According to estimates from Business Wire, the demand for airbags will increase by 5% annually over the next five years.
Airbags have been predominantly manufactured using nylon 66 yarn, but there is a noticeable trend with these challenging industrial filament yarns toward polyester.
Industrial yarn producers increasingly perceive the airbag yarn segment as a growth market. Four projects for manufacturing airbag yarns from nylon 66 and polyester supplied by systems builder Oerlikon Barmag have been successfully commissioned in the past 12 months alone. The systems, installed at well-known yarn manufacturers in North America and China, cover titer ranges of between 235 and 700 dtex for nylon 66, and between 470 and 550 dtex for polyester.
The reason for increased demand for airbag yarns is the global rise of road safety requirements. For instance, the Indian government and the Department of Road Transport and Highways have revised their vehicle safety rules and regulations. The new version, which comes into force in the fall of 2017, demands considerably greater occupant safety, particularly with regard to side and front impact. According to the estimates of numerous automobile manufacturers, compliance with these new safety rules and regulations can only be achieved with the installation of airbags.
According to research conducted by PCI, greater safety in vehicles is also a much-discussed topic in Latin America, which is having a positive impact on the airbag and safety belt manufacturing industry: two Korean airbag producers have already announced investments in Central America.
The average volume of textile fibers and filaments in automobiles is around 30 kg; according to PCI Fibres, just under 19% of this is airbag yarn. This opens up a highly profitable growth market for industrial yarn manufacturers.