The future of thermoplastics in the automotive industry: Part 1 of 5



Will Hornick
02/19/2013

The use of thermoplastics in automotive manufacturing is not a new concept;
manufacturers have made use of composites in several applications for many years. They have been used for non-load bearing parts and interiors such as battery frames and
bumpers in mass produced cars, and for more complex applications such as the
monocoque for high-end sports cars. However, until recently it has not been viable for
thermoplastics to be used in mass production for cars and commercial vehicles for various reasons.

The time cycle, and therefore cost, of production of parts has been a particular stumbling
block for manufacturers. There is a requirement to ensure that any composites used are of the necessary safety standards for today’s vehicles, along with the consideration of the
environmental impact and recyclability of components due to End-of Life Vehicle (ELV)
directives.

With car manufacturer’s constantly innovating design and looking for ways to make
vehicles lighter and more efficient, the use of steel for the body and chassis of cars has
been facing competition from other materials such as aluminium and fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) for some time. The development of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP)
manufactured from thermoplastics, and the advancement of the process technologies to
make parts, has given manufacturers the opportunity to use CFRP’s in many new
applications and has made the possibility of mass production a very real prospect.


This article is part of our series on thermoplastics

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