Ford Visos

Multicontour Seat
Ergonomic considerations are becoming increasingly important in the design of car seating systems. With this in mind and with the aim of producing a seat that could be adjusted to suit a specific driving experience, Bertrandt developed the Multi-contour Seat for the Ford Visos on behalf of Ford Werke AG, and in close collaboration with the Ford Research Centre in Aachen and Alfmeier Präzision AG. The project was launched in December 2003 with the objective of presenting a functioning prototype to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2004. A set of design data formed the basis for the work, together with a 1:1 scale model that had been milled out of hard foam and a requirement specification describing the different adjustment options for the seat.

CAD model of the entire seat
Foam model used to produce milling data
Prototype: structure and foam
Seams in the headrest

Ford in Dunton had overall responsibility
The positive features of the project included the clear allocation of tasks, carefully defined interfaces and the collaboration between all the companies involved throughout the entire course of the project. The Ford Technical Centre in Dunton, England, had overall responsibility for the Ford Visos show car, the exhibition stand and the styling. As a result of the positive collaboration between the designer, Paul Campbell, and the project managers, Alexander Ehrmann und James Kellerman, it was possible to adapt the design directly where this became necessary for technical reasons.

Ford Research Centre in Aachen defined the functionality
Ford’s Aachen Research Centre was responsible for defining the functionality of the Multi-contour Seats and coordinating with the supplier Alfmeier Präzision AG. As part of a pilot study, Dr. Karl Siebertz from the vehicle interior technologies department worked with Jeroen Lem to develop the technical basis for the new seat using a standard production seat. Dr. Siebertz was one of the people responsible for initiating this innovative project and acted as a positive driving force throughout the development process.

Alfmeier produced the comfort systems and electronic controls
14 Bertrandtmagazine "No. 4" November 2004 Alfmeier Präzision AG, which specialises in the development of seating comfort systems, produced the pneumatic comfort components and the accompanying electronic controls. Alfmeier proved once again to be an experienced partner, able to supply prototype components and systems within a short timeframe. (Alfmeier had previously provided support for Bertrandt during the development of the Ergoseat which was on show at the IAA in 2003).

Bertrandt developed the seat structure, fittings and prototype parts
The services provided by the Bertrandt Group during the first stage of this project included the development and assembly of the seat structure. The development work took place at Bertrandt’s Cologne site, which was also responsible for the overall project management within the Bertrandt Engineering Network. This is where the structure was designed, taking into account factors such as strength, function, optimised installation space, ergonomics, design adaptation and seat cover fastenings.

As a result of the tight schedule, the engineers at Bertrandt developed a multi-component, carbon fibre, laminated seat structure that was quick to produce. The tools needed to make the structure and the foam components, together with the trim and the foam blanks, were manufactured in the prototype construction department at the Technikum Ehningen, part of the Bertrandt Engineering Network. The carbon fibre parts were produced in collaboration with a company from the racing world which specialises in lightweight structures.

The seat fittings, including the foam parts, trim and covers, were developed at the Cologne site in close cooperation with Bertrandt’s upholstery department in Wolfsburg. This included the production of the surface of the covered seat and the creation of solid models of the foam parts, taking into account the additional curve needed to compensate for the tightness of the cover.

The styling requirements for ergonomics and comfort adaptation covering all percentiles from 5% female to 95% male were applied in particular to the foam. In the case of the foam and the cover fixings, the comfort adjustment system had to be taken into account. The trim shop at Wolfsburg was responsible for reworking the design of the foam components, manufacturing the covers and assembling the finished seats. As part of the production of the upholstery a range of design loops were incorporated directly into the foam and the trim. The foam was reworked manually and the covers adapted to fit around it. As a result of the comfort settings, the cover had to be able to accommodate significant changes in the contours of the seat, without becoming permanently stretched, because the contour changes caused creasing. The comfort adjustment system was embedded directly in the foam in order to avoid any unwanted pressure points and to allow the adjustment mechanism as much room as possible to expand. The cooperation between Thomas Kohlberger, Bertrandt’s specialist upholsterer, his team, Ford and Alfmeier at this stage was extremely productive and produced successful results.

Positive response at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show
A total of four prototype seats were developed in parallel and put on display to the general public and the industry at the Geneva Motor Show. The innovative seats aroused significant interest amongst both groups of visitors. Because of the positive health benefits for end users, it is to be hoped that the seat will one day be mass-produced.