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Publication numberUS20050269850 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/180,134
Publication dateDec 8, 2005
Filing dateJul 13, 2005
Priority dateNov 24, 1999
Also published asCN101166445A, DE602006005247D1, EP1903914A2, EP1903914B1, WO2007008436A2, WO2007008436A3
Publication number11180134, 180134, US 2005/0269850 A1, US 2005/269850 A1, US 20050269850 A1, US 20050269850A1, US 2005269850 A1, US 2005269850A1, US-A1-20050269850, US-A1-2005269850, US2005/0269850A1, US2005/269850A1, US20050269850 A1, US20050269850A1, US2005269850 A1, US2005269850A1
InventorsJulie York, Gary Wolters, Kenneth Assink
Original AssigneeTotal Innovative Manufacturing, Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Removable seat cushion
US 20050269850 A1
Abstract
A seat cushion is disclosed that can be easily attached to, and removed from, a chair or seat utilizing a mesh seat bottom. The removable seat cushion includes a collection of downwardly extending engagement members that engage the mesh upon insertion through voids in the mesh.
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Claims(58)
1. A seat cushion adapted for releasable engagement with a mesh seat member, the seat cushion comprising:
a cushion member including a plurality of outwardly extending projections adapted to releasably engage a mesh seat member upon insertion through voids defined in the mesh.
2. The seat cushion of claim 1 wherein the cushion member includes:
a first face;
a second face opposite said first face; and
a non-woven fibrous body disposed between said first and said second faces, said non-woven fibrous body including (i) from about 15% to about 60% of a fiber component dispersed throughout said body, (ii) from about 15% to about 85% of a fire-retardant cellulose component dispersed throughout said body, and (iii) from about 15% to about 70% of a binder component dispersed throughout said body, said body further including a plurality of fused regions of contact defined between adjacent portions of binder component resulting from prior heating of said body to a temperature sufficient to cause at least partial melting of said binder component and thereby fuse said adjacent portions of binder component.
3. The seat cushion of claim 2 wherein said fiber component is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and combinations thereof.
4. The seat cushion of claim 2 wherein said cellulose component is a fire-retardant cellulose material treated with an agent selected from the group consisting of boric acid, sodium polyborate, and combinations thereof.
5. The seat cushion of claim 2 wherein said binder component is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, polylactide, acrylic, and combinations thereof.
6. The seat cushion of claim 2 wherein said fiber component includes natural fibers selected from the group consisting of sisal fiber, jute fiber, kena fiber, coconut fiber, corn fiber, soybean fiber, wool fiber, cotton fiber, hemp fiber, and combinations thereof.
7. The seat cushion of claim 1 further comprising:
a frame component secured to the cushion member, the frame component including a plurality of outwardly extending projections adapted to releasably engage the mesh seat.
8. The seat cushion of claim 7 wherein each projection defines a distal tip, a shaft extending between the tip and the frame component, and at least one engagement flap extending outward from the shaft.
9. The seat cushion of claim 8 wherein the distal tip is tapered.
10. The seat cushion of claim 1 wherein the cushion member includes:
a first surface;
a second surface opposite from said first surface; and
a non-woven fibrous body disposed between said first surface and said second surface, said non-woven fibrous body including (i) from about 40% to about 70% of a fire-retardant cellulose component dispersed throughout said body, and (ii) from about 30% to about 60% of a bi-component fiber, said bi-component fiber having an inner portion of a first thermoplastic and an outer portion of a second thermoplastic, said second thermoplastic having a melting temperature less than the melting temperature of said first thermoplastic, said body further including a plurality of fused regions of contact defined between adjacent bi-component fibers resulting from prior heating of said body to a temperature greater than said melting temperature of said second thermoplastic.
11. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said first thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and combinations thereof.
12. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said cellulose component is a fire-retardant cellulose fiber treated with either boric acid or sodium polyborate.
13. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said second thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, polylactide, acrylic, and combinations thereof.
14. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said cellulose component constitutes from about 45% to about 55% of said non-woven fibrous body.
15. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes from about 20% to about 80% of said bi-component fiber.
16. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes from about 40% to about 60% of said bi-component fiber.
17. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes about 50% of said bi-component fiber.
18. The seat cushion of claim 10 wherein said bi-component fiber has a diameter of from about 1.5 to about 9 denier.
19. A seat cushion adapted for releasable engagement with a mesh seat member, the seat cushion comprising:
a cushion member; and
a frame component secured to the cushion member, the frame component including a plurality of downwardly extending projections adapted to releasably engage a mesh seat member upon insertion through voids defined in the mesh.
20. The seat cushion of claim 19 wherein the cushion member includes:
a first face;
a second face opposite said first face; and
a non-woven fibrous body disposed between said first and said second faces, said non-woven fibrous body including (i) from about 15% to about 60% of a fiber component dispersed throughout said body, (ii) from about 15% to about 85% of a fire-retardant cellulose component dispersed throughout said body, and (iii) from about 15% to about 70% of a binder component dispersed throughout said body, said body further including a plurality of fused regions of contact defined between adjacent portions of binder component resulting from prior heating of said body to a temperature sufficient to cause at least partial melting of said binder component and thereby fuse said adjacent portions of binder component.
21. The seat cushion of claim 20 wherein said fiber component is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and combinations thereof.
22. The seat cushion of claim 20 wherein said cellulose component is a fire-retardant cellulose material treated with an agent selected from the group consisting of boric acid, sodium polyborate, and combinations thereof.
23. The seat cushion of claim 20 wherein said binder component is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, polylactide, acrylic, and combinations thereof.
24. The seat cushion of claim 20 wherein said fiber component includes natural fibers selected from the group consisting of sisal fiber, jute fiber, kena fiber, coconut fiber, corn fiber, soybean fiber, wool fiber, cotton fiber, hemp fiber, and combinations thereof.
25. The seat cushion of claim 19 wherein each projection defines a distal tip, a shaft extending between the tip and the frame component, and at least one engagement flap extending outward from the shaft.
26. The seat cushion of claim 25 wherein the distal tip is tapered.
27. The seat cushion of claim 19 wherein the cushion member includes:
a first surface;
a second surface opposite from said first surface; and
a non-woven fibrous body disposed between said first surface and said second surface, said non-woven fibrous body including (i) from about 40% to about 70% of a fire-retardant cellulose component dispersed throughout said body, and (ii) from about 30% to about 60% of a bi-component fiber, said bi-component fiber having an inner portion of a first thermoplastic and an outer portion of a second thermoplastic, said second thermoplastic having a melting temperature less than the melting temperature of said first thermoplastic, said body further including a plurality of fused regions of contact defined between adjacent bi-component fibers resulting from prior heating of said body to a temperature greater than said melting temperature of said second thermoplastic.
28. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said first thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and combinations thereof.
29. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said cellulose component is a fire-retardant cellulose fiber treated with either boric acid or sodium polyborate.
30. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said second thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, polylactide, acrylic, and combinations thereof.
31. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said cellulose component constitutes from about 45% to about 55% of said non-woven fibrous body.
32. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes from about 20% to about 80% of said bi-component fiber.
33. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes from about 40% to about 60% of said bi-component fiber.
34. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes about 50% of said bi-component fiber.
35. The seat cushion of claim 27 wherein said bi-component fiber has a diameter of from about 1.5 to about 9 denier.
36. A seat cushion adapted for releasable engagement with a mesh seat member, the seat cushion comprising:
a cushion member;
a frame component engaged to the cushion member; and
a plurality of engagement members extending from the frame component, the engagement members each including a distal tip, a shaft extending between the tip and the frame component, and at least one engagement flap extending outward from the shaft.
37. The seat cushion of claim 36 wherein the cushion member includes:
a first face;
a second face opposite said first face; and
a non-woven fibrous body disposed between said first and said second faces, said non-woven fibrous body including (i) from about 15% to about 60% of a fiber component dispersed throughout said body, (ii) from about 15% to about 85% of a fire-retardant cellulose component dispersed throughout said body, and (iii) from about 15% to about 70% of a binder component dispersed throughout said body, said body further including a plurality of fused regions of contact defined between adjacent portions of binder component resulting from prior heating of said body to a temperature sufficient to cause at least partial melting of said binder component and thereby fuse said adjacent portions of binder component.
38. The seat cushion of claim 37 wherein said fiber component is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and combinations thereof.
39. The seat cushion of claim 37 wherein said cellulose component is a fire-retardant cellulose material treated with an agent selected from the group consisting of boric acid, sodium polyborate, and combinations thereof.
40. The seat cushion of claim 37 wherein said binder component is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, polylactide, acrylic, and combinations thereof.
41. The seat cushion of claim 37 wherein said fiber component includes natural fibers selected from the group consisting of sisal fiber, jute fiber, kena fiber, coconut fiber, corn fiber, soybean fiber, wool fiber, cotton fiber, hemp fiber, and combinations thereof.
42. The seat cushion of claim 36 wherein the distal tip is tapered.
43. The seat cushion of claim 36 wherein the cushion member includes:
a first surface;
a second surface opposite from said first surface; and
a non-woven fibrous body disposed between said first surface and said second surface, said non-woven fibrous body including (i) from about 40% to about 70% of a fire-retardant cellulose component dispersed throughout said body, and (ii) from about 30% to about 60% of a bi-component fiber, said bi-component fiber having an inner portion of a first thermoplastic and an outer portion of a second thermoplastic, said second thermoplastic having a melting temperature less than the melting temperature of said first thermoplastic, said body further including a plurality of fused regions of contact defined between adjacent bi-component fibers resulting from prior heating of said body to a temperature greater than said melting temperature of said second thermoplastic.
44. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said first thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and combinations thereof.
45. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said cellulose component is a fire-retardant cellulose fiber treated with either boric acid or sodium polyborate.
46. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said second thermoplastic is selected from the group consisting of polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, polylactide, acrylic, and combinations thereof.
47. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said cellulose component constitutes from about 45% to about 55% of said non-woven fibrous body.
48. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes from about 20% to about 80% of said bi-component fiber.
49. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes from about 40% to about 60% of said bi-component fiber.
50. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said second thermoplastic constitutes about 50% of said bi-component fiber.
51. The seat cushion of claim 43 wherein said bi-component fiber has a diameter of from about 1.5 to about 9 denier.
52. A method of forming a covering for a seating surface comprising:
adding a first moldable material to a first mold and forming a rim component;
inserting the rim component into a second mold, adding a second moldable material to the second mold over the second mold and forming a pad component bonded to the rim component; and
inserting the bonded pad and rim components to a third mold, covering the bonded pad and rim components with a finish material and securing the finish material to the bonded pad and rim components.
53. The method of claim 52 further comprising inserting a fastener in the rim component before forming the pad component to the component, where the fastener is in-molded in the bonded pad and rim components between the pad and rim component.
54. The method of claim 53 wherein the fastener comprises a portion extending from the rim component.
55. The method of claim 52 further comprising forming at least one embossment in the finish material and the pad component.
56. A seating structure comprising:
a support structure; and
a pad assembly comprising:
a rim component;
a pad component bonded to the rim component; and
a finish component bonded to the pad component;
wherein the pad assembly is secured to the support structure.
57. The seating structure of claim 56 wherein the support structure has at least one opening formed therein, and further comprising at least one fastener in-molded between the rim component and the pad component, the fastener comprising an insert portion extending from the rim component and secured in the at least one opening in the support structure.
58. The seating structure of claim 57 wherein the insert portion is a one-way fastener.
Description
CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part application from U.S. application Ser. No. 10/463,187 filed on Jun. 17, 2003; which (i) claims priority on U.S. provisional application 60/389,647 filed Jun. 18, 2002; and (ii) is a continuation-in-art application of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/869,418 filed on Jun. 27, 2001, now abandoned, which is a §371 of PCT/US00/32272 filed Nov. 21, 2000; which claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application 60/167,303 filed Nov. 24, 1999.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the office landscape environment, much of the furniture, including chairs and seating units utilize a mesh or woven fabric supporting member as a seat bottom. While providing good aesthetic properties, mesh seating bottoms frequently suffer from limited comfort and cushioning qualities. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved seating system that can be readily used with such mesh seating bottoms.

Removable seat cushions are known in the art. These cushions typically include a padded member that can be placed on a seating surface. Although satisfactory in many regards, conventional seat cushions generally utilize a flat base member which does not conform to contoured seat bottoms used in many of today's office furniture. Accordingly, there is a need for a removable seat cushion that is readily adapted for use with a contoured seat.

Provisions are known in the art for attaching a seat or seat cushion to an underlying seat or chair. Such provisions include straps that are attached to one another such as by buckling, or tie downs that are secured to the underlying seat. It is often tedious and difficult to tie or otherwise secure such tie downs or snaps, and equally difficult to release them after use, in order to remove the seat cushion. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved strategy by which a removable seat cushion can readily be secured to an underlying seat or supporting surface.

Furthermore, fire retardancy is an increasing concern for office furniture. As efforts are underway by suppliers of office furniture systems and seating units to increase the degree of fire retardancy of such products, it would be desirable to also impart fire retardant properties to components used in conjunction with such products.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention achieves all of the foregoing objectives and provides, in a first aspect, a seat cushion adapted for releasable engagement with a mesh seat member. The seat cushion comprises a cushion member including a collection of outwardly extending projections adapted to releasably engage a mesh seat member upon insertion through voids defined in the mesh.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a seat cushion adapted for releasable engagement with a mesh seat member. The seat cushion comprises a cushion member and a frame component secured to the cushion member. The frame component includes a collection of downwardly extending projections adapted to releasably engage a mesh seat member upon insertion through voids defined in the mesh.

In yet another aspect, the present invention provides a seat cushion adapted for releasable engagement with a mesh seat member. The seat cushion comprises a cushion member, a frame component engaged to the cushion member, a collection of engagement members extending from the frame component. The engagement members each include a distal tip, a shaft extending between the tip and the frame component, and at least one engagement flap extending outward from the shaft.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a method of forming a covering for a seating surface. The method includes adding a first moldable material to a first mold and forming a rim component. The method also comprises inserting the rim component into a second mold, adding a second moldable material to the second mold over the second mold and forming a pad component bonded to the rim component. The method also comprises inserting the bonded pad and rim components to a third mold, covering the bonded pad and rim components with a finish material and securing the finish material to the bonded pad and rim components.

In still a further aspect, the present invention provides a seating structure comprising a support structure and a pad assembly. The pad assembly comprises a rim component, a pad component bonded to the rim component, and a finish component bonded to the pad component, wherein the pad assembly is secured to the support structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be described in detail with several preferred embodiments and illustrated, merely by way of example and not with intent to limit the scope thereof, in the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical chair utilizing a contoured mesh seat bottom.

FIG. 1A is a detailed view of a mesh material used in the seat portion of the chair shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2 is a view illustrating placement of a preferred embodiment seat cushion on the chair of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view illustrating components of a preferred embodiment seat cushion.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a cushion member of the seat cushion shown in FIG. 3 taken along line 4-4.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a frame component taken across line 5-5 in FIG. 3, illustrating a preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 6 is a view of another preferred embodiment engagement member used in the seat cushion described herein.

FIG. 7 is a view of another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 8 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 9 illustrates yet another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 10 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 11 illustrates yet another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 12 illustrates yet another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 13 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member.

FIG. 14 illustrates yet another preferred embodiment engagement member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a typical chair 100 with which the present invention seat cushion is used in conjunction. The chair 100 typically comprises a seat back 110 and seat bottom 120 positionably coupled together by a frame assembly 115 extending therebetween. The chair 100 also comprises first and second arm members 130 and 132 engaged with the frame assembly 115 and/or the seat back 110 by support members 131 and 133, respectively. The sub-assembly of the seat back 110, seat bottom 120, frame assembly 115, and arms 130 and 132 is generally disposed and supported on a pedestal 140 extending between the frame assembly 115 and a base 150. The base 150 can be in a variety of different forms and arrangements, however, it is typical to utilize a plurality of outwardly extending support members each having a caster 160 or other rolling member disposed on their underside.

The seat bottom 120 of the chair 100 preferably utilizes a relatively thin supporting member such as a mesh or a woven fabric. The supporting member or mesh extends across a seat bottom frame that imparts a contoured configuration to the mesh spanning that frame. The term “mesh” as used herein refers to any thin planar member having a plurality of small voids, apertures, holes, or openings extending through the thickness of the member. In the representative example shown in FIG. 1A, the mesh used in the seat bottom 120 includes a collection of parallel extending fibers or strands 122 and a second set of parallel extending fibers or strands 124 extending at right angles with the first set of fibers or strands 122. The sets of fibers or strands, i.e. 122 and 124, can be bonded to each other at their locations of intersection on contact, or remain unbonded. The resulting voids 125 defined at the intersections of these spaced fibers or strands can be in a variety of different shapes and sizes. However, it is typical for the shape of a void 125 to be square or rectangular. The size of the void, or rather span or dimension of a void, is generally somewhat variable. The span may be significantly increased if the sets of fibers or strands such as 122 and 124 are not bonded to one another and forces or stresses urge the fibers apart from one another.

FIG. 2 illustrates positioning and placement of a preferred embodiment seat cushion 200 onto the chair 100 depicted in FIG. 1. The seat cushion 200 generally includes a cushion member 210 defining an upper surface 214 and an oppositely directed bottom surface 212. The seat cushion 200 also comprises a frame component 220 generally extending along the underside 212 of the cushion member 210. The frame component 220 includes a collection of downwardly extending engagement members 230 described in greater detail herein. The geometry and configuration of the underside of the seat cushion 200 is preferably shaped to conform with the geometry and configuration of the seat bottom 120 of the chair 100. However, the present invention includes seat cushions that do not exhibit such matching characteristics since the seat cushion 200 is preferably flexible and can be flexed or otherwise deformed to match the shape or contour of the seat bottom 120.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a preferred embodiment seat cushion 200. The seat cushion 200 includes a cushion member 210 having the noted upper surface 214 and bottom surface 212. The upper surface 214 and bottom surface 212 are generally separated by a laterally extending perimeter 216 extending around the perimeter of the cushion member 210. The seat cushion 200 also comprises a frame component 220. The frame component defines a top surface 224 and an oppositely directed under surface 222. Upon engagement of the cushion member 210 to the frame component 220, the topside 224 of the frame component 220 is preferably in contact and immediately adjacent to the bottom surface 212 of the cushion member 210. The frame member also includes a plurality of downwardly extending engagement members 230, described in greater detail herein.

FIG. 4 is a cross-section of the cushion member 210 taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 3. The cushion member 210 includes a deformable interior member 217 generally surrounded by an optional protective covering 211.

The interior member 217 of the cushion member 210 is a unified or monolithic member and preferably includes a matrix fiber, a cellulose fiber, and a binder polymer that serves as an adhesive to bind the components together. The interior member 217 may also include various fillers and additional materials as well. The various components are assembled and melt-bonded together to form a finished member.

The matrix fiber for use in the interior member provides structure and strength characteristics to the cushion member. The interior member provides the structure to form the cushion member into the desired shape. The matrix fiber is preferably a high melting point polyester, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or another thermoplastic. Any thermoplastic used as the matrix fiber should preferably have a melting point higher than the temperatures used in the molding of the interior member 217 as described below. That is, while it is acceptable for the matrix fiber used in the present invention to become soft during the molding process, it should not melt to the extent of becoming a molten component or losing its structure completely. More than one type of matrix fiber may be used in the construction of the cushion member 210. Alternately or in addition to the thermoplastic fiber, natural fibers could be used such as sisal, jute, kenaf, coconut fiber or hemp.

The cellulose fiber of the preferred embodiment cushion member is used to provide mass and shape to the interior member as well as contribute to its fire resistance. To increase its fire resistance, the cellulose is treated with a fire retardant in an amount necessary to render it nonflammable. Suitable fire retardants include, but are not limited to, boric acid and/or sodium polyborate. Suitable treated cellulose fiber for use in the present invention includes NU-WOOLŽ, available from Nu-Wool Co., Inc. and boron cellulose available under the tradename THERMOLOK INCIDE from Hamilton Mfg. Inc. The cellulose fiber preferably constitutes from about 40 to about 70% by weight of the cushion member, more preferably 45 to 55%.

The binder polymer of the interior member of the cushion acts as an adhesive and binder to bond the matrix fiber and cellulose fiber together and lock the fibers into position. Thus, the binder polymer will at least partially melt during the molding process. The binder polymer can be any recyclable fiber having this characteristic, such as polyester, PET, polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, PLA and acrylic. Preferably, the binder polymer is a polyester having a melting point of about 100° C. During the process, the binder polymer at least partially melts and becomes flowable, penetrating between the matrix fibers and the cellulose fibers to bond them together. Upon cooling, the binder polymer solidifies to form the final interior member.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the matrix fiber and the binder polymer are provided as a single bi-component blended fiber. In this bi-component fiber, the two materials may be arranged in co-axial arrangement, with an inner strand of higher melting point matrix fiber surrounded by a sheath of lower melting point binder polymer. Suitable polyester bi-component fibers for use in the present invention are commercially available under the trade designation “PET bi-component fiber” from various manufacturers. Various sized bi-component fibers may be used in the present invention seat cushion or products depending on the particular use. Although not intended to be limiting, a typical bi-fiber suitable for use in most applications of the present invention has a diameter of about 5 denier or smaller. When bi-component fiber is used, a preferred seat cushion interior member according to the present invention will contain about 30 to about 60% by weight bi-component fiber and about 40 to about 70% by weight cellulose. In any event, the amount should be enough such that the resultant member will pass ASTM E84 flame test for building materials and UL 723 test.

Most preferably, the interior member of the cushion member comprises from about 20% to about 40%, and most preferably about 30% of binder polymer, and from about 60% to about 80%, and most preferably about 70′% matrix fiber. Upon formation into the interior member, the member has a loft of about 0.500.

The covering 211 of the preferred embodiment cushion member may be a layer made from any decorative membrane, including fiber and non-fiber materials and woven and non-woven materials. Additional filler materials may also be added to enhance strength or other panel characteristics, such materials including, but not limited to, various thermoplastics such as polyester, co-polyester, and nylon; natural materials such as sisal, hemp, cotton and flax; or other materials such as ceramic powder, fire-retardant materials, or metal mesh. Specialized additives may also be added to improve certain properties of the finished cushion member, including but not limited to, pesticides, anti-microbial additives, ammonia dust inhibitors, stabilizers, and water repellants.

The resulting cushion member such as 210, may be constructed using a conventional carding line and cross lapper in various arrangements. For convenience, a representative process will be described using a polyester bi-component fiber, cellulose and a finish layer only. As stated above, however, various other processes may be used to make the cushion member and additional fibers and additives may also be combined to produce the cushion member. The bi-component fiber is introduced on a garnett or carding machine, which straightens and parallelizes the loosened bi-component fiber to form a web of parallel, crimped fibers. As the bi-component fiber web exits the carding machine, the treated cellulose fiber is spread out over the top of the web. Any additional additives, such as pesticides, may be added at this stage or prior to the forming of the web. The resulting cellulose covered web is then directed through a cross lapper, to build up the web into a batt and to integrate the cellulose with the bi-component fiber. The resulting batt is cut to length and then heated, in an oven to melt the outer sheath of the bi-component fiber (the binder polymer) and cause it to intimately blend the cellulose and the inner strand of the bi-component fiber (the matrix fiber). This provides a “through-bonded” batt that not only bonds the components of the member, but also seals the surface of the batt against leakage. Any conventional carding machine and cross lapper may be used in this process. A suitable cross lapper is Crosslapper model CL-OC available from Technoplants. Additionally, other known processes for forming batts may be used, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,974,631 and 6,276,028, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

The batts are heated to a point where the binder polymer transitions from a solid state to a liquid state. Although the temperature at which the batts are heated will therefore vary depending on the composition of the matrix fiber and binder polymer, a typical heating cycle using a polyester bi-component fiber include heating the batts to about 400° F. Some of the binder polymer fibers may liquefy while others remain in a transition or gel-like condition. Thus, the batt becomes soft and pliable, yet can still be handled because the matrix fiber and cellulose retain enough of the batt structure. If the batts are to be molded into specific shapes to form a finished cushion member, the batts are transferred by a conveyor from the oven to a bonding press. If a finish layer is to be used in the manufacture of the cushion member, it is transferred, from a fabric carousel or other dispenser to the bonding press at this stage. The finish layer is mated and aligned with the hot batt and the press is then closed, capturing and pressing the finish layer to bond it to and embed it in the batt.

Regardless of whether a finish layer is used, the bonding press is closed and the batt is pressed, between the mold halves or dies of the press. The batt, still hot from the oven, assumes the shape of the interior of the press. The binder polymer may further transition to a molten state at this time due to the pressure of the press. The molten binder polymer flows throughout the mold cavity and binds the cellulose and matrix fibers together. If a finish layer is used, the molten material is also pressed into this layer, so it becomes at least partially embedded in the batt.

The mold halves or dies are preferably temperature controlled below the melting temperature of the binder polymer. Thus the oven heats the batt and the pressure of the closed mold in the press shapes the batt before the transfer of heat from the batt to the dies sets the batt in a solid state.

As discussed above, the binder polymer preferably at least partially melts to become a molten material during the heating in the oven. However, it preferably remains viscous rather than free-flowing. Thus, the binder polymer will only flow throughout the mold cavity when the press closes the mold and pressure is applied to the batt. Because of this, the final cushion member may have localized areas of relatively higher material density, and associated greater material toughness, where the added batt material was originally placed in the mold.

The cushion member may be constructed using a single batt or a combination of different batts having different compositions. Thus, a manufacturer can make cushion members having customized structures and properties based on a user's requirement. The combining of different batts allows a fabricator to tailor the characteristics of the resulting cushion member by positioning strata of component materials within the resulting cushion member. For example, a second batt comprised of a blend including a filler material may be used with a first batt to introduce and position a stratum of filler material into the resulting cushion member. The second batt may be assembled using the same process described above, with an exception that fibers of a filler material are included in the blend. The first and second batts may be introduced to each other before or after they are heated in the oven. Preferably, the two batts are introduced prior to heating, so that they may become at least partially bonded together during heating by the melting and diffusion of the binder polymer between the two batts.

As noted, it should be realized that a cushion member of the invention may be constructed with various alternative “lay-ups” of different fiber and filler layers and multiple batts prior to molding in the bonding press. By selecting different components for use in the batt or a multiple number of batts or by changing the thickness of each batt, one may alter the stiffness, toughness, acoustics and other characteristics of the resulting cushion member. For example, strength and other characteristics may be enhanced with the use of metal or ceramic fibers added to the batt. A rigid support structure, such as a metal mesh or foil, may be embedded in the cushion member for additional strength by including the structure in the batt or web lay-up.

Structural characteristics of the cushion member may also be controlled by adjustment of the material density and the mold pressure. For a given amount of material, a defined mold cavity volume will result in a particular material density. With a constant mold cavity volume, increasing the amount of material in the batt will increase the resulting density in the final cushion member. A cushion member with a relatively higher material density will exhibit a greater toughness that resists puncturing. Conversely, decreasing the amount of material in the batt will produce a cushion member with a relatively lower material density, resulting in a lighter, less tough cushion member susceptible to puncturing and the insertion of pins and the like. Thus, for example, a cushion member of the invention can be made to be a fully tackable member by reducing the resulting material density appropriately.

The frame component is preferably formed from the same materials as utilized for the interior member. Generally, the materials for the frame component are selected, and used in such proportions, that the frame component is relatively rigid. The frame component preferably comprises from about 60% to about 80%, and most preferably about 70% of the binder polymer, and from about 20% to about 40%, and most preferably about 30% of the matrix fiber.

Although the frame component may be in a variety of different shapes, configurations, and dimensions, preferably the frame component is generally planar with a thickness of about 0.10 inch to about 0.010 inch thick, and most preferably about 0.050 inch thick.

After formation of the frame component, one or more of the engagement members are preferably molded thereon. Sufficient heat and pressure are utilized to bond the materials of the frame component and the engagement members together. Molding or attachment of the engagement members to the frame component can be performed in conjunction with affixment of the frame component to the cushion member. Optionally, the covering or cover layer of the cushion member can then be applied. Alternately, the covering can be applied prior to affixment of the frame component to the cushion member.

Most preferably, the molding or attachment of the plurality of engagement members is performed concurrently with the molding and formation of the interior member of the cushion member. That is, the interior member is formed and integrally molded on or about the frame component in conjunction with molding or attaching the engagement members to the frame component. This strategy eliminates a secondary or additional molding operation.

The engagement members can be formed from nearly any material. For example, the engagement members can be formed from the same material(s) as the cushion member and/or the frame component. Alternatively, the engagement members can be formed from a moldable polymeric material such as for example, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and the like.

FIG. 5 is a detailed partial cross-sectional view of the frame component taken across line 5-5 in FIG. 3. FIG. 5 illustrates a typical engagement member 230 extending from the under surface 222 of the frame component 220. The engagement member 230 detailed in FIG. 5 includes a distal tip member 232 and a shaft 234 extending between the frame component 220 and the distal member 232. One or more engagement flaps or projections 235 may be provided along the outer surface of the shaft 234. As described in greater detail herein, the engagement flaps or projections releasably engage a mesh material upon insertion through voids defined in that material. The engagement member 230 may extend through the frame component 220 and further be secured to the frame component 220 by a head component 236 which lies along the upper surface 224 of the frame component 220.

FIGS. 6-14 illustrate additional preferred embodiment engagement members having various profiles. FIG. 6 illustrates a preferred embodiment engagement member 330 having a tip 332 with a shaft 334 extending between the tip 332 and a corresponding frame component (not shown). The preferred embodiment engagement member 330 includes a plurality of outwardly extending projections 335 separated by a valley 336.

FIG. 7 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member 430. The engagement member 430 includes a tip 432 and a shaft 434 extending between the tip 432 and a frame component.

FIG. 8 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member 530. The member 530 includes a tip 532 and a shaft extending between the tip 532 and a corresponding frame component.

FIG. 9 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member 630. The member 630 includes a tip 632 and a shaft 634 extending between the tip 632 and a frame component. The preferred embodiment engagement member 630 is characterized by one or more depressions or valleys 636 defined along the shaft 634.

FIG. 10 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member 730. The engagement member 730 includes a tip 732 and a shaft 734 extending between the tip 732 and a corresponding frame component. The engagement member 730 includes one or more outwardly extending projections 735.

FIG. 11 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member 830. The member 830 includes a distal tip 832 and a shaft 834 extending between a frame component and the tip 832. The engagement member 830 also includes one or more projections extending outward from the shaft 834 and/or tip 832.

FIG. 12 illustrates yet another preferred embodiment engagement member 930. The engagement member 930 includes a distal tip 932 and a shaft 934 extending between the tip 932 and a corresponding frame component. The engagement member 930 includes one or more outwardly extending projections such as 935.

FIG. 13 illustrates yet another preferred embodiment engagement member 1030. The engagement member 1030 includes a distal tip 1032 and a shaft 1034 extending between a frame component and the distal tip 1032. The preferred embodiment engagement member 1030 includes a plurality of outwardly extending projections 1035.

FIG. 14 illustrates another preferred embodiment engagement member 1130. The engagement member 1130 includes a distal tip 1132 and a shaft 1134 extending between the tip 1132 and a corresponding frame component. The preferred embodiment engagement member 1130 includes a projection such as 1135.

Regardless of the specific form or profile of the engagement member, it is generally preferred that such member includes one or more outwardly extending engagement flaps or projections such as for example 235 shown in FIG. 5. Upon placement of the preferred embodiment seat cushion upon a mesh seat bottom of a chair, such as depicted in FIG. 2, one or more of the engagement members are inserted into, and through, the mesh material forming the seat of the chair. Specifically, the engagement members extend through voids or openings defined in the mesh. Utilizing a tapered distal end member such as member 232 in FIG. 5 facilitates alignment of the fibers, strands, or other is material forming the mesh with the engagement member such that the engagement member can readily extend within an opening defined in the mesh. As the engagement member is displaced into the opening and past the mesh, the engagement flaps or projections, such as 235 in FIG. 5, preferably contact and engage portions of adjacent mesh material. This action is used to secure and retain the seat cushion upon the mesh seat bottom once placed thereon. The seat cushion can be easily removed from the seat bottom by simply displacing the cushion away from the eat bottom. The engagement flaps or projections readily deform to allow adjacent mesh material to pass by. although the preferred embodiment seat cushion includes a collection of engagement members having flaps or projections, the invention includes engagement members free of such structures, such as the engagement member 530 shown in FIG. 8.

In one embodiment, and referring to FIGS. 2-3, a thin seat cushion or pad 200 is secured over one or both of the seat and back seating structure. Preferably, the thin pad is a molded batt or panel material, as disclosed for example in US Patent Application Publication US 2004/0028958 A1 (U.S. application Ser. No. 10/463,187), PCT Application PCT/US01/10262 (Publication No. WO 01/74583 A1), U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/193,196, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/389,647, U.S. Application 09/869,418, PCT Application PCT/US00/32272 and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/167,303, all of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference. In particular, the pad includes a layer of moldable material 217 and a finish material 211, such as a fabric, secured or disposed along one side of the moldable material.

The thin pad can be formed in a three-dimensional shape to mate with and conform to the upper, body-facing surface of a seating structure, whether it be the back or seat. As previously noted, in one embodiment, the moldable material is made of a non-woven material, and can include without limitation thermoplastics, polyester, co-polyester, polypropylene, nylon, polyethylene, or combinations thereof. For example, one suitable non-woven material is available from western Nonwovens, Los Angeles, Calif. The finish, e.g. fabric, is bonded to the moldable material substrate with an adhesive, for example and without limitation a powder adhesive, including for example, and without limitation a co-polyester resin available from EMS-Griltech, S.C. Alternatively, the fabric is simply embedded into the moldable material substrate. In certain embodiments, the overall pad preferably has a thickness of 0.10 inches to about 0.75 inches, and in one embodiment is about 0.25 inches when covering the back and about 0.50 inches when covering the seat. The pad is relatively thin, such that it is flexible and can flex and conform to the underlying seating structure.

Referring to FIGS. 3-5, a seat pad assembly 200 is shown as including a frame or rim component 220, a pad component 217 and a fabric covering component 211, or finish material. The rim component 220 is formed by placing a polyester material into a first mold. The mold compresses the polyester material and creates a rigid rim in the shape of the perimeter of the seat or back. The mold further forms a plurality of openings spaced around the rim component. The rim component is then placed in a second mold. Fasteners 230, such as Christmas tree fasteners include a one-way insert portion such as distal member 232 in FIG. 5, that are inserted in the openings of the rim. The term “one-way” insert portion means the fastener can be easily inserted in one direction, but cannot be easily removed in the other, opposite direction.

Additional polyester material is placed in the second mold on top of the rim. The pad component 217 is formed and bonded to the rim component 220 with heat. The fasteners 230, can include a top flange component 236, are trapped or secured/in-molded between the rim component and pad component. The second mold further trims or cuts the perimeter of the pad component. By making the rim component 220 separately from the pad component 217, the rim component can be made more rigid such that it can support the fasteners 230.

Next, the bonded rim and pad components 220, 217 are inserted into a third mold. A powder adhesive is added to the top of the pad component and a fabric covering is placed over the top of the pad component. The mold heat cures the fabric 211 onto the pad component 217. The mold further forms the shape of the pad around the edge thereof, for example by forming a radius or curve to the edge. The mold can further form embossments resembling a plurality of dimples, in the top of the pad assembly. In one embodiment, the dimples are formed by using pins.

After the pad assembly is removed from the third mold, the fabric 211 is trimmed and wrapped around the bottom of the assembly where it is secured with adhesive. The pad can be secured to an underlying support member by placing the support member in a die, which stamps or forms a plurality of openings shaped and dimensioned to receive the one-way insert portion of the fasteners. the pad assembly 200 is then secured to the support member by inserting the fasteners into the openings with a one-way attachment and pressing the pad assembly and seat support together.

Rather than the exemplary dimples, other markings, signage or indicia can be embossed into the chair seat and/or back, including for example and without limitation the name of a business, department or individual, or other designs.

In alternative embodiments, the pad assembly is secured to the seating structure with adhesives, mechanical fasteners such as screws and the like, or combinations thereof. In one embodiment, an anchor member, such as a screw or the insert portion of the “Christmas tree” fastener is in-molded with the attachment portion extending from a rear or bottom side thereof. The attachment portion is received in mating holes (not shown) formed in the seating structure, for example with a snap-fit or by threading a nut thereon, so as to secure the pad to the seating structure.

Although the preferred embodiment seat cushions can be used in conjunction with nearly any mesh material forming a seat bottom, the preferred seat cushions of the invention are particularly adapted to be used in association with the chairs having a mesh seat bottom described and shown in one or more of the following patents or publications: U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,035,901; 6,702,390; 6,722,741; 6,726,286; 2004/0189073; and 2004/0155503; all of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

The invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification. The invention is intended to include all such modifications and alterations.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7837009Sep 29, 2006Nov 23, 2010Buckeye Technologies Inc.Nonwoven material for acoustic insulation, and process for manufacture
US8451129 *Nov 3, 2008May 28, 2013Medline Industries, Inc.Patient monitoring system with unitary structure and method
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/258.1
International ClassificationA47C7/18, A47C3/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47C7/18, A47C7/185, A47C7/021
European ClassificationA47C7/18, A47C7/18D, A47C7/02A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 16, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TOTAL INNOVATIVE MANUFACTURING LLC;REEL/FRAME:017621/0389
Effective date: 20060428
Jul 13, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: TOTAL INNOVATIVE MANUFACTURING, LLC, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:YORK, JULIE L.;WOLTERS, GARY W.;ASSINK, KENNETH;REEL/FRAME:016779/0137;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050628 TO 20050705