Weight and cost savings achieved with innovative seatback design

A design team from BMW in Landshut, working with engineers from JSP and other specialists, claims to have achieved weight savings of 15% and cost savings of 10% in the construction of rear seat-backs for the BMW 5 Series.

Manufacturing has just begun in Wackersdorf for delivery to BMW assembly plants in Germany and China.

The design project began in 2005 and series development of the new Sandwich Seatback started in July 2007. The team's idea was to use an innovative three-part structure to create a lighter seatback, capable of passing statutory impact tests and BMW's own test schedule: at its centre is a section of energy-absorbing ARPRO – an expanded polypropylene - with an injection moulded carrier facing the passengers and a layer of carpet facing the luggage compartment. All three components are said to contribute to impact resistance.

The new sandwich seat back design offers versatility to BMW which has integrated its manufacture into its cockpit production facility. "The seatback sandwich technology can also be extended into other models and other applications" said BMW head of technology-Interior Section, Karl Niebauer.

BMW calculates that the weight saving totals 1.2Kg on an already 'weight reduced' component. According to BMW, other features include a reduced number of components, the elimination of numerous process steps and improved recyclability.

Chris Shaw

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