Should Polymers be Used Instead of Aluminum for Advanced Driver Assistance System Housings?

The simple answer is yes – specialty polymers can protect sensitive ADAS electronics – but with greater design freedom and less weight than aluminum.

The need for advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features, like back up cameras and lane departure warnings as standard safety components, is clear. And as technology improves and performance demands increase, so does the quantity and sophistication of the electronics.

Protecting these electronics with durable housings that won’t dramatically increase the overall weight of the car can be challenging, especially if you consider an aluminum housing as your only option. 

Advanced polymers for ADAS housings can provide critical static and shielding protection for the electronics, while also decreasing the overall weight footprint on the car as compared to aluminum. And, you can incorporate more functionality into tighter spaces through the increased design freedom that advanced polymers provide. 

Can polymers really work in ADAS housings? 

Yes, specialty polymer formulations are a proven path to lighter weight and easier processing versus aluminum. They offer the performance needed to protect your ADAS components. And because these materials are injection moldable, you have more freedom to design smaller, more compact housings that fit more electronics without sacrificing performance.

What are the key characteristics to consider when choosing a material for ADAS housings?

  • Overheating – Oftentimes, designers choose aluminum for its excellent thermal conductivity properties. But because ADAS housing applications are typically convection limited, custom formulated thermoplastics can do the job of dissipating heat exceptionally well. The very high conductivity of metals simply may be more than is needed to prevent damage from heat build-up.
  • Damage from static electricity – Your electronics need protection from static buildup – specialty thermoplastics can be formulated to do a better job of dissipating unwanted static and therefore minimize the potential for damage to nearby electrical components.
  • EMI/RFI shielding – With polymer formulations that incorporate integrated EMI/RFI shielding protection, you can prevent crosstalk between components. No need to face the extra processing times or costs that go into painting or vacuum metallization required with traditional polymer formulations.
  • More function, less space – You need to add more electronics without expanding the footprint on the vehicle – injection moldable engineered polymers enable function integration and thin wall housing construction, without compromising dimensional stability. 
  • Weight, weight, weight – Engineered polymers can be formulated to provide excellent thermal management, static dissipation and EMI/RFI shielding performance for your ADAS housing at a lighter weight than aluminum.
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