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Title:
AIR MATTRESS INTERNAL SUPPORT STRUCTURE
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An air mattress having an internal support structure for stabilizing and resisting deformation of a sleep surface. The air mattress includes an air bladder defined by an upper sleep surface, a bottom surface, and an interconnecting side wall. A plurality of support columns interconnect the upper sleep surface to the bottom surface and segment an interior cavity of the air bladder into a plurality of air chambers for receiving air to support the upper sleep surface. A resilient member is carried within each of the air chambers to stabilize and resist deformation of the upper sleep surface resulting from changes in air pressure within the air bladder and from the shifting of weight on the upper sleep surface.


Inventors:
Rose, Eric S. (Easley, SC, US)
Karr, David E. (Travelers Rest, SC, US)
Application Number:
12/195896
Publication Date:
02/25/2010
Filing Date:
08/21/2008
Assignee:
Comfortaire Corporation (Greenville, SC, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C27/08; A47C27/05; A47C27/18
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20050125904Nozzle structure in combination with a bidirectional air pumpJune, 2005Tsai
20080109958Bedstead assembly with a foldable support frameMay, 2008Wang et al.
20070283494APPARATUS FOR LIFTING A BED MATTRESSDecember, 2007Vasey
20090151081Wheel Lift Weight Measurement Structure & Bed Balance thereofJune, 2009Wu et al.
20070163895Combination personal care products and air freshenersJuly, 2007Kirby et al.
20080216230Sofa air bedSeptember, 2008Yul et al.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mcnair Law, Firm P. A. (P.O. BOX 447, GREENVILLE, SC, 29602-0447, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An air mattress having an internal support structure for stabilizing and resisting deformation of a sleep surface, said air mattress comprising: an air bladder having an upper sleep surface, a bottom surface, and a side wall interconnecting said upper sleep surface to said bottom surface to define an interior cavity for receiving air to pressurize said air bladder; a plurality of support columns disposed in said air bladder interconnecting said upper sleep surface to said bottom surface, wherein said support columns are aligned in a generally parallel arrangement to each other and extend generally across said interior cavity for resisting deformation of said upper sleep surface when said air bladder is pressurized; a plurality of air chambers defined in said air bladder by said support columns for receiving air to support said upper sleep surface; a perimeter airflow channel defined in said air bladder by a gap between a distal end of each of said support columns and said side wall, wherein said perimeter airflow channel interconnects each of said air chambers to allow for continuous airflow among said air chambers; and, at least one resilient member disposed within each of said air chambers to stabilize and resist deformation of said upper sleep surface resulting from changes in air pressure within said air bladder and from the shifting of weight on said upper sleep surface.

2. The air mattress of claim 1 wherein said at least one resilient member traverses each of said air chambers so that uniform internal support is generally provided throughout said upper sleep surface.

3. The air mattress of claim 2 wherein said resilient member extends at least partially into said perimeter airflow channel to provide stability and support generally along a perimeter edge of said upper sleep surface.

4. The air mattress of claim 1 wherein said at least one resilient member comprises a series of coil springs.

5. The air mattress of claim 4 wherein said series of coil springs comprise individual pocketed coil springs.

6. The air mattress of claim 4 wherein said series of coil springs are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of said air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of coil springs traversing each of said air chambers.

7. The air mattress of claim 1 wherein said at least one resilient member comprises a continuous foam block traversing each of said air chambers.

8. The air mattress of claim 1 wherein said at least one resilient member comprises a series of individual foam blocks traversing each of said air chambers.

9. The air mattress of claim 8 wherein said series of individual foam blocks are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of said air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of individual foam blocks traversing each of said air chambers.

10. The air mattress of claim 1 wherein an interior side of said upper sleep surface along each of said air chambers is vertically spaced from a top side of said at least one resilient member when said air bladder is pressurized.

11. An air mattress having an internal support structure for stabilizing and resisting deformation of a sleep surface, said air mattress comprising: an air bladder defined by an upper sleep surface, a bottom surface, and an interconnecting side wall; a plurality of support columns interconnecting said upper sleep surface to said bottom surface and segmenting an interior cavity of said air bladder into a plurality of air chambers for receiving air to support said upper sleep surface; and, a resilient member carried within each of said air chambers to stabilize and resist deformation of said upper sleep surface resulting from changes in air pressure within said air bladder and from the shifting of weight on said upper sleep surface.

12. The air mattress of claim 11 wherein said at least one resilient member traverses each of said air chambers for supporting said upper sleep surface.

13. The air mattress of claim 12 wherein said resilient member extends generally adjacent to said side wall for providing stability and support generally along a perimeter edge of said upper sleep surface.

14. The air mattress of claim 13 wherein said at least one resilient member comprises a series of coil springs arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of said air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of coil springs traversing each of said air chambers.

15. The air mattress of claim 13 wherein said at least one resilient member comprises a series of individual foam blocks arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of said air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of individual foam blocks traversing each of said air chambers.

16. The air mattress of claim 11 wherein an interior side of said upper sleep surface along each of said air chambers is vertically spaced from a top side of said at least one resilient member when said air bladder is pressurized.

17. An air mattress having an internal support structure for stabilizing and resisting deformation of a sleep surface, said air mattress comprising: an air bladder defined by an upper sleep surface, a bottom surface, and an interconnecting side wall; a plurality of support columns interconnecting said upper sleep surface to said bottom surface and segmenting an interior cavity of said air bladder into a plurality of air chambers for receiving air to support said upper sleep surface; a series of individual pocketed coil springs carried within each of said air chambers, wherein said coil springs are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of said air chambers; and, an interior side of said upper sleep surface along each of said air chambers being vertically spaced from a top side of said coil springs when said air bladder is pressurized; whereby said coil springs provide supplemental internal resilient support to stabilize and resist deformation of said upper sleep surface of said air bladder when said interior side of said upper sleep surface is compressed against said coil springs under the weight of a person.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1) Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a resilient internal support structure for an air mattress, and more particularly, to an air bladder that is inflatable to adjust the level of firmness experienced on the sleep surface, wherein distinct air chambers provided within the air bladder each include a series of resilient members to resist deformation and enhance stability of the sleep surface when compressed, particularly under low pressure conditions and during the shifting of weight on the sleep surface.

2) Description of Related Art

Despite advancements in the structure of air bladders and air mattress sleep systems, problems in the stability of the sleep surface have persisted as compared to the solid support and feel of traditional coil spring mattresses. Additionally, when an air mattress is utilized at a reduced pressure setting, a deflection of the sleep surface known as the “hammocking” effect can occur in some instances.

The prior art is replete with various mattress assemblies that incorporate various combinations of foam mattresses, traditional coil spring mattresses, and air bladders. The majority of these patents focus on systems and arrangements to provide varying degrees of comfort and support. Improvements to the structure of the air bladder itself to address the issue of stability and deformation have been limited. Thus, the primary remaining comfort and posturizing issue for air mattress systems is a lack of lateral stability across the sleep surface that can lead to a “wobbly” and slightly unsupported feeling for the user. To a limited extend, deformation of the air bladder remains an issue due to the inherent lack of internal support structure within the air bladder.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,848 discloses a high profile mattress wherein an air bladder is used to provide an optimum air posturizing sleep surface. Although this patent provided a significant advancement in air sleep posturization and in the minimization of the hammocking effect, it does not directly address the issue of instability in the feel of the air bladder due to a lack of internal resilient support within the air bladder.

Other efforts in the prior art, such as U.S. Pat. No. 2,779,034, seek to accommodate the user by adjusting firmness of the sleep surface by using combinations of independent foam and coil spring assemblies. More particularly, this patent discloses adjustable foam and traditional coil spring mattress combinations encased in vacuum sealed arrangement to allow an evacuation pump to manipulate the resilient nature of the foam. The patent claims to modulate the foam core layer characteristics in such a way as to bring pressure resulting from that modulation to bear on the coil spring layer, thus interactively and incrementally increasing the firmness in a predetermined range. There is no teaching in the patent involving a pressurized air bladder that address the issues of stability and deformation.

The present invention recognizes that additional support is necessary to prevent lateral instability within an air bladder as weight is shifted across the sleep surface. Further, eliminating deformation across the sleep surface of the air bladder under low pressure conditions also requires an improved internal support frame to maintain a desired posturizing effect. Thus, by placing resilient members appropriately within the air bladder, a stable and resilient support is provided to supplement the air pressure supporting the sleep surface.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an internal support structure for an air mattress to stabilize the sleep surface and resist deformation resulting from shifting weight and changes in air pressure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above objective is accomplished according to the present invention by providing an air mattress having an internal support structure for stabilizing and resisting deformation of a sleep surface. In one embodiment of the invention, the air mattress includes an air bladder having an upper sleep surface, a bottom surface, and a side wall interconnecting the upper sleep surface to the bottom surface to define an interior cavity for receiving air to pressurize the air bladder; a plurality of support columns disposed in the air bladder interconnecting the upper sleep surface to the bottom surface, wherein the support columns are aligned in a generally parallel arrangement to each other and extend generally across the interior cavity for resisting deformation of the upper sleep surface when the air bladder is pressurized; a plurality of air chambers defined in the air bladder by the support columns for receiving air to support the upper sleep surface; a perimeter airflow channel defined in the air bladder by a gap between a distal end of each of the support columns and the side wall, wherein the perimeter airflow channel interconnects each of the air chambers to allow for continuous airflow among the air chambers; and, at least one resilient member disposed within each of the air chambers to stabilize and resist deformation of the upper sleep surface resulting from changes in air pressure within the air bladder and from the shifting of weight on the upper sleep surface.

In a further embodiment, the at least one resilient member traverses each of the air chambers so that uniform internal support is generally provided throughout the upper sleep surface. Preferably, the resilient member extends at least partially into the perimeter airflow channel to provide stability and support generally along a perimeter edge of the upper sleep surface.

In a further embodiment, the at least one resilient member comprises a series of coil springs. Preferably, the series of coil springs comprise individual pocketed coil springs. In a further preferred embodiment, the series of coil springs are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of the air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of coil springs traversing each of the air chambers.

In an alternative embodiment, the at least one resilient member comprises a continuous foam block traversing each of the air chambers.

In a further alternative embodiment, the at least one resilient member comprises a series of individual foam blocks traversing each of the air chambers. Preferably, the series of individual foam blocks are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of the air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of individual foam blocks traversing each of the air chambers.

In a further embodiment, an interior side of the upper sleep surface along each of the air chambers is vertically spaced from a top side of the at least one resilient member when the air bladder is pressurized.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The construction designed to carry out the invention will hereinafter be described, together with other features thereof. The invention will be more readily understood from a reading of the following specification and by reference to the accompanying drawings forming a part thereof, wherein an example of the invention is shown and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective exploded view of an air mattress bed assembly;

FIG. 2 shows a perspective cut-away view of an air bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 2B shows a perspective cut-away view of an alternative embodiment of the air bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 3A shows a side cross-section view of the air bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 3B shows a side cross-section view of the air bladder mounted to a foam support core according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows a side cross-section view of an alternative embodiment of the air bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 5A shows an end cross-section view of the air bladder according to the present invention; and,

FIG. 5A shows an end cross-section view of an alternative embodiment of the air bladder according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

With reference to the drawings, the invention will now be described in more detail. Referring to FIG. 1, a mattress assembly 10 is shown. In a typical construction, the mattress assembly includes various lower support levels 12 and 14 to elevate the sleep surface. These support levels may typically be large foam or box spring arrangements. Near the upper surface of assembly 10, a pair of air mattresses 16a and 16b are included for providing independently adjustable sleep surfaces generally to each half of the mattress assembly. Air mattresses 16a and 16b are generally contained in an enclosure 15. A final thin foam layer 18 and quilting layer 20 may be used to finish the assembly by closing enclosure 15 to further refine the comfort and support of the overall mattress feel.

Referring to FIGS. 2A and 3A, to address the issues of stability and deformation the present invention provides for an air mattress, designated generally as 16, having an internal support structure for stabilizing and resisting deformation of a sleep surface. In one embodiment of the invention, the air mattress includes an air bladder 22 having an upper sleep surface 24, a bottom surface 26, and a side wall 28 interconnecting the upper sleep surface 24 to the bottom surface 26 to define an interior cavity, designated generally as 30, for receiving air to pressurize the air bladder.

As best shown in FIG. 3A, upper sleep surface 24 is interconnected to bottom surface 26 by a plurality of support columns 32 disposed in interior cavity 30 of air bladder 22. Support columns 32 help to prevent unwanted separation and deformation, such as bowing, between upper sleep surface 24 and bottom surface 26 when the air bladder is pressurized. Pressure within the air bladder is often expressed in terms of a standard measurement using inches of water. Under normal operating conditions, the air bladder is preferably pressurized to within a range of 13-15 inches of water to balance the issues of comfort and support for the user while maintaining the overall structure of air bladder 22. Preferably, support columns 32 are aligned in a generally parallel arrangement to each other and extend generally across interior cavity 30 for resisting deformation of upper sleep surface 24 when air bladder 22 is pressurized. In the illustrated embodiment, support columns 32 are arranged to extend along the width of air bladder 22 as opposed to running head to foot along the length of air bladder 22. In this construction, more support columns can be provided to control the airflow within air bladder 22 to resist deformation of upper sleep surface 24.

A plurality of air chambers, designated generally as 34, are defined in air bladder 22 by support columns 32 for receiving air to support upper sleep surface 24. With further reference to FIG. 5A, a perimeter airflow channel 36 is defined in air bladder 24 by a gap between a distal end of each of support columns 32 and side wall 28. Preferably, perimeter airflow channel 36 extends along all four sides of air bladder 22 and interconnects each of air chambers 34 to allow for continuous airflow among the air chambers.

Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, at least one resilient member, designated generally as 38, is disposed within each of air chambers 34 to stabilize and resist deformation of the upper sleep surface resulting from changes in air pressure within the air bladder and from the shifting of weight on the upper sleep surface. Providing this structural support within air bladder 22 itself essentially eliminates the issues of stability and deformation, while retaining the adaptable nature of the air mattress to adjust the pressure to meet the comfort and support needs of the user.

Referring to FIGS. 3A, 3B and 5A, the at least one resilient member comprises a series of coil springs 40. Preferably, the series of coil springs 40 comprise individual pocketed coil springs. In one embodiment, each spring is individually covered by a protective fabric 42 and then the entire row of springs 40 is wrapped in a bundle fabric 44. The size and overall dimensions of the springs can be varied to meet the dimensions of interior cavity 30. In the illustrated embodiment, springs 40 are generally about 3 to 31/2″ tall. The series of coil springs 40 are free floating within each of air chambers 34 and are not physically secured to either upper sleep surface 24 or bottom surface 26. Due to the minimal spacing between support columns 32 and coil springs 40, no shifting or rolling of the coil springs occurs within air bladder 22, making it unnecessary to secure the springs within the air chambers.

In a further preferred embodiment, the series of coil springs 40 are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of air chambers 34 so that there is generally no spacing among each series of coil springs 40 traversing each of air chambers 34. Additionally, in the illustrated embodiments, series of coil springs 40 traverse each of air chambers 34. In this arrangement, a uniform and constant support is provided to upper sleep surface 24.

Referring to FIGS. 3A, 3B and 5A, in a further embodiment, an interior side 46 of upper sleep surface 24 along each of air chambers 34 is vertically spaced from a top side 48 of each series of coil springs 40 when air bladder 22 is pressurized to create an air pocket 50 over each of the springs 40. Under normal use conditions, air pocket 50 may be sufficient to provide the comfort and support needed by the user. Under heavy loads, such as the shifting of weight across upper sleep surface 24, air pocket 50 will collapse at which time the resilient structure of coil springs 40 will bolster and support upper sleep surface 24 to maintain stability until the weight is evenly distributed again. Referring to FIG. 3B, on bottom surface 26, when air mattress 16 is placed on support layer 14, air pocket 50 is generally collapsed against the bottom side 52 of springs 40 to provide a footing for supporting coil springs 40 within each of air chambers 34.

Referring to FIG. 2B, in an alternative embodiment, the at least one resilient member 38 comprises a continuous foam block 54 traversing each of air chambers 34. By providing foam of a particular density, the resilience of the mattress can be adapted to provide a firmer or softer sleep surface. In the present invention, foam blocks 54 traversing air chambers 34 operate in the same manner as coil springs 40. Accordingly, by selecting a particular foam density the resilient stability and support inside of air bladder 22 can be adapted to provide a desired firmness.

Referring to FIG. 5B, in a further alternative embodiment, the at least one resilient member 38 comprises a series of individual foam blocks 56 traversing each of air chambers 34. As with coil springs 40, it is preferred that the series of individual foam blocks 56 are arranged immediately adjacent each other throughout each of the air chambers so that there is generally no spacing among each series of individual foam blocks traversing each of the air chambers. The structure of air bladder 22 and all other elements as described above for coil springs 40 remain unchanged. The only difference being that the coil springs are replaced with foam blocks. It should be noted however that the fabric wrappings of the coil springs are not specifically required in either embodiment, but is a common method of manufacture. As illustrated in FIG. 5B, individual foam blocks 56 need not be individually wrapped, but may be contained in bundle wrap 44 to prevent separation.

Preferably, resilient member 38, whether coil springs 40 or foam blocks 54, 56 extend at least partially into perimeter airflow channel 36 as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B to provide stability and support generally along a perimeter edge of upper sleep surface 24. By extending the resilient members as close as possible to side wall 28, while maintaining airflow channel 36, stability and support can generally be maintained across the entire upper sleep surface 24 from edge to edge.

While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been described using specific terms, such description is for illustrative purposes only, and it is to be understood that changes and variations may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the following claims.