When you think of what you can do with plastic, maybe your credit cards come to mind. If I talk about nylons, your first thought is probably about women’s hosiery. As exciting as that would be, there is a whole side to plastics you might not think about very often.
For those who are old enough to remember, think about the automobiles that were coming out in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. I was less than impressed with what auto manufacturers were selling us back then. As they began using more plastics, most of us rightfully perceived it as cheap because these plastics were not good replacements for conventional methods.
In those days, the U.S. government was mandating reduced vehicle weight, increased fuel efficiency, and emission standards. It was trial by fire because manufacturers were not yet ready. The result was that almost any impact would basically destroy one of these more delicate vehicles compared to their resiliency in earlier decades.
We have now come through the trial, and we are stronger because of it. The plastic body panels on cars are now more resilient than the metal they replaced. Instead of dents and dings, plastics now flex and spring right back into shape with no evidence of any impact. Instead of rust, plastics stay looking new much longer.
Today’s plastics can even withstand heat, chemicals, petroleums, and the harsh effects of ultra violet radiation from the sun. The idea of a plastic engine may seem far fetched, but it is closer to reality than you may think. Lightweight, injection molded parts are in close proximity to engine components producing heat in excess of 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Your car probably wears nylons.
Lift the hood on most of today’s cars and behold a thing of beauty. This does more than provide an impressive showroom appearance, it stays looking new for years, reduces vehicle weight, and even performs better. Many of these parts are possible because of advances in nylon technology. They resist the high engine temperatures and warping that prevented their use for many years.
These high tech nylons are finding their way into places many would have thought impossible a few years ago. You can find injection molded nylon in transmission parts and covers, exhaust outlets and sensors, brake pistons, and even rocker panels. In addition to heat resistance, these parts must also withstand cold impact, a traditional weakness of plastics. Can they take it? They can now.
This has been a brief look at automotive application only, but these are just a few examples that say, yes you can do that with plastic.