If you changed your vehicle to a brand new model over the last 5 years, you probably noticed that the shiny new car of your choice has a lot more of plastic parts than the car you previously owned. While many people instantly assume that plastic injection molding is being embraced only to lower costs at the expense of quality the reason is actually quite different. This trend is not exclusive to the car industry.It has also been adopted by plenty of manufacturers around the globe,from home appliances to the military. But why is this happening? What has been found on the technical side that is making so many companies convert the metal to plastic in so many devices?
Let’s take a moment to read the reasons behind this change:
The Weight Factor
Think for a moment about bulletproof vests. When these common protection tools used by policemen introduced a long time ago, they were lined with strong metals that took a toll on the maneuverability of the officer and made them heavier. It was the same thing with riot control equipment and most firearms. These day armed forces use Kevlar which is a near impenetrable polymer that can take a direct hit from a bullet while giving the officer a full range of motion and adds no weight to him. The same principle applies to their equipment, as well as motorized vehicles, TV sets, and home appliances: they all become lighter and easier to handle.
The Durability Factor
Let’s illustrate this with another easy example: take a minute to think about the pipes of your home. Most houses have at least 5 sets of pipes lined on their walls: three for running water, one for electric wiring and one for phone lines. In the past, most of the pipes lined in most households where made of metal. While the wiring was protected, the metal was exposed to rust and corrosion. The eventual degradation created problems in the property such as humidity, leaking and many more issues. Modern houses are lined with plastic pipes since the PVC used on them won’t degrade or be damaged by many years. This same principle is also applied to most mechanical parts found in today’s technology: it’s supposed to extend the lifespan of your devices.
The Enhanced Features Factor
It has been a long road for many industries to understand this, but most of the conversions made from metal to plastic parts have to do with the improved features of many devices once they start to use plastics. Many polymers out there allow for increased dimensional stability; they reduce noise, the right mixture of compounds make anything done with polymers way stronger and less heavy. There is no risk of electrical shocks, the parts or devices can withstand high temperatures, and they also are protected from chemicals and environmental factors. Last but not least is the fact that plastics are indeed much cheaper than any metal out there, making them some of the most desirable raw materials to work with.