Kansai Regional - Business overview
Side curtain airbags protect the head and neck of passengers from side crash impact.
Often described as a daily necessity or a symbol of self-expression, vehicles have become the preferred mode of transportation, making our lives more convenient and productive. Sumitomo Corporation has been broadly committed to the automobile industry, ranging from the supply of raw materials for and development and manufacturing of vehicle components to the sales of finished vehicles. In each area, Sumitomo Corporation is seeking to increase the attractiveness and value of automobiles and make them even more useful in our daily lives.
One of the vehicle functions that has been underscored in recent years is the improvement of safety performance. An item that has been particularly drawing attention is the side curtain airbag, which covers front and rear doors/windows and absorbs the impact of a collision while preventing passengers from being ejected from the car. In Japan, the use of airbags has spread rapidly since the 1990s, and frontal airbags, which inflate in front of driver and passenger seats in the event of an accident, are now installed as a standard feature in almost every model. What brings vehicle's safety performance to a higher level is the side curtain airbag, installation of which is accelerating in North America and Europe.
World-class state-of-the-art weaving looms quickly insert weft threads, producing OPW fabric at a rapid rate.
In November 2004, Sumitomo Corporation, in partnership with Asahi Kasei Fibers Corporation, a developer of raw materials for airbags and their one-piece woven (OPW) technology, and Suminoe Textile Co., Ltd., a manufacturer of interior materials for automobiles, established Sumisho Airbag Systems Co., Ltd. (SAS) in Matsuura City, Nagasaki Prefecture. Adopting a bag-making method called "OPW" which produces airbags three-dimensionally and seamlessly with a special weaving loom, SAS advanced into the business of manufacturing side curtain airbags. Airbags made by SAS in Nagasaki, Kyushu are protecting drivers around the world every day.
"Our side curtain airbags are installed in vehicles manufactured not only by Japanese but also by such global car manufacturers as Audi, Volkswagen, BMW, and Hyundai," says SAS President Takeo Ando.
In-house deployment tests: Rollover responsive airbags are required to retain impact absorption capability for several seconds after inflation
Normally, a side curtain airbag is installed in the roof rail above the door. It deploys like a curtain within 0.015 to 0.02 seconds on sensing side impact and protects the passenger's head from the impact of the collision. This type of side curtain airbag is categorized as "First Impact (F/I)".
Another type of side curtain airbag is "Rollover" (R/O). As well as inflating at the moment of collision, a R/O airbag remains inflated for several seconds, protecting passengers and preventing them from being ejected from the vehicle even in rollover accidents. The OPW manufacturing technology used by SAS is well-suited to making R/O airbags. With the OPW technology, airbags can be formed without a sewing process, thus providing such features as improved airtightness and longer deployment time.
The installation rate of F/I and R/O side curtain airbags combined in North America, Europe and South Korea is reported to be over 80% with the expectation of reaching almost 100% in North America, 90% in Europe and South Korea, and exceed 40% in other Asian nations such as China and Japan in 2015. As background for these figures, the new regulation to reduce the partial and complete ejection of vehicle occupants through side windows in crashes, particularly rollover crashes came into effect in March 2011 in the U.S. Under this new regulation the phase-in will be implemented starting with vehicles to be manufactured on or after September 1, 2014. All vehicles to be manufactured on or after September 1, 2017 are required to meet this performance standard. Currently, R/O airbags that can protect vehicle occupants for several seconds are regarded as the most effective solutions to this demand. Among all side curtain air bags, OPW airbags that can offer high rollover safety performance are expected to spread rapidly around the world.
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