Airbags play a vital role in protecting drivers and passengers of any automobile during an accident or sudden impact. Airbags are a part of the primary safety mechanism incorporated in most automobiles. Airbags inflate during a sudden impact and help avoid any direct injury to the passengers. Airbags are made from highly advanced materials, which can withstand the sudden inflation of a gas without rupturing during the process. Airbags are made of several materials which are impermeable to gas; however, Nylon 6,6 is the preferred choice of fabric for airbags. Airbags are also made of aramid fabric; however, the cost of aramid is substantially high and hence, it is reserved for niche applications. The fabric used for airbags needs to exhibit two critical properties: high tensile strength and very low gas permeability. Moreover, it also need to possess elasticity, light weight or low specific density, and fatigue resistance.
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The airbag fabric market is primarily driven by automotive sales and is largely depends on the production of vehicles. Rising consumer demand for cars and vehicles due to easy available finance options and increasing disposable income are indirectly driving the demand for airbag fabrics. The global sales of automobiles in 2016 was 93.85 million units, which was 4.7% higher than 2015. Such noticeable growth is anticipated to propel the demand for airbag fabrics in the near future. Along with automotive, aerospace is also a small but emerging application. Unlike automobile airbags, airbags used in aircrafts are located near the seatbelts, as a safety measure to protect an aircraft’s passengers in case of a crash landing. Moreover, evacuation slides, which work on a similar technology, are also incorporated in an aircraft. The fabric does not have any direct substitutes, as no alternative technology has been developed to replace the airbags.
Based on type of airbag fabric, the market is segmented as coated fabrics and non-coated fabrics. Non-coated airbag fabrics are widely utilized and account for more than 90% share of the market. However, for specific applications such as driver side airbag, coated fabrics are essentially used. Based on material, the airbag fabric market is segmented into nylon 6, 6, aramid, polyester filament, and others. Nylon 6, 6 is the most widely used material in the manufacture of airbags. Nylon 6, 6 is a versatile material, it is highly impermeable to gases, has high tensile strength, a melting point of 260 °C, and is mostly economical. Aramid airbags are prominently utilized for applications such as lifting loads and is seldom used as a safety airbag fabric in automotive. Based on application, the airbag fabric market is segmented into driver airbag module, passenger airbag module, side-impact module, pedestrian protection module, and others. Based on end-user industry, the airbag fabric market is segregated into automotive, aerospace, and others. Automotive is a key end-user industry for airbag fabrics.
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In terms of geography, the global airbag fabric market can be segmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America and Europe are anticipated to be the key regions of the airbag fabric market. High focus on passenger and pedestrian safety coupled with stringent standards on automotive safety in these regions makes Europe and North America prominent markets for airbag fabrics. Followed by Europe and North America, Asia Pacific is also a potential market for airbag fabrics, the region has substantial sales of automobiles; thus, creating elevated demand for the same. Japan, China, and India are prominent countries and witness significant automobile sales. Furthermore, several major automotive manufacturers namely Toyota, Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki, SAIC, and Tata have their manufacturing plants in the region.
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