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Metal Replacement Demand to Rise Across the Electronics Sector in the Coming Years

metal replacement

Metal Replacement Demand to Rise Across the Electronics Sector in the Coming Years

Over the past few years, manufacturers across the automotive, aerospace & defense, energy, and electronics industries are showing enormous interest in metal alternatives to obtain higher design freedom, improved performance and significant weight reductions. Metal replacement materials largely help in speeding up installations and enhancing the mechanical properties which in turn offers greater durability and reduces the overall cost. The growing prominence of these solutions is expected to proliferate the expansion of the metal replacement market in the ensuing years.

The industry is observing lucrative growth opportunities in the electronics sector on account of the elevated sales of consumer electronics, especially mobile phones, across the globe. According to the Consumer Technology Association statistics, revenue from the retail sales from the consumer technology industry in the U.S. will reach USD 461 billion in 2021, representing a rise of 4.3% year on year.


On the other hand, China is showing promising performance with regard to cell phone exports. According to the data published by the General Administration of Customs of China, cell phone exports in the country accounted for USD 22.9 billion during the first two months of 2021, representing year-on-year growth of 49.2%.

Such a considerable rise in the demand for consumer electronics goods is subsequently driving the adoption of metal replacement solutions. They find important usage in mobile device enclosures, circuit boards, batteries, sensors, audio speakers, etc. to address engineering challenges and improve the performance and reliability of products. For instance, high-performance polymer solutions offer high reliability, versatility, and design freedom for next-generation electronic devices.

The numerous product advantages are essentially driving its demand in the aerospace industry. The high-performance polymers are enabling aerospace companies to enhance the performance of their aircraft by replacing the metals. The adoption of these polymers is being driven by the growing necessity for fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft. In addition, they also offer greater reliability, reduce assembly times and minimize operating and manufacturing costs.

As a result of the high product demand in aerospace, several eminent market players are inclined on developing innovative solutions designed according to the industry needs to gain a competitive edge in the market. To illustrate, in 2020, Victrex collaborated with French aircraft manufacturer Daher to develop a 176-ply laminate structural panel for aircraft with a 32 mm thickness, based on VICTREX AE™ 250 LMPAEK thermoplastic composite. According to the company, this new solution will expedite the aircraft manufacturing process and improve efficiency.

Speaking of the application of metal replacement in the transportation sector, it is being extensively used to make vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient. Metal alternatives like polymers, plastics, composites, etc. not only enhance fuel efficiency but also improve durability and driving comfort through reduced noise and vibration.

Quoting an instance, in 2020, AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, contributed to the European Mat4Rail project involving the manufacturing of new materials and components for the railway of the future. The initiative was aimed at reducing the weight of railway vehicles by replacing metal components with composite materials to enhance the vehicle capacity and passenger comfort. The role of AIMPLAS was to develop new hybrid resin formulations offering better resistance to flame propagation and to be used in fiber-reinforced polymers.

Rising demand for material that can enhance performance and offer greater freedom during manufacturing has impelled the demand for metal replacement solutions across sectors like electronics, aerospace, automobile, etc. Besides, technological developments in these solutions are further driving their demand and is expected to accelerate the business growth in coming years.

fuel efficiency

The Trucking Industry’s Fuel Efficiency is Still Far Too Low, While Carbon Output is Far Too High

In 2017, the EPA reported that the transportation sector is the leading contributor of carbon emissions in the U.S. A major part of that sector is the $700 billion domestic trucking industry, which spends approximately $105B on diesel fuel annually, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). To help offset this trend, many logistics and transportation companies have recently launched some level of fuel-saving initiative, aimed at helping to reduce their fuel use and carbon impact.

The trucking industry remains a critical function for the U.S. economy, and that reliance is only set to grow. However, most Class 8 trucks on the road today are only achieving roughly seven miles per gallon (MPG) – which keeps fuel consumption and carbon output unnecessarily high. The adoption of technologies to improve truck aerodynamics for long-haul carriers, along with helping to change fuel-hogging driver behaviors, can help fleets reduce fuel costs significantly while eliminating large amounts of carbon emissions. The industry must move aggressively closer to the long-desired goal of a 10MPG standard.

Innovation in Aerodynamics

Aerodynamic drag of a Class 8 truck accounts for a majority of a truck’s energy loss at highway speeds and results in unnecessary fuel usage. Reducing drag improves fuel efficiency which translates to greater efficiency benefits for the industry overall. So, how do trucking companies get there?

Truck manufacturers offer a variety of models with increased aerodynamic efficiency, and aftermarket providers offer numerous products that are proven to further improve fuel economy. One example from the aftermarket is an active-aero device that automatically closes the tractor-trailer gap on commercial trucks when the vehicle reaches a certain speed (approximately 40 miles per hour) and creates an estimated fuel savings of between four-to-six percent. The product also offers GPS-enabled software that tracks fuel savings information in real-time. Improving aerodynamics would cut annual fuel use of a single truck by up to 860 gallons.

Improving Driver Behavior

Another area worth noting to cut down fuel consumption– reducing the driving speed. According to ATA estimates, an average truck traveling at 75 mph will consume 27% more fuel compared to one going at 65 mph. Additionally, what most people don’t realize is an idle truck can be a massive fuel consumer. Drivers that idle their engines while resting to provide air-conditioning or heat for their sleeper compartments or those that have the habit of keeping their engines warm during cold months are just simple notions that cause major fuel consumption.  Developing better practices to the above will help streamline fuel costs overall.

Beyond systems and behavior that address fuel efficiencies, companies can adopt other innovative ways to address managing fuel consumption such as side skirts or streamlined hoods to help reduce drag.

Opportunity with Data and Analytics

While physical and behavioral solutions can put more control in the hands of fleet managers, data analytics can play a large role as well. Valuable information gained through data/analytics provides a way to obtain greater transparency and visibility into performance. GPS-enabled software can help to validate the fuel savings from each innovation and help ensure it continues forward. These programs can be put in play to help manage efficiencies for the carrier and utilize technologies in ways that benefit the industry overall.

Carbon Reduction and Pushing to 10 MPG

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts, freight activity will nearly double by 2040, and global freight transport emissions will exceed passenger vehicle emissions by 2050. As sustainability is becoming a higher priority within the transportation industry, it’s important that carriers understand the benefits of investing in sustainability programs and resources, and how this translates to cutting costs.

Today’s top fleets are leading the sustainability charge. Everyone in the industry is watching what UPS, DHL, and the like-minded industry leaders are doing in regards to innovation adoption for the best fuel-efficiency technology. With trucking predicted to grow more and more each year, improving the fuel efficiency of the industry is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting profit margins in an increasingly regulated industry. According to NACFE’s 2017 Run On Less demonstration, achieving an average fuel efficiency of 10 MPG would save the U.S. trucking industry 9.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel, $24.3 billion and 98 million tons of CO2 each year [ref 1]. While the primary goal is to reduce the environmental impact of the transportation sector, it is successful in large part because it demonstrates financial benefit for industry stakeholders as well.

It’s clear that there is an abundance of challenges when it comes to fuel consumption in the trucking industry. However, the industry can be confident that there is an equal abundance of solutions to help improve fuel efficiency in order to manage costs and reduce carbon output.





Daniel Burrows is the CEO and Founder of XStream Trucking, an engineering company building connected hardware to improve the efficiency of the trucking industry