Weighing in on Product Material Selection – Plastic, Metal, or Fiberglass

Weighing in on Product Material Selection – Plastic, Metal, or Fiberglass

Regardless of the industry your product serves, whether it includes seating components or wall paneling for  bus, rail, or aircraft, requires enclosures or parts for medical devices, or is designed with exterior casings for industrial equipment and electrical components, lightweight material has become essential to creating the ideal product that meets the needs of the end user.

Lightweight offers numerous advantages

Reduced fuel and energy costs – mass of a vehicle has a direct relationship to fuel and energy consumption

Lowered emissions – reduced fuel and energy consumption equates to lower emissions

Reduced maintenance costs – reduction in mass correlates to longer life of components due to less load bearing stress over time (moving and mechanical components, brakes, tires, propulsion systems)

Reduced logistical costs – lighter weight parts are less expensive and easier to install, ship, relocate, or handle

Weight Comparison – Thermoplastic, Fiberglass, and Metal

Lower material specific gravity (mass) means the finished component will be lighter and contribute to a lower overall product weight. There are countless variations and formulations of thermoplastic, fiberglass, and metal materials, each with its own unique specific gravity (details can be found on material manufacturers’ websites and material data sheets). However, if you look at the average weight of some of the most common brands and types of materials available, you can derive some basic comparisons.

Plastic thermoformed parts are 6 times lighter than steel and half the weight of aluminum.

Plastic thermoformed parts are 30 – 40% lighter than fiberglass counterparts.

thermoplastic, metal, and fiberglass average specific gravity and weight comparisson

If reducing your product’s weight is an important factor in your industry, then thermoplastic and the thermoforming process should be a consideration for your current or future projects.

Please download our complimentary material – process comparison guides and conversion guides — for more information. They are full of data that is valuable to decision makers, design engineers and every member of an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) project team

Productive Plastics is more than just a plastic thermoforming manufacturer. We strive to be your advisor throughout the entire product development process by bringing over 60 years of process, design, material, and finishing expertise to assist in manufacturing your component parts and products in the best and lightest way. Contact Us for further assistance or to request a quote.

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