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Previously Risk-Averse Suppliers Jumping On-Board to Replace Metal Parts with Plastic

Manufacturing commercial plastics to replace metals to obtain the benefits of plastic resins while maintaining metal integrity.
In today's fast-paced world, manufacturers face tremendous pressure to create better, faster, stronger, cheaper products, and only those who are willing to adapt and innovate can survive.
Manufacturers who have been dragging their heels (or worse, kicking and screaming) have now begun to replace metal parts with plastic parts.

Industries most affected by the switch include:

  • Consumer Appliances/Goods
  • Aerospace/Aviation
  • Military/Defense
  • Automotive/Transportation

For decades, manufacturers in these industries have relied on metals – not because it is necessarily better, but because it has always been its way.
However, with the modernization of engineering resin and plastic molding capabilities, manufacturers are no longer bound by yesterday's heavy, expensive and restrictive metal parts.
Forward-looking manufacturers that move from metal parts to plastic parts do this for a number of reasons, including:

Plastic vs Metal:

  1. The weight and cost of plastics are significantly lower than metals. In fact, plastic can be 6 times lighter than steel, and aluminum can be reduced in weight by half, saving 35%-50% compared to metal.
  2. Plastic molding is more time-saving than metal manufacturing because of the use of plastic and metal flow lines and reduces the amount of secondary operations required.
  3. Plastics don't corrode, which means it can actually be a better solution than metal, especially for the industries mentioned above. Plastic parts now eliminate the cost and downtime required to repair or replace corroded metal parts.
  4. Plastics, complex geometries, surface textures and brands/labels can be integrated directly into the tool of the part, which means that plastic parts can be produced faster and more economically than metal parts.
  5. Plastic parts are on the market faster than metal parts because of design flexibility, reduced secondary processing, rapid prototyping cycles, and faster metal production times.

Some of the most common plastic engineering resins used to replace metals include:

  • ABS
  • Acetal Copolymer (POM)
  • Acrylic (PMMA)
  • LDPE
  • PAI
  • PEEK
  • PET
  • PUR
  • PPS

While not all metal parts can be replaced with plastic parts, many manufacturers have a great opportunity to replace metal parts with plastic parts at meaningful times and locations.
Actually, it is now more true than ever, and advances in engineering resins have made plastics perform in terms of strength - weight and strength - stiffness ratio, and (or even more than) metals.
Plastics and manufacturers will face a strong future, and they will seize these opportunities and will inevitably beat their competitors.

   
 
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