The Research and Development process is at the heart of The Seat Shop. It pushes us forward, enabling us to launch new product lines and support more vehicles. Our team of experts goes through a multi-faceted process that includes working directly with leather tanneries and manufacturers to determine what factory match means for a specific vehicle, how we can replicate it (and possibly improve on the design), and how to provide the best factory match product on the market. We can't give all our secrets away, but here's what we can share about the process!
1. PRELIMINARY RESEARCH
The process of bringing a new product line to life starts with you. Every day we receive requests for new vehicles, and rest assured, your voice is heard! We also work with our network of auto upholstery shops across the US and Canada to survey what they are hearing from their customers. After we boil down the requests to a select few vehicles, we will take surveys or sometimes even have you vote on what you think we should do next! (Take some time to make a Product Request if you're interested.) Once a vehicle is finally selected, then the true process can begin!
Our team starts out by reviewing all the available information on a vehicle, including interior variations, model packages, special editions, year ranges, etc. There are many potential variations for each vehicle, so it is important to review all the options to have a clear picture of what we're trying to accomplish.
2. Sourcing materials
Once we have determined all the different options available, then we begin reaching out to our partner tanneries and see if the leather is still being made for it, or if we need to begin working towards a custom run of matching leather. This is also the time when we contact our vinyl suppliers to see if they are making a vinyl that will match the color and grain of the leather.
After all the arrangements have been made, it's time to source in a factory seat. We pair up samples of matching leather with what is currently in the vehicle and make adjustments if necessary.
After the original seat covers have been taken off under camera and documented, they are sent off to our digitizing team. This team is responsible for cutting the covers apart piece by piece. They take measurements, notate stitch placements and techniques used from factory, and digitize every piece required to make up a complete cover.
The digitizing process is yet another facet that sets us apart from the competition. Unlike other manufacturers that hand trace every leather piece on a hide of leather, every cover that we produce starts by being digitally mapped from a factory seat. Once the cover is mapped, we can load the digital versions of those pieces and virtually place and cut them on our leather hides using the Gerber Taurus II Cutting Table. This ensures measurements are consistent with every cover we manufacture and minimizes waste of our leather hides.
4. The Final Product
At this point, we can finally test our first production cover! We install the cover on a factory seat and check for fitment. Everything is double checked including the materials, attachment methods, patterns, and craftsmanship. Once the product is ready to launch, we produce an installation video for you to follow along with once you purchase the cover! From start to finish, we spend anywhere from 300 - 600+ man hours on research and development on every new vehicle line up that we release.
We are very proud of the hard work and dedication of our R and D team, and we know that our customers appreciate the time they take to ensure each cover meets the highest standard in quality and accuracy. Take a moment to Meet Our Team and get to know our R&D experts, as well as the rest of us!