Many equate pyrotechnics with large, loosely controlled explosions, leading to safety and reliability concerns. But contemporary pyrotechnic devices are exceedingly safe and dependable, delivering benefits that electrical, mechanical and cold gas solutions can’t match.
In fact, countless emergency, safety and mission-critical systems rely on pyrotechnics to function as expected, when expected. Modern automobiles, for example, use pyrotechnics to initiate emergency air bags and seatbelt tensioners. Aircraft utilize pyrotechnics as a key component of their fire extinguishing and seat ejection systems. Pyrotechnics are even used to release parachutes and cut helicopter cables when lives are at risk.
In all of these cases, the pyrotechnics are not unwieldy and destructive blasts. They are small, sophisticated devices that deliver fast, controlled bursts of chemical energy with 99.999 percent reliability.
Compared to electrical solenoids and valves, mechanical devices and cold gas systems, pyrotechnics are faster to initiate and can produce more energy. They are typically smaller and lighter, down to the size and weight of a couple coins. They are often less complex and more reliable. And in many cases, they can be stored for long periods of time—25 years or more—and still function exactly as intended.
Electrical, mechanical or cold gas devices will be the best choice for applications requiring repetitive operation. For everything else—especially safety, emergency and mission-critical applications—pyrotechnic devices and solutions should be a prime consideration.