A rear-seat folding head restraint in the 2015 Ford 150 and 2016 Explorer uses a single-piece living hinged plastic core as its main structural component in place of a welded steel structure. The cost- and weight-saving technology will be used on at least three future Ford programs.
Mass and packaging size are reduced by 50 percent, boosting visibility in both the deployed and folded positions. The injection molded polypropylene part eliminates one welding, four pressing, and two riveting operations.
Reduction of the thickness of the head restraint from 65 mm to 32 mm allows use of more foam padding to improve passenger comfort.
Ford estimates the per-vehicle cost savings at $1.50. Net tooling savings are $180,000.
The primary function of the head restraint is to prevent whiplash. The devices must meet a federal motor vehicle strength requirement of 890 N applied 65 mm from the top of the head restraint.
The weight of the plastic part of 454 grams.
The parts are produced by Hawk Plastics in Windsor, Ontario in a four-cavity mold with a 47-second molding time. The mold was made by IRC in Tecumseh, Ontario. The design was optimized to allow use of a standard copolymer polypropylene, which was supplied by Exxon.
The part is a finalist in the 2015 Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Innovation competition. Winners will be announced at a banquet that will be held Nov. 11 near Detroit.