1. Abstract: 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 forthis change can be attributed to the gas shortage of the 70¶s.Engineers knew that a lighterweight 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.Anotherexample would be the engine manifold where 5 pounds are now saved as well as increasing thehorsepower by 33%8.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 hasbecome more prevalent than metal.Plastic frees engineers from the design constraints imposedby 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. 2. Introduction: 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 10.5billion pounds less carbon dioxide in the air8.The question then arose ³Why not make a carcompletely 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 ournatural 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 tanks5. 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 changingperformance 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 i the marketplace, a comparative analysis of the various plastic and steel alternatives indicates that steel remains a cost-effective material that meets all of the required performance criteria5. 3.1.1 Plastic Fuel Tanks Plastic fuel tanks are made from high density polyethylene(HDPE), a strong, lightweightmaterial which has allowed manufacturers to substantially lower the net weight of theautomobile.Since the mid-1980s, automakers have been displacing coated-steel fuel tanks withplastic ones. During the early 1990¶s,

approximately 2.7-3 million cars and trucks built in NorthAmerica used nonmetallic tanks. At this time it represented 22-25% of the market, compared to16% in the late 1980¶s.Experts dealing with automotive designs predict plastic tanks willcapture 60% of the North American market by the end of 2001.This can be considered as aworst-case scenario for the steel industry if it fails to provide a cost-effective steel alternative thatmeets all of the performance criteria. 3.1.2 Performance Attributes 3.1.2.a Manufacturability Terne-plate holds a materials cost advantage over high-density polyethylene.The cost ofthe material is not the only driving force.Consideration must also include the cost of the tankand its reliability within the fuel system of the vehicle.This system is composed of the tank,filler tube, and level control to name a few5.All of these components must function properly asany unforeseen corrosion can easily contaminate the fuel delivery system and cause costlyrepairs.Metal tanks cost structure indicate a lower cost per piece versus plastic ones3. 3.1.2.b Design Features Plastic tanks have the ability to meet packaging constraints with complex shapes, anddesign engineers have greater flexibility in the car design and styling without having to worryabout fitting the gas tank.The average gas tank for a compact automobile can boast weightsavings of up to 30% versus a similar steel tank.However, the weight advantage of plastics hasdiminished due to new permeability requirements5. 3.1.2.c Safety One critical part of the performance criteria of the tank is its ability to meet crashrequirements. Generally, plastic tanks are considered safer in crashes because they are seamlessand, thus, not prone to failures in the seam areas.Also, plastic tanks deform and have someability to rebound back to shape. When steel tanks absorb energy and deform, the pressure withinthe tank is inversely related to the volume.As the pressure in the tank increases the volumedecreases.This makes them vulnerable at welded or clamped areas where failure can potentiallyoccur. At the same time, the tank must withstand extreme in-tank temperatures in NorthAmerica.The high point (79°C) temperature exceeds the boiling point of the alcohol fuels whilethe extreme cold introduces potential cracking problems12.Plastic, with its insulating properties,slows heat transfer to the fuel when compared to a steel tank.Also, plastics cannot be considereda source for sparks12.In the case of an under-car fire, plastic tanks will hold back the rise in fueltemperature.However, this is not a permanent solution as the tank will soften, sag, andeventually release the fuel. A steel tank does not sag in a fire; however, the fuel temperature mayrise rapidly, perhaps resulting in over pressurization and release of fuel through a mechanical fitting. 3.1.2.d Corrosion Corrosion is a well-known concern on both the inside and outside surfaces of tanks. Theoutside surfaces and supporting structure are exposed to road chemicals, salt, mud, and gravel.The corrosion issue is critical with zinc-coated products that replace terne-coated plates becauseof their nature, which puts an even higher demand on the barrier film for both the inside andoutside surfaces. In contrast, the HDPE gas tanks are inert to the corrosive environments insideand outside the tank.

3.1.2.e Recyclability This is the hardest obstacle to overcome for a plastic part.Despite progress in recycling, the propagation of plastics in automotive applications faces some problems, such as5:

1)1)The absence of a plastics recycling infrastructure. 2)2)A typical passenger cars steel and iron parts are recoverable. 3)3)The molding process for plastic fuel tanks.This process results in 35% of plastic material ending as waste. 4)4)The lack of technology that dismantlers can use to quickly collect various plastics. 5)5)Cost. Recycled plastics are not cost competitive with newer plastics. As a result, automotive-design engineers must not only meet customer, design, styling, cost,weight, and regulatory needs but also environmental criteria. All material suppliers must showthat their product is not only lighter and cost effective but also recyclable. 3.1.3 Tank Materials and Manufacturers 3.1.3.a Manufacturers Chrysler made the decision to outsource plastic tanks and they remain committed to thisdecision.The listed advantages of plastic, according to Chrysler, are lack of corrosion, easierpackaging and lower weight. Ford called for a switch in 1997 to zinc-nickel-coated steel from terne-coated steel tanksin all models.In some models they will also switch from plastic to zinc-coated tanks.However,they will continue to use plastic tanks in certain models. General Motors at this time has an ongoing corrosion test program to see if Plastic would be better than metal in fuel tanks5. 3.1.3.b Competitive Analysis There are two aspects to compare between steel and plastic fuel tanks; production volumeand the ability to recycle the material.Plastic is much cheaper when it comes to productionvolume while steel is cheaper to recycle.The difference in these characteristics will be thedriving influence in plastic versus metal fuel tanks 3.2 Exterior For the last several years there has been enormous expansion in the awareness andattempt in the development of innovative polymers for automotive body exteriors.Thechallenge, which confronts the automotive car companies of today, focuses around costreduction, improved durability and quality while concurrently providing a vehicle, which ispleasurable to drive and stylishly in appearance. Technologies for automobile exteriors comprise an extensive continuum.Thermoplasticpolymers, alloys and Reaction Injection Molded (RIM) thermosetsare primary candidates forvertical panels.Thermoset and thermoplastic composites vie for horizontal components and uni-body verticals that carry structural loads.Applicants for composite fabrication technologyincludes SMC compression molding, Structural RIM for thermosets, and high-pressure flowmolding or stamping for thermoplastics2.Last but not least, coating systems establish a sizeableportion of assembly plants and vehicular costs; nonetheless contribute significantly to style andappearance. The sections that follow concentrate on both, elementary and marketable issues ofmaterials implementation, and processing, therefore, all overall industrial progress in thetechnologies listed above. Plastic body panels have been considered cost acceptable with that of steel parts.Thefairly low tooling cost of plastics compared to steel offsets the elevated material cost of plastic.This is only true in lower volume applications.One advantage for using plastics in exterior bodypanels is its low capital investment for plastic tooling changes in comparison to steel.Exteriorplastic panels may be changed frequently to alter and update vehicle styling, while ahomogeneous vehicle stage is employed to minimize production fee.Changes in

materials andvehicle subsystem technologies and source represent the greatest cost reduction opportunities forU.S. automakers.Materials and subassemblies currently account for over 50 percent of totalvehicle cost and further affect assembly costs that represent another 30 percent of production cost4. Steel does have performance deficiencies.U.S. produced steel has suffered fromwavering value that has resulted in inadequate vehicle fit and finish and the need for overdesigned, and more expensive tools.Further, poor corrosion resistance has increased life cyclecosts for automobiles.On the other hand, companies are helping to improve consistency in sheetproduction and the use of electrogalvanization and surface treatment technologies are improvingsteel¶s corrosion resistance. SMC can withstand exposure in paint ovens designed for steel and have begun to meetone-minute cycle targets, which match vehicle build rates, due to technology development on thepart of the SMC fabrication community. Reaction injection molded polyurethane-type systems and injection-moldedthermoplastics have had smaller quantity of industrial applications, but offer the potential fordamage resistance in low-impact collision4. 3.2.1 Thermoplastic Composites:

Techno polymers are a combination of GE Plastics own proficiency in resin technology,and PPG¶s venerable work with fiberglass and composite technology.Thus, after thecombination of these two technologies, a high-strength industrial thermoplastic composite isproduced.Thermoplastic composites represent two extremes.One, the high-end consist ofexotic polymer matrices with specialized reinforcement systems, usually found in the aerospaceindustry.The second is sheet-molding compounds, used mainly in industrial applications.Theadvantages of using thermoplastic as opposed to thermoset-based composites are as followed4: 1)1)No hand cutting/weighing 2)2)No controlled storage 3)3)No hot molds 4)4) Thermoplastic recyclability 5)5)Greater than 50% reduction in cycle time 6)6) Minimal deflashing 7)7)No post-mold curing step Not only do thermoplastics enjoy a high modulus, they additionally have exceptional collisionresistance.Currently this knowledge is used in a multiplicity of applications.The present dayconsumer desires a safer and more fuel-efficient automobile, thus the automotive industrydemands lighter, stronger materials in which to make automobiles.Application of thistechnology includes structural roofs whose load bearing eliminates the roof rack, subsequentlythe creation of an aerodynamic storage compartment.Second application, is for the integratedlighting housings and locking platforms for the hood or tailgate.Third application, totallyintegrated dashboard platforms that incorporate knee-bar support beams, steering column andpedal support, and heating and ventilation housing.A final application, are for back panels oftruck cabs. The potential advantage of a composite consisting of chopped nature of glass,approximately 60-70%, the glass will flow more effectively and fill bosses and ribs7.Histechnology is applied in the development of a thermoplastic composite for horizontal automotivepanels. Saturn trail blazed the use of thermoplastic systems in body panels with the introductionof the industry¶s foremost quality, high production thermoplastic door panel a decade ago.Daimler/Chrysler also has a firm dedication to designing and building plastic-bodied cars.Theuse of thermoplastics saves 20 to 50 percent in net weight and 50 to 70 percent in production time.

Developing new material technologies continues to make thermoplastic systems trendyand profitable.Molded in color panels, are extremely attractive quality, because of an effectiveelimination of manufacturing time and cost. Thermoplastic polyesters are one of the most recycled materials in the world.Thisprovides numerous advantages, both promoting recycled product to the consumer and thesavings that result from in-company recycling of needless material. Still, most plastic-based body panels rely on sheet molding compounds (SMC), a thermoset polyestersheet.Manufactures find production costs for SMC based panels are, for the mostpart, lesser than production cost for steel and aluminum6. RIM is being used in production of automobile bumpers and fascias as well as body panels.RIM technology is lighter than SMC, with slight compromises in structural rigidity.

Transparent polycarbonate plastics have revolutionized lighting systems, for automobiles.These plastics are designed to resist high temperatures, are also durable, and can be molded intoalmost any desired shape.Thus, glass headlight lenses on automobiles have been, for the mostpart, replaced by this improved technology.In the future, both head and tail light systems willintegrate this plastic light emitting diode brakelight systems1.Whereby an effortlesslyreachable, single light source is used to provide exterior lighting for the automobile by means ofacrylic fiber-optic wires.This amalgamation will eradicate the requirement for highheatresistant plastics in automobile lighting systems. Nylons, polystyrene, polycarbonates, polypropylene, polyesters, and urethanes are the most commonly used plastics for the visual components and trim of the automobile. Using plastic instead of metal in the manufacturing of wheel covers, and then coating the plasticwith a metallic like polish, manufactures will spend a fraction of the cost, compared to real metalproduction, while making the plastic appear like metal alloy. Plastics represent one of the greatest challenges for coating manufactures.Plasticsubstrates are unique in that they represent a multiplicity of surfaces each with its own adhesioncharacteristics and physical properties. One characteristic property being the rigid thermoplastics, for example, nylon, polycarbonate, and polyester, blends. The secondcharacteristic is, thermoplastic elastomers, urethane, styrenic, and polyolefin.The final plasticphysical characteristic is, thermosets, such as, polyester (SMC) and urethane (RIM).The costfor painting during assembly can account for up 45% of the total cost of a new assembly plant4.Plastic automobiles create a number of solutions to the problem of surface appearance.The firstbeing an in-mold coating system, which first primes the surface of the SMC part, and secondadds different pigments while the part is still in the process of molding.An alternate solution isintegral coloring, which is how most plastics are presently colored.This process is usedprimarily for sport utility vehicles, where surface appearance is not a top priority.Traditionalsurface coating techniques such as, spraying, dipping, or vapor permeation curing, are availableby companies familiar in painting plastics. In conclusion, incentives for the application of plastics for the exterior use of automobiles are adecrease in weight, thus improving fuel efficiency.Secondly, plastics are corrosion resistance.Just look at the bodywork of a steel or aluminum automobile that is driven in an area where theresidents heavily salt their roads.Then, compare the metal body automobile with a plastic bodyvehicle.The choice is obvious, plastic is superior for

cold climate regions.Thirdly, lower costdue to shorter runs, better styling latitude, parts consolidation.Finally, the ability of plasticautomobiles to first deforms and then recovers its original form11.Minor dents will not requireextensive and expensive time and money for repairs.

3.3 Interior Consumers demand an automobile that is not only comfortable but also, noiseless, which has aesthetic appeal and ergonomic arrangement.Plastic is pertinent towards all these concerns. Urethane foam is the most frequent plastic for upholstery cushioning.Urethanes abilityto be recycled, as well as, its ability to fulfill design and economic requirements makes it thematerial of choice.In recent years manufactures have been inserting carbon dioxide into thefoam cushioning, subsequently saving the quantity of urethane used in cushion production.Thisprocess is done without sacrificing comfort, noise control, and vibration prevention.Urethanefoams are also used in the production of armrests, headrests, headliners and cushionedinstrument panels.To restate, urethane foams are cost-effective and can be recycled to makecarpeting for automobiles. Instrument panels, traditionally, were made from several unique components that requiredpainting and, which were held together by steel supporting beam that were positioned behind theinstrument panel.Due to today¶s plastics, instrument panels now consist of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), ABS/poycarbonate alloys, poycarbonates, poypropylene, modifiedpolyphenylene ether (PPE), and styrene maleic anhydride resins8.These technologies allow forthe production of design items such as: air bag lodging, center stacks, for instrument panels, andintegrated instrument panel items.Plastics eliminate the requirement for steel beam supports;therefore manufactures dramatically cut cost for the instrument panel production while reducingthe automobiles net weight.Intact integrated single-piece units can be produced from allurethane and all polypropylene resins.The single-piece unit outcome is a seamless instrumentpanel, which will greatly reduce noise, vibration, and harshness levels.Plastic single-piece unitscan be molded in particular color, resulting in a dramatic cut in time of production and cost ofpainting. Steering wheels are made from either molded, pigmented, vinyl resins, or from RIMpigmented urethane when a pliable material is necessary4.The use of coils and magnets inmodern steering columns require an injected material that separates magnetic areas off from theother sections, while ensuring limited interference with the magnetic fields. Modern heating, cooling conditioning air vents and control consoles provide temperatureadjustment to the front and rear passenger seats.The consoles are typically produced from ABSresins, poylpropylene, and SMA resins1.Blow-molded and injection molded polypropylene isused in the manufacturing of air vents, which feed the out-let consoles. Again, like for the exterior, plastics can improve the automobile by reducing its netweight, and increasing noise, vibration, harshness control, while improving overall comfort.This is all accomplished while slashing manufacturing expenditures, thus lowering the price tagfor the automobile.Also products such as dual climate control consoles would not exist withoutplastic technology application. 3.4 Polymers in Car Engine Manifolds and Power Trains: The last 5 years have seen, a major shift in the materials used in manifold manufacture.This small period of time has seen over 80% of new cars switch from traditional aluminummanifolds to more revolutionary nylon composites.So far, the transition has been a completesuccess, indicating that future innovations are just around the corner.

The manifold of a car is responsible for providing air to the engine.The air is necessaryfor combustion of the gasoline to take place.Although this sounds simplistic and trivial thelifespan an efficiency of a car¶s engine depend on the quality of the air provided to it.Dust andforeign particles in the air intake, can harm moving engine parts, or hamper combustion.The airintake counters this threat by filtering the intaken air.The manifold also has to allow air to enter the engine at a high density if possible (4-8 mkg)2.Since warm air will be of a lower density then colder air, ideal gas law ~ T1 , it is important to shield the incoming air from engine heat. Most cars now are equipped with Air Intake manifolds made of high quality nylon 6, ornylon 66 resins, under various trade names.Currently the primary producers of these materialsfor power-train molding are BASF, Dow Chemical, and DuPont Chemical.Their chemicals areUltramidTm for BASF, DuPont¶s ZytelTm, and Dow¶s QuestraTm. These are similar compounds of anylon 6 resin, with 33-35% glass reinforcement Manifolds using these composites are moldedusing injection molding systems, to form the complex single piece engine air-intake piecesnecessary to boost engine performance.Injection molding takes advantage of the ability ofplastics to take a complex single-piece shape.This is where a large portion of the savings overtraditional aluminum intakes is realized.Aluminum manifolds require costly milling, and postproduction work to make them as efficient as a single piece nylon system. This knowledge allows a listing of desirable properties in the chosen polymer.Thepolymer must be able to resist the heat in the environment it will be located in.The area arounda car engine is hot, and the nylon composites have melting points ranging from 220-300oC.Inorder to maintain the manifold it is also important that it is resistant to corrosion by car fuel, andbattery acid vapors which would threaten to eat through engine pieces.Water absorption is aconcern with nylon 6, which is why nylon 6,6 is often used instead, since it has a lowerconcentration of water absorbing amide-group concentrations along the polymer backbone.When nylons absorb too much water they lose tensile strength and become more flexible due tothe fact that the water acts like a plasticizer.This is not desirable since the manifold of an engineis a carefully designed precision piece.Another concern is the tensile modulus of the polymer,for those commonly used in engine manifolds they range from 11000 ± 12500 MPa. Alsodesirable but less important is a high electrical resistance.There are many electrical systemsunder the hood of a car, and the nylon 6, and nylon 6,6 resins have resistances of approximately1*10^13 ohms.

4. Conclusion: From bumpers to fuel tanks, lightweight plastic gives cars better gas mileage and allowsengineers more freedom in their designs. Traditionally, metal alloys were used in manufacturingautomobile components, however, plastic has several advantages that allows it to outperformmetal.Plastic offers a variety of practical, cost effective alternatives as well as advantages overtraditional automotive production materials. There are many characteristics in which plastic partsare superior to steel, and this paper has touched on a few of these areas.The 4 majorcharacteristics can be summarized as follows3: 1)1)Weight± Because plastic can weigh 6 to 8 times less than certain metal parts, using it to reduce the weight of the car helped to make it more fuel efficient. 2)2)Easier to Produce ± Plastic is generally more expensive but easier to mold and produce/re-fabricate. 3)3)Design Flexibility ± Allows engineers to have greater freedom in styling, building and placing components.

4)4)Parts Consolidation - One plastic part usually replaces the function of several metal Pieces

References Cited: 3.3.www.plastcs -car. com 4.4.Schmeal & Purcell, New Polymer Technology For Auto Body Exteriors, 260 volume 84, 1988, AICHE, New York, New York, 1988 /journals/ 6.6.Plastic processing for the automotive engineer, Society of Automotive Engineers, 1967, 29p 7.7.Automotive engineering, Society of Automotive Engineers, v80, no.11-v 105;Nov. 1972-Dec. 1997 8.8.http://www.plastics- ght/auto_slideshow.html 9.9.Timothy T. Maxwell and Jesse C. Jones, Alternative Fuels: Emissions, Economics and Performance (Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers, 1995), pp. 29-42. 10.10. Robert Q. Riley, Alternative Cars in the 21st Century (Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers, 1994), pp. 173-176. 11.11. Bundy International, "Fuel Supply Systems for a Healthier Environment", ed. Michael Scarlett, Automotive Technology International '94, pp. 37-40. 12.12. "Plastic Bounces Back in Fuel Tanks," Automotive News (January 30, 1995). 13.13. Delphi VII Forecast and Analysis of the North American Automotive Industry (Ann Arbor, MI: Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation, University of Michiga

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