Buick Seats Designed to Resist Bug Spray, Sun Damage
The average car on the road today is over 11 years old. So how do carmakers ensure that a vehicle's most vulnerable parts will hold up over the long term? Buick has given us some insight into how its interiors can withstand everything from sunscreen to bug spray repellent. During the testing process, Buick engineers apply sunscreen and DEET on the interior materials and bake them in an oven, then evaluate the results. They also make sure fabrics can endure sweat, applying synthetic perspiration solutions to material samples for two and a half hours until they dry, then scraping off the sample to determine if the material has become softened or damaged. Buick pretty much tests every area of the car, from the carpet to the leather and seat upholstery as well as the wood, metal trim, plastics, and other materials. Special consideration is made to areas with high skin contact, including the steering wheels and control knobs. But perhaps the most important part of protecting a car's interior is making sure it resists sun damage. To test fabrics this way, engineers use artificial light similar to that found in a tanning booth for two to six weeks. The simulated UV light makes the testing process quicker, but a natural sunlight test helps confirm the results. After the UV testing, engineers take the materials to sit out in the natural sunlight in Arizona, where they are placed in special glass boxes that rotate with the sun for up to seven months at a time. The GM Materials Test and Engineering group has 13 engineers performing a number of these type of experiments. Along with sun testing, they also test for corrosion, dent/scratch resistance, tear strength, and seam fraying. While managing all this, they also have to "find the balance of durability while maintaining the desirable look and feel that a Buick customer expects," said Doug Pickett, the engineering manager for the team. Source: General Motors
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