You may not immediately think of plastic injection molding when picturing military or aerospace applications. The military has been expanding its use of plastic, replacing metal with engineered plastics that can handle any situation around the world. Aerospace has also been converting metal to plastic, but it has also been using plastic injection molding for the advantages of lower weight, lower cost, and repeatability over the course of thousands of parts. Injection molding has continued to find more and more applications with small volume custom-tailored molding creating new and radical components. Are you considering a new injection molding project for the military or in an aerospace application? If so, you need to give engineered plastics a consideration for your material of choice.
Why Use Plastic Injection Molding for the Military or Aerospace?
Injection molding has been used for decades to make lightweight components and assemblies for the military. You will also find thousands of uses in aerospace, whether it’s on a commuter airliner or a rocket headed to the International Space Station. Injection molded plastics offer many benefits to be competitive to other materials.
Plastics Offer These Military and Aerospace Application Benefits:
- Uniformity and Precision Tolerances – The military and aerospace industries both require uniformity and precision tolerances to ensure components fit every time. Plastics are a perfect choice for repetitive precision components for many applications. Injection molding can offer equal or better precision to comparable metal products to meet mil-spec and aerospace standards.
- Low Cost – Injection molding plastics can be done with thousands of choices depending on the application. A low-cost injection mold can be created for a handful of unique parts, or a high-volume injection mold can be created to produce thousands or millions of parts at an even lower cost. Plastics can also offer less labor-intensive manufacturing, lower cost for raw materials, and their lightweight offers a lower cost for shipping.
- Strength vs. Weight – Plastics can be designed with a thin wall, and still be stronger than a metal competitor. In some cases, they can be stronger than any comparable material and still weigh less. That advantage can reduce overall weight for a complete assembly, or just a simple product. Benefits for lower weight can include less fatigue in soldiers carrying your product, better durability for the call of duty, and can reduce fuel consumption for logistics.
- Adaptability for the Application – Plastics are very adaptable and flexible for any military or aerospace application. Plastics can be formulated for high or low temperatures, for corrosion or electrically intensive environments, for strength and durability, and can also be colored to meet a specific detailed environment. With thousands of engineered resins currently available, a specific resin can be chosen for your product need.
- Corrosion and Electrical Resistance – Corrosion and electrical resistance are a huge advantage for both military and aerospace applications. Most metals either need a special coating or to be cast with a mixture of corrosion resistant properties to survive years in service without significant surface corrosion. Electrical protection from static build-up and electrical conduction is also huge benefit for aerospace and our military service members.
- Custom Finishes – Plastic injection molding can include many finishes for your product without the need for secondary processes. Think of components that require high grip, or need a level of lubricity to function well in any environment. Logos or embossing can also be added to the injection mold to create custom identifying touches, additional colors can be added, and most of the options don’t require extra work to achieve the same result. That can offer creative options and opportunities without adding additional cost.
What Are the Top Plastic Applications for the Military and Aerospace?
- Helmets and Headgear – Plastics offer lightweight and protection
- Headsets and Radios – Perfect for housing microphones and electrical components without worry of static build-up
- Flashlights and Scopes – Lightweight and precision optics are a perfect combination
- Water Containers – Lightweight canteens that can prevent corrosion
- Hooks and Fasteners – The applications are endless for hooks and fasteners such as zippers, snaps, and bungees. Backpacks, cargo bags, and more use plastics for durability and lightweight options.
- Housings and Lenses – Similar to military scopes and optics, plastics offer durable housings and lenses that can withstand transatlantic flight and every day regional traffic.
- Turbine Blades – On aerospace applications with turbine blades, you may find a highly engineered plastic suitable for flight
- Chassis Components – Lightweight and strength offer a one-two punch for chassis components on aerospace applications
- Panels – You can find plastic panels used for dashboard instruments, storage bins, and more
- Containers – Many of the logistic containers shipped via air are made from durable and lightweight plastic.
There are thousands of uses for plastics in military and aerospace applications. They use the advantages of low cost, decreased weight, and high strength to deliver the best results for the application regardless of the environment. Many plastic resins can be molded such as Nylon, Delrin, Acetyl, ABS, Polypropylene (PP), and custom blends to increase strength for individual applications.
SEA-LECT Plastics prides itself as one of the leaders creating components and generating new ideas for both the military and aerospace industries. Plastic injection molding has advantages over comparable materials, but choosing which manufacturing option is best for your new project may be a tough decision to make without a lot of research. If you need advice on a future military or aerospace project, SEA-LECT Plastics is here to help.
We have an elite team that designs for injection molding, rapid prototyping with metal and plastic, and produces world-class products under the same roof. Give us a call at (425) 339-0288 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to offering support and advice on your next project. SEA-LECT Plastics is an ISO 9001:2015 certified facility that incorporates a Total Quality Management (TQM) atmosphere into our daily mindset. Your products will be made by an elite team with a single goal of exceeding your expectations.
Matthias Poischbeg was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Matt moved to Everett, Wash., after finishing his bachelor’s degree in business in 1995 to work for Sea-Dog Corporation, a manufacturer, and distributor of marine and rigging hardware established in 1923.
In 1999, Matt took over the reins at Sea-Lect Plastics Corporation, a sister company of Sea-Dog and a manufacturer of plastic injection molded products with an in-house tool & die shop. Matthias Poischbeg is also a contributor to Grit Daily.