Automotive Engineer working on computer

How Injection Molding Is Used in the Automotive Industry

Today’s automotive manufacturers face multiple challenges—a competitive market, constantly-changing consumer needs, supply chain issues, and a demand for improved fuel efficiency. The automotive industry also needs lightweight and readily-available materials that can reduce the weight of cars and frames without sacrificing driver safety. 

That’s where plastic injection molding comes in—this manufacturing process helps automotive manufacturers quickly, accurately, and reliably produce lightweight yet durable components that can absorb impact and withstand high temperatures.

Common Applications of Injection Molding in the Automotive Industry

You’ll see types of automotive components molded from thermoplastic resins.

Car interiors have numerous plastic injection molded components. Consoles, mats, gaskets, liners, glove boxes, the dashboard, panels, trim, upholstery, lighting enclosures, lamp covers, and multiple noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) components are all made from molded plastic.

Car exteriors are no different. Hoods, bumpers, tail lights, headlights, doors, radiators, grills, panels, trunks, mirror covers, fenders, and mirrors are all some form of molded plastic.

Advantages of Injection Molding in Automotive

As mentioned earlier, automotive manufacturers use plastic injection molding because it’s a highly repeatable process that produces lightweight component. However, there are other advantages of using plastic injection molding for automotive applications. 

These include:

  • Accuracy: Before components are produced, a mold is made that replicates the final product’s design. While it takes some time to create this mold, once it has been created, it is used to mass-produce one single component, increasing process accuracy and repeatability. 
  • Reliability: Plastic molded components have excellent properties, including corrosion, weather, heat, and impact resistance.
  • Cost-Effective: Plastic injection molding is considerably less expensive than other manufacturing processes. The higher the volume, the lower the costs, as the initial investment in mold and tooling is spread out over higher production volumes.
  • Flexible & Adaptable: Plastic injection molding is a versatile manufacturing process. It can be used for rapid prototyping or small, medium, and large production runs. Companies use the process to shorten the time it takes to introduce new products or to maintain tight delivery requirements on existing products.

Materials Used in Automotive Components

Plastic used for injection molding

Many types of plastics and resins are used to make high-strength components for the automotive industry. The material selection comes down to the part being made, the dimensions of the mold and tooling, and where the product is used. Types of material that can be used in plastic injection molding include:

  • Polycarbonate (PC): Polycarbonate is durable, weather-resistant, heat-resistant, and impact-resistant material and has exceptional optical qualities, which makes it ideal for headlights and bumpers.
  • Polypropylene (PP): This plastic resin has strong mechanical properties and excellent moldability. Its UV, moisture, and chemical-resistant properties make it an ideal material for dashboard parts and gas tanks. Bumpers can also be made from PP as it maintains its color regardless of what weather or elements it’s exposed to.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): PVC is a durable and robust synthetic polymer. Dashboards are often molded from polyvinyl chloride due to the material’s excellent heat resistance. Other PVC components include visors, seals, NVH components, moldings, and seals.
  • Polyurethane (PU): Polyurethane has multiple uses in the automotive industry. This flexible material forms comfortable seats and headrests while providing critical electrical insulation to various components.
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS): ABS is in high demand due to its excellent impact and heat resistance. It is commonly used to mold dashboard components, seat belt components, and door liners.
  • Polyethylene (PE): Yet another durable, strong, and lightweight material with excellent impact resistance, polyethylene is a low-cost polymer used for electrical insulation, fuel tanks, and specific car body components.

Have More Questions About Plastic Injection Molding? Contact Silver Basis Engineering Today

Silver Basis Engineering is an award-winning global manufacturing service supplier specializing in plastic injection molding and semisolid die casting. We hold over 511 patents and numerous accreditations and certifications across various industries. 3C industry giants around the world rely on us for lean production, flexible tooling, and innovative designs.  If you’re looking for more plastic injection molding resources, please visit our blog. Or contact us today to learn more about our capabilities or request a design consultation.