Plastics play a key role in our everyday lives – we are completely surrounded by this highly versatile material, which is used in the manufacture of multiple consumer products; from our toothbrushes and light fittings to the majority of the components and casings used in our electrical devices.
Take a look around you now and you will see what I mean... Nowadays there are suitable plastics available for just about every application you can think of!
At one point, metals were the go to material for the majority of applications, due to the high strength and versatility of this material, but fast forward to today and plastic components, such as nylon clips, clamps and scrivets, are increasingly the number one choice; not only for consumer products, but for industrial use too. The incredible plastics that are taking over metal and becoming the number one choice for primary components in both the auto industry and aerospace industry are high performance materials called thermoplastics.
What Has Lead To The Increased Demand & Use Of Plastics?
Plastics benefit from several advantages over metal, for example:
Plastic can be machined to form any shape, allowing manufacturers to create complex shapes in one single solid piece.
Plastic is far cheaper to produce than metal so plastic parts are usually the cheapest option, with the odd exception. The fact that plastic is so easy to machine, means that production times can be kept to a minimum for further cost savings.
High-grade plastics are able to meet the same requirements as metal in terms of their strength and durability. Incredibly, plastics can also be successfully combined with other materials, such as carbon fibre for extra strength.
Some thermoplastics can compete with steel in terms of their strength with qualities that include:
Many thermoplastic parts and components are able to outlive their metal alternatives by a significant number of years!
Plastics are far lighter than metals and this is a key benefit for manufacturers in the aerospace and automobile industries, allowing for the production of vehicles and engines that are lighter and more fuel efficient than ever before!
Technological Advances – The Future Of Plastic
The future of plastics is looking extremely good and this material appears to have an infinite number of uses and applications; leaving us with plenty of scope for exploring further possibilities and pushing the boundaries even further.
This material has already replaced metal in all manner of areas, from our plumbing and sewerage systems to our fuel tanks and vehicle parts, along with a multitude of smaller components, fasteners and screws used in a broad spectrum of different industries.
Minimising Our Carbon Footprint
Previous concerns over the impact of plastic on the environment are alleviated by new processes which allow us to recycle waste plastic items and objects efficiently and effectively at the end of their lifespan.
The development of bio plastics, created with natural materials and biodegradable plastics, which have been engineered to decompose, and breakdown more easily has also helped to eradicate many of the widespread concerns about the manufacture and use of plastic consumer items for everyday use.