The use of plastics has continued to rise in all industries including the automotive world. With so many plastic variations now available, it’s hard to keep them all straight. So to help ease the confusion behind all the different types of plastics used in manufacturing, RW Carbon presents our Intro to Plastics.
Polypropylene or otherwise known as PP is a type of plastic polymer that is used in variety of applications. Over the past 30 years this material has begun replacing the use of rubbers and steel due to its durable and anti-corrosive characteristics. Being a plastic it has the ability to form into any shape and has a presence in both the industrial and consumer industries. As for the automotive world polypropylene is mostly used in bumper and side skirt construction. This plastic has become the go to material for all modern day bumpers due to several features:
- High chemical and corrosion resistance
- Light weight and rigidity
- High tensile strength
- Long life span
- Easy to manufacturer
- Simple to maintain and clean
Most automotive manufacturers including Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche all use polypropylene as their number one choice for bumper construction. All of RW Carbon’s front/rear bumper, side skirts and some front lip spoilers like the BMW F30 Performance Style Front Lip Spoilers are made of this type of plastic.
ABS Plastic (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS Plastic has become the most widely used plastic material in the automotive industry in the past 5-10 years. ABS is a thermoplastic resin that is commonly used for injection molding applications. It combines Acrylonitrile, Butadiene and Styrene to create a material that has all the benefits and few of the limitations. Some of these benefits include:
- High strength and rigidity
- Good chemical resistance
- High impact strength
- Excellent high and low temperature performance
- Easy to paint
RW Carbon uses ABS plastic the most out of all the plastics named. This is due to its ease of molding and durability for our customers. We use this material in a range of items like: roof spoilers and trunk spoilers, grilles and the base for the majority of our carbon fiber accessories. Products like the Mercedes Carbon Fiber Mirror Replacement would not be able to achieve the rigidity and durability needed if they were merely built from carbon fiber. The use of ABS plastic allows us to produce a product line that not only looks great and performs but it cost efficient as well.
Fiber Reinforced Plastics – FRP
Fiber reinforced plastic or FRP is a composite material that is made from a polymer matrix like polypropylene and is then infused with fibers to add additional strength. The fiber can be made of either glass (fiberglass) or carbon (CFRP). Both of these materials are widely used in the aerospace, automotive, marine and construction industries. Just recently Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) has played a huge role in the automotive industry and the creation of the new BMW i8 and i3. Although RW Carbon does not use CFRP (yet) in our products we do use FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastics) very often. You can see FRP being used in RW Carbon’s trunk and hoods as a base. This FRP base gives the trunks and hoods strength and rigidity. A full carbon fiber hood or trunk would cost far too much for our target audience, however FRP allows them to still be lightweight and keep their shape under stress. Some of our plastic trunk and roof spoilers are still made using FRP but with the advancements in ABS plastics many have changed. To recap, some of FRP’s advantages are:
- High tensile strength
- Light weight construction
- Corrosion resistant
Polyurethane is categorized as a polymer and is composed using a chain of organic units joined by urethane links. Polyurethane is probably the least used plastic material that RW Carbon uses for our products. It has very similar properties to polypropylene however it tends to be more brittle and prone to cracking. For some products like our Carbon Fiber iPhone case this is not an issue, but when it comes to a full bumper, polyurethane does not make the cut.