May 12/22

Metal vs. Plastic Parts for Vehicles: And the Winner Is…

plastic parts


Did you know that new vehicles in 2021 cost consumers around $45,000? Data from December 2020 shows that this number is up nearly $8,000. Most importantly, manufacturing companies can help reduce the cost of building cars and streamline services through automotive plastic parts.

Plastic parts are essential building blocks for the design and function of a vehicle. But how does it compare to the strength and durability of metal?

In our complete guide, we will go over plastic versus metal and break down why plastic is becoming the future of the auto industry. So, keep reading for more information!

The Science Behind Plastic Parts and Cars

Plastics are quite common in the automotive industry, first starting in the 1960s. Since then, the field has expanded and includes the use of technology advanced plastics and composites, such as:

  • Polypropylene
  • Polyurethane
  • Polyvinyl Chloride
  • Polycarbonate

Therefore, it helps manufacturers build high-performance parts through cheaper costs and lighter materials. Some of the ways that manufacturing companies mold and use plastic are:

  • Injection molding
  • Thermoforming
  • Gas assist

Under these categories, you can use vacuum forming, two-shot injection molding, and much more. For example, thermoforming uses heat that helps shape and mold customizable plastic pieces.

Plastic Automotive Parts and the Environment

So, how economically friendly is plastic? Let’s look at biodegradable polymers as an example.

Recently, trends are shifting towards biodegradable options to decrease fossil fuels and adhere to government regulations. Bioplastic production uses upwards of 68% fewer fossil fuels. As well, it also uses fewer resources, which ultimately drives costs lower for consumers.

Automotive Plastic Parts vs. Metal

Automotive metal parts are what you would typically think of when you picture a new car, such as:

  • Aluminum
  • Carbon steel
  • Cast iron
  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Tungsten Carbide

Metal is a raw material that many vehicle manufacturers use for engines and transmissions. Meanwhile, steel is primarily the most common raw metal material in the auto industry. Above all, experts have suggested that it takes around 900 kilograms of steel per vehicle.

Steel helps create the car’s body shape, mufflers, exhaust pipes, and more. While metal is largely thought of as an exterior material component, some are used for wiring and AC systems. Although metal has its uses in the auto industry, plastic is fast becoming the automotive parts solution. Therefore, with some of these benefits:

  • Better customization
  • Nonpermeable
  • Recyclable
  • Longevity

One of the limitations of using plastic in many industries over metal is its lack of strength. However, advances in technology have evened the playing field. Most plastic production today has equal strength-to-weight ratios and stiffness.

Are Plastic Cars the Future?

Ford, Audi, and Volvo are just a few auto brands switching to plastic. They find that using recyclable plastic offers equal performance and is more sustainable. For instance, the research discovered that nearly 17% of greenhouse emissions come from the auto industry.

Therefore, almost 40 different plastics and polymers are widely used today that have helped advance automotive technology. It looks like in the foreseeable future that plastic is here to stay!

Finding High-Quality Plastic Parts

High-quality plastic parts for vehicles start with a qualified manufacturing company. At Mayco International, we specialize in auto OEMs as a tier-one supplier.

To keep up with the changing industry, you need a manufacturing company you can rely on that uses advancements in plastics for sustainable, cost-friendly, and durable vehicle parts. So, check out our complete list of services for more information on getting started!