What Is Plastic Vehicle Cladding and Why Do We Need It?

two cars sit in front of dealership

What Is Plastic Vehicle Cladding and Why Do We Need It?

The Automotive Dictionary defines cladding as decorative elements applied to a vehicle. While this is true, vehicle cladding offers more than just making your vehicle look sporty. Cladding also refers to portions of the build of the vehicle, and the process that certain parts go through to make them safer.

Plastic cladding is a functional and cost-effective choice for vehicle manufacturers. Not only do consumers also benefit from the lower production costs, but they also get to enjoy the perks of a smartly designed car throughout its lifetime. There are obvious benefits for some plastic components such as cladded wheel wells. These can hide and prevent possible dings from rock or debris that gets kicked up while driving, dampen the sound of the tires on the road, and reduce corrosion from salt and water along the body of the car. If the plastic panel on your vehicle does get damaged, it’s far cheaper to replace than steel or aluminum, and you may not need to hire out any expensive colour matching or paint jobs.

The design of a vehicle lies at the crossroads of marketability, functionality, and safety. With ways to make trim, lift gates, hoods, and bumpers in plastic, we’re seeing extremely safe, lightweight and fuel-efficient tastefully designed vehicles available at a price that average consumers can afford.

Plastic Makes Vehicles Safer

Crumple zones that fold up like an accordion on impact are responsible for saving thousands of lives in the last 50 years. Many of these crumple zones are made with plastics and composites that absorb impact more effectively, and predictably, when compared to vehicles with an all-steel frame. Polymer composites weigh around half the weight of steel and play an integral role in car safety as they can absorb four to five times more energy in an impact.

Even your windshield demonstrates the benefits of being clad in plastic. Laminated glass is a type of safety glass often used in both automobiles and aircraft. It is a multilayered product consisting of an interlayer of polymer in-between two panes of glass. This process means that the glass has an extremely high resistance to shattering. When your windshield is laminated, it reduces the risk of cuts and injuries in the event of a collision, making the vehicle safer for both the driver and passengers.

In modern cars, plastics make up around half of a vehicle’s volume, but only 10% of the vehicle’s weight. Innovation in plastic and bioplastics have made vehicles lighter, contributing to better fuel efficiency and increased safety. A vehicle constructed in lightweight materials leads to a reduction in fatalities per vehicle miles travelled.

Innovative Automation’s Automotive Exteriors

As plastic technology continues to advance, we will continue to see car manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint. While electric vehicles lead the way in bioplastic innovation, many traditional vehicle manufacturers have started to follow.

Innovative Automation has decades of automotive, automated, assembly systems and test systems experience. IAI has a proven track record of success working with top OEMs and Tier One manufacturer’s to ensure our systems are complete, on time, meeting first-time quality, uptime, and throughput requirements.

Reach out today to learn more about our automotive exterior capabilities.