Ford Motor Co. has been named the winner of the Society of Plastics Engineers' 2014 Automotive Innovation Awards for its injection molded knee airbag/glove box system. The system, which appears in the 2015 Mustang, is an industry first, the company says.
Called an active glove box, the system replaces a traditional textile airbag with an injection molded plastic bladder, integrated into the glove box door. Upon impact, the bladder is inflated, extending the outer glove box door panel toward the front passenger's legs to provide cushioning.
The bladder is attached via hot plate welding, and Ford also developed a hydrostatic burst tester to validate the strength of the seal.
Faurecia supplies the active glove box, which is made with 20 percent talc-filled polypropylene from Advanced Composites Inc., along with a version with high rubber content for ductility, and thermoplastic olefin from Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. Toolmaker Extol Inc. was responsible for hot plate welding development. Ford has been granted 15 patents for this technology, with more pending.
The active glove box provides a weight savings of 65 percent over a traditional glove box and airbag pairing, with $5 to $10 saved per car. A 75 percent smaller inflator allowed designers to move the Mustang's dashboard closer to the windshield, creating more space in the cabin.
Ford says the technology will be standard equipment on the 2015 LHD Mustang, 2016 Europe LHD & RHD Mustang, and will potentially be expanded to more Ford programs in the future