Did you know that 1,700 lives have been saved since 1999 because of one material? Now I’m sure you are asking yourself what material could possibly save that many lives. Well, it’s plastic! Since 1999, 1,700 lives have been saved in high-speed accidents and will continue saving lives for many more years. Airbags are the products that contain plastic material and are saving lives every day.
Airbags would not be as effective as they are today without plastic. Plastic has won the material of choice for airbags. You may be thinking, the whole airbag can’t be made of plastic and you are correct. However, the parts of the airbag that are plastic are very important. The airbag weight is reduced from 85 to 35 grams per device by using plastic instead of metal which is the other option. Not only can plastic reduce the weight, plastic also reduces the cost.
The airbag contains many different materials, but plastic is the material used for the break-away horn pad cover located on the steering wheel. The plastic cover is a safer material when the airbag is activated splitting open the module cover and inflating in front of the driver. This thermoplastic material has been used for over 15 years and manufactured in millions of vehicles as part of the airbag system. The thermoplastic material provides low temperature flexibility, chemical resistance to oil and grease, and has reduced the environmental impact.
Plastic is not only used in a motor vehicle airbag, it is also used in many different areas of a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Administration reported that an estimated 613,501 lives were saved between 1960 and 2012 because of the use of plastic and composites. Automobiles are getting safer every year and research says that by 2020 the use of plastics in automobiles will increase 75%.