Essential Plastic & Rubber Uses in the Automotive Industry

Automobile manufacturers rely on quality components for every car or truck that goes out the door. While some of these parts may just be about added convenience, appearance, or efficiency, others are critical to the driver’s safety.

In other words, no manufacturer can afford to cut corners with any of these parts.

The automotive industry relies on plastic and rubber for a wide range of applications, because, right now, there are no other materials that could easily replace them. The opposite, in fact, remains true. I.e., more and more metal components are being replaced with plastic.

It’s hard to count the exact number of plastic and rubber components that go into even a smaller automobile. A minor sampling of potential car parts include:

  • V-belt and pulley belts
  • Radiator and engine grill
  • Frontend supports
  • Instrument panels and supports
  • All the interior bits, from knobs and handles to buttons and switches
  • The steering wheel
  • Door and roof modules
  • Seats
  • Headlights
  • Bumpers
  • Door and window seals
  • Center console
  • And on and on

Why These Parts are Critical for Modern Vehicles

Weight reduction is always a concern in automobile design. Every component should provide reliable stability and strength without unduly adding to the total weight of the vehicle.

Weight reduction matters because it contributes to fuel efficiency and lowers the amount of pollution each automobile produces. In order to accomplish this, more and more metal parts are being replaced by plastic.

Today’s plastics have the mechanical strength necessary to meet the safety standards while making it easier to design the type of parts that can’t be done in metal.

Standing Up to the Stress

While no one will claim that car parts go through the same stresses that aeronautical parts do (which is why airplanes tend to use titanium rather than plastic), the principle is the same. Namely: these components are going to be exposed to serious thermal and mechanical stresses throughout their lifetimes.

Anyone travelling in these vehicles needs to be assured of their safety.

Everyday vehicles can be pushed from sub-zero temperatures to scorching heat in a matter of minutes, and sudden accelerations and decelerations are going to push these parts to the limit. For that matter, every seal and gasket must perform correctly to keep liquids and gasses where they are supposed to be.

These parts need to be subjected to a rigorous set of tests before they can be mass produced for the commercial market.

Look Good and Sound Good

These components create a wide range of design opportunities, so the engineers and designers can create a car that looks exactly how they envisioned it.

These parts are about more than just looks, though. They’re also about noise reduction. Rubber and plastic seals play an important part in chassis water management and also help keep the road noise to a minimum in the passenger compartment.

Services That Deliver Quality Components

At Clark Rubber & Plastic, we can provide a wide range of services for the automotive industry. This includes:

  • Plastic Injection Molding – Our factories are set up to handle injection, insert, and overmolding processes, and we can consult with you to choose the materials that will meet the strength and durability requirements of your project. You can get injection molded products and components for any automotive project, no matter the size or level of complexity.
  • Rubber Molding – Get superior-quality injection, transfer, and compression automotive parts. We work with several types of rubber materials, such as natural rubber, SBR, EPDM, neoprene, Viton® and more. The O-rings, gaskets, seals and other products are reliable options for transmissions, steering, AC systems, fuel pumps, and much more.
  • Rubber and Plastic Extrusion – We can produce any profile or shape at the necessary thickness and density. The custom dies we use for the extraction process can ensure that you get the tubing you need for the air or fuel systems of the vehicle.
  • Precision Die Cutting – We provide in-house tooling, punching, assembly, splicing, and more so you can work with an experienced automotive die cutting partner for gaskets, bumpers, structural components, and motor housings.

Getting Custom Automotive Parts

When you work with an experienced partner to provide your plastic and rubber automobile components, you can improve your time to market, reduce the effort required for procurement, and get the customized production solutions you need.

Take a look at our capabilities and make sure that you are getting the highest-quality components for your ongoing automotive designs.