Airbag Issues and Acura

Back in the early days of airbags there was a tricky problem—that faced designers as well as engineers—when it came to housing them.

Back in the early days of airbags there was a tricky problem—that faced designers as well as engineers—when it came to housing them. This was not so much an issue for the driver’s side airbag, as the steering wheel structure served as a convenient structure in which to house the little pyrotechnic inflatable. After all, there is that central area ready to be modified to house the bag. Things were a bit trickier on the passenger’s side.

Consider: There is the IP, an expanse of plastic that is often broken up on the passenger side only by an air vent or two and the door to the glove compartment. The airbag had to be located somewhere in that space at the appropriate angle so that when there was the bang-pop-phtttttttttttt! it would be in the space where the passenger was likely to be. So the early approach was to cut another door, in effect, in the top of the IP, and then to cover it with material that more or less lets it blend in with the rest of the color and trim.

Aesthetically it is not a particularly pleasing solution. Functional, yes. Attractive, no. But realize that (1) the area where the passenger side airbag is located is one where there is intense heat load from the sun baking through the windshield and (2) because it essentially a horizontal surface (curved yes, but still more flat than vertical), with time and gravity there tends to be a bit of sagging of the cover material which, if the area below is simply mechanically scribed, leads to a visible seam.

So one of the solutions devised was to deploy a laser to perforate the IP substrate with holes far tinier than the period at the end of this sentence. Because the holes are so tiny, they are essentially invisible. Yet in the case of an airbag deployment, the little holes work just like they do on a page of postage stamps (a metaphor that is going to become somewhat arcane soon, if not already), and they just zip the airbag cover area open for the bang-pop-phttttttttttt!

Assuming that they’re put in.

American Honda is recalling some 1,850 Acura ZDX vehicles. They need to check the inside of the dashboard surface material. A manufacturing quality check determined that the necessary laser scoring wasn’t performed on some of the cars. So those with vehicles with missing scoring will have to have their IPs replaced. (It’s not like some service technician can climb inside your car with a hand-held laser and get the job done.)

But you’ve got to admit this is a gorgeous interior:

 

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