Ford Motor Co. is introducing technology to produce seamless seat covers with 3D knitting, and it is exploring a means for customers to design their own seat covers and use more breathable materials for summer.
The technology also enables the use of textiles with potential for built-in connectivity that could integrate heating, controls for the doors and windows, wireless smartphone charging, and sensors to monitor the driver’s health.
Anais Castinel, interior designer, Ford of Europe, says, “3D knitting offers intriguing possibilities that push the boundaries of design and make journeys more comfortable and convenient for the driver and passengers.”
As well as offering greater design flexibility, 3D knitting reduces production steps and creates less waste, as 3D knitting machines create covers without any stitching. The machines can use different yarns, such as polyester, wool, silk, carbon fiber, and even recycled materials. Customers could have the option of different covers on the front and rear seats, a set featuring designs for children or rear-seat covers made for pets.
Personalization might include color combinations and graphics, as well as seasonal and region-specific designs. The technology results in higher precision and quality than a traditional cover, enabling 3D knitted covers to be engineered for the best fit to the seat shape and reducing imperfections, such as wrinkles. Any part of the interior made from material has the potential to be 3D-knitted, the company says.