Molded Thermoset Use in Automotive Industry
As a performance-based material, thermoset composites offer molded components with material property advantages of chemical resistance, corrosion resistance, and the ability to remain dimensionally stable and durable within applications experiencing high heat and operating temperatures. These properties allow molded thermoset parts to be used in automotive applications exposed to tough environments where thermoplastic components could degrade and/or compromise the safety and performance of a product assembly. Due to the safety nature of automobiles and rigorous testing components must pass, automotive under the hood and structural applications have long used molded thermoset parts and components.
Using thermoset parts for various powertrain and transmission components allow end parts and assemblies to remain durable in high temperatures, automotive fluids, and corrosive environments. Ash cups have historically been molded with thermoset materials as well. Body panels and truck beds can be molded with SMC type thermoset materials. With market trends increasing towards electric vehicles (EVs), automakers and tier 1 suppliers are using thermosets for battery and various electrification product assemblies to lightweight and offer excellent electrical properties such as dielectric strength, electrical insulation, low arc and track, and flammability resistance. Saving weight by using a molded thermoset offering instead of metal components are also a major benefit in helping automotive OEMs reach continually advancing fuel economy standard requirements.
In all, thermosets offer an excellent balance of high material performance and low cost per lb. compared to similarly performing thermoplastics including nylon, ABS, polycarbonate, etc. Thermosets raw materials generally range from $1.50 per lb. up to $3.50 per lb. depending on grade and performance. Thermosets are used both under the hood and throughout automobiles and are becoming even more pertinent with advances in EVs.