Specialist springs from William Hughes help improve car comfort and safety

When you are adjusting the height and reach of the seat in your car, you probably don’t give a thought to the mechanism that allows this to happen. Springs form an important part of these mechanisms and they are used to ensure smooth and reliable operation. Each application is different and requires a spring that has been individually designed to meet the requirements for force, physical size and operational life.

William Hughes are specialists in the design and manufacture of a wide range of springs and bent wire components for automotive applications. Its team of experienced application engineers uses the latest computer aided design software and specialised spring data to develop springs that are optimised for each application.

“Car manufacturers often contact us when they have a problem that needs solving quickly,” said Emma Burgon, Engineering Director, William Hughes. “By working closely with the automotive engineers and using our rapid design and prototyping service we can develop a custom engineered spring solution that fully meets our customer’s requirements.”

For example, in car seat applications, when a vehicle is involved in an accident, the inertia of the mechanism that enables the forward and backward adjustment may allow the seat to be released from its track. By using a spring to overcome the forces that release the mechanism, the seat remains secure. William Hughes has designed, and is now manufacturing, a number of springs for these critical applications. Most of these springs are manufactured from hard drawn wire with a phosphate coating and the finished parts are stress relieved to ensure their performance is maintained over many years of use.

William Hughes also manufactures torsion springs for the mechanisms that raise and lower the seat. Whilst this spring isn’t particularly unusual, because it fits tightly into a plastic housing its quality and dimensions are critical. The tooling for this spring has been specially developed so that the material is not damaged during the forming operation. Even the smallest scratch could cause a flaw in the surface resulting in a crack that could cause the spring to fail.

“To demonstrate the wide range of problems that we can solve, we have recently developed a spring that supports a leather flap covering a gap which is exposed when the rear seat is moved in a luxury car,” continued Burgon. “This was an unusual application but after experimenting with a number of different ideas we were able to provide a quick solution using a spring made by one of our easy-to-program CNC machines.”

In addition to special springs for car interiors, William Hughes can also supply a wide range of bent wire forms and sub assemblies for car seats and trim panels. Seat cushion frames are welded or clipped together and supplied as complete pre-assembled units. These rigid assemblies are ready for immediate use to suit the requirements of the foam moulding process.

Quality systems to AS 9100, ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949:2002 ensure consistency and accuracy, while William Hughes’ investment in the latest CNC machines and quality procedures means that continuity of supply is assured.