In the past few years, there have been numerous technological advancements in the world of plastics. Improvements in strength, weight and resistance to harsh environments have influenced many manufacturers and assemblers to replace traditional metal products with plastics. New elastomers coming to market can perform just as well as metals for longer durations and with less cost and drastic reductions in weight.
Thermoformed structural and decorative components are now available for the transportation, construction, agriculture and other manufacturing industries. Construction and Transportation are two of the largest sectors benefitting from the advancements of plastics.
Products in these sectors range from interior trim pieces and exterior panels, as well as well as structural composites. Materials utilized can be optimized for durability, appearance, and uniformity providing alternatives to heavy sheet metal and injection-molded parts.
In construction and transportation, thermoformed plastics are used more specifically for the following types of products:
- Complex Hood Assemblies
- Durable Fenders & Guards & Roofs
- Stylish Cab Interiors
- Seating Components
- Rail and Bus Interior Systems
- Rail Exteriors such as End Caps/Skirts
- Hood Assemblies
- Engine Covers
Plastics have taken the place of metal as the material of choice for much of a vehicle’s body and components. By making careful selections as to the type of plastic, manufacturing processes and additives, there are noticeable advantages to choosing plastics over metal.
- Improved impact resistance: Stronger and more rigid plastics lead to direct reductions in maintenance cost.
- For transportation and construction, weight reduction equals better fuel and transportation economies. As the cost of fuel and transportation has continued to increase, this expense has become one of the main concerns to suppliers and customers.
- Plastics are more dependable within harsh environments. Plastics do not rust and their overall fabrication can be reformulated for better heat resistance or UV protection. These days, plastic formulas can be altered to maintain their original appearance much longer than metals.
- With colors mixed throughout the product, they camouflage scratches better and maintain their overall appearance longer than metal. The color can be integral to the material and is not a postproduction layer to protect the metal from the environment.
- In addition, plastic formulas can now be optimized to prevent degradation due to heat or UV exposure. They are now even used as shields to protect other products from the destructive high-energy heat and UV rays.