Automotive seat design has become a crucial consideration for automakers as consumers spend more time in their vehicles, and as interior comfort becomes a major competitive battleground.
Today, seating is a critical touchpoint for consumers who want their vehicle's cabin to feel as cozy as their living room. At the same time, every automaker is striving to put a special 'signature' on seats, one that conveys their distinct brand values.
Magna International has come up with Magna FreeForm, a new seat trim cover technique that provides a clean, sculpted, seamless styling surface and the freedom to achieve endless design possibilities.
FreeForm offers the freedom to achieve endless design possibilities with various shapes and crisp styling lines for striking visual effects. It can achieve design details as sharp as a 3-4mm radius compared to 20-25mm for traditional cut and sew.
"It's a great way to differentiate seats," said Dino Nardicchio, global vice president of advanced technology engineering for Magna Seating. "You can do any kind of shape or form. The initial reaction we get from most car designers is one of pleasant surprise."
Magna's new patent-pending technology offers improved seat back comfort with highly concave surfaces and contours that hug the human shape. Back panels have a 'soft touch', and provide up to four inches of additional rear seat knee clearance. Seats are easier to clean because they feature simple construction with a seamless surface — and are designed for future mobility scenarios like ride sharing where the seat covers can be swapped out during routine maintenance using a zipper.
The sculpted, seamless surface offers more than 102mm of concavity – nearly impossible with traditional cut and sew – and results in added comfort and styling.
Magna's in-house biosciences experts recommend seat concavity as the most effective path to comfort, and FreeForm allows for a highly concave lower back seat shape. This feature coupled with bolsters offers the most support for the lower back. This helps to reduce fatiguing micro-motions of the spine and works for both men and women.
Unlike traditional cut-and-sew trim covers, FreeForm adds to the seat comfort factor with four times more breathability than other molded trim technologies. Because FreeForm uses hidden tie-downs, up to 80 traditional trim attachment components are eliminated.
Magna says the FreeForm process is flexible and can be used in both low- and high-volume vehicle programs. In addition, the manufacturing process enables more surface control and repeatable precision, so there is less finesse time on the manufacturing floor. The technology can be used on all seat materials, leather, cloth or vinyl.