Glass Bubbles

3M™ Glass Bubbles for injection molded plastic parts

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As demand continues for lighter weight materials in the vehicle, compounders and automotive OEMs can be more confident than ever in a tried-and-true solution: lightweight thermoplastic parts containing 3M Glass Bubbles. They are high-strength, hollow glass microspheres that are easily incorporated into many thermoplastic resins. With crush strengths up to 16,000 pounds per square inch (psi), 3M Glass Bubbles can withstand the pressures of the injection-molding process despite their low density. The result: parts can be 15 % lighter than thermoplastic produced with conventional fillers.

Where you can lightweight


Exterior applications for lightweight injection molded plastic parts

White car with doors open to show 3M's exterior solutions and applications.
    1. Front end modules
    2. Grille opening reinforcement
    3. Headlamp housing
    4. Quarter panel trim
    1. Air inlet panel / cowl screen
    2. Sunroof and shade
    3. Roof ditch molding
    4. Fix glass encapsulation
    1. CHMSL
    2. Lift gate trim
    3. Sensor brackets
    4. Trunk cargo storage
    5. Door sill and step assist

Interior applications for lightweight injection molded parts

Interior of the front seat of a vehicle to show 3M's interior solutions and applications.
    1. Floor console
    2. Relay boxes
    3. Door panel
    4. Dashboard / instrument panel
    5. Glove box
    1. Interior trim
    2. Storage bins
    3. Mirrors
    4. Sunroof trim ring
    1. Grab handles
    2. Door handles
    3. Center console
    4. Seat back

Under the hood of a car plastics

3M Glass Bubbles can be used to lightweight many plastic parts used under the hood. In addition to making the parts more lightweight, 3M Glass Bubbles also help to reduce the coefficient of linear thermal expansion, meaning the parts are less likely to expand and contract with temperature changes. This reduces part warpage over time.

  • Lightweight Under the hood plastics
  • Thermoplastic Applications Include:
    • Air Filter Housing
    • Air Intake Manifold
    • Air Induction Ducts/Resonators
    • Battery Tray and Cover
    • Camshaft Covers
    • Charged Air Ducts
    • Engine Cover
    • Fuel Rail
    • Charged Air Cooler End Caps
    • Oil Pan
    • Radiator Trim, End Caps, Fan bade, and Shrouds
    • Throttle Body Cover
    • Underhood Sight Shields and Trim

Resin systems

3M Glass Bubbles can be incorporated into a wide range of resin systems. They can displace higher-cost resins for cost savings and be tailored to meet a wide range of specifications in finished parts.

  • three piles of parts made with resins
  • Reduce weight in resin types such as:
    • Polypropylene (PP)
    • Polyamide 6 (PA 6)
    • Polyamide 66 (PA 66)
    • Polyamide 4,6 (PA 46)
    • Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)
    • Polyoxymethylene (POM)
    • Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT)
    • Polyphthalamide (PPA)
    • Liquid crystal polymer (LCP)
    • Polycarbonate (PC)

Discover the full benefits of thermoplastics with 3M Glass Bubbles

  • Weight reduction
    Weight reduction

    3M Glass Bubbles can help you reduce part weight by as much as 15 % in nearly any thermoplastic resin (PP, PA6, PA66, PUR) vs. conventional fillers such as calcium carbonate.

    Recommended products:

  • Dimensional stability
    Dimensional stability

    3M Glass Bubbles can improve dimensional stability of finished parts including making them more resilient against deformation from thermal changes.

    Recommended products:

  • Reduced cycle time
    Reduced cycle time

    When mixed with other materials, the low density of 3M Glass Bubbles result in a reduction of overall volumetric heat capacity, shortening the time for the part to cool by 15-25 % and yielding lighter weight parts at faster rates.

    Learn more about how Ford in conjunction with 3M found savings and improvements in both cycle time and processing conditions (PDF, 713 KB) with lightweight thermoplastic parts.

  • Thermoplastics parts

    Incorporating 3M Glass Bubbles to thermoplastics parts removes the surface glossiness and provides a premium surface finish.

    Recommended products:

3M Glass Bubbles calculator thumbnail

Calculate how much weight you could save with 3M Glass Bubbles.

See how 3M Glass Bubbles can help you reduce the density of your compound formulations, leading to lighter weight parts. This weight volume calculator allows you to compare your reference compound formulation with lighter formulations that use 3M Glass Bubbles.

Calculate now
zoomed in image of 3m glass bubbles
Ready to try it out?

For your sample of 3M Glass Bubbles for injection molded thermoplastics, click below.



  • watch the video for dimensional stability
    3M Glass Bubbles for cycle time reduction in automotive
  • Allow auto parts to cool faster with thermometer
    3M Glass Bubbles for dimensional stability

Customer applications and technical resources

  • 3M Glass Bubbles iM16K for Reinforced Thermoplastics
    Technical Properties of 3M Glass Bubbles in Reinforced Thermoplastics
  • Productivity Benefits in Injection Molded Thermoplastics
    Technical paper: Productivity benefits from increased cooling rates
  • 3M Glass Bubbles Compounding and Injection Molding Guidelines
    How to compound and injection mold with 3M Glass Bubbles
  • Using Hollow Glass Microsphere Masterbatches
    Using hollow glass microsphere masterbatches to optimize formulations
  • 3M Glass Bubbles for Injection Molded Plastics

Ask an Expert

3M supports our 3M Glass Bubbles with global sales, technical and customer service resources. Contact us for more information, including formulation assistance or questions about a specific application.

  • 3M™ Glass Bubbles for Automotive
    3M Glass Bubbles for Automotive

    Learn how 3M Glass Bubbles can help you with lightweighting and many other challenges across the entire vehicle.

  • 3M™ Glass Bubbles iM16K
    3M Glass Bubbles iM16K

    Learn more about the 3M Glass Bubbles grade with a density of 0.46 g/cc and an isostatic crush strength of 16,000psi (110MPa), providing excellent strength-to-density ratio for injection molding.