In the world of thermoforming converting both cosmetic and structural parts from metal or fiberglass to plastic can be a great cost savings. Metal parts such as a large tool box, fenders for a vehicle, cowls, and SUV Vehicle Roofs would be great candidates to consider for this change. These changes could also improve the part’s performance, esthetic look, and durability as well as providing a cost savings.
Consider … Color
Avoid painting Metal or Fiberglass by using a colored plastic.
Consider… Durability & Product Life
Metal parts can become rusty or pitted. Metal can also show hail damage. TPO can provide U.V. Stability.
Consider…. Extra Hardware
Plastic can be molded using methods and techniques that could reduce the need for metal hinges, and hardware. This could also in turn reduce the need for assembly labor.
Acrylic capped sheet can rival the appearance of gel coated fiberglass. New materials like TPO can provide U.V. stability. Films can also be applied to plastics to make it appear they are metal, or films such as Camouflage patterns can be applied to give a more unique cosmetic appeal.
There are methods available such as Twin Sheet Thermoforming, and mechanically inserting supports as the plastic is molded. It is possible to design radii and ribs that are not practical in metal, foam filling, and material choices for different specific performance issues.
Consider.. Shipping Weight
Metal parts tend to weigh much more than plastics parts.
Don’t let plastic fool you! When considering the change from Metal or Fiberglass over to plastic keep an open mind. The key is to think outside the box, and to have an engineer that will listen and make it happen!