Over time, automobiles have changed dramatically from their first inception. The focusof this report was on the replacement of traditional metal parts with plastic parts. The reason for this change can be attributed to the gas shortage of the 70’s. Engineers knew that a lighter weight car was needed to gain more miles per gallon of gas. The bumper, for example, is a partthat has achieved weight reduction of 2.5 pounds while eliminating 13 metal parts. Another example would be the engine manifold where 5 pounds are now saved as well as increasing thehorsepower by 33%
. There are many parts that have made the change but this paper will focusonly on the fuel tank, engine and interior/exterior of the automobile. In some cases plastic has become more prevalent than metal. Plastic frees engineers from the design constraints imposed by metal. There are environment benefits from the more fuel-efficient vehicle, due to plasticslighter weight. However, there are no cars made completely of plastic so metal has it’sownadvantages. Therefore the sections to follow will discuss each materials characteristics inmanufacturing application, and how industry and consumer both benefit.
Through history, cars were typically made completely from steel. However, over time,cars have evolved into a composite of materials. The reason for this evolution can be blamed onthe increase in the price of oil during the decade of the 70’s. Society looked for a more efficientcar in terms of mileage per gallon of gas. Engineers looked toward plastic due to its lightweight.Plastic provides an average weight savings of 400 pounds. With 15 million cars manufacturedeach year, this translates to energy savings of 5.25 million gallons of gas per year and 10.5 billion pounds less carbon dioxide in the air
. The question then arose “Why not make a car completely out of plastic?” The answer is an easy one, toexpensive. Therefore a compromisehad to be made depending on the different characteristics of the materials. This leads to the factthat the automobile is now a composite of materials. Better gas mileage helps us manage our natural resources such as gasoline, while reducing emissions released into the atmosphere. Someareas where the use of plastics has become more proficient are exterior/interior, electrical, fuel,engine, chassis and power train. The first known use of plastic in an automobile, aside fromtires, was the bumper. Nowadays the majority of plastic bumpers are made of thermoplasticolefins, polyesters, polypropylene or blends of these compounds with glass fibers to increasestrength.
3. Uses of plastic in an Automobile:
3.1 Fuel Tank:
As changes in weight and cost savings drive the performance criteria for automotivematerials, equipment manufacturers are taking a hard look at the historically terne-coated steelused for gas tanks
. Thus, we will compare steel and plastic for gas tank uses according tocompetitive analysis and performance attributes. Throughout history, terne-coated steel has beenused for automotive gas tanks. However, several issues must be met regarding the changing performance criteria. This exploration proves to be a threat to the application of steel products.Many characteristics can be taken into account for the material change such as permeability,weight, packaging, safety, and cost. Even though the use of plastic fuel tanks has increased in