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Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards coupled with heightened consumer sensitivities to the environmental impact of using fossil fuels are tightening fuel consumption requirements for the auto industry.
The automotive industry is experiencing rapid advancements, some of which have been brought about by federal regulations and others as a result of manufacturers leveraging opportunities presented by new materials and technologies.
Using injection-molding for complex, critical-use plastic automotive components is a practical solution for manufacturers to keep pace with evolving governmental standards.
The overall safety and performance of a vehicle is dependent, in part, on the plastic components used throughout the vehicle. Many people think that when it comes to cars, plastic parts are features like the dashboard, seats and floor mats. But thermoplastic polymers are used in much more critical places throughout a vehicle, many of them under the hood in the car’s powertrain and fuel systems.
In fact, up to 13 different polymers may be used in a single car model, with polypropylene, polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) making up 66% of the polymers used in a car.
Since 1975, the automotive industry has been under governmental mandate to improve the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks manufactured in the United States. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, born out of the Arab Oil Embargo of the mid-70s, are still in effect today with recently added emphasis placed on further improving fuel economy, reducing greenhouse gases and saving people money at the gas pump.
In a recent blog, we explored how injection molders can reduce automotive component costs and risks if they’re involved early in the design process.
But, how about the impact of the plastic automotive components themselves? What benefits can manufacturers realize in using them?
With nearly a quarter million manufacturing jobs reshored in the U.S. since 2010, it appears many automotive manufacturers are finding upfront offshore savings come with a heavy cost in parts shortages, production line shutdowns, product defects and transportation delays.
Braking, cooling, fuel delivery systems and the powertrain are all critical systems in automobiles that must consistently perform. Therefore, finding and partnering with an injection molder for these applications takes on added importance for a manufacturer.
While manufacturability, quality, and performance of injection molded automotive components is the end goal, getting to that point requires that design engineers carefully consider every aspect of the development. This includes the impact that the injection molding process has on overall fit, function, performance and safety of those critical use components.