The ability to replace a metal component with one molded out of plastic means that extremely complex shapes and geometries can be achieved easily. That also means greater design freedom and more optimum design for manufacturability.
In many cases, multiple metal parts that make up a larger component need to be welded in a secondary operation which adds to the time and the cost. Also, where there is a welded area, there can be a tendency toward a weakness in the metal. By combining several metal parts into one molded plastic part, the resulting product or component is stronger and performs better. Additionally, plastic components are relatively maintenance free as they do not need coating or painting to protect the material.
Kerry Smith, account manager for Industrial Molds Group, a mold manufacturer serving the automotive, fluid handling, medical and packaging markets, offers some sage advice when converting metal parts to plastic components. "The first step on the road to doing a metal-to-plastic conversion is ask the right questions upfront with the collaborating parties all being involved," Smith said.