March 4, 2011

Expanding the selection of available substances

Many chemical substance manufacturers still regularly mail massive catalogues to their existing and potential customers. However, the days when these catalogues were the first source of information searches are long gone. Even customers used to large company catalogues have switched to electronic versions because they are easier and more comfortable to use.

Since using electronic catalogues makes searching rare substances easier and quicker, it is possible to search a greater number of sources. Several databases have been created compiling hundreds of company catalogues. Molport is one such database.

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Molport works with more than 2000 substance manufacturers. However, not all manufacturers have taken advantage of this service. For manufacturers of rare substances it is especially important that their information reach the greatest number of potential customers. Searching substances on a database is more complicated than searching other products because these substances are often referred to by more than one name. For example, a simple substance such as o-toluidine is known by the following names: o-methylaniline, 2-methylanilin and "benzenamine, 2-methyl-". The IUPAC names for complex substances are sometimes very long and difficult to spell correctly. For example, the IUPAC for the pictured, not at all complicated substance, is: 5-(4-chlorophenoxymethyl)-4-(4-ethoxyphenyl)-4H-1,2,4-triazole-3-thiol.

Internet search engines do not support searching substances according to structure. It is difficult for manufacturers of rare substances to guarantee catalogue access to all potential customers. Specialty manufacturers often have their own specialization and target audience, that knows these manufacturers and their products well. For example: Solvionics for ionic liquids, Strem Chemicals for catalysts, Iris Biotech and Carbosynth for sugars and amino acids, Invitrogen for fluorescent reagents, Reanal for amino acids. However, someone not used to using these substances would probably have a difficult time finding the appropriate specialty manufacturer.

Why is this important? Is it worth manufacturing a substance if it has only 10 potential customers? Nowadays the answer often is „no”. It is practically impossible for these 10 scientists to find and order the substance they need. For this reason, they choose to synthesize the substance themselves. Thus, it no longer is advantageous to commercially manufacture the substance. If, however, a central database for these rare substances existed and every chemist would use it, the answer quite possible might be „yes”. After all, what is more efficient and less expensive? One manufacturer synthesizes a substance and sells it to 10 customers or each of these 10 scientists spends his valuable time and resources to synthesize the substance? The easier it becomes to find and purchase rare substances, the more manufacturers will be able to produce them, thus significantly expanding the selection of available substances. This is similar to what has happened with the specialty book and music market.

Molport’s goal is to make the rare substances business easier and more effective, thus creating a market in which it is lucrative for manufacturers to produce these rare substances, which will significantly expand the selection of available substances.

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