Porsche's new "3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat" is the cutting-edge driver's seat we've been waiting for.
"The seat is the interface between the human and the vehicle, and is thus important for precise, sporty handling," says Porsche's Michael Steiner - Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development.
Truer words have seldom been spoken. You may not realize it, but the feedback your body receives through the driver's seat is among the most important, providing a snapshot of the road surface and a reliable indication of the car's acceleration and jerk.
"That's why personalised seat shells customised for the driver have been standard in race cars for a long time now," Michael Steiner says. "With [our new] '3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat', we're once again giving series-production customers the opportunity to experience technology carried over from motor sports."
The new seat that Mr. Steiner is referring to is one in which the center sections - the seat and backrest cushions - are partly produced by a 3D printer, and made to contour to the driver's unique shape. The 3D-printed portions amount to breathable comfort layers made from polyurethane-based materials, sandwiched between an expanded polypropylene (EPP) base support and a perforated "Racetex" outer skin.
It's essentially the same as your typical lightweight Porsche bucket seat, except that the middle layer is custom-formed to provide unmatched fitment to the driver, and transparent "window" panels in the seat's skin give a glimpse at the complex 3D-printed lattice structure underneath.
Among the benefits of Porsche's new 3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat are an ergonomic fit, unique design, lower weight, enhanced comfort, and passive climate control, the manufacturer says.
But don't go getting too excited; it will be awhile before this new tech is ready for prime time. Porsche says it will initially be rolled out in a 40-unit prototype run for Porsche 911 and 718 race cars in Europe. Afterward, with the help of customer feedback, the seats will be offered post-vehicle-assembly in different firmness levels and colors, from mid-2021.
Then, and only then, will Porsche look at offering the seats with customer-specific contours - assuming there's sufficient interest. The perfect driver's seat is out there; you just have to wait for it.