Plastic Car Bumpers & Fascia Systems

Front and rear bumpers became standard equipment on all cars in 1925. What were then simple metal beams attached to the front and rear of a car have evolved into complex, engineered components that are integral to the protection of the vehicle in low-speed collisions. Today's plastic auto bumpers and fascia systems are aesthetically pleasing, while offering advantages to both designers and drivers.

The majority of modern plastic car bumper system fascias are made of thermoplastic olefins (TPOs), polycarbonates, polyesters, polypropylene, polyurethanes, polyamides, or blends of these with, for instance, glass fibers, for strength and structural rigidity.

The use of plastic in auto bumpers and fascias gives designers a tremendous amount of freedom when it comes to styling a prototype vehicle, or improving an existing model. Plastic can be styled for both aesthetic and functional reasons in many ways without greatly affecting the cost of production. Plastic bumpers contain reinforcements that allow them to be as impact-resistant as metals while being less expensive to replace than their metal equivalents. Plastic car bumpers generally expand at the same rate as metal bumpers under normal driving temperatures and do not usually require special fixtures to keep them in place.

Some of the plastic products used in making auto bumpers and fascias can be recycled. This enables the manufacturer to reuse scrap material in a cost-effective manner. A new recycling programs uses painted TPO scrap to produce new bumper fascias through an innovative and major recycling breakthrough process that removes paint from salvage yard plastic. Tests reveal post-industrial recycled TPO performs exactly like virgin material, converting hundreds of thousands of pounds of material destined for landfills into workable grade-A material, and reducing material costs for manufacturers.

Images provided by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers International (SPE), a not-for-profit engineering society.

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