Until quite recently, plastics were not viewed as a suitable choice for applications of superior performance. When there was a need to develop products of high quality and reduce the need to use them, engineers most commonly resorted to metal. Things have changed drastically. At present, manufacturing companies in industries like aerospace or electronics are utilizing high-performance plastics, known as high temperature polymers. It seems like they have forgotten all about metal. It is only normal to want an explanation. The explanation is this: plastic is better.
Why design with high temperature polymers?
High-performance polymers are the most outstanding alternatives to metals. More and more manufacturing companies choose to innovate and, therefore, develop polymer technology that makes it possible to gain a competitive edge. But what advantages can plastics bring? These are the most significant advantages of making the transition to high temperature polymers:
Cycle time reduction
The more it takes to perform a process, the more productivity is affected. As one can imagine, a manufacturer cannot afford to spend a great deal of time on making goods. Products have to be delivered on time to customers, not to mention that delays can possibly disturb the production schedule. One very important advantage of deploying high performance thermoplastics is process cycle time reduction. In other words, engineers are empowered to reduce time and improve quality.
Another key advantage of replacing metals with polymers is design freedom. High temperature polyurethane offer engineer the liberty that they need in order to create successful goods having a high yield strength. What they can do is shape the product however they wish, enjoy autonomy when it comes to coming up with solutions. The class of polymers that manufacturing companies are focusing at the present moment are PEEK. PEEK stand for polyether ether ketone. They are virtually considered the highest performance plastic material.
So will they replace metals?
It can be argued that they already have. No matter if we are talking about the aerospace industry or the automotive industry, in the product development process the focus is on plastic and not metal. Manufacturers want to gain a competitive edge and, thus, have resorted to using performance polymers. If the device that is being advanced has unique specifications, there is a guarantee that metal will not be used. Why? Maybe because metal does not have the necessary physical, chemical, and biological properties.
The bottom line is that polymers like PEEK are slowly but surely replacing metals. High-tech plastics are used owing to their singular characteristics, yet this is not the only reason. Manufacturing companies utilize polymers because they have the opportunity to save the material and make cost savings. It should not come as a surprise if high temperature plastics are engineered for various uses. Will metal no longer be used in the product development process? There is no way of knowing what the future holds, but it is certain that metal will not have the same impact it used to.