Burscheid, Germany - Automotive seat supplier Johnson Controls has developed an innovative technology for lightweight rear seat systems made of steel and aluminium, combined to create a modular multi-material rear seat structure.
The method uses a new adhesive technology along with welding, allowing engineers to reduce the weight of the rear seat structure by 34 percent, while maintaining all safety requirements, said the company, in a 24 Feb statement.
"There is a growing trend for weight reduction in seating, and specifically in rear seats because of the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles in the market," said Dr Andreas Eppinger, vice president of Technology Management at Johnson Controls Automotive Experience, in the announcement. "Their additional technical components add weight and are located mostly in the rear section of the vehicle."
Rear seat backframes have been made from welded steel components, although aluminium is lighter and offers the same stability as steel. Also, steel and aluminium cannot be welded together using conventional processes. Johnson Controls' new technology allowed it to use upper and lower cross members consist of aluminium, with side members and reinforcing cross-beam of steel. This gave a 30 percent weight reduction, and allowed it to cut the thickness of the steel back panel from 0.6 to 0.4 mm.
"It has not been possible to reliably weld 0.4 mm thin steel sheets to the structural subframe until now. But another 4 percent mass reduction added incentive to make the adhesive technology applicable for this technology," said Eppinger.
Johnson Controls' new bonding technology uses an adhesive compatible with metals, plastics, natural fibres and other materials. It meets all requirements related to durability, structural strength and stability in the event of a crash. "We believe that this multi-material design will enable further innovations in numerous automotive components and systems," Eppinger explained.
"Furthermore, because of its modular design, the new seat structure can be adapted to meet the demands of various body types. This will allow us to offer packaging and weight advantages that will help our customers to design more economical and sustainable vehicles."