Plastic and the Future of Automotive Design

You may not immediately associate the future of automotive design with plastics—but they are actually very closed aligned. As consumers place greater demands on premium automobile finishes and more functional interior spaces, designers are turning to plastics to make consumers’ vision a reality.

Plastic News, reporting from the K conference in Germany, spoke with Hilke Schaer, the senior consultant on fiber composites in visual applications for BMW, about how consumer expectations, as well as the development of autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles, are prompting changes in automotive design:

Schaer said:

“If you look further into the future… new production processes and virtual product simulations will make materials cheaper. But the challenges of the future, such as autonomous cars, will create more challenges for interiors and exteriors. [As consumer expectations evolve,] we have to integrate more and more functions and abilities.”

Reinforced carbon fiber and other plastics give designers more creative freedom, opening the possibilities of transmitting data, integrating lights and sensors and even embedding solar cells in the structure of the car.”

Beyond automotive design, plastic extrusions are commonly used in automotive manufacturing. You will see them commonly used in the weather stripping that keeps car doors and windows sealed, as well as used in vehicle seating components, saving overall design weight and reduce manufacturing costs. Many of the fluid hoses in your vehicle—like those that transport brake fluid or transmission fluid—have been manufactured using an extrusion process.

It’s an exciting time for the automotive industry as well as for plastic extrusion technology. If you are interested in learning more or working together on your next extrusion project, please give our team a call today.