Time to read: 5 min
Why Automotive Companies Partner with Fictiv for Injection Molding
Plastic materials were first used in the production of automotive parts as early as the 1940s and 1950s. Since then, plastic has only become more integral in automotive manufacturing and has slowly replaced metal as the material of choice. Everything from exterior parts like tail lights, grilles and bumpers to interior parts like air vents, door handles and cup holder inserts are made from plastic. Even under-the-hood components like oil pans are now produced using plastic. And how are all these parts manufactured? Through injection molding.
A crucial step in the final production of automotive parts, injection molding is a method that heats and injects plastic material under pressure into a closed metal mold. The molten plastic is then cooled until it hardens into the desired shape — which can vary in size, volume and complexity.
Due to its ability to quickly and cost-effectively produce high volumes, injection molding has long been a popular manufacturing method among automotive makers. However, not all injection molding manufacturers produce the same results — especially where speed to market and repeatable quality is concerned. That’s why many automotive companies turn to Fictiv for repeatable, high-performing parts with minimal lead time.
Improving Speed to Market with Rapid Prototyping
The automotive industry is highly innovative and highly competitive, which puts pressure on automakers to be both leading-edge and first to market. However, car and truck parts often go through dozens of iterations before the final part is deemed ready for mass production according to safety standards. This makes rapid prototyping an essential step in the manufacturing process.
Offering the option to use low-cost, quick-cooling aluminum tooling for short runs of prototype parts, Fictiv’s injection molding services are a great solution for rapid prototyping. You can have a finished part made of final materials ready for testing quickly. Plus, once you’re past the prototyping stage and ready to scale up production, Fictiv offers steel molds for longer production runs or as a bridge tooling solution.
Fictiv also has the resources and technical expertise to speed up the design, development and production of automotive components to help automakers go from prototype to finished part in as little as 10 days. This is done by analyzing your part design plans and providing Design for Manufacturability (DFM) feedback. DFM allows you to remedy part manufacturability issues early in the prototyping process to avoid costly roadblocks and pick up efficiencies along the way — which is key for keeping production lines open and ensuring speed to market.
Delivering Critical and Repeatable Parts
When precision, driver safety and brand integrity are top priorities, producing identical, high-performing parts (consistently at a high volume) is crucial. Combining computer-aided design with quality injection mold tools, injection molding makes it possible to develop automotive parts with intricate details and achieve complex geometries in a very repeatable fashion.
To further ensure repeatability and the delivery of the highest-quality parts, Fictiv offers a wide range of injection mold manufacturing options with rigorous quality management systems and inspection protocols in place. Additionally, one of Fictiv’s quality engineers will conduct quality assessments of your parts and deliver transparent inspection documentation to ensure all standards are being met.
Meeting Performance and Aesthetic Expectations
Most automakers have to abide by strict performance and safety requirements when manufacturing their parts. For example, exterior parts like door panels, hoods and trim pieces typically need to provide extra durability and UV resistance, while components that live under the hood are often required to provide high levels of flame, chemical and impact resistance.
To help create parts that meet these requirements, Fictiv provides a large range of high-performance injection molding materials, including engineering-grade plastics, thermoplastics and specialty plastics. This allows you to achieve a wide variety of performance properties all in one part.
Aesthetics also play an important role in a car’s construction. Not only do drivers want a well-performing vehicle, they want a good-looking one too — from the inside out. To help produce the most aesthetically pleasing automotive parts, Fictiv offers custom color matching as well as custom texture and surface finishing services without impact to lead times.
In all cases, Fictiv gives you the resources to achieve the performance properties and aesthetics you require in the timeframe you need.
Replacing Heavy Metal Parts Through Overmolding
Lightweighting, or the process of manufacturing lighter vehicles to deliver better fuel efficiency and handling, is another goal common among automotive companies. Replacing metal with plastic is the most efficient way automotive companies achieve this. However, lightweighting can prove difficult in applications that require parts with higher levels of strength and performance. That’s why heavy metal parts have traditionally been the go-to choice for more demanding applications at the expense of production time and vehicle weight. But there is a solution: overmolding.
Fictiv’s overmolding services expand on the benefits of injection molding by allowing you to manufacture intricate automotive parts and assemblies from two or more materials in a short amount of time. This means you can achieve lighter, quick-turn parts with superior strength and performance properties — such as thermal, chemical and impact resistance — that are better suited for more demanding automotive applications.
In electric vehicles, overmolded battery components — such as enclosures and electric motor housings — can be used to offset the weight of heavy battery systems. Rigid plastic materials can also be encompassed in a soft elastomeric rubber material to create parts with enhanced electrical resistance, vibration and noise reduction, or sealing properties. And in some cases, it can help lower cost per part by eliminating the need for connectors, O-rings and other rubberized pieces and associated part assembly labor.
If you’re in need of fully rubber parts, like grommets and cup holder liners, Fictiv also offers compression molding manufacturing services.
A Network of Automotive Manufacturing Options
Thanks to a diverse and carefully selected network of domestic and offshore manufacturing partners, Fictiv is fully equipped to offer numerous types of injection molding services for automotive applications. Manufacturing partners are thoroughly vetted by Fictiv and are required to complete rigorous testing. In addition, Fictiv continuously manages them and monitors their performance.
Streamlining the Injection Molding Process
From prototype to final production, Fictiv takes the guesswork out of the injection molding manufacturing and overmolding processes. The Fictiv team will work closely with your company to help design and fabricate high-quality automotive parts with fast and repeatable results while meeting stringent automotive industry requirements.
Request Your Free Quote
If you’re ready to join the 2,500+ companies who use Fictiv for high-quality parts, visit fictiv.com/signup to request a free quote.