Why Metal Replacement Molding?
Advantages of metal replacement molding include:
- Many engineering thermoplastic polymers are lighter and stronger than aluminum and other metals, so they can offer manufacturing savings along with superior performance.
- Thermoplastic resins can eliminate finishing, welding, or machining operations necessary with die cast, stamped, or machined metal parts.
- Parts can be molded in specific colors which can eliminate the need to paint a metal component.
- Sound and vibration dampening are also properties that are inherently improved over metals in many applications.
- Recyclability is another key benefit with conversion from metal to plastic.
Furthermore, part designs can be more structurally functional than metals with optimized features not feasible in metal components, such as producing one part instead of three parts assembled to get the same result.
Corrosion and chemical resistance is an objective in many applications exposed to various harsh environments which can cause failures in metal components over time. Engineering resin choices are available that will not cause the erosion of structure and properties.
There is a shortening of product development timeframes, shorter cycle times, and lead times. The manufacturing is less complex since molding a product can be a 3-step process while metal fabrication can be 5 steps or greater.
Materials Used in Metal Replacement Molding
There are many resins available that are suitable metal replacement options, including high end engineering resins such as PEEK, PPA (polyphtalamide), polyetherimide, and PPS, to name a few. There are commodity grades that also serve as metal replacement options such as long glass fiber polypropylene, which has properties that has replaced short glass fiber nylons in automotive applications. Nylon resins are also available in various glass filled or other fillers to replace metals.
Applications and Industries
Particularly suitable applications for the following industries:
- Electronic housings
- Internal automotive housing components
- Aerospace seat components