Car Design Online

Car Design Online

Car Design Online > Production > Materials > Plastics


Plastics are the most commonly used type of polymer. Plastics include a very wide range of materials that can be used for everything from body panels to bonding metal. Below is a chart designed to make it easier to understand this group of materials. The list is not absolute but covers the principle automotive plastics.

Material Type Properties Uses Commercial Names

(Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
Thermoplastic Very strong and tough; good resistance to heat deformation; good electrical properties. Bumpers, dashboards, interior door panels; generally used because of its resistance to wear and tear and good deformation properties. Abson, Delta, Cycolac, Denka, Magnum, Novodur, Terluran, Toyolac

Thermoplastic Average mechanical properties but excellent for transmitting light with good resistance to weathering. Transparent features; previously used for dashboard lighting. Can be used with a light source to create interesting surfaces in low light.

Thermoplastic Very low coefficient of friction; very good electrical properies; chemically inert under virtually all conditions. Can be used up to 260ºC High-temp electronic components; anti-adhesive coatings; anti-corrosive seals; bearings. Used generally to keep surfaces protected, clean and smooth.


Thermoplastic Strong and tough; resistant to abrasion; low coeffiecient of friction; absorbs water and several other liquids. Bushes and light-loaded gears and bearings.

Polycarbonates Thermoplastic Transparent; low water absorption; ductile; good resistance to impact; average chemical resistance. Headlight lenses, non-shatter sports car windows. Hardness is insufficient for daily use for windows on production vehicles (surface deterioration).


Thermoplastic Low strength, poor resistance to weathering; low coefficient of friction; electrically insulating. Battery parts; not substantial enough for most automotive applications.

Thermoplastic Cheap; good fatigue strength and electrical properties; chemically inert; poor UV resistance; resistant to heat distortion. Bumpers
Polystyrene Thermoplastic Interior trim; cheap alternative for low demand transparent applications (eg. interior light lenses).

(usually Polyvinylchloride – PVC)
Polyester (PET / PETE) Thermoplastic

Epoxies Thermoset
Phenolics Thermoset
Polyesters Thermoset

Subscribe to the Car Design Online newsletter

CAD Software Direct

Home | About | Contact | Copyright | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy |

Partners: | Automotive Design Employment | Interior Design | More partners & resources..

All content © Copyright. Strictly no reproduction is permitted without permission.

Previous Post

Comments are closed.