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A Magna employee holds a seat made from the supplier’s new FreeForm trim technology. (Magna)

Magna’s new FreeForm enables sculpted, seamless seat surface

Seat comfort and clean cover surfaces are high on the list of interior “wants” for consumers, but seats designed and produced with traditional cut-and-sew surfaces can dull the comfort level and impede the cleaning process. Seating specialist Magna has an answer: a next-generation seat trim cover that began with a new foam formulation created by the global supplier’s in-house chemists.

“The new chemistry formulation is really the breakthrough, as it allows us to create a new foam laminate. We can mold shapes with this construction that are not feasible with the traditional cutting and sewing of trim covers,” Dino Nardicchio, global vice president of advanced technology engineering for Magna Seating, said in an interview.

Compared to current molded trim technologies, Magna’s FreeForm is four times more breathable. The seat trim cover technology, produced via a patent-pending process, also enables design details as precise as a 3 to 4 mm (0.118 to 0.157-in) radius versus the 20 to 25 mm (0.787 to 0.984-in) for traditional cut-and-sew. Deep draws on a seatback mean second- or third-row occupants can gain up to 4 in (102 mm) of additional knee clearance.

Seat cleaning is aided by FreeForm’s sculpted, seamless surface. “Consumers identify the small crevices between the seat bolster and insert as being very undesirable, as debris collects in these areas, which makes the seat difficult to clean,” Nardicchio said.

Multi-material surfaces within the same seat cover—such as leather and suede, vinyl and leather, cloth and vinyl or another mixed-material combination—are possible. Zipper on/off covers are another option. “We have the means to remove the topper cover to either clean it or replace it via a zipper. This is especially appealing for ride sharing domains because fleet owners want the ability to clean vehicle interiors with minimal downtime,” said Nardicchio.

Up to 80 conventional trim attachment components, including listing wires, are eliminated because FreeForm uses hidden tiedowns, said Nardicchio. “Without all of these components, there is much better surface control.”

Magna’s FreeForm seat covers could reach the marketplace as early as 2021. “It’s perfect for (vehicle) mid-cycle trim changes, because the base foam pad is common. We can literally provide differentiation by simply removing the topper cover,” Nardicchio said. FreeForm can be used in vehicle programs of any volume.  

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