THE IMPORTANCE OF MATERIAL SELECTION IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY 

THE IMPORTANCE OF MATERIAL SELECTION IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY 

THE IMPORTANCE OF MATERIAL SELECTION IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY 

Our Product Developing Dept offers assistance in product engineering, design and material selection. There are many different material options available in cellular plastics and foams, that our engineers are familiar with. Our technical engineers, Tero Laitinen and Tuula Vilkka, explain what factors should be considered when selecting materials and how material choices affect the end result. 

  

Personalized service and understanding our customers’ ideas and projects are at the core of our operations. Our engineers provide support throughout the various stages of the process, from request for quotation to selecting manufacturing methods for the final product. However, the most important stage in the design process is the beginning, where our engineers, with their extensive knowledge of materials and applications for the automotive industry, can share their expertise in the customer’s project. The best time for both the client and the engineer is when the project is in its early stages and material choices can still be influenced on. As projects commence, comprehensive initial data is collected based on the customer’s needs and preferences. The data includes determining whether there is a need for drawings and engineering work or if the product has already been sufficiently planned by the customer. We consider which materials are best suited for the specific product, preliminary manufacturing methods, and assist in the design process by examining it from multiple perspectives. 

HOW DOES THE SELECTION OF THE RIGHT MATERIAL AFFECT THE OVERALL OUTCOME? 

When making material choices in the automotive industry, it is crucial to consider the overall picture. Most importantly, materials should support the functionality of the product while also being easy to install, especially since production in the automotive industry is mainly mass production, and production speed also affects production efficiency. In addition to cellular plastics and foam materials, adhesives and tapes can be used to make the installation as easy and comfortable as possible. 

Another important aspect of material selection is the cost-effectiveness. The earlier we can be involved in the product development, the easier it is to find cost-effective solutions for both materials and manufacturing methods, as well as production quantities considering the minimization of waste. “The more sensibly products are made, the more sales potential they have,” says Tero. 

WHAT ASPECTS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHEN SELECTING MATERIALS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY? 

  

Tuula and Tero have compiled a list of factors and characteristics typically considered when selecting materials: 

  

·         Functionality: For example, in seals, the flexibility and adaptability of the seal are important to ensure proper functioning in the intended application. 

·         Material density 

·         Material fire rating 

·         Geometric tolerances: The maximum allowable deviation from the specified dimensions, such as thickness or density, to ensure the material still serves its purpose. 

·         Chemical and oil resistance properties 

·         Sound absorption: In some applications, mass can be added to walls to prevent sound transmission, or sound-absorbing materials can be chosen to control noise levels. 

·         Layered structures: Different materials can be chosen and combined to achieve desired properties, such as an attractive or dirt-repellent surface. 

·         Material durability 

·         Cleanability and washability: In heavy-duty vehicles, materials often need to withstand pressure washing. 

·         Cost-effectiveness 

  

COLLABORATION WITH THE CUSTOMER LEADS TO THE BEST OUTCOMES 

 

The key to the entire product development and design process is close communication with the customer. Together, we can assess the complete scope of product development and identify all possible factors that affect it. Price alone is not decisive, the overall consideration should also include installation costs and product durability. Cost-effectiveness is the sum of all these factors. 

  

Based on our extensive experience, we have found that the best outcomes are achieved when we can collaborate with the client from the early stages and have the opportunity to influence decisions and choices. This way, it is easier to manage costs. In our engineering collaboration, we offer our clients the extensive knowledge of our team, our wide range of materials, and our manufacturing techniques. Our organization has many engineers working in the same team, allowing us to generate ideas and conduct quick tests agilely. Prototypes can be used to test the suitability of materials and achieve a product that functions effectively, ensuring that the manufacturing process runs smoothly. 

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