.
The company was founded in late 2017 to solve a clear problem in the industry. At the outset, we interviewed a large number of design engineers and materials scientists and found that 80 per cent only use Google to research the properties of various materials. We set out to create a singular, trusted source of information that brought together intuitive search functionality akin to Google’s search, comprehensive material data and a direct link to material suppliers.
How do you add new materials to the database? Do you rely on companies coming forward with their products?
We do it in a mixture of ways. Firstly, we work with some trusted data partners and have a team of in-house material scientists who verify the data before we publish it online. But one of the main reasons that Matmatch exists is to bridge the gap between engineers and suppliers. So, we focus on including materials in our database from suppliers once a partnership agreement has been reached with them.
This makes our platform mutually beneficial for suppliers and design engineers, as it allows suppliers to reach engineers that are actively searching for products like theirs, while allowing engineers and procurement specialists to enter directly into conversations with suppliers once they find the right material.
For our industry, the question of composite vs. metals in aircraft is critical. Could you tell us how an aircraft engineer would choose their materials using Matmatch?
The composites vs metals debate in aerospace is an interesting one for materials sourcing because it makes information essential. It isn’t a matter of relying on the tried-and-tested materials used in the industry previously. Design engineers need to confidently know the characteristics of each proposed metal and composite to make an informed decision.
To this end, engineers could use Matmatch’s material property filters. It can help engineers discover materials matching their needs, rather than simply ones that have been used in their industry before. So, they might combine density and tensile strength to find a lightweight, yet strong material. They’d perhaps also use the temperature filter to find materials that function in the range of temperatures required for aerospace.
They can also use the application filter to find materials suitable for their needs if they don’t know which properties to search for. The ‘Aerospace engines & propulsion’ filter is just one example here.
Do you take any end-of-life considerations into the selection process?
Currently, the design engineer still needs to make appropriate end of life considerations when selecting materials through Matmatch. However, it is something that we are working to address. A lot of these end of life considerations come from knowledge of how materials age and how they should be handled, which is why we’re currently building a ‘learn’ area into the Matmatch platform to help engineers understand important aspects of material selection, such as end of life.
What are the company’s aims for the future?
Since Matmatch was only launched in late 2017, the platform is still developing to better meet the needs of engineers around the world. Our aim is to continue increasing our database of materials and suppliers and complement this with an informative learning area to make Matmatch the one-stop resource for design engineers.
We’re constantly adding to the site, but we’re also consulting with design engineers around the world in the coming months to ensure our service meets the exact requirements of the wider industry. It’s not effective to just be a materials database used by engineers and scientists; we’re creating a materials platform for engineers and scientists that enables them not just to find but also to source the best materials for their projects.