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Bent wire forms supplier William Hughes has revealed how it assisted a major European automotive OEM in developing a last-minute modification on a vehicle scheduled for imminent launch.

Bent wire components are used commonly in automotive seat frame assemblies.

Shortly before launch, a review by the automotive OEM’s executives had highlighted a shortage of knee-room in the rear of the vehicle, which was hindered by the positioning of a map pocket in the rear of the front seat.

William Hughes was asked to redesign the framework required for the map pocket so it could be positioned in such a way to provide an extra 2-3in of legroom when sitting in the rear.

One of the principal bent wire parts created to solve the problem started life as a 6.5mm-diameter piece of straight mild steel bar.

A short series of bends is created to negotiate a path around the existing wire frame of the seat – the need to alter other existing parts must be avoided so that extra cost is not incurred.

At either end of the bent part, the wire is planished (flattened) to a thickness of just 2mm.

Here, a 5mm-diameter hole is punched – again, one at either end.

The relationship between the planes of the planished sections and the positioning of the holes is vital to ensure ease of assembly.

For this reason, precision press tools have been designed and manufactured.

In fact, two types of the bent wire part have now been developed by William Hughes for supply to the customer.

Due to the impending launch date of the vehicle and the late discovery of the need for a modification, the automotive OEM decided to adopt the William Hughes solution on a temporary basis until a ‘volume’ solution could be sourced.

Initially, a quantity of 6,000 parts was requested.

However, such was the success of the William Hughes proposal that the same bent wire parts have now been adopted for production runs.

A total of 7,500 parts a week are currently being supplied (3,750 of each variant).

William Hughes said part of the reason that it can be competitive for the high-volume supply of parts is the presence of a company factory in Bulgaria.

While the development process and initial quantities for this project were produced at the company’s headquarters in Dorset, once the process and component had been proven, it was transferred to the company’s 3,000m2 factory in Plovdiv.

Here, current manufacturing facilities include 15 CNC wire-bending machines capable of bending wire from 0.4-12mm in diameter.

Bent wire parts and welded wire assemblies are not just supplied to the automotive sector.

Components range from cooker parts and furniture frames through to steel baskets.

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