Optimising Airbags for the Automotive Industry

Dow Corning has been providing innovative airbag solutions for the automotive industry for almost two decades. The company’s innovative silicone solutions tackle issues such as improved sealing, adhesion, flammability, coat weight, and performance degradation over time (Figure 1).

Dow Corning provides total airbag solutions

Figure 1. Dow Corning provides total airbag solutions

Dow Corning’s silicone solutions provide airbags meeting the requirements of regulatory bodies, automotive manufacturers and customers with regard to seam-sealed sewn and one-piece woven (OPW) systems. The services provided by Dow Corning include:

  • Material selection and customization
  • Engineering assistance
  • Equipment solutions
  • Analytical services
  • Robotics prototyping and testing

Dow Corning’s Silicone Advantage

The properties of silicone products provide many advantages over other competitive coating technologies in terms of flammability, humidity, temperature, and aging. The following are the key properties of silicone:

  • Very high tear strength
  • Superior consistent adhesion over temperature and time
  • Excellent stability with long-term pliability
  • Very minimal permeability
  • Reduced environmental impact due to lower carbon emissions
  • Safe and non-hazardous in cured and uncured states
  • Greater resistance to flammability.

Material Selection and Customization

Dow Corning’s testing and analytical services are useful for selecting and customizing material by closely analyzing assembly needs and throughput and identifying the optimum material handling features.

As Dow Corning staff have a thorough understanding of the processing parameters, they can control inflatable curtain quality. They can provide expert solutions for fabric defects, coating defects and application variability.

Customization of materials is performed to match specific specifications for improved efficiency and productivity. In addition, Dow Corning’s services allow customers to try out various combinations of design and production by experimenting with different fabric, coating and sealant, then validating each combination across a variety of performance variables.

Dow Corning takes care of specific packaging and delivery needs for bulk shipments. Vendor-managed inventory ensures convenience to the client with automatic reorders.

Engineering Assistance

The in-house machine shop capabilities of Dow Corning provide engineering assistance to ensure smooth manufacturing operation. Skilled staff provide customized products and services such as producing templates for coating line, building specific machinery as well as fabricating spare components for equipment.

Equipment Solutions

Dow Corning’s technicians, engineers, and researchers have adequate knowledge about several manufacturing and coating machineries. They can also provide consultative services on equipment such as comparative studies of X-Y Cartesian and 6-axis robotic units and recommend which would be suitable for the client’s needs. Installation and setting up assistance is provided as well. Financial assistance to procure equipment is also offered by Dow Corning based on the situation.

Analytical Services

Dow Corning has both the expertise and specialized equipment to provide analytical services, which include molecular identification and analysis, chromatography, physical and thermal analysis, scanning electron microscopy and failure analysis, and surface and elemental analysis. These services are crucial to the automotive companies before embarking on large-scale production.

For instance, Dow Corning can study a fabric and advise suitable products or processes to match its composition, which would be very useful for a textile supplier. Another analytical service is the quantitative measurement of volatiles trapped and/or released during production, aging, and application. These services can also aid in troubleshooting problems associated with material processing, product development and bag performance.

Problems that can be sorted by Dow Corning:

  • Lot-to-lot inconsistencies
  • Cross-contamination
  • Shelf-life degradation
  • Cure inhibition

Technicians and specialists from Dow Corning have an awareness of regional manufacturing challenges such as curing at high levels of temperatures and/or humidity.

Robotics Prototyping and Testing

Dow Corning provides robotics prototyping and testing services. The company’s sophisticated test facilities can help in designing an optimized curtain bag. Dow Corning’s robotics systems can create and validate client design based on the materials used. Automatic seam sealant dispensing equipment from Dow Corning helps the resulting prototypes to be easier and faster to manufacture with better accuracy and cost-effectiveness in comparison to manual labor.

Generally, prototyping and analyzing of OPW and sewn bags are both cost- and time-intensive. However, with Dow Corning’s services, design testing is simplified with a seam-sealed prototype.

Dow Corning’s pilot coating line will aid in optimizing production process before manufacturing process begins. It can be applied for the following steps:

  • Measuring adhesion
  • Analyzing variations in the application process
  • Testing different coating application techniques
  • Comparing blade dynamics effects on performance
  • Spotting and troubleshooting problems such as spitballing of the coating on a fabric.

Conclusion

Choosing Dow Corning’s vast resources can shorten development time and lower associated costs, thereby maximizing bag performance and reducing coat weights. When the prototypes are ready, they can be tested for bag permeability and the impact of humidity, heat and age on performance using the customized equipment from Dow Corning. With years of expertise, Dow Corning’s experts can help customers in designing and implementing suitable testing procedures.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Dow Corning Automotive.

For more information on this source, please visit Dow Corning Automotive.

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