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Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts

Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts

Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts

I read an old thread from NazareneCarpenter concerning the repro of out-of-production plastic parts. I cannot agree more with his assessment of the eBay "hawkers". Like all those out there who were lucky enough to gather old cars/parts years ago, they now command top, TOP dollar for them. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see these same people going to disaster sites and selling bottled drinking water for egregious prices as well. But, I digress... Now to the point:

I'd like to inquire as to whether or not anyone reading this post could point me in the right direction. I'd like to mass produce (by this I mean one to several hundred) plastic automotive grilles that are not currently available thru the aftermarket. Companies like "Classic Industries" market similar parts, so someone must manufacture them.

Can anyone out there suggest s source I can get in touch with to explore this possibility?


RE: Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts

What possibility?

Several hundred parts is not mass production; it's what an OEM plastic molder produces before coffee break in a single day from a single machine.

Several hundred thousand dollars is what it costs to sink a single mold, and not a very large one at that. You'd have to come up with a sectional replacement for a large plastic grill.

Several hundred thousand dollars more will buy you a used molding machine in which to place the mold and squirt the plastic into it.

Several hundred thousand dollars more will buy a building with storage and drying facilities for the plastic pellets.

How many replacement grilles do you need to sell to begin paying back the million dollars it will cost you to get started? More than could ever be sold, most likely.


There has been some discussion here recently about 3D printing (which subsequently got its own forum) to produce replacement plastic parts for cars, without tooling. The machines are getting better, and the smallest ones are getting cheaper, but you'd be hard pressed to make a presentable grille with them today. ... tomorrow, who knows?

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts

how big of a part do you need for a say 200-300k$ worth mold, single cavity?
i've seen prices for smaller molds that can be in the range of 20k€ for example or 100k€ for a 10-cavity mold. i didn't see the parts though, it was from a college handouts

RE: Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts

The specific example that seems to come up most is taillight lenses, molds for which should be disproportionately expensive to their projected area because of the commonly included arrays of tiny corner cube retroreflectors, included in OEM designs to act as passive reflectors even when the lamps are off.
AFAIK the reflector parts of current molds are made by assembling arrays of square pins with individually angled and polished faces.
Think lots of expensive handwork.

The next obvious market is plastic aero headlight lenses, which fetch shocking prices in the aftermarket. The spares produced for dealer stock probably would have been enough to cover collision damage in the fleet, but were clearly not made in a quantity large enough to cover the sun/ rain/ wind/ weather/ pollution damage and fogging. Once again, plastic resin manufacturers oversold the capabilities of their products.

At this point, I'd vote for again requiring glass sealed beams, which with mini-quads had achieved a reasonable balance between aero disturbance and illumination.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Reproducing out-of-production plastic auto parts


I agree about the current state of headlight lenses. It is not possible to just replace the actual lens, you have to buy the complete lens/reflector assembly. Every headlight out there will turn to junk in about 10 years. The OE parts can be $1000 each, the "cheap" Chinese knockoffs on eBay are still $300 each and the quality is not good. I'd love to see the return of sealed beams you could replace for $20. Not going to happen. I do not understand why they can't make the lens replaceable. It should be mandatory since they can't make them hold up. And don't mention polishing kits, once you start doing that you have to keep doing it over & over & over. Not an acceptable solution.


The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

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