Converting Metal Components To Plastic

Advantages of Plastic Over Metal

Did you know Metal has been converted to Plastic since the 1930s? There are many benefits to converting to Plastic from Metal. Plastic, when designed properly, can be just as strong as Metal and the Aerospace and Automotive Industries take advantage of these properties to improve fuel efficiency and reduce the weight of parts and components.

Benefits of Converting to Plastic

  • Chemical & heat resistance
  • EMI/RFI shields (when engineered to be thermally/electrically conductive)
  • Lightweight
  • Greater regulatory compliance
  • Better design flexibility
  • Lower packaging, shipping & manufacturing costs
  • High tensile strength (with correct structural design)
  • Produces less scrap during processing
  • Up to six times longer tool life
  • Greater strength
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Consolidating multiple parts into one Plastic part

Another important benefit when converting to Plastic is the cost savings. Typically, companies who’ve made the switch have seen between 25-50% savings. These are savings that can be handed down to the customer to give you a competitive advantage.

Design Freedom of Plastic Components

Another incentive for companies to choose Plastic is the freedom it allows manufacturers. They can design any product or part, there are more options for materials, and they have the freedom to design more complex parts and shapes. Manufacturing complex and unique shapes out of Plastic is an easier task thanks to Injection Molds allowing for under-cuts, ports, threads and tight tolerances.

You can also combine multiple Metal parts by creating one Injection-Molded part out of engineered Plastic. This would replace the need for assembly of parts and fasteners. Plastic parts can also be made to produce a thin-walled part with uniform dimensions replacing a more expensive and thicker walled-part.

Plastic parts can be engineered and designed to incorporate features for structural strength, such as gussets, bosses and ribs. This would not only make the part stronger, but reduce additional assembly costs as well.

Choosing the Right Plastic Material

You can now use many different Plastic materials with specific reinforcements and fillers which offer incredible structural integrity. As a result, Plastic can now be as strong (if not stronger) than Metal when carefully selecting the right combination of materials and proper design. However, there are more than 25,000 types of engineered Plastics available, so choosing the right Plastic can take some time and research. Further customization can be achieved with high-performance blends and hybrids.

Important Properties of Plastic

  1. Additives can affect the temperature performance, stiffness and strength of your product as well as affect packaging and cost.
  2. Toughness can be adjusted with impact modifiers.
  3. When comparing crystalline and amorphous Plastic, consider your need for chemical resistance, impact, flow and processing.
  4. Using lubricant fillers can ameliorate the wear and friction properties of your parts, while mineral fillers can improve weighted feel, electrical performance, sound dampening, dimensional stability and higher specific gravity.
  5. If you require improved conductive and/or shielding properties, consider carbon or stainless steel fillers.

Determining Whether Plastic is Right for Your Project

If you are thinking of switching from Metal to Plastic, the next step in the process is determining whether your project is suitable for Plastics. With the proper analysis in place, design engineers can assess whether Plastic is right for your project. By fully analyzing the system ahead of time, you can determine whether you should invest in Plastics before investing in molding or tooling.

A lot of research is required for this step in the process as this is not a simple decision to make. Your analysis should involve environmental conditions, manufacturing, economic feasibility, material evaluations and analysis as well as the end-use application of the parts. Furthermore, Plastic design engineers will need to assess the actual environment where the product will be used; this means considering exposure to chemicals or contact solutions, shielding and forces as well as temperature ranges. Would you like to know if Plastic Thermoforming is right for your project? Talk with an Allied Plastics engineer now.