Troy-based automotive supplier Inteva will formally introduce its Inteather brand — a leather-like material used in automotive interiors — as an alternative to vinyl this month at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference on May 21 at The Henry Hotel in Dearborn (formerly Ritz-Carlton).
By using a new proprietary formula, Inteva’s Inteather is “more supple, like leather or vinyl,” in comparison to the usual stiffness of most thermoplastic polyolefin materials used today in automotive interiors, says Jeff MacGregor, the company’s senior sewing specialist.
And then there’s the price. “It’s much more cost effective (than vinyl),” MacGregor says. “It’s almost like cutting the cost in half, and when you’re talking millions of yards, that’s a huge benefit for any company.”
To demonstrate the flexibility of the material, Detroit designer Janna Coumoundouros used it for two dress designs. The first project won the Main Event Fashion competition earlier this year at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, and the second is currently competing as a finalist in the “Samurai: Beyond the Armor” design competition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“It sews so beautifully,” says Coumoundouros. “It’s very thick and is a little bit like working with leather. Sometimes you want a thicker fabric that holds its shape like that. And you can actually apply heat to it as well and get it to bend.”
Ultimately, the Tier 1 supplier hopes to position Inteather — available in three forms — as its halo product. Some clients are already using the material in products right now, and MacGregor says he’s working on a few prototype parts that will potentially be integrated in upcoming 2015 and 2016 models.