One of our good friends, Rory Craig, who is a student at the Art Center College of Design, has designed a sweet carbon fiber baby car seat prototype. He developed the prototype as a Sparco product (and is trying to pitch the concept to them), with the idea of a race-inspired child seat for those car enthusiast fathers that want to get their kid a really unique baby seat.
The entire body is carbon fiber that was done with a wet layup over a cnc'd foam core. The seat is not only extremely lightweight strong but suits the needs of all three stages a child goes through when using a car seat. The first is a rear facing infant seat, the second and upright forward facing toddler seat, and third a youth booster seat. This car seat achieves this by having a central pivot that is not only adjustable but also removable to allow for these three different configurations. By combining all these stages it allows the buyer to not have to purchase three different car seats throughout the child's car seat years. Note that this design is purely conceptual and does not fully function.
All straps are Sparco race harnesses and all plastic insert and parts were made using rapid prototyping machines. Interior is fully padded and snaps out of carbon shell for washing. The many holes down the back of the seat allow for harness adjustment as the child grows.
The project was done for a fourth term product design class where the assignment was to design a softgood product (Rory based this on the interior). Here's some info from Rory regarding the development and cost:
The class is 14 weeks long, however when we walk into the class we have no idea what we are going to design, I actually didn't know I was going to design a car seat until about the 5th week of class. I did lots of ideation and computer models for the next 2-3 weeks and then came up with a final design. Once I had completed the design on the computer I sent out the files to be cnc'd, by a local company. It cost $2300 just for the machining. I then met someone at cerritos college in LA to help me do a wet layup over the foam parts. He and I worked solidly for the next 2-3 weeks, fiberglassing first then bondo, sanding making sure the surface was smooth. Then we applied the carbon, which was donated to me by cerritos college. We finished the carbon with a acrylic urethane. I have never done more sanding in my life. I had concepts for the interior and took it to a local car interiors place, called Henkel's Upholstery in Pasadena. The grand total of the seat was around $4K, a lot more than i wanted to spend, but the resulting presentation piece was well worth it.
Rory branded the product as a Sparco Wingman seat, he even created a poster to help the overall package:
I was in Monte Carlo a few months back and caught this mom in her Ferrari F430 with the baby in the passenger seat...what a perfect product this would have been!