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August 2, 2020

How Terriyaki Burgers Inspired Honda to Design a New Kind of Seat Fabric

Those who eat in their cars know that oil stains are a bitch to remove. The moment that French fry or chicken nugget hits the car seat, it’s game over. Not only do they turn unsightly, but they leave odors which turn that new car smell into something closer to that of your favorite fast food place. And while carmakers have experimented with water-repellant fabrics, these aren’t enough to prevent greasy food, or their remnants from penetrating into the car seat. That is until now.

Taking inspiration from a teriyaki burger and its sauce and mayonnaise, Honda has come up with an ingenious new seat material perfect for family cars. Called Fabtect, it easily repels water as well as oils.

The secret is fluororesin integrated into the seat fabric. If you’ve heard of this material, it’s the same one used in Teflon. Using surface tension, it turns the liquid, including oil into a ball shape making it easy to wipe off. However, Honda engineers have gone further. While this gives the seat fabric excellent liquid repellant capabilities, there’s still some degree of discoloration where oil meets seat. The solution? Blend three types of fluororesins to achieve both oil repellant capabilities and stain resistance. It’s even blended to the backside of the seat skin to make sure water and/or oil doesn’t seep into the urethane.

Honda’s Fabtect is tested for its durability in both high temperatures and extensive wear-and-tear. Engineers have tested the fabric at 80 degrees Celsius since the higher the temperature of the oil, the more likely it’ll soak into the cloth. They made sure it withstands oil stains for up to one week. As for wear-and-tear, they’ve rubbed the fabric consistent with 3 years of abuse. Naturally, it passes the test with flying colors too.

The final fluororesin mix was developed after five years of development and more than 200 types of tests. Still, Honda is able to finally bring its Fabtect to market where they’ve even begun selling it to home furniture makers.

The Honda Fabtect is available on Japanese market models of the Stepwagn, N-Wgn, and N-Box with more applications to follow after.

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