The Long-Term Benefits of Thermoplastic Composites: Functional, Financial, and Environmental
Thermoplastics have the functional properties required to make them an ideal automotive material. They are more rigid and have higher impact resistance than metal or steel, yet do not corrode. Plus they offer flexible design options, integration customizations, and most importantly, lower manufacturing costs.
The automotive industry has struggled to keep up with tightening environmental regulations regarding vehicle C02 emissions. One possible solution to the emissions problem is manufacturing lighter cars that will burn less fuel. In order to do that, the automotive industry needs to replace metal and steel with lightweight materials.
The need for thermoplastic car parts is likely to rise in the coming years. Plastic used in vehicle parts has increased from a typical 27kg per vehicle in 1970 to close to 180kg today. By 2025, it is estimated that low-weight plastic parts will comprise 25% of the total average vehicle weight and around 50% of the vehicle volume.
Thermoplastics with long-fiber reinforcement (LFT) have the functional properties required to replace innumerable metal components with high-quality plastic counterparts. Currently, the production of LFT products accounts for several thousand metric tons of automotive parts each year.
As LFT thermoplastic materials and parts begin to reach their fundamental limits, the next technological advancement will be the use of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFT) to create injection or compression molded parts. This will truly widen the scope of activity for automotive manufacturers looking replace metal with thermoplastic.
In addition to the high functional capabilities, thermoplastic automotive parts will also have unmatched environmental benefits. Unlike metal and steel, thermoplastics are recyclable and sustainable. Parts made with thermoplastic can be melted down to create new parts, or welded together with other thermoplastics to serve new functions.
For an industry focused on “going green” Manna's thermoplastic composite materials are an ideal solution.