Injection moulding is a well-established production process in which automotive mould manufacturers inject molten plastic materials into a mould cavity. The melted plastic then cools and hardens, and the manufacturers extract the finished part. The nature of the process makes it an excellent for manufacturing plastic automotive parts.
In this article, we will look through the unique advantages of injection moulding for automobile applications and how it is effectively being used within the industry.
Though the mould design process is critical and challenging (a poorly designed mould can result in defects), injection moulding itself is a reliable method for producing solid plastic parts with a high-quality finish. Here are a few reasons why the process is beneficial for automotive plastic parts production:
1. Wide Selection of Materials
Automotive injection molding offers a wide range of materials for a wide range of applications, from thermoplastic materials such as polypropylene, nylon, and ABS, to elastomeric materials like rubber and silicone, and thermosetting materials such as epoxy and polyester.
2. Rapid Prototyping with Rapid Tooling
Rapid prototyping via rapid tooling offers a significant benefit by enabling automotive manufacturers to prototype using production-intent materials, a capability that other rapid prototyping processes like 3D printing and CNC cannot provide. It also allows designers and engineers to quickly iterate and test designs before full-scale production in a cost-effective manner, thereby improving speed to market.
3. Replacing Heavy Metal Parts Through Overmoulding
Overmoulding is a process in injection moulding where a substrate or pre-molded part is combined with additional materials to create a final product. The automotive industry is increasingly turning to overmoulding to replace traditional heavy metal parts with more lightweight and cost-effective alternatives for improved fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance. From car handles, steering wheel elements, to foot pedals, components traditionally composed of heavy metals can now be reinvented with overmoulding.
4. Delivering Critical and Repeatable Parts
Plastic injection moulding contributes to the production of critical components such as electrical housings, engine components and various other structural components that are integral to the performance, safety, and overall functionality of automobiles. It is also a highly repeatable process that delivers consistent results from part to part, ensuring the production of high-performance vehicles.
5. Meeting Aesthetic Expectations
Automotive injection moulding plays a crucial role in meeting aesthetic expectations within the automotive industry. From sleek interior elements, such as dashboard panels and trim pieces, to the exterior features like grilles and body panels, injection moulding enables the creation of parts with smooth finishes, intricate details, and diverse textures, (e.g., glossy, rough, or matte). Unlike other manufacturing techniques, these textures are applied directly to the mould rather than to the moulded part.
Plastic injection moulding also allows for custom colour matching by mixing dyes with the raw material pellets before manufacturing begins. This produces a solid, consistent colouring after moulding complete, without the need for painting or tinting. All in all, the nature of the process ensures precise and consistent production of automotive components.
From interior to exterior, under-the-hood to lighting, automotive injection moulding plays a pivotal role in shaping the modern vehicle.
Interior Components – manufacturers also produce many automotive interior parts using automotive plastic injection moulding. They include instrumentation components, interior surfaces, dashboard faceplates, door handles, glove compartments, air vents, and more. In addition, they also use injection moulding to produce decorative plastic elements.
Under-the-Hood Components – over the past two decades or so, manufacturers have transitioned to plastics for many under-the-hood components that were previously made from metal.
Exterior Components – injection moulding is an established process for many exterior automotive components, including fenders, grilles, bumpers, door panels, floor rails, light housings, and more. Splash guards are a fine example for demonstrating the durability of injection molded parts. In addition, the components, which protect the car from road debris and minimize splashing, are often made from rubber or other durable and flexible materials.
From large car bumpers to rims and car doors, HLH Rapid works with leading OEMs tier one and tier two suppliers to produce injection moulded prototypes and pre-series or production parts. Discover more about our full automotive injection moulding services.
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