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Publication numberUS3661422 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 9, 1972
Filing dateJul 20, 1970
Priority dateJul 20, 1970
Also published asDE2212680A1, DE2212680B2, DE2212680C3
Publication numberUS 3661422 A, US 3661422A, US-A-3661422, US3661422 A, US3661422A
InventorsJoseph Sember, Eugene R Mcgregor
Original AssigneeUniversal Oil Prod Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Self-adjustment for body support cushion
US 3661422 A
Abstract
In combination with a body support cushion unit where open-cell foam is used in an air-tight envelope and a manually controllable valving means in a passageway to the envelope is utilized so as to regulate flow of ambient air pressure into and out of the foam, there is additionally provided a special valving device as a part of the valving means for the unit which includes a separate movable blocking member seatable over a separate small bleed-in orifice. Thus, when there is no weight on the cushion unit and no back pressure on the member over the bleed-in orifice the latter can permit a slow metered flow of air into the open-cell foam as long as it is under a vacuum condition, while, conversely, any pressure on the foam will cause a back pressure condition and a seating of the movable blocking member over the bleed-in orifice.
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0 United States Patent [151 3,66 M22 Sember et al. [451 l y 9, 1972 54] SELF-ADJUSTMENT FOR BODY oa -31ers PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS SUPPORT CUSHION 267,348 12/1968 Germany ..297/2s4 l,l25,7l7 71956 F ..137 6] [72] Inventors: Joseph Sember, Glendale, Calif.; Eugene rance 2 I McGl-egor Moms Conn Primary Examiner-Bobby R. Gay [73] Assignee: Universal Oil Products Company, Des AMI-5mm Examiner-Dane Marquette.

Flames "L Attorney-James R. Hoatson, Jr. and Philip T. Liggett [22] Filed: July 20, 1970 [57] ABSTRACT [2]] App]. N -Z 56,574 In combination with a body support cushion unit where opencell foam is used in an air-tight envelope and a manually con- [52] U s u 297/284 137/612 1 trollable valving means in a passageway to the envelope is util- [51] 7/I4A47C 4 ized so as to regulate flow of ambient air pressure into and out [58] Fie'ld 614o2 614 19 of the foam, there is additionally provided a special valving 5 5 device as a part of the valving means for the unit which includes a separate movable blocking member seatable over a separate small bleed-in orifice. Thus, when there is no weight [56] References Cited on the cushion unit and no back pressure on the member over UNITED STATES PATENTS the bleed-in orifice the latter can permit a slow metered flow of air into the open-cell foam as long as it is under a vacuum Rosenberg et alcondition while conversely any pressure on the foam 2,837,l45 6/1958 Goetz "5/348 cause a back pressure condition and a seating of the movable blocking member over the bleed-in orifice.

4 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures )1 k". 1 /a /7 I r I l lAl\ l'/ B/eedin Orifice PATENTEDHM 91912 3,661,422

l'gure I Figure 5 J/Vl/E/VTORS Eugene H. McGregor By Joseph Sembe/ A T'TO/P/VEYS SELF-ADJUSTMENT FOR BODY SUPPORT CUSHION The present invention relates to a self-adjusting cushion unit with enclosed open-cell foam that is adapted for use in supporting the back of a seat occupant.

More particularly, the invention is directed to an improved form of unit in that a special valving means permits a slow bleed-in of air when the seat is not in use such that the portion of the seat having the adjustable support cushion will in turn be self-filled or dressed.

It has been found that no one seat shape or contour will fit all persons. Also, where a person must be seated for a relatively long period of time, there is a desire to obtain a different seating posture or a varying cushioning means. As a result there has been developed a special support cushion for the lower portion of the back which is weight responsive and manually adjustable and is now being referred to by the seating industry as the lumbar support cushion. In this adjustable lumbar cushion unit there is an open-cell foam material provided in an air-tight envelope and a push button form of manually controllable valving means is used in an air passageway to the interior of the envelope and foam. Thus, where the cushion thickness is greater than desired by the seat occupant, he can push his back against the cushion zone while at the same time opening the valve to let air out of the encased open-cell foam. When the cushion has the right thickness or feel, he can let the valve close and maintain a vacuum in the cushion envelope. On the other hand, if the occupant wishes to let the lumbar cushion have a greater thickness or a more full support, he can temporarily lean forward and take his back weight or pressure from the cushion while opening the valve so as to let the vacuum of the open-cell foam pull in ambient air. However, in a multiple passenger vehicle, such as a bus or an airplane, where there is an adjustable lumbar cushion unit in each of the seats, there can be a somewhat unsightly or wrinkled look to those seats which have been left with depressed lumbar sections and a preferred construction will have means to eliminate this problem.

It is thus a principal object of the present invention to provide improved valving means such that an empty seat, with no weight or pressure being exerted on the lumbar cushion, will permit the cushion to self-fill and, in effect, dress or take the wrinkled look from the lower back portion of the seating unit. It may be considered a further object of the invention to provide a special valving means for a lumbar cushioning unit such that the self-filling of the cushion, which can occur with no body weight thereon, will be in a slow metered manner through a special bleed-in orifice.

Broadly, the present invention provides in connection with a weight responsive support cushion unit that is adapted for supporting a particular portion of the human body, where open-cell foam cushion material is maintained in an air-tight envelope, an ambient air passageway means is provided to said envelope and a manually controllable valving means is connective with the passageway to regulate flow of ambient air pressure into and out of said envelope, the improvement in the valving means for the unit which comprises in combination, a body member with an air-inlet-outlet means to the interior thereof, a manually movable plug member, movement means connective to the latter to permit air flow into and out from said body through said inlet-outlet means, a separate small area bleed-in orifice to the interior of said valve body, and a separate displaceable orifice covering means for the interior face of said bleed-in orifice, whereby a vacuum condition in said envelope provides for an inward ambient air flow through the bleed-air orifice and said passageway and, conversely, a weight pressure on said envelope provides a back pressure and seating of said covering means over said orifice.

Generally, the valving means will have a principal movable plug member that can be operated by a thumb or finger, as for example by a push button type of operation, such that the plug member or a valve member will be unseated and permit air flow into or out of the support cushion. Also, in connection with the use of the present form of seat responsive cushion unit, there will be an elongated flexible conduit connecting with the cushion envelope such that a finger operated valve may be along the front portion of an armrest or other convenient portion of the seat whereby the seat occupant may readily open the valve and permit the desired amount of air flow into or out of the foam material so as to obtain a desired thickness for the cushion. However, the valving means could be placed anywhere within the air passageway going to the envelope and into communication with the open-cell foam material encased therein. For example, cable means, or other mechanical linkage means, can be incorporated in the unit to provide the operation of a remotely placed valving means to, in turn, effect the desired manual adjustment of the cushion thickness.

As provided by the present improvement, the valving means will utilize a separate movable plug, movable diaphragm, flapper means, or the like, as a means for seating and sealing bleed-in air flow through a separate small orifice. Actually, the small orifice may comprise a plurality of small holes rather than one small opening, as long as the movable or deformable covering means is capable of seating over the one or more holes and as long as there is a back pressure on the cushion unit and through the passageway means to the interior face of the cover means. For example, in a particular embodiment, the separate orifice covering means may comprise a spring biased movable plug member or ball member capable of seating over an orifice opening. In another embodiment, the movable or defiectable bleed-in air cover member may comprise a flexible diaphragm or washer like member capable of being readily deflected so as to press down over one or more small orifice openings and effect a seal of the bleed-in air. The flexible characteristics of the deformable diaphragm member or the spring biasing of the rigid plug member or ball member should be such that a low vacuum condition within the envelope, or the open-cell foam therein, will provide an unseating of such cover member and the gradual bleed-in of ambient air through the orifice means, the valve body and the passageway means to thereby gradually dissipate the vacuum condition in the envelope and provide the desired increase in thickness for the cushion. In addition, the movable cover member or diaphragm means will be capable of readily moving to seat itself over the orifice opening as long as there is any external weight or pressure exerted on the cushion to in turn cause pressure to be exerted through the tubing or other passageway means to the valving means and to the inside face portion of the movable orifice covering means.

It is not intended to limit the size of the one or more holes for the bleed-in of air to the cushion unit inasmuch as the rate of filling the cushion envelope can be varied to suit any predetermined time period. The size of the orifice can also depend on the size of the cushion unit. However, generally the orifice diameter will be less than about one-sixteenth inch for a normal lumbar cushion unit such that the latter will be permitted to gradually fill from a low compressed condition to a full thickness in a 10 to 15 minute period. In other words, it is desired that the slow replacement of air into the cushion unit will be such as to permit the removal of wrinkles and the redressing of the seat unit when an occupant leaves the seat while, on the other hand, the bleed in will be slow enough to preclude having a rapid change in the cushion size in the event that the seat occupant momentarily lifts his back from the rear portion of the seat unit.

The present improved self-adjusting body support cushion will generally use an open-cell polyurethane foam or latex foam rubber as the inner resilient material, whereby there is flexibility and comfort for the user as well as the provision of internal interconnected open cells permitting air flow which reaches the exterior of the foam to fill the cushion unit as a whole or, alternatively, to pennit the release of air when pres sure is exerted upon the cushion envelope at the same time the valve is open. The release of pressure on a compressed opencell foam material also provides in situ, or automatically, a vacuum condition whereby ambient air may be subsequently permitted to flow through the control valve means into the cushion envelope. While an open-cell foam is preferred for providing the desired resilient or springiness to the cushion unit, it is to be noted that other internal spring means could be used in combination with foam material to provide for the desired compression and expansion features, depending upon whether the unit is being operated to expel air or permit it to spring out and take in air.

The air-type envelope for the cushion may be of polyvinyl material or other non-porous plastic material capable of holding low superatmospheric pressures. However, it is not intended to limit the envelope or covering to any one specific material inasmuch as the outer covering could be sprayedon air tight coating. Also, the envelope could comprise a relatively thin layer of a closed cell material of the type precluding air travel between cells. In still another modified construction, the self-adjusting body support cushion may be provided with a built-in, controlled release means to as to preclude an over expansion of the cushion or the cushion envelope due to any unusual pressure situations. For example, in a support cushion used in an aircraft seat, there could be a loss in cabin pressure so as to cause a rapid expansion of the cushion envelope when it is already filled with ambient air and the need to preclude an uncontrolled rupture of the cushion unit. The pressure release means may be provided by having a rupture zone in the cushion envelope itself or it may comprise a rupture disk or other air escape means within the valving portion of the unit. In any event, it is not intended to limit the present improvement to the use of any one type of pressure release system to accommodate an unusual pressure change.

Reference to the accompanying drawing and the following description thereof will serve to illustrate how an improved valving means may be combined with the self-adjusting body support cushion unit so as to, in turn, improve seat appearance where the self-adjusting compressibility cushion unit is being used as a portion of a larger seating unit. Additional features and advantages will also be noted in connection with the following description of the drawing.

FIG. 1 of the drawing is a diagrammatic elevational view of a vehicle seat indicating a manual control valve operation for an adjustable support cushion along the lower portion of the seat back in the lumbar region of an occupant.

FIG. 2 of the drawing is a sectional elevational view through one embodiment of a valving means having a separate movable valve member to effect opening and closing with respect to a bleed-in air orifice.

FIG. 3 of the drawing is a partial sectional elevational view through the valving means indicating how the separate movable plug member may be dislodged to permit a slow bleed-in of air through the valve body to conduit means connecting therewith.

FIG. 4 illustrates, in a sectional view, a modified valving means where a flexible washer-like diaphragm is utilized to provide a seal or cover means for a plurality of bleed-in orifices.

FIGS. 5 and 6 of the drawing show, in partial elevational views, variations in positioning of the principal valve member as well as a change in position for the flexible orifice covering means.

Referring now particularly to FIG. 1 of the drawing, there is shown a passenger-type seat 1 with a back portion 2 being provided with a lower adjustable body support cushion 3 at a position to be a lumbar support for the back of the seat occupant. An adjustable lumbar support cushion will normally be placed under the outer upholstery fabric of seat 1 and have its own air-tight envelope 4 capable of encasing a resilient open-cell foam material 5. There is also indicated a flexible conduit or tube 6 connective between the interior of the cushion envelope 4 and the interior of the valving means 7. For convenience, the valving means 7 will normally be placed at the front of the armrest for the seat unit 1 or at some other readily excessible zone. Preferably the valving means will be of a thumb or finger operated push-button construction such that air may pass through the valve body into or out from the tube 6 as well as into or out from the interior of the support cushion 3. As is noted hereinbefore, where a seat occupant desires the lumbar cushion to have less thickness, he can press against the cushion while at the same time effecting an opening of valve 7 whereby air can be expelled from within the open-cell foam 5 to obtain a desired thickness and feel for the occupants back. Conversely, where the occupant desires the cushion 3 to be thicker or to have a fully expanded size, then the occupant can momentarily raise his back from the surface of the cushion section 3 while operating the valve member 7 to permit the vacuum condition in the open-cell foam material 5 to take in ambient air through the valve and the tubing 6.

In accordance with the present invention, the valving means 7 for use in combination with the body adjustable cushioning unit will have bleed-in orifice means such that when body pressure is not being exerted against the exterior of adjustable cushion 3, there will be a gradual bleed-in of air through a small metered orifice so as to cause the cushion to eventually reach its full thickness and take out any wrinkles that may exist in the lower portion of the seat back 2. In other words, there is an automatic built-in construction for the present improved design of the unit such that there will be a self-dressing and removal of any wrinkles or unsightly appearances to the front of the seat back. This is of particular advantage appearance wise with respect to an airplane, bus, or other vehicle which would have a multiplicity of passenger seats. It is also believed to be of advantage to have a lumbar seat support section which is fully expelled at the time a seat becomes occupied by a passenger such that the passenger will be aware of the support. Thus, upon his being advised that there is an adjustable cushion in the seat, he will quickly find that he can effect the comfort adjustment of the cushioning support through the use of the valving means.

In FIGS. 2 and 3 of the drawing, there is indicated one form of valving means where there is a valve body 8 adapted to be readily mounted on a seat chassis or other support means to provide for air flow through a port means 9 to a tube connector port 10 or, vice versa, there may be air flow through port means 10 to the interior body portion of 8 and thence to port means 9 such that there is the expulsion of air from acushion section and cushion envelope being connected to the valve body 8 by means of tube means 6. The flow of air into or out from valve body 8 is permitted through the movement of pushbutton 11 in turn moving the internal cylindrical member 12 having a peripheral channel 13. In other words, when pushbutton portion 11 is pushed inwardly from the position shown in FIG. 2, there will be an alignment of channel 13 with the two opposing port means 9 and 10 whereby air can flow directly through the body section either inwardly or outwardly with respect to conduit means 6. In order that push-button 11 will normally maintain channel 13 out of alignment with the ports 9 and 10, there is provided a compression spring 14 which will bias the underside of push button 11 into the normally closed" position.

In accordance with the present invention, it will also be noted that the present valve embodiment provides a separate movable plug or seating member 15 which has a shaft portion 16 adapted to move in and out of a recess 17 within valving member 12. There is thus provided a separate valving member or cover member capable of permitting the passage of air through a bleed-in orifice 18 in the end of the valve body 8. There is also provided a spring means 19 to assist in the biasing of the orifice covering member 15 against the inside face of the bleed-in orifice 18. However, spring means 19 should be easily compressed such that a low vacuum condition carrying through the tubular means 6 will permit the valving member 15 to be unseated and in turn permit air flow through orifice 18 into the interior portion of valve body 8 by way of the central opening 17 and a passageway 20 which is in alignment with port means 10 and the conduit 6.

In FIG. 3 of the drawing, there is indicated a slightly lifted positioning for the valve member 15 with respect to the interior end portion of the valve body 8 at a seat portion designated as 21 and the uncovering of the inner face of orifice 13. The position of FIG. 3 will obtain at such times as a seat occupant leaves the vehicle seat and there is no longer body weight or any back pressure to in turn exert air pressure through the cushioning unit into tube means 6 and into the interior of the valve body 8 so as to have pressure against the inner face 22 of the valve member 15. On the other hand, with no back pressure, any vacuum condition that may exist in a partially compressed foam in the cushioning unit will cause ambient air on the exterior side of orifice 18 to push plug member away from the seat 21 and then permit air flow through the interior of the valve body 8 by way of passageways l7 and into connector tube 6.

As hereinbefore noted, it is generally desirable that orifice 18 be of a small size, i.e. of small cross-sectional area, such that there is no rapid intake of air into the cushioning unit at such times as the seat occupant may temporarily move about or lift his back away from the back of the seat itself; but, upon the occasion of the occupant leaving the seat permanently or for an extended period of time, there will be a redressing of the seat by having the cushion unit, as shown in FIG. 1, fill itself to a fully extended position.

With reference to FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 of the drawing, there is indicated a modified form of valving means where the valve body 23 has an orifice 24 for connecting a conduit or flexible tube means that can in turn connect with the envelope of the cushioning unit and, in addition, it will have an open end portion 25, as best shown in FIG. 6, where ambient air can flow through the open interior passageway 26 to the tube connecting port 24. A movable push-button means 27, together with an elongated shaft member 28, provide the means for operating a movable end positioned valve member 29. The latter is shown in a closed position with respect to open end 25, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, or alternatively, member 29 can be pushed outwardly to have the position shown in FIG. 6 and permit air flow either into or out from the interior of the valve body 23 depending upon whether air is being taken up by the foam material of the cushion unit or being expelled therefrom to decrease cushion thickness. In order to bias the push-button 27 as well as the connecting valve member 29 into a closed position, a suitable compression spring 30 may be placed in a cavity portion 31 of valve body 23 and interiorly from an inner guide portion 32 of push-button means 27.

Again in accordance with the present invention, there is provided in the present valving means a separate movable valving member or cover member 33 which is capable of covering and plugging air flow through a bleed-in orifice means 34 that is spaced within a central portion of valving member 29. The member 33 shall be relatively thin and flexible so as to be readily deflectable against the inner face of the valving member 29 to in turn cover over the inner extremities of orifice openings 34 so as to preclude any bleed-in of air when there is any back pressure against the valving member 33. As shown in the present drawing, the orifice covering member 33 is of a washer-like shape encompassing shaft 28 and in addition extends outwardly to be able to act as a washer or seal between the end portion of valve body 23 and the inner face of the principal valving member 29. Inasmuch as the deflectable valve cover member 33 is of a circular nature, it is suitable to have two or more orifices, such as 34, which may be provided at spaced points within a circular pattern through the valve member 29. However, where desired, a single orifice of small diameter may be utilized to provide the desired rate of bleed-in to the cushioning unit.

FIG. 4 indicates the position for the flexible diaphragm member 33 where there can be a bleed-in of air through orifice means 34 and through an opening in the center of washershaped member 33 around shaft 28 to port means 24 and thence through conduit means (not shown) to the cushion envelope. This position will exist where there is no occupant pressure on the cushioning unit and there is a depressed or vacuum condition with respect to the open-cell foam in the cushion envelope to permit ambient air to in turn flow through orifice means 34. On the other hand, as shown by FIG. 5, where there is any back pressure against the cushion envelope by a seat occupant, then pressure from the cushion envelope will carry through the valving means to the inner face of the diaphragm member 33 to cause the latter to deflect and seal itself over the interior extremities of orifice means 34 such that there can be no bleed-in of air for such periods of time. A deflectable member 33 may be made of neoprene, leather, teflon, or any suitable flexible plastic material, or the like.

FIG. 6 of the drawing indicates a large peripheral air passageway into and out of the interior of the valve body so as to permit the rapid intake, or expulsion, of air with respect to the cushioning suction as will be accomplished by the movement of push-button 27 connecting to shaft 28.

It should be noted that it is not intended to limit the present improved type of valving means for use with a weight responsive support cushion to either of the embodiments shown in the drawing inasmuch as variations and modifications might well be made with respect to each of the disclosed designs. For example, the separate movable valving member 15 for covering orifice 18 in FIGS. 2 and 3 might well be of a different shape to in turn seat itself upon a different form of internal sealing means or the bleed-in orifice might well be placed in a different position within the valve body 8. Also, with respect to FIG. 4 of the drawing, the flexible washer or diaphragm form of valving member 33 which is deflected or deformed to fit over the orifice openings could be other than a circular shape or of the washer configuration. Actually, a deflectable flapper or any flexible form of valve member might well be used in a difi'erent position within the valve body of the unit and still provide for the regulated blockage of bleed-in to such times as the cushioning section is under vacuum conditions with respect to ambient air surrounding the self-adjusting cushioning unit.

I CLAIM AS MY INVENTION:

I. In a weight responsive support cushion unit that is adapted for supporting a particular portion of the human body, where open-cell foam cushion material is maintained in an air-tight envelope, an ambient air passageway means is provided to said envelope and a manually controllable valving means is connective with the passageway to regulate flow of ambient air pressure into and out of said envelope, the improvement in the valving means for the unit, which comprises in combination, a body member with an air-inlet-outlet means to the interior thereof, a manually movable plug member, movement means connective to the latter to permit air flow into and out from said body through said inlet-outlet means, a separate small area bleed-in orifice to the interior of said valve body, and a separate displaceable orifice covering means for the interior face of said bleed-in orifice, whereby a vacuum condition in said envelope provides for an inward ambient air flow through the bleed-in orifice and said passageway and, conversely, a weight pressure on said envelope provides a back pressure and seating of said covering means over said orifice.

2. The weight responsive support cushion unit of claim 1 further characterized in that the displaceable orifice covering means comprises a spring biased plug member capable of being displaced from the interior of the bleed-in orifice at such times as there is a vacuum condition with respect to ambient air around the valving means.

3. The weight responsive support cushion unit of claim 1 further characterized in that said separate displaceable orifice covering means is a flexible diaphragm member capable of being flexibly pushed against the interior of the bleed-in orifice to seal the latter and alternatively lift therefrom under vacuum conditions whereby to permit a bleed-in of air to the unit.

4. The weight responsive support cushion unit of claim I further characterized in that the bleed-in orifice comprises a plurality of small openings in a spaced clustered arrangement, whereby said covering means can provide the sealing or opening of the bleed-in orifice openings.

Patent Citations
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US24618 *Jul 5, 1859 Island
US2837145 *Jul 1, 1955Jun 3, 1958Goetz Carlos CudellVibration insulator
DE267348C * Title not available
FR1125717A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3866627 *Jul 9, 1973Feb 18, 1975Caterpillar Tractor CoDual check valve arrangement
US3976278 *Jan 8, 1975Aug 24, 1976The Kendall CompanyValve assembly
US4770205 *May 4, 1987Sep 13, 1988Sundstrand CorporationBi-directional snub valve
US5660438 *Dec 8, 1995Aug 26, 1997Global Upholstery Company Inc.Chair having ergonomic lumbar support cushion
US6682145 *Aug 16, 2002Jan 27, 2004Haworth, Inc.Inflatable lumbar support
US9468301Apr 29, 2014Oct 18, 2016Tropitone Furniture Co., Inc.Seating with adjustable cushions
US20030075960 *Aug 16, 2002Apr 24, 2003Haworth, Inc.Inflatable lumbar support
US20160128490 *Nov 7, 2014May 12, 2016Chien-chuan ChengAutomatic inflatable cushion
WO1996014783A1 *Nov 6, 1995May 23, 1996Cascade Designs, Inc.Self-inflating modular seat insert
WO2008032062A1 *Sep 11, 2007Mar 20, 2008Seating Direct (International) LimitedA valve
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/284.6, 137/881
International ClassificationA47C7/42, B60N2/70, A47C7/46, A47C27/18
Cooperative ClassificationA47C7/407, A47C7/467, B60N2/7005
European ClassificationB60N2/70B, A47C7/40D, A47C7/46B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 20, 1984ASAssignment
Owner name: PTC AEROSPACE INC., 182 NASSAU STREET, PRINCETON,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:UOP INC.;REEL/FRAME:004320/0154
Effective date: 19840224
Jun 19, 1984ASAssignment
Owner name: PTC AEROSPACE INC., BANTAM, CT. 06750 A DE CORP.
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:UOP INC., A DE CORP;REEL/FRAME:004275/0969
Effective date: 19840518