Metal vs. Plastic: Which Is Better for Manufacturing
Posted by Michael Wegener on
You want to use the best material possible when creating your product, something that is relatively easy to work with and that will hold up once it is in the hands of the buyer. Generally, there are two materials that are ideal for this process: metal and plastic. But when it comes to metal vs. plastic, you must consider which is better for manufacturing?
Both come with their advantages and disadvantages; consider these pros and cons before committing to one material over the other.
There are many different variants of metals out there to work with, and each one has different properties from the other. This makes some metals easier to work with than others, but generally speaking, the following are the strengths and weaknesses of working with metals as a whole.
- Heat resistant – Metal has a far greater melting point when compared to plastic. Metals can stand up to intense heat without the risk of deteriorating.
- Stronger – Metals are sturdier than plastics; they are stronger, harder, and more durable.
- Cost-effective – When purchased in large quantities, metals offer a great price for the quality of the material.
- Versatility – Because of the strength of metal, they can be used in more applications than plastics.
- Post-fabrication processes – After working with metal, it is usually a necessity to finish or deburr the metal for safety reasons. This can be done through the use of a metal vibratory tumbler bowl for smaller pieces or a grinder for larger pieces.
- High initial price – The tools to work with metal can be more expensive than the tools used to work with plastic. This results in a higher start-up price.
- Limitations of design – Because of the viscosity and molten flow of many metals, it is either very difficult to manufacture highly complex shapes, or it requires more costly measures to do so.
Much like metals, it must be stated that there are different variants of plastics, each with its own positive and negative features.
- Ease of design – Due to the malleability of plastic and its low melting point, it can be formed into many different kinds of shapes, both simple and complex, with ease.
- Speedy production – Because of its ease to work with, products made of plastics have a faster turnover rate, resulting in more pieces being produced in less time.
- Resistant to chemicals – Unlike metals, plastics have a greater tolerance to damage as a result of chemical exposure or chemical responses, such as oxidation or rusting.
- Limited durability – Plastics cannot hold up to wear and tear as well as metals.
- Structurally weaker – Plastics are not as strong as metals, making them unsuitable for projects that need great structural strength.
Whether metals or plastics are better for manufacturing largely depends on your project’s needs. For creating small and complex shapes, you may need plastics, but if you’re creating something that needs a strong support structure, metals may be the way to go.
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