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Firm Used Air Bags to Cushion Defense Drop NEWHALL - Air bags can save lives. They can also save a company. In 1990, the year after the Berlin Wall came down, a modest-sized Newhall defense contractor, Special Devices Inc., jumped full tilt into selling trigger devices called initiators, used louis vuitton which were similar to those it produced for Tomahawk missiles, to makers of automotive air bags. Since then, the company's profits have jumped fivefold, sales have quadrupled and its net worth has tripled. About 80% of its business now comes from automotive sales. Special Devices' parts for air bags are installed in cars from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Europe and Japan. In recent months, however, there has been controversy over the dangers of air bags. Studies have shown that 68 people, including 40 children, have been killed by air bags that were deployed too forcefully. So what is the prognosis for Special Devices? Demand for the company's products is likely to increase because TRW, Morton and other major air bag manufacturers will shift into producing multiple-sensor "smart loui vuitton purses bags" that vary, or slow, the explosion rate of louis vuitton kanye west air bags to make them safer for children and elderly passengers. "There hasn't been any slowdown for Special Devices, and as smart bags come in, that would increase the requirements for initiators. This should be a good opportunity for Special Devices," said Gary Krieger, analyst with Olde Discount Corp. in Detroit, an investment-banking firm. Special Devices is already straining to keep up with demand. Its Newhall plant is running three shifts and operating 24 hours a day, five days a week. "We see our business growing quite substantially over the next few years," said John Cuthbert, Special Devices vice president and head of its automotive division. For the six louis vuitton perfume months that ended May 4, Special Devices' net income jumped 52% to $4.4 million on a 29% rise in sales to $60.3 million. In the current fiscal year, Krieger expects Special Devices' profit to hit $10 million, marking its fourth consecutive year of record profits. Air bags are activated when a sensor tracks a crash and transmits an electric charge to an initiator, the Special Devices component. That device triggers an explosion of fuels and chemicals packed inside metal housings, which in turn ignites gases to inflate the air bag, which blasts out of the dashboard at about 200 mph. All this happens in 40 milliseconds. Two decades ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration predicted that when air bags were fully installed they would save 12,000 lives a year. That safety goal has proved elusive. Nonetheless, the NHTSA says that air bags have saved 2,055 lives so far, while 68 people have died from their deployment. Some deaths occurred when passengers failed to buckle their seat louis vuitton catalogue belts or because drivers placed infants in child seats in the front of a car. The NHTSA now says that children under 12 should not ride in the front of a car but should stay buckled in the back seat. But the deaths, and graphic videos of simulated crashes louis vuitton tasche showing children test dummies propelled inside cars like rag dolls after being hit by air bags, have rallied attention to the potential dangers. As Car and Driver magazine put it, "Blasting our way to safety looks less promising every day." Last winter, the NHTSA proposed allowing consumers to have air bags disconnected. But auto makers objected, and the agency is now reviewing its final recommendations. Car makers oppose widespread use of on-off switches for air bags, citing safety issues and the fear of being sued after accidents if someone forgets to turn on an air bag. "Most air bag deaths are from carelessness. So it's louis vuitton belt buckle unlikely that air bags will ever become optional," Krieger said. The more likely answer, he said, is developing "smart bags" that can vary air bag inflation speeds and louis vuitton keepall 50 volume after sensors measure the size of the crash and track where a passenger is seated and how much the person weighs. "The simplest way to do that is to have two-stage inflaters. And the good thing for us is it would require two initiators," Cuthbert said. Despite Special Devices' successful shift from being a defense contractor to one that thrives in the commercial market, its stock has not enjoyed the same explosive growth. The company went public in 1991 at $9.50 a share, and on Monday its stock closed at $15.875 a share.
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