In the automotive industry, high-performance plastics play a major role. The most fuel efficient vehicles require light weight plastics. It is estimated that every 10% depletion in vehicle weight results in approx. 7% depletion in fuel usage. Present environmental concerns make the manufacturing of fuel efficient cars a top priority in the automotive industry.
These are not the only benefits of high-performance plastics used in vehicles. Some other advantages include:
- Longer vehicle life
- Minimal corrosion
- Freedom to design
- Comfort and safety
We have listed top 6 high-performance plastics used in automotive hardware. Although, all these plastics can be used in a vehicle, but only three of them are mostly used in a car: polypropylene (32%), polyurethane (17%) and PVC (16%).
1) Polypropylene (PP)
It is a thermoplastic polymer used in many applications. It is usually rough and resistant to acids and chemical solvents. It is used in automotive bumpers, gas cans, carpet fibres etc.
2) Polyurethane (PUR)
PUR is an elastomeric material of some extraordinary physical properties including abrasion resistance, flexibility, toughness etc. It can be made as hard as a bowling ball and as soft as an eraser. Some of its characteristics include high load-bearing capacity, flexibility, and extraordinary resistance to oil, gasoline, and weather. Its application includes foam insulation panels, flexible foam seating, cushions, hard plastic parts etc.
3) Poly-Vinyl-Chloride (PVC)
PVC is a flexible plastic and it is flame retardant with a great thermal stability, low to no lead content. Its molding compounds can be compression moulded, blow moulded, injection moulded to create a wide range of products, either flexible or hard depending on the amount and type of plasticizers used. It is used in pipes, electrical cables, doors etc.
4) Polystyrene (PS)
Polystyrene is exceptionally electrical and chemical resistant. This is comparatively easier to manufacture but has poor resistance to UV light. It is generally used in car fittings, buttons etc.
5) Polyethylene (PE)
Polyethylene has low density and excellent toughness. It is used in a wide variety of thermoplastics processing procedures and especially useful where low cost and moisture resistant plastic is required. It is generally used in car bodies and electrical insulation.
6) Polyethylene Teraphthalate (PET)
PET is widely used to make plastic bottles and synthetic fibres. It is also known as polyester.PET is used to make wiper arm, headlamp retainer, engine cover etc.