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Moulded-in tear seam critical element of airbag cover

DSM Engineering Plastics (Sittard) : 18 June, 2004  (Application Story)
The side-door airbag covers in the 2003 Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Phantom model have adopted Arnitel TPE-E copolyeser elastomer from DSM Engineering Plastics.
With a successful Rolls-Royce Phantom application, DSM has extended the application range for its Arnitel TPE into the automotive airbag market segment, where the material excels owing to its ductility at -35C and strength at 85C. Arnitel TPE airbag cover grades can replace competitive materials such as TPE-Es, SEBS, TPOs, and TPVs.

The Arnitel TPE grade used for the cover was designed to perform well in automotive airbag and other demanding applications. Low-temperature ductility is required to help prevent injury due to splintering during airbag deployment, while high-temperature strength is required to keep the airbag module in place.

“There was a requirement for a combination of low-temperature ductility with strength at elevated temperatures and giving greater design freedom for airbag enclosures,” said Fredric Petit, General Product Manager for Arnitel TPE at DSM. “By focusing on these needs, Arnitel TPE has proven its merit in this use through the number of high-end automotive applications realised.”

In day-to-day operation of the Rolls-Royce, the Arnitel TPE side airbag cover - itself moulded into a surface free of irregularities and skinned with decorative materials - presents the expected upscale look and feel traditional to the auto marque.

Should the door be hit with sufficient impact to deploy the airbag, the cover opens in milliseconds along a moulded-in tear seam. During deployment, the cover plays an important role in retaining the airbag mechanism and in maintaining door integrity.

In addition to airbag applications, Arnitel TPE grades are well-suited for automotive interior components that depend on high aesthetic quality because the material takes an excellent moulded surface finish, as well as offering long-term paint adhesion.

To help customers optimise applications with Arnitel TPE, DSM Engineering Plastics offers global product development, application development, design consulting, as well as access to computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools.

Beyond airbags, Arnitel TPE is extensively used in the automotive industry for applications designed for human touch, such as armrest and steering wheel covers; and those requiring exceptional fatigue resistance and resistance to oil and greases, including rack and pinion bellows, constant velocity joint (CVJ) boots, air-ducts and air brake tubing. In the electronic and consumer goods industry, Arnitel TPE is widely used for mobile phone antennas, cable insulation, flexible tubing, film, dispensers, cable ties, pads, handles, and soft-grip applications.

The range of Arnitel TPE is exemplified by its use both in tiny, low-noise gears, and in large, energy- and sound-absorbing railway pads.
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