Echo Engineering Plastic Clips

Metal or Plastic? What Fastener Is Right for You?

Echo Engineering explains why plastic clips may be the right choice for your automotive application or similar job where metal brackets are used.

This is a guest column submitted by Echo Engineering and Production Supplies:

Is metal becoming a thing of the past? Plastic is increasingly being used in place of metal for many different purposes. Specifically, plastic clips are replacing metal brackets used on automotive fluid routing assemblies as mounting supports for HVAC and brake lines. Plastic clips are perfect alternatives in these automotive applications and many more.

Using plastic clips has multiple benefits. Here are the top advantages of replacing metal brackets with plastic clips.

Lowered Cost

Plastic clips cost significantly less than metal brackets. Here's why:

  • Material: Plastic is a lower cost material than metal
  • Labor: Depending on the situation, metal must have rubber insert/grommet added to it to prevent metal on metal contact - #1 cause of galvanic corrosion. Plastic usually does not need a rubber addition which eliminates the costs of rubber altogether.Labor is reduced when using plastic clips. As stated above, rubber must be installed over metal and used to line it to prevent metal-to-metal contact. These assembly costs do not exist when using plastic. Plastic can be easily installed and ready to go.
  • Tooling: Tooling for metal stamping and forming have a much higher cost than tooling for plastic. The tools needed for plastic can cost up to 50% less, a huge reduction in cost. The tools for metal also wear more rapidly, and need to be replaced more often than the tools for plastic, creating additional costs.
  • Manufacturing: Compared to metal, plastic has a faster turnaround time, resulting in a higher throughput. Since plastic gets made more quickly, it reduces the amount of time and money spent per part produced.
  • Shipping: Shipping and disposal costs are reduced. When transporting metals, plastic bags or other product protection must be used to prevent damage. Plastic clips do not need this much protection during transit. Lastly, weight is one of the primary factors in the cost of shipping, and it's obvious that plastic weighs less than metal.

Decreased Weight

Lightweighting is an automotive megatrend that has become incredibly important for automotive manufacturers as new fuel efficiency regulations are mandated. Plastic clips notably weigh less than metal brackets, improving efficiency and performance. Since plastic is lighter, costs are decreased as well. For example, a lighter car uses less fuel resulting in smaller engines.

Non-Corrosive

Plastic doesn't corrode. Metal brackets, on the other hand, are more at risk for corrosion issues. When metals are in electrical contact, they may be susceptible to corrosion. This corrosion wears the metals over time, causing for them to be damaged, resulting in potential liability issues.

Versatility

Plastic is an extremely versatile material, unlike metal. Plastic clips can be made into complex shapes and in a variety of different colors straight from the start. This makes them basically ready to go right out of the tool.

Unlike plastic, metal almost always has to go through several secondary processes before it is ready for installation. Metal brackets usually have to be cut or stamped, drilled, stamped again, have the oil removed, coated to prevent rust, packaged appropriately, etc.

Metal may also need multiple components added or installed such as a fastener or an isolator. With plastic, all of those can be built in, eliminating the need of multiple parts.

Conclusion

The benefits of plastic are tremendous. All of the above prove that plastic clips are the top contender when finding an alternative to metal brackets.

Thinking of making the switch from metal to plastic? If you are or if you have any other questions, visit our Contact Us page and send us a message! We have a team of technical experts ready to find the best solution for you.

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