1. Home>
  2. Blog>
  3. Plastics Strong Enough to Replace Steel in Automotive Applications

Plastics Strong Enough to Replace Steel in Automotive Applications

Posted by “蒂姆on Aug 14, 2019 10:13:00 AM

Plastics in automotive industry

Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards coupled with heightened consumer sensitivities to the environmental impact of using fossil fuels are tightening fuel consumption requirements for the auto industry.

Designing Plastic Parts for Complex Automotive Applications [Free Guide]

In response,automotive manufacturersare pursuing ways to reduce the weight of vehicles without compromising performance or safety by using plastic components to replace steel. The growing market forelectric vehiclesis further driving the need as added weight decreases a vehicle's range between recharging. Among leading solutions are thermoplastic composites that are just as strong — and significantly lighter than — the steel and aluminum they are engineered to replace.

The use of plastics in the automotive industry hasproven extremely beneficial. Here are a few common metal replacement plastic composite formulations used in the latest injection-molded automotive components:

Short Glass Fiber-Reinforced Plastic

增强体icwith short glass fibers improves strength, stiffness and heat deflection capabilities. For the automotive industry, these glass-reinforced polyamides and polyphthalamides accomplish the main goal of vehicle lightweighting; however, their high glass fiber content (up to 50% in some instances) and resulting high modulus also make them preferred materials for cylinder heads and other engine cooling components. Further, automotive manufacturers are using short glass fiber-reinforced plastic in the part design of several existing plastic components to improve longevity.

Long Glass Fiber-Reinforced Plastic

长玻璃纤维增强热塑性塑料为盟to manufacturers a high-performance, light weight option for designing vehicle components that require thinner walls. While long glass fiber-reinforced plastic is more expensive than other options, manufacturers realize cost savings in the materials’ lower specific gravity as compared to unfilled resins. Some auto parts in development or production include brake pedals, seat backs, airbag housings and other components.

Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Plastic

Reduced emissions and fuel economy are driving the increased use of plastic replacements for aluminum and other metals as automakers look for ways to produce lightweight vehicles. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastics are of particular interest because they are about 40% lighter than typical materials and can provide significant lightweighting options for larger body parts such as side panels. These initiatives can help cut vehicle weight by as much as half compared to steel without jeopardizing safety or strength. In fact, it can be up to four times stronger.

The use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in automotive applications was estimated at about 7,000 metric tons in 2017, but that market could grow to almost 11,000 metric tons by 2025. Automakers making strides include:

  • General Motors— TheCarbonPropickup boxwas unveiled as an option for the 2019 GMC Sierra, developed by Teijin Automotive (Tokyo, Japan).
  • BMW— The2020 BMW M2 CSfeatures a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic roof fitted as standard.
  • Porsche— Recently unveiled, the Porsche "Bio-concept Car" is primarily built with organic materials, including the use of carbon fibers to reduce weight.

Clearly, the automotive industry is embracing the possibilities — and realities — of plastics replacing metals. Learn more by contacting aninjection moldingcompany with experience and expertise in the automotive market like Kaysun. And be sure to downloadConverting Metal Automotive Components to Plastic: A Manufacturer’s Guide.

New Call-to-action