Quadrant Creative Moulding & Systems (Quadrant CMS) in Belgium and Swedish Tier-1 automotive supplier Autoliv have developed a polymer airbag housing for the Fiat 500 (cinquecento in Italian).
The small, three-door 500 launched last year to commemorate the car’s 50th anniversary is a completely modern car based on the Fiat's Panda platform.
The airbag housing for the 500 is molded from impact-modified, 40% glass-fiber reinforced Akulon polyamide 6 from DSM Engineering Plastics. It weighs less than the metal it replaces, costs less to manufacture, and brings some design freedom each car model needs a housing tailored to its build. The housing material must also withstand extreme conditions under which airbags function: It takes an airbag about 65 msec to inflate. This puts high impact loadings on the housing, where both the airbag and gas generator reside. Yet, it’s imperative to the airbag’s function and passenger safety that the housing remain intact and anchored firmly to the dashboard. Beyond the aggressive loads that the housing must endure on deployment, it must also guarantee failsafe operation over a wide temperature range from 85° C at 90% relative humidity down to −35°C
"The development time line for this project was extremely demanding," says Quadrant CMS Project Development Engineer Wim Vlaeminck. "Fiat pushed the production start-date forward one month (so it could launch the car exactly 50 years after the release of the original Fiat 500). We also had to work with a production tool from the start. There was no time for developing a prototype mold. Yet it only took five months from the initial design to production part approval."
The Fiat 500 respects the original in its shape and function and was designed with the participation of over 3,000,000 enthusiasts who submitted ideas to the project. It recently received a total of 35 points during 5-star Euro NCAP certification. This places it at the top of its segment in safety.