While the automotive industry has traditionally been associated with metals and steel, plastics are becoming increasingly important in the manufacture of cars and trucks. There are several reasons. On the one hand, plastic is stronger than in the past, and in some cases, even more, durable than metal. More importantly, however, your customers have different expectations for their cars than car buyers of the past, especially when it comes to comfort and fuel efficiency. Parts manufactured through the car plastic Injection molding process often meet these expectations more efficiently than metal parts.
What are the benefits of using plastic?
Plastics are used in passenger compartments and have been used for some time in applications such as entertainment systems, interiors, and convenience features. It plays a key role in reducing cabin noise and improving handling. These features are necessary to improve occupant comfort, which has become an important concern for consumers. However, more of the components needed for the function of the vehicle itself is also made of plastic.
Plastic auto parts are extremely durable and can withstand road hazards, harsh weather conditions, constant abuse, push or pull, and exposure to extreme heat in the engine bay just as well. While metals are prone to corrosion or rust, plastics are not affected by these forces. It is easier to work with than metal, which means more parts can be produced in less time using injection molding.
One of the biggest advantages of plastic parts is that they are very light compared to metal. Lightweight plastic components help improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing power. This is critical to meeting government-enforced fuel efficiency regulations and consumer demand for environmentally-friendly vehicles. As internal combustion engines give way to electric vehicles, lightweight plastic components remain critical.
What happens during prototyping and production?
The automotive plastic injection molding process involves pushing molten plastic material into a mold. Once the plastic has had a chance to cool, the finished product is removed from the mold. When it comes to automotive manufacturing, plastic injection molding applications are nearly limitless.
However, before plastic injection molding can be used to mass-produce parts, prototypes must be designed and tested. Prototypes allow you to ensure parts meet your specifications and fine-tune them if necessary.
What is the process of over-molding and insert molding?
While many car parts moulds can be made with plastic injection moulding, not all parts can be made entirely of plastic. Overmolding and insert molding are processes that can produce parts made from more than one material.
Overmolding is used to produce parts that require simultaneous contact with different surfaces. Examples include the many components found inside the cabin. The process usually starts with a hard plastic material such as polycarbonate or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. A thermoplastic elastomer, polyurethane, or other soft thermoplastic material is then over-molded onto the harder material.
In automotive or aftermarket applications, it is sometimes necessary to include bushings, nuts, filters, screws, or other components made of ceramic or metal in the part. These are added through an insert molding process. Placing a metal or ceramic part into a mold before injecting molten plastic, creates a part that is seamlessly blended from two different materials.