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Strengths in Plastics

Plastic Manufacturing Representatives

Are Steel Panels Sacred in Structural Assemblies?  Not Anymore!  …think Plastics…!


No longer simply a design ‘what-if’, but now a reality every day.  Going back nearly a decade, structural assemblies made of reaction injection molding (RIM) and even conventional injection molding (now supplemented with gas assist and foamed molding) became the logical, cost-effective successor to structural panels.  Many structural assemblies are produced today with blow molding, as well-including many of the knock-down buildings, storage bins and hose reels for patio use.


A competition featured in the Society of the Plastics Industry Conference showed some of the preeminent designs of structural assemblies in various plastics methods.  In a DesignNews feature, the event was described as,

“…growing diversity of structural plastics applications recently took center stage at a design competition held by the Society of the Plastics Industry.

Part of the society's annual Structural Plastics Conference (, the competition comprised entries from a diverse group of industries—including automotive, agricultural, computer, recreation, military, medical, and furniture. The 55 entries employed a variety of manufacturing methods with advanced variants of injection molding and reaction injection molded (RIM) urethanes as the most common manufacturing methods. Though very different, the applications together highlight the diversity of structural plastics—with a combination of first-time metal replacement jobs and enhancements of similar products that already use plastics.”,...

How are You Going to Keep’em Down on the Farm…?

Noted in the article were applications in heavy farm implements for structural assemblies substituted from their steel predecessors.

The article stated, “One of the most noticeable structural plastic jobs in the competition could be found on the Case IH AFX7010 Combine sitting in a parking lot outside the conference. Measuring 15-ft high x 32-ft long x 17-ft wide, the combine is covered in 12 exterior panels that took home the competition's Agriculture, Lawn & Garden Award. "We believe it's the first time such a large Class A surface has been enclosed with plastics from a single molding process," says Jeff Halpin, a combine development engineer for Case's CNH Crop Harvesting unit (Burr Ridge, IL).”  Clearly, one large advantage associated with substituting for steel panels is reduced weight for gas mileage improvement.  The panels were formed with a soybean-based RIM material from Bayer Corporation ( to save over 400 pounds per machine.


Processes have clearly developed in the intervening years, leading to new and improved fastening techniques, as well as vastly superior surface finishes.  Look into the substitution of resin-based panels for their steel predecessors.  You might be pleasantly surprised!