Concept Development of a Recliner Mechanism for a Car Seat
Nowadays, there are more and more regulations regarding the emissions of greenhouse gases. The automotive sector is directly affected by new standards enacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in America and by European regulations in Europe that are forcing car manufacturers to produce more efficient cars. Different ways exist to increase the efficiency of a car and thus reduce the CO2 emissions. One known strategy to improve fuel economy in vehicles is by weight reduction. Consequently, car manufacturers are seeking out new companies that can supply them with lighter car components.
Here is where VA Automotive enters the picture, as a car seat manufacturer that is willing to improve their product by reducing the weight of its various components. This study deals with the development of a new recliner design that demonstrates improvements in terms of weight, size and performance compared to the current solution used at VA Automotive.
A common product development methodology has been developed to reach the final recliner design which went through the following steps. First of all, a benchmarking technique was adopted to gather as much data as possible from the competitors’ products. Then, a list of target values for the product specifications was defined as a guideline for the development of the product. The next step was to generate several concepts of recliner’s mechanism that were suitable to improve the design from VA Automotive. After that, a Pugh decision matrix was used to select the best alternative between the concepts generated previously. The optimal concept was further developed by generating four design alternatives that were analyzed in terms of manufacturing, assembly, weight and size by using the Lucas DFMA method. Finally some simulations were run for one of the designs in order to check the structural performance of the mechanism and prove this way that the new recliner design meets the requirements.
When comparing the new design alternatives with the design from VA Automotive, it was noticed that all the new designs except one presented a lower manufacturing cost index. Moreover, for all of the alternatives of the new recliner design, the weight was reduced by more than 56% compared to the recliner used at VA Automotive. Finally, by means of FEM simulations it was demonstrated that by choosing the right material the new recliner design was able to meet the structural requirements.
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