Characteristics of a life-saving textile: the seat belt

Security and Protection

Textile materials are widely used in technical fields, such as the automotive industry, to make a fundamental component for our safety while driving: the seat belt.

The partners in the Horizon2020 DigiPrime project are continuing with the development of the digital platform that will support companies in the automotive industry in their transition to the Circular Economy. Centrocot technicians are also continuing their investigation into the characteristics of the textile components that make up a vehicle. In a previous newsletter we talked about airbags, this time we would like to talk about another life-saving fabric: the seat belt.

The seat belt is also a more complex device than it might seem: it is a combination of a number of components anchored to the passenger compartment and a flexible component that allows easy use. The belt is a very strong piece of webbing that has to meet a number of technical specifications to ensure the passenger’s safety.

The webbing, according to European Directive 77/541/EEC, must withstand a breaking load of at least 1500 kg, have excellent abrasion resistance, UV and heat resistance to avoid performance losses during the life cycle of the car. Another important feature is the dimensional stability, since a change in width or thickness could affect the correct sliding through the mechanical components and thus a malfunction of the entire device.

To meet these requirements, the webbing is usually made of polyester multifilaments, with a count between 550 dtex and 1800 dtex. Various types of weaves can be used, but generally a 2:2 twill is used to ensure compactness. Lastly, the webbing undergoes a heat-setting process to increase its strength.

According to the ACI “Seat belts are one of the most important protection mechanisms for those inside the car in the event of an accident” because, in addition to preventing trauma from impacts, it is estimated that wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of death by 50% in the event of a serious accident.

Knowledge of the technical characteristics of these materials allows new ways of recycling at the end of the car’s life to be identified. This will save lives and the environment.

For further information:

Omar Maschi Ph. D. – Multisectoral Research and Innovation Department

Francesco Dellino – Multisectoral Research and Innovation Department

Author: Francesco Dellino

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.