Ford Motor Co., based in Dearborn, Mich, is exploring the idea of letting customers design their own seat covers, add custom touches such as pockets and padding, and use more breathable materials for summer, made possible by 3D, flat-knitting technology.
According to knittingindustry.com, the group’s European subsidiary Ford of Europe is using the technology to produce seamless seat covers, while reducing waste, improving production time, offering more design possibilities and enabling the use of textiles with potential for built-in connectivity, able to integrate heating; controls for the doors and windows; wireless smartphone charging; and sensors to monitor the driver’s health.
“This is the future of textile technology. Design and materials are seamlessly integrated together,” says Diana Kovacheva, Ford Color & Material Designer. “The essence of creating a seat cover hasn’t actually changed much since the beginnings of the automotive industry. In some seats we have up to 40 individual parts that all need to be perfectly matched as sewn together to wrap around the shape,” she continued.
With 3D knitting, the company can create a full seat cover as one entire piece using a single knitting process. The 3D materials can be created digitally in just an hour.
“We can design with a human-centric approach, which means that in the future, we can customize and personalize our seats for the individual needs and aspirations of our customers. So the future of 3D knitting for Ford is full of possibilities,” Kovacheva said.