Every day we often see cars with heavy iron and steel parts running on the road. Nevertheless, today’s trend is how to simplify everything but still bring high efficiency. It’s not far from reality and this is also the trend that car manufacturers pursue. In fact, the material they choose to replace for metal is plastic. Why they use plastic as an option among many? Let’s explore the following 7 reasons.
In many cases, the cost of raw materials in plastic production is often cheaper than metal production. At the same time, in terms of flexible and quick replacement, manufacturers also prefer plastics than metal. Meanwhile, the price of metal often fluctuates according to supply and demand on the market. Continuous price changes will have an effect on your production costs as well as your final product prices. And this is clearly not what the manufacturers want.
This is one of the top reasons why the manufacturers decide to switch from metal to plastic. The light weight of plastic is clearly a point of victory when compared to metal. This advantage is even more demonstrated in the transportation, production and application process. For example, on the production side, because plastic is lighter than metal, the cost of importing your raw materials is also lower. Since then, when shipping to customers, your cost is lower as well. Specially, automotive parts from plastics have made a significant contribution to reduce vehicle weight as well as help to meet vehicle standards about emissions. Moreover, it helps to improve speed and increase fuel efficiency.
A lot of plastic materials can bring tensile strength more than metal. If you always think that only iron and steel are stronger than plastic, you’re wrong. Instead of using metal, plastic is becoming more popular because the durability requirements that have been met. The combination of lighter weight and equivalent strength makes it a better choice for many manufacturers.
The nature of metal manufacturing means that a limited range of processes can be applied to metal in an efficient manner. More complex features in metal require exponentially more processing — increasing manufacturing times and driving up costs.
Plastic molds, on the other hand, allow for a much broader range of design choices. Complex features can easily be designed into the mold, and the difference in time and cost between producing a simple piece and a complex one is negligible.
The design flexibility offered by plastic means that pieces that would normally have to be constructed from several metal parts, and then welded or otherwise assembled together, can be manufactured in one piece with a plastic mold.
In metal manufacturing, the most efficient way to produce complex features is via assembly, as opposed to in the manufacturing process itself. Any way you look at it, this is a more effort-intensive (and thus more time- and money-intensive) process than single-piece plastic manufacturing.
In addition to reduced assembly costs, plastic components can typically be used right out of the mold, reducing finishing time and cost. Metal parts, on the other hand, may need to be ground, smoothed and otherwise finished in order to be ready for the end application.
Plastic material choices — and the physical properties that accompany them — are nearly endless. Moreover, custom plastic materials can be designed and produced extremely easily, making it an attractive option for applications where specific material properties are required.
Even when considering the number of alloys available, metal material selection is, relatively, much more limited. There’s a greater chance you’ll run into a “dead end” if searching for a metal with physical properties for a unique requirement; whereas those dead ends essentially don’t exist for plastic, for most common applications. Engineered plastic materials are a booming business, meaning you’ll easily be able to source and work with a provider.
Plastic manufacturing processes are, in general, more streamlined and efficient than those for metal — thus, they cost less as well. Whereas metal production is typically done via machining — removing material to shape each piece — plastic injection molding creates numerous pieces at once, with vastly less waste. These efficiencies add up over time to much lower costs for you.
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