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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Lightweighting and EVs to drive automotive plastics
Lightweighting and EVs to drive automotive plastics
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Automotive industry in India is moving towards adopting e-mobility and clean fuels. Moving ahead electric vehicles (EVs) will dominate the industry as per government’s vision 2030. Considering automotive trend of light weighting and EVs, plastic and high performance plastic usage is estimated to increase. This article discuss about the opportunities and way ahead for use of plastic in automotive industry.
The global automotive plastics market size was estimated at $ 31.69 billion in 2018 and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 11.5 per cent from 2019 to 2025. Globally the key factors boosting growth of the usage of plastics in automotive sector is due to improved vehicle design capabilities, and increasing focus on vehicle weight reduction and emission control. Plastics are widely used in automotive components and parts owing to easy manufacturing, possible sourcing from renewable raw materials, and improved designs.
It is estimated that every 10 per cent reduction in vehicle weight results in a five per cent to seven per cent reduction in fuel usage. Current economic and environmental concerns make the creation of more fuel efficient cars a top priority in the automotive industry. Use of modern materials like aluminium and carbon fibre is helpful but the wise allocations of plastics are making an increasing difference.
In auto industry, 13 distinct kinds of high performance plastics are used.According to PlastIndia Foundation observations, plastic applications in automotives contribute to a considerable share of $ 318 million accounting to in-house tool rooms and other applications. Under Make in India initiative, Indian plastic industry has grown due to indigenisation of components by major OEMs in the automobile sector.
Experts believe that the growing consumer preferences for high-performance, lightweight, and fuel-efficient vehicles will increase product demand over the years to come. Weight reduction also offers a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption, conserving non-renewable crude oil reserves.
Integration in design
Designing a vehicle is a critical factor as it is subjected to various external forces and the possibilities of high impacts. Thus, to preserve the structural integrity of a vehicle, the materials used in its production become important factors for safety and stability. Although plastic is relatively cheaper than metals, their design parameters and manufacturing equipment are highly expensive, which is expected to pose a challenge to industry participants.
“With time, automakers have evolved. Designers today are exploring areas to use plastic or its engineered products right from the level of product development. Old school of designers considered metals and alloys as their major contributors. Thus, the process was slow. Usage of plastics have incredibly reduced weight and has gave a new direction to designs,” says Raghavendra Mudaraddi, Head-Quality, Origin Mouldings Pvt. Ltd.
New technologies and auto components
New technologies like additive manufacturing have harnessed the potential of use of plastic and high performance plastic products. These products will be durable, light in weight, robust and most importantly recyclable too. Additive manufacturing even helps to build parts in combination with metal and high performance plastics.
“Additive manufacturing brings an opportunity to use two or more materials. In case of automotive, high performance plastics and metals can be used to manufacture parts and components in combination. Based on the application of the components half of the component can be made using metal while the rest can use the automotive grade plastic,” says Ajay Deshkar, CEO, 3D Engineering automation LLP.
Combining two materials saves cost and helps to reduce weight on the automotive. Experts believe that this technology can bring a sea change in the electric vehicle segment.
Additive manufacturing can build a new market supply of standardised components. Polycarbonate (PC) is used widely in India with some additional types of high performance plastics for specific applications. These also serve as the material of 3D printing. Genuine components in the automotive industry, manufactured by the automakers today are ignored and non-standardised components are used. This is mainly due to the cost. Instead, 3D printing could help to build a new ecosystem of quality components in affordable cost, given that the automotive industry embraces plastics in their products with more determination.
As the market penetration of electric vehicles increases, PC consumption is expected to grow at a faster rate, as PC will be used in sensors and in LEDs in the car. “The application of polymer components within engine transmission will become more common as manufacturers seek to squeeze costs and weight. But, the consumption of engineered polymers will be counterweighed by the industry’s emphasis on light weighting, resulting in smaller and lighter components. The light weighting of the battery pack in electric vehicles is viewed as another important trend that will allow EVs to compete with cars using an internal combustion engine. The entire structure of the battery pack offers opportunities of light weighting with the use of engineering polymers and composites,” states Priyanka Khemka, Consultant, Energy & Chemicals Advisory, Nexant.
Another area is that of coatings. Several coatings are used in the automotive anti-fog, anti-foul, anticorrosive, water repellent, dust repellent etc. “Coating in the automotive industry have been there successfully. Demand for compounds, masterbatches and others will always drive plastic demand for the automotive segment. General materials like PVCs also use the same raw material alike coatings. Thus, coatings will remain as one of the inevitable component in the automotive sector and will continue to successfully grow. Properties like anti-corrosion and water repellence makes coating significant,” says Vishal Mehta, New Product Development, Apte And Apte Organic Coatings.
PlastIndia Foundation observes that most automotive plastic in the market are recyclable and automotive manufacturing contributes to a large share of manufacturing GDP, thus, with growth in the usage of plastics, it will open opportunities for recycling sector and also bring about a balance for the plastic in circulation.
Additive manufacturing brings an opportunity to use two or more materials. In case of automotive, high performance plastics and metals can be used to manufacture parts and components in combination. Based on the application of the components half of the component can be made using metal while the rest can use the automotive grade plastic.”
Ajay Deshkar, CEO, 3D Engineering automation LLP
Coating in the automotive industry have been there successfully. Demand for compounds, masterbatches and others will always drive plastic demand for the automotive segment.”
Vishal Mehta, New Product Development, Apte And Apte Organic Coatings
Drive Automotive Plastics
3D Engineering Automation LLP
Apte And Apte Organic Coatings
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