How the Manufacture of Automotive Plastic Parts Is Evolving

automotive plastic parts

Automotive plastic parts have come a long way since the “soybean car” of the 1940s. Plastic makes up about half of a modern vehicle by volume, and new developments in plastics continue to drive that number up.

Automotive plastics bring benefits that include low weight, chemical resistance, and heat resistance. What new technologies could bring new benefits or make existing benefits more pronounced?

Do you want to learn about the cutting edge of automotive plastic technology? Read on, and we’ll show you how new manufacturing methods improve plastic car parts.

Fiber-Enhanced Automotive Plastic Parts

The exploration of carbon fiber, nylons, and other synthetic fibers has changed the game in vehicle part manufacturing. Some parts of cars need more strength than most plastics can give by themselves.

With the addition of fiber, plastic can reach the same strength as steel. While manufacturers have used fiberglass for a long time, new fiber materials give plastics the same strength with less weight.

Rapid Prototyping

3D printing has become one of the recent automotive industry trends that help drive design changes. Manufacturers can prototype parts for small runs and identify flaws before getting the final tool.

Previous manufacturing methods required the use of a CNC machine. One needs a skilled machinist, time, and money to use such a machine. 3D printing allows the creation of rough drafts before moving on to a machined tool for mass production.

3D printing makes this easier. This advancement improves safety, too. With more prototypes, companies can avoid recalls.

As print quality improves, 3D printers could play a major role in more parts of the manufacturing process. While the automotive industry focuses on 3D printing tools, many industries have started using 3D printers to make final products.

Sustainability Changes

Many manufacturers want to make their plastics cleaner. Manufacturing uses large amounts of water, consumes energy, and emits carbon dioxide. Cars with poor gas mileage also emit more greenhouse gases.

Lighter, more durable plastics help the environment. As plastic molding technologies continue to develop, cars will get better mileage. Other benefits of plastic, like corrosion resistance, will also reduce the need to produce vehicles.

Improvements in recycling will also drive innovation in car part materials. A true circular economy, in which most materials from junk vehicles get turned into new parts, could save trillions of dollars.

Engine Covers

While plastics could show up in more car parts as they improve, engine covers have benefited from the complexity that plastic injection molding offers. These parts weigh less than their metal counterparts and can sport features like vibration dampening or noise reduction.

The Engine of Innovation

Automotive plastic parts have earned their place alongside the steel and aluminum of yesteryear. Manufacturers keep finding new places to use plastic and new ways to make it. Sustainability changes could lower prices at the pump as well.

If you want to take part in these innovations, you’ll need a trustworthy partner. We have a high standard for quality and can mold Class A surfaces with color harmony. Reach out for a quote and find out what Nova Stevensville can do for you.

About the author