William Hughes helps high technology car seats improve comfort and luxury

Back in the 1930’s, inflatable bladders in car seats were not uncommon. They were used in seat bases to provide a comfortable and adjustable means of support for the driver and passenger. Now, 80 years on, bent wire components from William Hughes Ltd. are helping a leading passenger car manufacturer introduce a high technology version of seats that can be controlled with air pressure. Used to enhance comfort and provide a massage for passengers in its range of luxury cars, the air system is located in the seat back and features a built-in pump, so small air pockets can be inflated or deflated to suit the needs of the individual.

William Hughes is supplying a wire assembly that holds the air system in place. The assembly has to be both strong and flexible, and manufactured to a fine tolerance. The assembly, which incorporates several bends situated very close together, also features an adjustable bracket providing flexibility for different seating arrangements.

Like many other projects, William Hughes was first contacted by the car company’s design engineers with an outline of their needs. Following a number of meetings, a specification was agreed and the application engineers at William Hughes translated these requirements into a prototype assembly that could be evaluated before the final design was agreed.

Material specifications were chosen and the most cost effective and efficient method of production determined based on William Hughes’ extensive experience and the latest computer aided design. A particular challenge of this component was the need for the fixings to be adjustable to suit different seat layouts and this required locating ‘flutes’ to be incorporated into the design. The manufacturing process covers three stages namely wire shaping, assembly and spot welding.
Project engineering and the manufacture of tooling was completed at William Hughes newly opened engineering centre in Stalbridge Dorset, with prototype and bulk production being provided by the William Hughes factory in Bulgaria.

Although William Hughes quality systems are approved to AS 9100, ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949:2002, the company was also audited to VDA 6.3. The VDA 6.3 standard was developed by the German Automotive industry and reflects the customer specific requirements of the industry. VDA 6.3 defines a process based audit standard for evaluating and improving controls in a manufacturing organisation’s new product introduction and manufacturing processes. William Hughes was successful in meeting the requirements of the audit and has achieved the status of an approved supplier.

William Hughes can supply a wide range of bent wire forms and sub assemblies for car seats and trim panels. For example, seat frames can be welded or clipped together and supplied as complete pre-assembled units ready for the foam moulding process. William Hughes’ investment in the latest CNC machines and rigorous quality procedures means that continuity of supply is assured.


A wire assembly produced by William Hughes for use in high technology car seat backs.