Thermoset composites are an attractive solution for automotive manufacturers seeking lighter weight (and lower costs) for their vehicles. The fiber-reinforced materials permanently crosslink when molded, and do not melt after curing. Generally tack free and easy to handle, the flexible composites are also easy to load into a heating and curing tool.

But how do thermoset composites stack up to metal?

A thermoset composite (shown) in the form of a sheet molding compound.

In a presentation titled Lightweighting with Composites and Plastics, a Tech Briefs reader asks:

From a ductility perspective, how do you compare a thermoset composite with traditional metals?

Kevin Cahill, Application & Engineering Specialist at IDI Composites International, had the following response:

Cahill: From a ductility perspective, it's interesting that a lot of metals don't advertise flexural properties. Once a thermoset is molded and cured, it's actually very resistant. Thermosets can withstand much more deflection without permanent deformation, and that's why we see thermosets used in deck lids on vehicles and external components like hoods and door skins, because they're much more dent-resistant than especially aluminums. Steel has good dent-resistance and ductility, but clearly has very high weight. Strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight are an issue for steel.

Watch the full presentation: Lightweighting with Composites and Plastics

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