BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates in general to improved seat frame assemblies for use in a vehicle and a method of installing the seat frame assemblies. Typically, seats for use in automotive and truck vehicles vary in size, shape, and style for each particular vehicle platform. Typically, each different style of seat is manufactured with a unique internal frame structure providing strength to the seat. The size and shape of the frame structure generally conforms to the size, shape, and style of the seat. Since each seat is commonly manufactured with its own unique frame structure, the seats are generally not interchangeable between different vehicle platforms and original equipment manufactures.
This invention relates to a vehicle seat frames. The seat frame is generally rectangular in shape and includes a pair of side members and a pair of cross members. The side members and the cross members have ends defining mating surfaces. The ends of the side members are attached to the respective ends of the cross members such that the mating surfaces are first overlapped at a desired one of multiple positions relative to one another, and then subsequently attached together at the mating surfaces.
Preferably, the frame is attached by using the assistance of one of a plurality of fixtures for properly positioning the respective overlapping mating surfaces at a desired location relative to one another. The side members and cross members are positioned onto said fixture for positioning the mating surfaces of the cross members relative to the respective mating surfaces of the side members to obtain a desired width of the frame. The mating surfaces of the side members and the cross members are then attached together, thereby assembling the seat frame.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Various objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a seat assembly having a frame manufactured in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of a seat back frame of the seat assembly of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the seat back frame of FIG. 3.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged schematical cross-sectional view taken along lines 4-4 in FIG. 2 illustrating the overlapping mating surfaces of the frame members.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged schematical cross-sectional view taken along lines 5-5 in FIG. 2 illustrating the overlapping mating surfaces of the frame members.
FIG. 6 is a schematical cross-sectional view, similar to FIG. 5, of an alternate embodiment of a portion of a seat frame wherein the frame members are positioned within a first fixture.
FIG. 7 is a schematical cross-sectional view, similar to FIG. 5, of another alternate embodiment of a portion of a seat frame wherein the frame members are positioned within a second fixture.
FIG. 8 is an enlarged perspective view of a seat bottom frame of the seat assembly of FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 9 is an exploded perspective view of the seat bottom frame of FIG. 8.
Referring now to the drawings, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a vehicle seat assembly, indicated generally at 10. The seat assembly generally includes a seat back frame, indicated generally at 12, and a seat bottom frame, indicated generally at 14. The frames 12 and 14 support cushion assemblies (not shown) for supporting an occupant of the seat assembly 10. A movable headrest frame 15 can be attached to the back frame 12. The back frame 12 and the bottom frame 14 are attached to one another via a recliner 16. The recliner 16 can be any conventional recliner mechanism, such as manually or electrically operated, which selectively permits the back frame 12 to pivot relative to the bottom frame 14. The seat assembly 10 further includes a seat adjuster 18 operatively mounted to the bottom frame 14. The adjuster 18 includes mounting structures 20 for securing the adjuster 18 to a floor or frame of a vehicle. The adjuster 18 includes two pairs of upper and lower tracks slidably disposed relative to one another. The upper tracks are mounted on the bottom frame 14, and the lower tracks are mounted on the vehicle floor via the mounting structures 20. The adjuster 18 can meet any suitable conventional seat adjuster mechanism for permitting the seat assembly 10 to move in a fore and aft direction relative to the vehicle floor. The adjuster 18 can also include a conventional lift mechanism 22 for permitting the front and rear portions of the bottom frame 14 to move in generally vertical directions relative to the adjuster 18 and floor of the vehicle. Alternatively, the seat back frame 12 could be pivotally connected to the recliner 16 instead of the bottom frame 14 to permit the lift mechanism 22 to move the bottom frame 14 independent of the back frame 12.
Preferably, the back frame 12 and the bottom frame 14 are adapted to receive different types of headrests 15, recliners 16, adjusters 18, and lift mechanisms 22 to form diverse seat assemblies. Thus, different seat assemblies having different characteristics, such as manual or electrical components, can be formed by using a common back frame 12 and a common bottom frame 14. The back frame 12 and the bottom frame 14 can be adapted to receive different types of components such as by including multiple locating and mounting structures, such as holes and bosses. Of course, the back frame 12 and the bottom frame 14 can be adapted to receive other components, such as occupant restraint mechanisms, air curtains, occupant detection systems, adjustable lumbar support mechanisms, and ventilation systems. The back frame 12 can include a structural side impact bar, as shown by phantom lines 24 in FIG. 2, mounted thereon to strengthen the back frame 12 when subjected to side impact loads. The back frame 12 may also include an air bag bracket 26, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, mounted on one side thereof for receiving an air bag module (not shown).
Referring now to FIG. 4, the back frame 12 includes a pair of generally vertical side members 30. The side members 30 are generally elongated and have an upper end 32 and a lower end 34. The back frame 12 further includes a generally elongated horizontally extending upper cross member 36. The upper cross member 36 includes ends 38 and 40 which are attached to the upper ends 32 of the side members 30. Thus, the upper cross member 36 extends between the upper ends 32 of the side members 30. A generally lower cross member 42 includes ends 44 and 46 which are attached to the lower ends 34 of the side members 30. Thus, the lower cross member 42 extends between the lower ends 34 of the side members 30. The side members 30, the upper cross member 36, and the lower cross member 42 form a generally rectangular frame having four attached comers for supporting a cushion and trim assembly (not shown) for supporting the back of an occupant.
The side members 30, the upper cross member 36, and the lower cross member 42 are preferably formed from relatively flat metallic sheets, such as aluminum or steel, which are stamped and punched. The members 30, 36, and 42 can have any suitable number and shapes of ridges and apertures for added strength and reduced weight. The members 30, 36, and 42 can also include various shaped attachment mounting locations formed therein. For example, the side member 30 can include apertures 50 formed therein for receiving the air bag bracket 26 mounted thereon. The upper cross member 36 can include apertures 52 for receiving the headrest frame 15 mounted thereon. The lower cross member 42 can include ridges 54 and apertures 56 for receiving the structural side impact bar 24 mounted thereon.
The ends 38 and 40 of the upper cross member 36 are attached to the respective mating upper ends 32 of the side members 30. Similarly, the ends 44 and 46 of the lower cross member 42 are attached to the respective mating lower ends 34 of the side members 30. Preferably, the ends of the members define mating surfaces which are overlapped with each other prior to being attached to one another. The mating surfaces of the respective ends of the members are in contact with one another, and more preferably in an overlapping manner so as to permit the ends to slide relative to one another. The sliding overlapping arrangement provides for altering the position of the ends of the members relative to one another to change the overall width W to create multiple back frames having different widths from the attachment of the same common members 30, 36, and 42.
There is illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5 cross-sectional views of the upper right hand comer of the back frame 12 illustrated in FIG. 2. This comer illustrates a preferred attachment of the back frame 12 in accordance with the present invention, and the other three corners have similar attachment features. The end 40 of the upper cross member 36 includes a pair of horizontally extending ledges 50 and 52 connected on the left-hand ends thereof by a vertically extending web 54. A pair of vertically extending flanges 56 and 58 extend downwardly from the right-hand ends of the ledges 50 and 52. The ledge 50 includes a generally planar upper surface 50 a which is in contact with a surface 60 a of a generally horizontal ledge 62 of the upper end 32 of the side member 30. The web 54 includes a generally planar outer surface 54 a which is in contact with a surface 62 a of a generally vertically extending flange 62 of the upper end 32 of the side member 30. The flange 58 includes an outer surface 58 a which is in contact with a surface 64 a of a generally vertically extending flange 64 of the upper end 32 of the side member 30. Note that the surfaces are shown spaced apart in FIGS. 4-7 for clarity purposes only, and the mating surfaces are preferably in contact with one another.
The end 32 of the side arm 30 and the end 40 of the upper cross member 36 are preferably attached together by welding, such as a plurality of spot welds, at the mating surfaces. For example, in the embodiment of the corner shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, spot welds 70 and 72 attach the ledge 60 to the ledge 50, spot welds 74 and 76 attached the web 54 to the flange 62, and a spot weld 78 attaches the flange 64 to the flange 58. Of course, any suitable number of spot welds can be used, and any suitable mating surface location can be spot welded. Also, the surfaces 60 a, 62 a, 58 a, 64 a, 54 a, and 50 a do not have to be flat planar surfaces but can include curved or contoured surfaces having corresponding mating surfaces. For example, the mating surfaces can include mating grooves and ridges extending in the direction along the length of the cross member 36 so that the mating surfaces can slide or translate relative to one another.
As shown in FIG. 5, the mating surfaces 60 a, 62 a, 58 a, 64 a, 54 a, and 50 a are overlapped by an overlap width W1. The size of the members, the overlap width W1, and the overlap width of the other upper corner defines the overall width W of the back frame 12. One of the advantages of the back frame 12 and its attachment method is that multiple sized frames can be assembled together using the same common members 30, 36, and 42. The frames 12 can have different cushions and trim material installed thereon for creating different frames. By altering the overall width of the frame 12, many different types of seats can be formed. For example, larger trucks and luxury vehicles typically will include relatively wide seats, while smaller vehicles will typically have relatively narrow seats because of packaging constraints. In the past, different width seats were made from entirely different side members and cross members. These seats were reengineered and designed and then had to undergo expensive safety tests to determine their strength under certain loads. Another advantage of the seat frame of the present invention is that since similar members are used, reengineering costs are reduced since the strength of the frame is generally known.
Preferably, the members are attached together by first placing them in fixtures which properly position the ends of the members relative to one another. The ends of the members are then spot welded. As shown in FIG. 6, the end 32 of the side member 30 and the end 40 of the cross member 36 are positioned in a fixture 80 such that an overlap width W2 is created, thereby forming a relatively narrow seat frame. There is illustrated in FIG. 7, another fixture 82 which positions the end 32 of the side member 30 and the end 40 of the cross member 36 such that an overlap W3 is created, thereby forming a relative wide seat frame.
The bottom corners of the back frame 12 also include mating surfaces which can be positioned in fixtures to alter the overlapping width. For example, in the embodiment of the back frame 12 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the ends 34 of the side members 30 and the ends 44 and 46 of the lower cross member 42 have J-shaped overlapping mating surfaces.
Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, the seat bottom frame 14 includes a pair of side members 90, a rear cross member 92, and a front cross member 94. The bottom frame 14 is similar to the back frame 12 in that the ends of the members 90, 92, and 94 have overlapping mating surfaces which can be positioned to alter their overlapping widths, thereby forming different width bottom frames 14.
The bottom frame 14 includes threaded fasteners 100 attached to the side members 90 for attaching the bottom frame 14 to the adjuster 18. The rear cross member 92 includes elongated slots 102 formed therein extending in a direction along the length of the rear cross member 92. When the ends of the side members 90 are attached to the ends of the rear cross member 92 the threaded fastener 100 extends through the respective slots 102. The elongated slots 102 are preferably wider in a direction along the length of the cross member 92 than the diameter of the fastener 100 so that the fastener can move within the slot 102 to accommodate movement of the ends of the members to alter the overlapping widths.
Although the embodiments of the back frame 12 and the bottom frame 14 are shown having mating surfaces to alter the width of the frames, it should be understood that the frames can include mating surfaces wherein the height of the back frame 12 and the depth of the bottom frame can also be altered.
In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes, the principle and mode of operation of this invention have been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiment. However, it must be understood that this invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope.