An automotive manufacturer could design a car with a zero-noise engine and place it in a vehicle that exhibits seat rattle, will the driver of the car notice the zero-noise engine or the seat rattle? It is by placing themselves in the shoes of our customers and asking the right questions that allow Saint-Gobain engineers to understand and solve problems that can make a big difference.
Figure 1: (left) An automotive seat frame showing (in red) the location of NORGLIDE® bearings that provide superior comfort due to tolerance compensation, consistent torque and reduced noise and vibration, (middle and right) magnification of the pivot points on the seat riser where NORGLIDE® bearings can make a big difference to the overall driving experience.
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NORGLIDE® bearings comprise a unique laminate (Figure 2) that offers superior vibration damping properties, as can be seen in Figure 3, reducing the level of vibration induced discomfort.
Figure 2: Cross-section through the unique NORGLIDE® materials (left - SMTL-type, right - T-type) that will perform consistently throughout the lifetime of the part due to the thick PTFE layer.
It is believed there is often a trade-off between having a low-effort seat height adjustment mechanism that rattles and a quiet mechanism that requires high forces to adjust. However, the thick PTFE layer exhibited by the unique NORGLIDE® bearings allows for a level of tolerance compensation through-out which our bearings perform consistently when compared to competing solutions. This can be seen in figure 4 where the torque required to turn a shaft within different bearings was examined for several different shaft diameters.
Saint-Gobain engineers are able to utilise the power of finite element analysis (FEA) to enable a smart design process, solving system level problems using small components. Figure 5 shows a pressure analysis performed on both a NORGLIDE® bearing and a competing solution, which in this case is a plastic part. As a person sits on the seat, a force is exerted through the seat riser pivot points which could cause permanent deformation on the bearing, leading to a possible failure mode. However, with our unique laminate, comprising a strength providing steel backing layer and a thick PTFE layer, the forces are spread out, reducing the pressure exerted onto the shaft by the bearing solution.