Why You Can't Cut Corners With Prototyped Automotive Seating




While the lowly automotive seat might not get much attention these days, it's one of the most important pieces of any automobile. Not only does it keep you in place during the times that you're hurtling down the road at 65+ miles an hour, but should you end up in an accident, automotive seating and its safety components such as seatbelts and side airbags will keep you secure and safe.


But automotive seating isn't just about safety. They're hugely responsible for the impression one gets while inside a vehicle, as well as one of the main sources of comfort. Automotive seats are also the part of the vehicle that a person has the most interaction with on a daily basis. Out of any part of the vehicle the consumer is in contact with seating the most throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle.


 For many manufacturers, the seat is also a way to differentiate yourself from competitors that would rather copy each other rather than push the envelope in design or function.


That's where we come in. We can help you create functional automotive seating and prototypes that meet all the rigorous demands of the modern auto industry. From shaping automotive seating foam to creating beautiful patterns and signature designs that can capture the imagination of your clients and customers, you can think of us as your outsourced automotive seating supplier


We get it. You're designing all those great features on the outside and inside of your next great model -- who has time and the ability to worry about seats? Whether you need a great trim cover or you're just not sure how to make that automotive seat render a reality, we can help. Our extensive experience in prototyping and building automotive seats is your gain.


What Is Automotive Seat Prototyping?


Creating a car prototype is a huge endeavor. But beyond the striking lines and functionality contained within, there are inevitably pieces where you may not have the necessary skills in house -- or maybe it's a problem with bandwidth and you're unable to pull resources away from other projects. 


That's why many companies turn to a trusted automotive seating supplier -- an organization that can apply their years of experience building automotive seating so that you can save time and money in the development of your seating systems. By relying on a trusted automotive seating supplier, you can pass those designs off and know that you'll get back a completed seat to exacting specifications or to evaluate different designs before kick starting that mass production phase.


Regardless of what goes into your seats, a trusted automotive seating supplier can build those challenging seats according to your exact specifications. Forget about materials and how it'll all go together -- your prototyping partner will pick up the slack and create the automotive seating that you need while you're busy finalizing all those other details in that long march towards the mass production phase.


Capabilities of an Automotive Seating Manufacturer


It may seem simple, but modern automotive seating is complex. Not only does it have to look great, but it has to be functional and suit the vehicle itself. It also needs to be safe and go through a rigorous testing period to expose any flaws in the design, fit or materials, and that can mean quite a bit of resources, especially if you're not used to doing such work in house.


When choosing an automotive seating partner, you'll want someone that's been around the block a few times. Seats are kind of unique products, and they feature metal frames, soft padding and luxurious materials that may easily tear or mar. Sometimes, building automotive seating requires a light touch -- other times, a heavy one. But the right partner knows when to apply each, and also when a different approach may be needed.


Here are some other skills and considerations to look for in an automotive seating partner:


  • Foam skiving
  • Foam pouring
  • Pattern development
  • Fabric cutting
  • Fabric sewing
  • Frame structures
  • Plastic components
  • Complete seat manufacturing
  • Testing
  • Concept validation


Most automotive seating manufacturers will have in-house facilities and core competencies in many, if not all, of these areas, as well as the capability to create the custom tooling that is often needed for one-off prototyping or short product runs. 


Furthermore, the large-scale foam machines and automatic cutting equipment reduces turnaround time as well as cost, but it may also present a barrier to entry for those companies that may be new to the field. While it's certainly not the tools that are responsible for the job getting done, sometimes there's just no way around the right tool for the job when you're talking about efficiently cutting and sewing premium seating systems.


The best automotive seating companies are also certified in industry-specific certifications -- such as IATF16949, AS9100D with ISO9001:2015 and ISO14001 -- so you know that your seats will function properly, pass inspection and look great while complementing the rest of your hard work. 


That said, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention experience as a core competency. After all, it's not like you'd want to pay that partner to learn on the job, but that's precisely what will happen if you work with an automotive seating supplier that may be trying to venture out into a new field. It's best to go with a partner that knows what they're doing, not one that's trying to break in.


Not Just Prototyping - From Design to Production


No matter what you need from your automotive seating manufacturer, the right partner makes it all easier. Instead of taking away from your valuable resources in house, an automotive seating partner can augment your competencies with more expertise. From concept to production, an automotive seating manufacturer will help you get the job done right, on time and under budget, and that can help make that next new product a reality.

Whether you need a little design expertise or the designs are etched in stone and you need a trusted partner to help figure out how to turn that design into a viable, real-world product, you can have it all with the right partner. To find out how the automotive seating experts at RCO Engineering can help you bring that design to fruition, contact us today!