Seating concept adaptable

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: January 15, 2013 6:00 am ET
Updated: January 17, 2013 3:21 pm ET

Faurecia’s Urban Rhythm concept seat. Inset: The injection molded base, which is positioned beneath the Urban Rhythm’s foam and cover. (Seat:Faurecia photo. Base:Plastics News photo)

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Suppliers, Automotive, Injection Molding

AUBURN HILLS, MICH. -- Faurecia SA has been showing its potential weight-saving composite seating to automakers for a few years. But just in case carmakers aren't ready to change their seats completely, the auto supplier also is showing them how to bring new seating concepts into an existing production infrastructure.

"We're not backing off from [the composite proposal] but we're showing them how they can take plastic and apply it to an existing structure," said Mike Miner, product line manager for seating for Faurecia North America, during a Dec. 19 interview at Faurecia's North American headquarters in Auburn Hills.

Faurecia showed its latest concept interiors and seating to automakers at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

In seating, the company is continuing to use injection molding for structural shells to support thinner and lighter seating, but its Urban Rhythm concept married them with a steel frame, rather than composite proposals shown previously on the 2011 Performance Seat concept.

While automakers need to bring down vehicle weight to meet requirements for lower fuel consumption — and seating is a big focus for potential weight savings — automakers also know that seats must pass rigorous crash requirements. That makes it harder to commit to large-scale changes in material standards.

Urban Rhythm would allow them to keep familiar structures that have passed crash tests for years, but also to trim seating weight and sizes within that structure, Miner said. The combination of steel and plastics could provide the fastest way to bring Faurecia's concepts to the market.

The seats also build on previous Faurecia proposals by expanding the use of an injection molded shell to the seat cushion in addition to the seat back.

A typical seat cushion uses foam and springs on top of a steel base. Faurecia proposes to exchange that for a specially designed thermoplastic base that can be engineered to move with the occupant, similar to the way injection molding has been used in executive seating in the office furniture industry.

Faurecia already has worked with office furniture giant Steelcase Inc. to adapt the Steelcase Leap chair technology for seat backs for concept lightweight seats. Miner said it extended that thinking under its own engineering team to the seat cushion, with a shape designed to move along with people in a "bio-sympathetic" form.

The injection molded base would be molded with a foam-in-place cover skin for a thin profile, maxing out with 35 millimeters of foam.

Urban Rhythm is focused on smaller cars, although it could go into any size vehicle, Miner said.

Faurecia will kick off tooling development for prototype production of the seat backs in 2013. Seat cushion development is about a year from prototype tooling.

Faurecia also is looking at ways to make it easier for automakers to adapt new technology in interior trim.

The supplier has used a natural material composite in substrates for years, in parts such as door panels. It has produced the substrate in more than 60 vehicles over 20 years. Natural materials reduce weight by 25-40 percent compared with a glass-reinforced substrate, but the desire to maintain a standard appearance in interior trim prompted automakers to cover them with cloth or a skin, which brings weight back onto the part.

With its new Ligneco process, Faurecia can combine the compression molded substrate with a very thin polypropylene decorative foil, which provides a familiar surface but at a lower cost and weight, said Jay Hutchins, director of marketing and product planning.

"We've done a lot as an industry with development of technology," Hutchins said. "Breakthrough technology is great, but it's always a big step for the industry. So, what can we do that will be easier for the entire industry to use?"


Comments

Seating concept adaptable

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: January 15, 2013 6:00 am ET
Updated: January 17, 2013 3:21 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Asia to remain chemical giant but US shale will bring competition

July 23, 2014 1:00 pm ET

A new IHS Chemical report on global spending for chemical production predicts capacity additions will peak in 2014 at $120 billion and then will...    More

Image

DuPont quarterly sales drop, income rises

July 23, 2014 12:46 pm ET

DuPont Co.'s sales and net income experienced slight changes for the second quarter 2014, as operating earnings dropped to $1.17 per share in the...    More

OSHA probes alleged asthma link to Lear's Selma, Ala., plant

July 23, 2014 11:58 am ET

U.S. foam manufacturer Renosol Seating LLC is being investigated following allegations its workers are at risk of asthma from TDI exposure at its...    More

Image

Celanese to expand production in Brazil

July 23, 2014 11:15 am ET

Celanese Corp., the Irving, Texas-based chemicals and specialty materials company, has announced that it will expand its manufacturing capabilities...    More

Image

Plastics industry blasted for stance in green building debate

July 22, 2014 2:45 pm ET

The plastics industry has taken high-profile stance in the debate over green building standards. The result, today at least, is that it's getting some...    More

Market Reports

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Market Review & Outlook 2014

This special report from Plastics News examines the North American plastics recycling industry and provides insight into indicators that impact market viability, including Resin pricing trends for virgin and recycled market material and historical Resin production trends for post- consumer and industrial waste.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events