Thanh Nguyen talks about his passion for innovation

April 2, 2020 YKK

Meet Thanh Nguyen, director, Transportation Fastening Group at YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. Thanh has been working at YKK for 13 years and is one of the recipients of the 2020 YKK Patent Awards. He’s also currently working with our customers in the transportation industry to come up with new solutions to address the COVID-19 challenge together. 

Why did you become an engineer?

I love seeking technical solutions to a problem or coming up with new innovations. It has always been one of my secret passions, so becoming an engineer straight out of college made a lot of sense.

What is your favorite part of being an engineer?

I get to brainstorm ideas that can help resolve major technical issues for our customers. I am able to create and innovate exciting new ideas and creations.

“I get to brainstorm ideas that can help resolve major technical issues for our customers.”

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in your professional career?

One of the biggest challenge in my career is trying to convince our customers (engineers, designers, and seat manufacturers) to change their way of closing out a car seat – Replacing the snap action plastic back panel with YKK’s CONCEAL® zipper. It was extremely difficult because it involves not only changing the closing method, but the styling and appearance is completely different.

How have you been able to overcome these challenges?

I had to present data and prove to our customers that they will be able to reduce cost and weight for the overall seat, which will reduce cost and weight for the vehicle. There was a lot of resistance from many customer groups as they have been using plastic back panels all of these years. Once one vehicle decided to try, the rest of the OEMs got on board.

What is your advice for young people interested in your field?

Some very important advice I would like to share and give to our young engineers is to not get frustrated and have fun doing things you’re passionate about, “create and innovate.” The most important advice is to never give up. To be able to achieve successful results, you must have perseverance and follow through to execute your idea.

“To be able to achieve successful results, you must have perseverance and follow through to execute your idea.”

This year you were one of the winners of YKK’s Patent Awards. Can you explain your invention in a few sentences.

The “Omega Clip” is designed to attached the seat trim cover to EPP (Expanded Poly Propylene) foam directly without any other components needed. EPP foam cannot mold components like traditional urethane seat foam. No other fastening product can currently do this.

What problems did this invention solve?

Because customer’s EPP foam cannot be molded with components, the “Omega Clip” can provide a tie down system that attaches seat trim cover directly to EPP foam. This resolve a major issue for EPP foam.

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