As far as weight proportions alone are concerned, it wouldn't be fair to compare the relatively lightweight synthetics to the heavier materials used in the automobile. Currently about 14% of the weight is made up of synthetics, which means, naturally, a much higher proportionate volume. Even though the world wide demand for synthetics is increasing by approx. 5% p.a., this is not the case in the automobile branch because here the competition is very fierce. The petrol tank, formed from thermoplastic has once again turned into a lightweight and compact competitor of the sheet-metal tank, it is also absolutely leak-proof and can do without the often needed special fuel cooling. One can assume that the present market saturation does not mean that the demand has come to a standstill.
How it works
Although the absorption and transfer of impact energy to the interior is, in the case of synthetics, not ideal , as with bumpers and also complete front and rear casing, (see picture) it is unimaginable to do without it. In the USA small cars are being built completely covered with synthetics. An unbelievable abundance of shapes are possible, one can forget about rust caused by stone-chipping and once anyone has seen the resilience of a bumper, that after a light impact distortion, shows almost no damage, is easily convinced of the application of synthetics.
The synthetics industry has done its homework, nowadays all synthetics used in automobile production are marked for easier recycling. If the marking were to be used for the exact determination of, e.g., what type of synthetic is used in the interior, it would sometimes be more useful. The processing becomes more and more perfected and if metals were not colder to touch, one could not distinguish them from synthetics. Although a high standard in appearance and haptics (surface feel) has been reached, the demands on ergonomics and quality will probably continue.
- Engine parts and parts groups - Car body parts with passive safety - Modular construction (e.g., front-end) - Side and rear windows
There are even synthetics which, under the influence of heat, return to a once "learned" shape. Maybe one day dents in plastic fenders can be repaired with a hairdryer! 06/08