US 3253861 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
1966 H. s. HOWARD 3,253,861
INFLATABLE CUSHION Filed Oct. 20, 1965 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIGZZ INVENTOR. fiowea J. //0M4e0 y 1, 1966 H. s. HOWARD 3,253,861
INFLATABLE CUSHION Filed Oct. 20, 1965 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR. flaw/yep J flan/42 United States Patent 3,253,861 INFLATABLE CUSHION Howard 5. Howard, New Rochelle, N.Y., assignor t0 Howe Plastics and Chemical (30., Inc., New York, N.Y., a corporation of New York Filed Oct. 20, 1965, Ser. No. 498,474 2 Claims. (Cl. 297453) The present invention relates generally to inflatable plastic articles, and more particularly to certain improvements in the construction of such products which facilitates the manufacture thereof in the flat while providing a desirable form to these products in an inflated condition.
The heat sealing of unsupported vinyl or other such plastic material in the construction of numerous inflatable products is already in wide use for the obvious reason that it represents a good method of mass producing items at an economical cost. Common examples of such inflatable plastic products include toyanimals, swimming tubes and beach balls, to mention just a few.
While the improvements of the present invention could conceivably be embodied in such products, they are more appropriate for an inflatable member functioning as a seat cushion, or as a backrest, or as a combination seat cushion and backrest as is described herein by way of example. In this end use, there is a more obvious need for ventilation openings in the body of the inflated product to increase the comfort of the user of the product.
Current techniques for forming such openings, for ventilation or otherwise, in the body of an inflated plastic product includes delineating these openings in the product during its assembly and construction in the flat, preferably by a strip seal, and then removing the areas so delineated by a hand-stripping operation. Even though this stripping operation is simple, it involves handling and labor and thus substantially increases manufacturing costs, particularly in the case of a seat and backrest cushion in which many ventilation openings are desirable.
Broadly, it is an object of the present invention to overcome the foregoing and other shortcomings of the prior art. Specifically, it is an object to provide an improved inflatable plastic product, as exemplified by a combination seat cushion and backrest as described herein, wherein there is a minimum of handling and handstripping operations during manufacture of the product, and the inflated product nevertheless has numerous commercially desirable ventilation openings therein.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an inflatable plastic combination seat cushion and backrest which upon inflation assumes a desirable configuration wherein the two sections of the product extend substantially perpendicularly of each other.
A further object of the present invention is to pro vide an improved inflatable plastic comfbination seat cushion and backrest which is comparatively easy to inflate.
An inflatable plastic article in the specific form of a combination seat cushion and backrest demonstrating features of the present invention includes a pair of panels, preferably of unsupported vinyl, heat sealed together to form an enclosure adapted to be inflated by pressure air. The main body portion of the article is provided in the flat with a plurality of strategically located slits formed by being strip sealed through the panels and sealed against leakage of pressure air from within the article by a surrounding line of heat sealing. Each of the slits is formed with a pair of adjacently located edges and is devoid of any area therebetween which requires removal by a hand-stripping operation. However, when the article is inflated, the body areas between the slits when assuming a three-dimensional configuration function to draw Patented May 31, 1966 apart each slit and thereby provide ventilation Openings throughout the article body.
The above brief description, as well as further objects, features and advantages of the present invention, will be more fully appreciated by reference to the following detailed description of a presently preferred, but nonetheless illustrative embodiment in accordance with the present invention, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of an inflatable article, in the flat,
' demonstrating features of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an elevational view, on a greatly enlarged scale, and in section taken on line 22 of FIG. 1 illustrating details of construction of said article;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view of the portion of saidarticle within the circle of FIG. 1 illustrating further details of construction thereof;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view taken on line 44 of FIG. 3 best illustrating one of the valve means of the article;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the article in an inflated condition;
FIG. 6 is an elevational view, in section taken on line 6-6 of FIG. 5, illustrating the functioning of certain inflated portions of the article to provide ventilation openings therein; and
FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the article in a typical operative position on a seat illustrated in phantom perspective.
Reference is now made to the drawings wherein there is shown a plastic article of manufacture preferably in the specific commercial embodiment of a combination seat cushion and backrest 10. As best shown in FIG. 5, the article 10 consistent with this end use includes a seat cushion 20 and backrest 22 and is fabricated of unsupported vinyl or other plastic materials by mass production heat sealing techniques. As will be explained in greater detail subsequently herein, the article 10 is constructed or fabricated in the flat as shown substantially in FIG. 1 so as to define an enclosure adapted to be inflated by pressure air. When the article 10 is inflated by pressure air it assumes the shape and form substantially as shown in FIG. 5, including the comparatively wide ventilation openings 12. In this regard, it will be noted that while the article 10 at the time of its construction in the flat is substantially devoid of these comparatively wide and readily apparent openings selectively located therein, these openings 12 are present in the inflated condition of the article 10 to function in an obvious manner as ventilation openings for the article.
The construction of the article 10 includes a front and a rear panel. 14 and 16 of unsupported vinyl or similar heat scalable plastic material which are heat sealed together along a continuous line of heat sealing, as at 18, at their respective peripheral edges. The line of heat sealing 18 is advantageously applied with a strip sealing die so that excess material in the front and rear panels 14, 16 is stripped along the sealing line 18 to provide a neat and finished edge to the article 10. The two portions of the article 10 which serve the function of a seat cushion and backrest, respectively, and which are herein specifically designated 20 and 22, are delineated from each other by a transverse oriented line of heat sealing 24 located in the medial portion of the article 10. The seat cushion 20 and backrest 22 are each provided with individual valve means 26 and 28, respectively, for admitting pressure air therein. Each of the valve means 26, 28, as best shown in FIG. 4, includes a plastic tub-ular section 30 heat sealed, as at 32, within an opening in one of the plastic panels of the article 10 and has an attached stopper 34 for closing the opening of the tubular section 30. As best seen in FIG. 1, the transverse heat seal line 24 is provided with an arcuate shape which functions, in a manner well understood in the construction of inflatable items, to project the seat cushion 20 and backrest 22 at angles substantially perpendicular to each other along the heat sealing line 24 when the article is inflated, all as is best shown in FIGS. 5, 7.- As a consequence, the inflated article 10 is shaped to readily accommodate itself to an automobile seat 25 or similar seating structure.
Since the structural features embodied in the seat cushion 20 and backrest 22 and the functioning of these features are substantially identical, the detailed description of such structural features and functioning is simplified by being set forth in connection only with the backrest 22, it being understood that such description applies equally well to the seat cushion 20 and that the same reference numerals identify similar parts. Spaced inwardly and oriented substantially parallel to the peripheral edge 18' of the backrest 22 is an additional line of heat sealing 36 which delineates a supporting rim 38 from an interior body portion 40. The opposite ends 42, 44 of the interior line of heat sealing 36 terminates short of the transverse line of heat sealing 24 and thus providesinternal flow passages 46 thereb'etween through which pressure air admitted through the valve (means 28 can freely flow into both the supporting rim 38 and body portion 40.
Turning now to the construction of the body portion 40 of the backrest 22, it should be readily appreciated that the ventilation openings 12 which exist therein in the inflated condition of the article 10 contributes significantly and in an obvious manner to the commercial value of the article. On the other hand, it should be readily obvious that it is desirable to minimize the costs of manufactureof the article 10 and to this extent it is essential that handling and processing operations necessary to fabricate the article 10 be minimized. One such handling and processing operation includes the forming of ventilation openings in the flat condition of the article 10 such that a hand-stripping operation is required to remove material to form these openings. Considering the number of ventilation openings 12 which exist in the inflated condition of the article 10 it will be readily appreciated that these numerous stripping operations would appreciably raise the cost of manufacture of the article 10. It is thus an essential and significant feature of the article 10 of the present invention that the ventilation openings 12 are derived from structural features which avoid a hand-stripping operation. I
By a comparison of FIGS. 1, 3 with FIG. 5, it can be readily seen that the ventilation openings 12 in the flat condition of the article 10 are in the form of slits 12a, preferably formedby a strip seal causing a separation in panels 14, 16. The slits or comparatively narrow openings 12a which characterize the article 10 in the flat are further provided with a line of heat sealing 48 which joins the front and rear panels 14, 16 together along the confronting edges 12b of the panels so that pressure air, once admitted into the article 10', cannot escape therefrom between the edges 12b of these panels. The heat sealing line 48 entirely surrounds each of the slits 12a and includes a circular configuration 48a at opposite ends thereof which in the heat sealing art is conventionally employed in a heat seal to minimize tearing of the plastic material.
The manner in which the slits 12a are drawn into enlarged ventilation openings 12 in the inflated condition of the article 10 can best be appreciated by a comparison of FIGS. 2 and 6. When in the flat, the'sections or delineated areas of the body portion 40 on opposite sides of a sealed slit 12a have only a single dimension H in the plane of the article 10. However, these same body port-ions 40 in the inflated conditions of FIG. 6 are forced into a three-dimensional configuration by the pressure air and take on a shape wherein the original dimension H is shortened by expansion in a transverse plane which produces an increased dimension W not present in the flat condition of the article 10. To accommodate to this three-dimensional configuration, inflated body portions 40 draw apart each slit 12a and produce a ventilation opening 12. Any appropriate number of slits 12a can be readily provided in the article 10 to produce a corresponding number of ventilation openings 12 in the inflated product to increase the comfort to the user of the product, as desired. Such slits 12a which produce these openings 12 should be separated from each other and from the line of heat sealing 36 so as to provide additional internal passages 46 therebetween which facilitates the inflating of the body portion 40.
From the foregoingv it should be readily appreciated that while a preferred form for the article 10 is a combination seat cushion 20 and backrest 22 as described herein, that other specific commercial embodiments utilizing the novel structural features described herein are also possible. In other respects as well, a latitude of modification, change and substitution is intended 'in the foregoing disclosure and in some instances some features of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the spirit and scope of the invention herein.
What is claimed is:
1. An inflatable plastic cushion comprising a front panel and a rear panel heat sealed together to define an enclosure adapted to be inflated by pressure air, said cushion having a body portion including an arcuate transverse line of heat sealing across the medial portion thereof to divide said body portion into a seat and a backrest, said seat and said backrest being each formed in the flat with a plurality of comparatively narrow slits extending through said front and rear panels and sealed against leakage by a surrounding line of heat sealing joining together said front and rear panels along the edges of each slit, said sealed edges of each slit being located adjacent to each other with no portions of said front and rear panels being removed therebetween and adapted to be drawn apart during the inflating of said cushion into a three-dimensional configuration to function as ventilation openings for the body portion of said cushion.
2. An inflatable cushion as defined in claim 1 including an additional line of heat sealing oriented substantially parallel to and spaced inwardly of the peripheral edge of each of said seat and said backrest to delineate a supporting rim along the peripheral edge of each.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,830,570 11/1931 Smith et a1. 5-348 X 2,625,209 1/1953 Harrison et al 5-348 X 2,842,783 7/1958 Dr-uck 5-348 2,843,181 7/1958 Paschen 297-456 3,017,22-1 1/1962 Emery 5-337 X 3,033,257 5/1962 Weber -1 3,083,054 3/1963 Weaver 297-219 3,112,956 12/1963 Schick et al 297-219 3,115,564 12/1963 Stacy 219-19 FRANK B. SHERRY, Primary Examiner. CASMIR A. NUNBERG, Examiner.