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by Eva Fox November 19, 2019

Tesla cares about the environment and about us, not only in words but in deeds.
Tesla is an advanced automotive company that produces electric vehicle its goal is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. For 16 years, the company has been consistent in its goals and has never receded from it.

In 2016, for all Tesla cars, the option of "vegan" car interior became available. And in September 2019, the company announced that the Model 3 completely lacks leather, including on the steering wheel. The company also promised that Model Y will meet the requirements of vegans.

 

Activists from PETA raised this issue at the company's latest shareholders meeting. CEO Elon Musk promised to make concessions. The main stumbling block to this point was the leather steering wheel. But now that has changed.

“I believe we were close to having a non-heated steering wheel, that’s not leather,” Elon Musk said at the shareholder meeting. “There are some challenges when [you] heat the non-leather material and also how well it wears over time.”

Tesla has always sought to improve its vehicles. This time, Tesla filed a patent for "fibrous foam architecture", claiming that seat and interior technology would create a more efficient and environmentally sustainable process.

From a technical point of view the present disclosure relates to a fibrous foam architecture for cushions that may be incorporated into vehicle seating.

Explanation: cushions are used for seating in automotive and other applications. Current cushion materials include foam made of polyurethane. Such material may not have recycled content and may not be breathable. The foam fabrication process may involve pouring polymer, epoxy, or another precursor into a mold or soft trim cavity. Further, cutting waste material off and glue application may also be required. This may be a time-consuming and laborious process. Trim to foam assembly may include hog ring, hook and loop, and/or clipping methods. In such methods, alignment tolerances may need to be maintained, mating surface limitations may need to be met, trenches and stitches may need to be provided and so on. Glue application storage and handling may also be required. Current manufacturing processes may be labor-intensive and time consuming.
Hence, there is a need for an improved foam architecture and associated manufacturing process that overcome the aforementioned drawbacks.


Summary: the present disclosure introduces a cushion having a fibrous foam architecture. The cushion may support a seating surface including seat bottom, backrest, leg-rest, headrest, armrest, and bolsters. The cushion has a trim cover and fibrous volume attached to the trim cover. One or more structural properties of a fibrous portion can be controlled to differ from that of other layers. The fibrous material may be a polyester nonwoven fabric vertically-lapped (v-lap) to provide spring-like cushioning effect. The fibers may be a blend of binder fibers and non-binder structural fibers. The binder fibers may be low-melt polymers such as COPA (Co-Polyamide) or COPES (Co-polyester). The binder fibers may also be a core-sheet fiber with a COPA or COPES sheet and a polyester core. The non-binder structural staple fibers may be polyester, hollow polyester fibers, polyester fibers of various cross-sections based on the spinneret geometry and three dimensionally crimped and/or conjugated polyester fibers.
In another embodiment, a method for manufacturing fibrous foam architecture is provided. The method includes laminating a heater film and a seat trim insert. The method includes forming a trim cover of the laminated seat trim insert. The method includes stacking a number of fibrous layers above the trim cover. The fibrous layers are stacked relatively parallel to one another. There may be other layers such as web adhesives placed in the fibrous layer stack or on top of the fibrous layer stack. The method further includes compression molding the stack of fibrous layers to form the fibrous foam architecture attached to the trim cover. A degree of the compression is controlled to impact one or more structural properties of each of the fibrous layers, such that one or more structural properties of a given fibrous layer is different from that of other layers. The method includes releasing the formed fibrous foam architecture.

The improved foam structure for vehicle seats will provide Tesla electric vehicle owners with a new, more convenient recyclable material. Tesla plans to use multiple layers of various materials to make planting less time-consuming and more economical. And the use of environmentally friendly materials that can be recycled after use is sure to appeal to any environmentally conscious Tesla owner.

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