Why Are Automakers Shifting to Plastic Parts?
Across industries, manufacturers are seeking new ways to optimize product performance while minimizing costs and maximizing production efficiency. In the automotive market, specifically, many companies are now using engineered plastic parts rather than traditional sheet metal.
Shifting from metal to plastic stamping material is not a new concept in the automotive industry, having been employed since the 1950s; yet in recent decades, automakers have been learning more about the benefits of advanced plastics and discovering new, innovative ways to implement them.
Rising Popularity of Plastic Components
From thermoformed exterior cladding to injection molded panel components, plastics are becoming increasingly popular — and with good reason. Here are some benefits to making the switch:
- Lower part cost — Plastic parts are not only more cost-effective to produce than metal, but their lighter weight also makes them less expensive to ship. Secondary processes such as texturing and coloring can also be eliminated and replaced by a single injection molded part. Overall, companies switching to plastics can expect to save 25-50% on part production costs.
- Increased product life — Plastic parts present a much lower risk of corrosion. Unlike metal, plastic does not rust, and most kinds have increased chemical resistance or made from high heat-resistant plastic, making them less susceptible to environmental stresses.
- Lower vehicle weight — While reduced part weight saves money on production and transportation costs, it also decreases emissions and improves fuel economy, allowing automakers to more easily meet sustainability standards.
- Increased strength — In addition to enhanced resistance, many plastic pieces have a higher tensile strength than their metal counterparts. By selecting engineer-grade materials and molding them into an optimized structural design, plastic parts can actually be made stronger than metal.
- Production efficiency — By using versatile methods such as plastic thermoforming and injection molding, many secondary manufacturing processes can be eliminated altogether, saving manufacturers both time and money. Additionally, these processes are more sustainable, as excess plastic can be easily
reground for reuse.
Switch from Metal to Plastic with New Process Fibre
New Process Fibre is a leader in versatile, nonmetal stamped components, including nylon washers ideal for use in automotive applications. As a family-owned company since 1927, we’re committed to providing our customers the best services in the industry. We offer extruding, stamping, and regrinding capabilities, and can run small prototype runs and large multimillion-piece orders alike. All of our work is done in-house.
If you’re ready to make the switch from metal to plastic in your next project, contact us today to learn more.