Ford Tests Its Fabrics With Sharp Objects and Stinky Stuff

Source: Ford
Source: Ford

Doesn’t it piss you off when you slide into your beloved car, and halfway through nestling your keister into the driver’s seat, you hear a loud rip? Busted bucket seats, tattered headliners, and flimsy fabrics are all things want to avoid, yet somehow it remains inevitable regardless of how careful you may be.

So in an effort to protect us from any untimely mishaps, Ford engineers have taken it upon themselves to scratch, snag, and stretch every material that goes into one of their vehicles in the hopes of prolonging a car’s long-term use. This may sound like a lot of fun, but it’s actually a very strenuous process and one that exposes an advancement or weakness immediately in hopes of bolstering quality and customer satisfaction.

Over the course of its lifetime, the materials inside a car will begin to show signs of use and abuse, with seats, arm rests, steering wheels, carpets, and instrument knobs taking the heaviest toll. If you happen to have kids, multiply this wear and tear by a lot, and throw some ground-up Cheetos, hardened Play-Doh, and the faint aroma of old milk wafting from the backseat in for good measure.

It’s a tough world in the backseat of a Ford Explorer, and here is how the Detroit-based industry leader plans to combat this issue: by testing its interior materials to such an extreme that it can confidently guarantee that all of its vehicles are up to snuff for the long haul wherever life’s adventures may take you.

Source: Ford
Source: Ford

In order to make sure that the fabrics, leathers, and plastics it’s using are some of the sturdiest possible, Ford engineers have concocted a series of strenuous tests that every material it uses must be subjected to in succession. A series of tests that Ford calls “meticulous and unrelenting” are put to use where materials are stretched, scratched, snagged, sniffed, and splashed with an assortment of stain-filled stuff, all in the hopes of discovering what best stands up to Father Time’s abusive hands.

Fabrics at Ford’s R&D lab get stained with everyday substances like hot coffee, soda, and dirt so that engineers can evaluate how well they can be cleaned afterward, thus testing their overall stain resistance. A team of examiners also smell a slew of samples used inside Ford vehicles and rank their aromas in order to help engineers design interiors that combat disturbing odors faster than you can say “diaper change.”

But these materials are more than just “aroma controllers,” because if you want to ensure that the interior of a car last a long time, it’s going to take a lot more than just a few spilled cups of coffee and some sensitive sniffing. The graze of a sharp edge, an accidental scrape, some rough scuffs, and a few taught tugs are all applied to reveal how materials breakdown occurs under duress. The videos here showcase the attention even the slightest bit of abuse receives, and for Ford, analysis is just part of what makes this rigorous testing process such a necessity.

Here are a few of the unusual ordeals all Ford materials must go through if they want to make the cut:

  • The Five-Finger Scratch Test: Used to scratch samples of different plastics in order to show how much clawing they can take.
  • The Soil and Cleanability Test: Splashes of different substances are spilled upon various seat fabrics so engineers may evaluate how well they can be cleaned afterwards, thus testing their overall stain resistance.
  • The Resistance to Dye Transfer Test: Materials in all kinds of colors are rubbed against the leather used on car seats so that engineers can see if any stains are left behind, and ultimately make a less absorbent hide for which to wrap seats in.
  • The Mace Snagging Test: Seat fabrics are spun on rotating rollers roughly 600 times, all while repeatedly getting struck by a spike-laden series of iron balls in order to test how snag-free they can be.

On top of all that there is that aforementioned aroma test, which is designed to help engineers achieve interiors that are free of disturbing odors, and makes for an interesting addition to one’s resume. Ford says this obscure kind of quality control is an example of its dedication to “going the extra mile to ensure standards of comfort and durability are met,” and in today’s increasingly competitive automotive melee it is an attention to detail that can make all the difference.

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