After the invention of plastic in the 19th century, it took several years before the world caught on to its usefulness. In the early days of the automotive industry, vehicles were made of steel and alloy, making them overpriced and fuel-consuming. However, the usage of plastic auto parts in the automotive industry today has proven to be a success beyond expectations.
Car plastic components are vital for building inexpensive, lightweight, and fuel-efficient cars. A significant reason for this is that automotive plastic offers a wide range of unparalleled designs. Further, they also remain efficient at different temperatures making them versatile tools in the automotive industry.
This guide examines the various types of plastic materials used for automotive parts. We will also consider their requirements for automotive plastics and the advantages of plastic auto parts. Let’s get right into it.
Types of Plastic Materials for Automotive Parts
Automotive injection molding is an established industrial process of producing plastic auto parts. The significant stages of automotive injection molding include clamping or mold closure, injection, cooling, and ejection. These stages ensure that the plastic auto parts manufactured are high-quality and void of defects.
Thus, plastic auto parts are available with the desired properties in various forms. Most of these parts are stable, malleable, impact and heat resistant, lightweight, and affordable. Take a look at some of the types of automotive plastic materials below.
This plastic material is one of the most versatile plastic materials used in many automotive industries. This is because polypropylene can get shaped in various forms.
Moreover, this polymer is suitable for many applications due to its sturdy, stable, and resistant properties. They include bumpers, cable insulation, chemical tank, gas cans, and even carpet fiber.
Polypropylene is also stable to acids, bases, and other chemical solvents. Additionally, polypropylene is cost-effective compared to other plastic materials. Therefore, acquiring this polymer helps automakers to reduce the cost of producing automobiles.
Polyurethane is well known for its physical properties. They include flexibility, sturdiness, and resistance to chemical solvents, heat, and radiation.
Likewise, polyurethane has a broad range of solidity such that it can take on both hard and soft forms, unlike most plastic materials. As a result, this polyurethane applies in manufacturing many plastic auto parts. Examples are wheels and tires, suspension bushings, cushions, etc.
3.Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC is increasingly used for most modern vehicles because it has exceptional physical properties. They include thermal stability, heat resistance, low lead content, and flame retarding properties.
Furthermore, it is suitable for molding using various methods to form rigid or flexible car plastic components. However, this depends on the number of plasticizers used.
Hence, PVC is well-suited for a wide range of plastic automotive parts. They include electrical cable sheathing, instrument panels, doors, pipes, etc.
4. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)
It is also called acrylic. This is clear, colorless, and rigid plastic with glass-like transparency. It is derived from the polymerization of methyl methacrylate.
PMMA offers great clarity and stability and can be tinted to achieve different colors. The material’s fabrication is easy and cheap. Therefore, it is used in making several car parts like side windows, windshields, headlights, and taillights.
5. Polycarbonate (PC)
Unlike other plastic materials, polycarbonate offers distinct optical, thermal, electrical, and weathering properties. This makes it a top choice as glass substitutes and the production of car headlamp lenses.
Further, polycarbonate combines rigidity, toughness, durability, and impact strength, making it most suitable for manufacturing bumpers.
6. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
ABS is a copolymer and emanates from the polymerization of acrylonitrile and styrene in the presence of polybutadiene. Styrene provides the plastic with a glowing, impervious surface. Polybutadiene is an additive to improve the toughness or impact resistance of the plastic.
In addition, further modification can enhance ABS’ insulation and heat resistance properties. Moreover, it is easy to color and glue ABS materials, informing its use for dashboards, automotive body parts, and wheel covers. To crown all of these, the production cost is low.
7. Nylon 6/6
Nylon 6/6, called Polyamide, is general-purpose nylon molded and extruded to make car plastic components. It has high mechanical strength, rigidity, stability, resistance, and affordable cost.
Nylon 6/6 has high water absorbent properties, making it suitable for weatherproof coatings. Practically, manufacturers widely use this plastic for gears, cams, and bearings.
8. Polyethylene (PE)
Polyethylene has high impact resistance, toughness, and durability. Also, it is cost-effective and useful in various thermoplastics processing methods. Besides, it is well-suited for moisture-resistant auto parts. Hence, polyethylene is used for glass-reinforced car bodies and electrical insulation.
9. Polyoxymethylene (POM)
POM has excellent rigidity and resistance to cold, chemicals, and fuel. Manufacturers often use it to manufacture parts for plastic cars in cold climates. This ensures that POM maintains its stability.
Polyoxymethylene applies in the manufacture of various plastic auto parts. They include interior and exterior trims, small gears, and fuel system parts for plastic car parts.
Design Considerations for Plastic Materials in Automotive Parts
There are several requirements for plastic materials used in the automotive industry. These materials must meet these criteria before approval to manufacture plastic auto parts. Some of these requirements center on environmental and safety concerns, while others are to ensure appeal to customers.
Yet, these criteria keep evolving. Therefore, most automotive manufacturers rely on a systemic automotive prototyping approach for their material selection. In this engineering process, automakers use automobile prototypes to unravel the best automotive plastic that appeals to end users and ensures their safety.
Below are some of the vital requirements that plastic automotive parts should meet.
Consumer safety always comes first! Hence, this is the most crucial factor determining the plastic materials used to manufacture plastic auto parts. Thus, the plastic material for automotive plastic must have the ability to absorb and redistribute impact energy. And, more importantly, ensure the safety of passengers.
Plastic car parts must be lightweight to reduce emissions and improve automobile fuel efficiency. This factor hugely influences the plastic material manufacturers to use. Aside from this, light automotive parts contribute to the acceleration of plastic cars and fast automobiles appeal to consumers.
The production cost of car plastic components must be cost-effective. Price determines whether manufacturers can add new plastic components to automobiles and still remain affordable for end users. Hence, the plastic material must be relatively cheap and effective.
The plastic material must be of superior grade to ensure that the plastic car parts maintain their required physical, chemical, and mechanical properties.
5. Accuracy and Repeatability
The car plastic components for a vehicle must accurately fit with the automobile. Besides, the production processes for plastic auto parts have to be repeatable. This ensures the continuity of plastic parts in the automotive industry.
Advantages of Plastic Auto Parts
Nowadays, plastic auto parts are used across many automotive industries for various applications. They include:
Weight Reduction of Automobiles
Plastics are lightweight materials. Therefore, when manufacturers use them in automobiles as opposed to other materials, they reduce the overall weight. This means spending is lower.
Additionally, lower weights reduce the center of gravity of automobiles, which improves overall safety and performance.
Plastic automotive parts are not as energy intensive as other automobile materials to produce. This is primarily due to the lower weight of the products. Companies can then conserve the energy, and ultimately, cost.
Automobile manufacturers love plastics because of the variety in their use. They aren’t as hard as other materials, easing their machinability. This informs their use in many customized plastic car parts.
Manufacturing Plastic Auto Parts at WayKen
Plastics auto parts are common in several automotive industries today. This is due to their wide-ranging benefits and applications. Before manufacturing plastic automotive parts, automakers must consider the superiority of plastic materials and production costs. Even so, the quality of the manufacturing processes is pivotal.
At WayKen, we have experienced professionals committed to manufacturing all kinds of automotive plastic parts to get your automobile up and running. We can assure high-quality, precise, affordable plastic auto parts at any volume. We also specialize in automotive optical prototyping, which broadens our knowledge and experience to meet your custom need.
Reach out to us today for one-on-one support service, and you will get a free quote within 12 hours.
What is the best plastic material for automotive parts?
Polypropylene. Polypropylene is frequently used plastic material in automotive plastic manufacturing. It has exceptional resistance to impact, heat, and chemicals. Aside from this, polypropylene gets formed into any shape, making it versatile.
Which rapid prototyping process should I use for plastic auto parts?
CNC machining is an excellent prototyping process for plastics because of its high accuracy, fast turnaround time, and repeatability. Manufacturers can also functionally test the prototypes.
Another similarly good process is 3D printing. It is the fastest of the common rapid prototyping processes for plastics. Aside from the fast turnaround time, it allows for processing parts with deep undercuts.
Is it expensive for custom plastic car parts?
No. Generally, custom plastic car parts are affordable because they are recyclables. You can get ten to thousands of custom plastic car parts from the right supplier at low prices.