0.018 millimeters can save a life

technology report online, September 2013

Modern cars feature a wide variety of safety systems. High-tech on four wheels.

Platinum wire for airbag triggers
Platinum wire for Airbag triggers

After a long day at the office, Mario B. is driving home. As he rounds a curve on a wooded stretch of highway, a deer bounds into the road ahead. Mario slams on the brakes, but even his quick reaction cannot prevent a collision. He is still lucky, though, because the airbag in his car senses the impact and immediately inflates, protecting him from injury.

At this moment, the first thought in Mario's mind is certainly not that his life has just been saved by Heraeus expertise — in the form of a fine wire only 0.018 millimeters (18 micrometers) thick, one third the diameter of a human hair. Made of a special platinum alloy and just 1 to 2 millimeters long, the wire is part of the airbag trigger, called the initiator. Upon impact, the wire detonates a mini-explosive, sending a signal to the inflator that deploys the airbag.

A powerful innovation that saves lives.

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