THERMOPLASTICS KEY TO NEW DELPHI SEATS

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DETROIT — Delphi Interior & Lighting Systems is developing three new seating components that feature thermoplastics.

The Warren, Mich., supplier is developing its OptiRide suspension, an elastomer film that stretches across a vehicle's seat frame. The high-tension film replaces springs and wires and reduces the amount of polyurethane foam padding needed for the seat cushion. Not yet in production, the system can be 40 percent lighter than springs and wires, said Edgar Schlaps, Delphi seat product group manager.

The Tier 1 supplier also is developing a modular seat frame made of either glass-reinforced nylon or polypropylene as a lower-cost alternative to steel seat assemblies. The frame includes molded-in fasteners that attach to the seat cushion.

Delphi expects the one-piece, injection molded frame to be in production in 1999 with an undisclosed Big Three carmaker.

The company also is developing its Catcher's Mitt high-retention seat, which minimizes injuries in rear-end collisions. The system includes a Pro-Tech self-aligning head restraint made of glass-reinforced nylon that prevents whiplash injuries by pressing forward during impact.

Delphi is replacing steel used in the first-generation Pro-Tech restraints with nylon. The steel restraints are being used by Saab in Europe, he said.

Delphi exhibited the products at the Society of Automotive Engineers show in Detroit.