Sample Materials Library Help

I work in business devleopment at a small industrial design firm. We are attempting to build a better resource library of materials, textiles, process examples etc, and was hoping someone had some advice for us. What is the best way to build this, and continue to keep as up to date as possible on all the latest options out there for our designers? Are there any good online resources, or should I be contacting manufacturers/suppliers directly to ask for samples? I feel we are relying too much on seeing new products in stores, and need to do a better job of anticipating what materials and processess will be popular next. Thanks.

Yes.

Read trade publications (the ones with matter-of-fact names like Engineering Thermoplastics, or something), as well. Those usually have tons of good information about materials when they’re still at the experimental stage.

There’s a company called Inventables that has a subscription service - they send you new materials and info each month. It’s expensive, and I don’t dig that you can’t de-couple the materials samples themselves form the subscription and just get the written data… but it’s still cool!

Also, there’s materialconnexion.com - which rocks.

Have fun,
-D