Heavy Duty Bus Parts and the C.E. White Co. displayed the forthcoming I-Skin school bus seat foam at the recent National Association for Pupil Transportation trade show.
The I-Skin integrally bonded polyurethane seat foam — now six years in the making by Heavy Duty Bus Parts Inc. (HDBP) — is in the final stages of development and will be brought to market exclusively through the C.E. White Co.
Details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
The I-Skin foam is designed to replace traditional vinyl-over-foam applications. Company officials said that a unique manufacturing process produces a seat foam with a soft and energy-absorbent cushion and a dense, highly durable outer skin.
According to Brandon Billingsley, CEO of HDBP, the I-Skin foam offers greater protection against vandalism and fire. He said that it maintains its integrally bonded skin and inner foam structure, which can be made in various shapes and contours as a result of being molded as a single part in an aluminum tool.
During initial research and development of the I-Skin, criteria were set forth in a priorities matrix, and differing approaches to production have undergone development and testing. In the past year, further developments — such as the ability to increase legroom and thereby capacity, depending on the floor plan — have enlarged the scope and scale of the project.
“In the best scenario, it takes a very large, well-capitalized urethane manufacturer working with a very large, well-capitalized seating company to effectively bring this technology to market,” Billingsley said. “Due to this agreement, we have … one of the largest urethane manufacturers in the U.S. working with one of the largest school bus seat companies in the world. It makes perfect sense for us to step aside, although HDBP will assist in the finalization of development.”
Billingsley added that the C.E. White Co.’s amount of capital and assets, current infrastructure, and advanced engineering facility “will enable the I-Skin technology to reach the school bus in a way that benefits the technology, the OEMs, our mutual customers and the industry as a whole.”