Timeline infographic: The history of the modern airbag and silicone developments

The very first airbag system, not too far from those we have in our cars nowadays, was first described in 1966 by the NY Times. Since then, equipment manufacturers have been relentlessly working on developing solutions for ever-increased occupants’ safety. Elkem Silicones has played a key role in developing enhanced safety systems and airbags with its silicone solutions. We have a long track record in this industry, working alongside with airbag manufacturers for over 20 years to provide them with the highest quality products, and innovative ideas to continuously improve their safety systems, and ultimately saving lives.

See how we got there, becoming a major supplier to the airbag industry, and most likely being present in your own car!

The ancestors of the modern airbag

If we trace the origins of airbags back to their most rudimentary form, we can go back as early as the 1950s. Following an accident he had had in the Pennsylvania countryside, John W. Hetrick, an American engineer, was inspired to create what we know today as the airbag. He, however, called it the “safety cushion assembly” and received his patent in 1953.

From there, other inventors made improvements to this system, but it wasn’t until the mid to late 1960s that we would see the world’s first airbag based on a sensor and safety system, developed by Allen Breed. He is the one often credited with giving birth to the modern airbag industry.

History of silicone innovation at Elkem Silicones

In the 1990s, airbag manufacturers began to opt for silicone coatings rather than neoprene. This shift gained in momentum over the last half of the decade until silicone became the prime choice.

In 1996, Elkem Silicones was granted its first patent for silicones specially designed for airbags and that’s when things really took off. A series of developments has thus ensued, including new products for reinforced textile seams at reduced costs, new sealing solutions, products for coating polyamide and polyester, and technology for improving pressure retention and thermal protection— just to name a few!

20 years of quality products

Elkem Silicones has a long track record in the sector, working alongside airbag manufacturers for over 20 years to provide them with the highest quality products. To find out more about the key dates in our history, check out our infographic: 20 years of silicone developments for airbags.

Find out all the facts you may not know yet about airbags in an infographic.