Sophisticated INFICON Leak-Detection Technology for Checking Airbag-Inflator Systems

Automotive suppliers will quality check more than 300 million airbag-inflator systems using sophisticated helium- and hydrogen-based leak-detection technology in 2015.

Frontal airbags have reduced fatalities in frontal crashes by up to 25 percent and have reduced serious head injuries by more than 60 percent, according to Thomas Parker, North American automotive sales manager for INFICON.

The average car buyer doesn't realize that most new cars now are equipped with as many as 12 different airbags, including side-impact airbags, Parker adds. In the U.S., 75 percent of all vehicles under a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds built in 2015 will be required to meet new Federal side-impact requirements.

INFICON is the world's leading supplier of leak detection equipment used to test airbag inflator systems, and recently celebrated the production of its 1,000th LDS3000 Helium-Hydrogen Leak Detector since launching in 2012. The LDS3000 is the fourth generation of the successful LDS1000. Autoliv, the worldwide leader in automotive safety systems whose products include airbags, seatbelts, steering wheels and electronics, took delivery of the milestone unit at a production facility in Brigham City, Utah earlier this year.

Autoliv began using INFICON leak-detection equipment to test airbag igniters at its Tremonton, Utah facilities in 2006. The program was so successful that Autoliv later expanded its use of INFICON test equipment to quality check complete stored-gas and pyrotechnic inflators at its plant in Brigham City. Based on mass spectrometer technology, the LDS3000 equipment at Autoliv operates in a demanding, high-speed process that generates more than three million tests per year.

Parker estimates that automakers and their suppliers annually conduct more than 600 million leak tests on airbag inflator components and seatbelt pretension systems in the United States alone. The majority of those tests are conducted with INFICON equipment. Using helium or hydrogen as tracer gases, the company's leak-detection systems are used to test various automotive components and sub-assemblies including airbags, fuel systems, automatic transmissions and torque converters, engines and automotive heat exchangers.

Parker reports that INFICON leak detectors such as the LDS3000 provide manufacturers with the highest leak-detection measurement speeds available; the industry's only three-year ion-source warranty; significantly below-average maintenance requirements, and the ability to reliably operate under demanding, non-stop, 24-hour/seven-day-a-week production conditions.

The recall this year of more than 14 million vehicles worldwide for safety-related airbag defects has focused public attention on airbag quality, Parker points out.

"Developed especially for demanding performance and reliability requirements in the auto industry, our LDS3000 detectors are faster, more compact and more accurate than previous models and are ideally suited for airbag testing," says Parker. "The modular, ultra-compact design is easy to integrate into a variety of leak-detection systems."

INFICON also provides leak-detection technology for a wide range of major automotive components and systems, including:

  • Fuel Systems – Fuel tanks; filler caps and necks; fuel injectors; fuel pumps; fuel lines, and filters.
  • Driveline Components – Engine oil circuits; transmissions; torque converters; intercoolers; electric car batteries; natural gas engines, and hydrogen and natural gas fuel tanks.
  • Oil and Water Systems – Plastic oil tanks; oil pans; oil coolers; oil pumps; coolant expansion tanks; water coolers, and water pumps.
  • Safety Components – Brake fluid reservoirs; power brake boosters; vacuum brake pumps; brake hoses; airbag igniter caps, and airbag generators.
  • Air Conditioning Systems – AC hoses; compressors; evaporators; condensers, and filling valves.
  • Other Systems – Power steering housings; servo oil reservoirs; windshield wiper fluid containers; wheels; shock absorbers and starter batteries.

INFICON is one of the world's leading developers, producers and suppliers of instruments and devices for leak detection in the manufacture of automotive, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems and components. The company has manufacturing facilities in Europe, China and the United States, as well as sales and service offices throughout the world.

More information about INFICON automotive technology is available online at

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