Title:
BEAN BAG CHAIRS WITH PILES AND RELATED APPARATUS AND MANUFACTURING METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Bean bag chairs and related manufacturing methods and apparatus. Some methods comprise joining first and second panels defining corresponding surfaces. The second panel further comprises piles projecting from its surface with a portion of its surface being substantially smooth. A seam between the substantially smooth portion and the first panel joins the panels. The piles can be chenille piles and some of the piles can be removed to create the smooth portion. The second panel, though, can be received with the smooth portion being free of holes. Various methods include joining a zipper to the second panel via another smooth portion. In some chairs the seam is behind the piles. A jig can be placed in the chairs to expand the chairs and the chairs can be supported from above during filing. The chairs can also be vented during the filling via a clamped aperture defined by the chair.



Inventors:
Harter, Kendall (Spicewood, TX, US)
Application Number:
13/826232
Publication Date:
09/18/2014
Filing Date:
03/14/2013
Assignee:
SHAGS, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/428
International Classes:
A47C27/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030214162Arm support coverNovember, 2003Romano et al.
20060220426Rollover deployed reclining seatbackOctober, 2006Moffatt et al.
20050236873Collapsing chair with solid armrest and tensioned seatOctober, 2005Edward
20060163936Body harness apparatusJuly, 2006Millard
20100084901Plastic booster seat apparatusApril, 2010Flannery et al.
20090001798Head Rest Having Rotary WingJanuary, 2009Park
20080030061MULTI-POSITION ADJUSTMENT MECHANISMFebruary, 2008Pejathaya
20050121957Bag for body supporterJune, 2005Matsushima
20060255646Portable support cushionNovember, 2006Davis et al.



Primary Examiner:
NELSON JR, MILTON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CONLEY ROSE, P.C. (575 N. Dairy Ashford Road Suite 1102 HOUSTON TX 77079)
Claims:
1. A bean bag chair comprising: a first panel defining a first surface; a second panel defining a second surface, the second panel further comprising chenille fabric piles projecting from the second surface, a portion of the fabric second panel defining a portion of the second surface whish is substantially smooth; a seam joining the first and the second panels via the substantially smooth portion of the second surface wherein the seam is substantially behind the chenille fabric piles as viewed from a side of the second panel with the piles projecting therefrom; and a zipper joined to the second panel via another seam via another substantially smooth portion of the second panel.

2. The bean bag chair of claim 1 wherein the substantially smooth portion of the second surface defines holes for at least some piles.

3. A bean bag chair comprising: a first panel defining a first surface; a second panel defining a second surface, the second panel further comprising piles projecting from the second surface, a portion of the second panel defining a portion of the second surface which is substantially smooth; and a seam joining the first and the second panels via the substantially smooth portion of the second surface.

4. The bean bag chair of claim 3 wherein the piles are chenille fabric piles.

5. The bean bag chair of claim 3 wherein the substantially smooth portion of the second surface defines holes for at least some piles.

6. The bean bag chair of claim 3 wherein the substantially smooth portion of the second hole is substantially free of holes.

7. The bean bag chair of claim 3 further comprising a zipper joined to the second panel via another seam via another substantially smooth portion of the second panel.

8. The bean bag chair of claim 3 wherein the seam is substantially behind the piles as viewed from a side of the second panel with the piles projecting therefrom.

9. A method of manufacturing a bean bag chair, the method comprising: joining at least a first panel which defines a first surface to a second panel which defines a second surface, the second panel further comprising piles projecting from the second surface, a portion of the second panel defining a portion of the second surface which is substantially smooth, the joining being via forming a seam between the substantially smooth portion of the second surface and the first panel.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the piles are chenille fabric piles.

11. The method of claim 9 further comprising removing piles from the second surface to create the substantially smooth portion of the second panel.

12. The method of claim 9 further comprising receiving the second panel with the substantially smooth portion of the second panel being substantially free of holes.

13. The method of claim 9 further comprising joining a zipper to the second panel via another substantially smooth portion of the second surface.

14. The method of claim 9 wherein the seam is substantially behind the piles as viewed from a side of the second panel with the piles projecting therefrom.

15. The method of claim 9 further comprising placing a portion of a jig in the bean bag chair and expanding the bean bag chair with the jig.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising filling the bean bag chair with beans.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising supporting the bean bag chair from above the bean bag chair during the filing.

18. The method of claim 16 further comprising venting the bean bag chair during the filling.

19. The method of claim 15 further comprising clamping the bean bag chair to divide an aperture defined by the bean bag chair into a fill portion and a vent portion.

20. The method of claim 19 further comprising placing a filter in the vent portion of the aperture.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Many people enjoy using bean bag chairs despite their perceived shortcomings. For instance, they are usually upholstered with a material more suitable for retaining the plastic or styrofoam beads (or beans) which fill the interior of the chairs than for user comfort. While their mechanical properties enable these materials to fulfill this role, these materials usually possess relatively high heat transfer coefficients. Moreover, the conformal nature of these types of chairs presses the material against the users, further enhancing heat transfer to/from the users. Thus, when thee ambient temperature is cold, users describe previously available bean bag chairs as also feeling “cold.” Conversely, when ambient temperatures are hot, users describe them as also being “hot” and sticky or clingy. In either situation, users report such previously available bean bag chairs as being uncomfortable and might choose not to use (or even purchase) them.

Previously available bean bag chairs also possess a harsh, unaesthetic appearance. Again, the manufacturers of these chairs tend to choose the outer material for its ability to retain the beans therein and sacrifice appearance in doing so. Indeed, some previously available bean bag chair materials are made of painted, dyed, or otherwise cosmetically treated leather that has been polished to a shine before being distributed. Some users find these shiny chairs to be anesthetically appealing or, colloquially, “tacky.”

SUMMARY

The following presents a simplified summary in order to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the disclosed subject matter. This summary is not an extensive overview of the disclosed subject matter, and is not intended to identify key/critical elements or to delineate the scope of such subject matter. A purpose of the summary is to present some concepts in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed disclosure that is presented herein. The current disclosure provides bean bag chairs and systems, apparatus, methods, etc. for making the same. More particularly, embodiments provide bean bag chairs made from chenille fiber including seams accommodating the same and related methods of manufacturing.

Embodiments provide novel and non-obvious bean bag chairs by, in part applying new and non-obvious fabric technology to bean bag chairs. More specifically, innovative manufacturing methods result in bean bag chairs of embodiments not heretofore available. Such bean bag chairs have a unique esthetic appearance and provide ergonomic comfort and insulation (“warmth” when ambient temperatures are cool) that heretofore bean bag chairs can not provide. Moreover, such bean bag chairs also feel cool to their occupant(s) when ambient temperatures are warm. Bean bag chairs of embodiments comprise one or more panels of chenille fiber (100% polyester in some embodiments) joined together in such a manner that they are durable and can withstand numerous washings and/or abuse.

Some embodiments provide bean bag chairs comprising a first panel which defines a first surface and a second panel which defines a second surface. The second panel further comprising chenille piles projecting from the second surface. A portion of the second panel defines a portion of the second surface whish is substantially smooth. Moreover, a seam joins the first and the second panels via the substantially smooth portion of the second surface in such a manner that the seam is substantially hidden behind the chenille piles. The bean bag chairs also comprise a zipper joined to the second panel via another seam via another substantially smooth portion of the second panel. The substantially smooth portion of the second surface of various embodiments defines holes for at least some piles.

Bean bag chairs of various embodiments comprise a first panel defining a first surface and a second panel defining a second surface wherein the second panel further comprising piles projecting from the second surface. A portion of the second panel defines a portion of the second surface which is substantially smooth. A seam joins the first and the second panels via the substantially smooth portion of the second surface.

In bean bag chairs of some embodiments the piles are chenille fabric piles. Moreover, the substantially smooth portion of the second surface of some bean bag chairs defines vacant holes where at least some piles were removed. In some embodiments though the substantially smooth portion of the second hole is substantially free of holes. Some bean bag chairs further comprise a zipper joined to the second panel with another seam via another substantially smooth portion of the second panel. Some embodiments provide bean bag chairs wherein the seam is substantially behind the piles as viewed from a side of the second panel with the piles projecting therefrom.

Some embodiments provide methods of manufacturing bean bag chairs. Some methods comprise various operations such as joining a first panel which defines a first surface to a second panel which defines a second surface. The second panel further comprises piles projecting from the second surface with a portion of the second panel defining a portion of the second surface which is substantially smooth. In embodiments, the joining is via forming a seam between the substantially smooth portion of the second surface and the first panel.

In some embodiments the piles are chenille fabric piles. Some methods also comprise removing piles from the second surface to create the substantially smooth portion of the second panel. Although, some embodiments also comprise receiving the second panel with the substantially smooth portion of the second panel being substantially free of holes. Various embodiments also comprise joining a zipper to the second panel via another substantially smooth portion of the second surface. In some bean bag chairs provided herein the seam is substantially behind the piles as viewed from a side of the second panel with the piles projecting therefrom. A jig can be placed in the bean bag chair to expand the bean bag chair in some methods to facilitate filling the bean bag chair with beans. If desired methods in accordance with some embodiments can further comprise supporting the bean bag chair from above during the filing. In accordance with some embodiments, methods include venting the bean bag chair during the filling. The venting can comprise clamping the bean bag chair to divide an aperture defined by the bean bag chair into a fill portion and a vent portion. Further, if desired, methods can comprise placing a filter in the vent portion of the aperture.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, certain illustrative aspects are described herein in connection with the annexed figures. These aspects are indicative of various non-limiting ways in which the disclosed subject matter may be practiced, all of which are intended to be within the scope of the disclosed subject matter. Other advantages and novel features will become apparent from the following detailed disclosure when considered in conjunction with the figures and are also within the scope of the disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The detailed description is described with reference to the accompanying figures. In the figures, the left-most digit(s) of a reference number usually identifies the figure in which the reference number first appears. The use of the same reference numbers in different figures indicates similar or identical items.

FIG. 1 illustrates various bean bag chairs.

FIG. 2 illustrates top and bottom plan views of a bean bag chair.

FIG. 3 illustrates panels and other components of a bean bag chair.

FIG. 4 illustrates a seam joining two panels of a bean bag chair.

FIG. 4A illustrates a detail view of the seam of FIG. 4.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of a bean bag chair.

FIG. 6 illustrates a manufacturing jig for bean bag chairs.

FIG. 7 illustrates an articulating arm for manufacturing bean bag chairs.

FIG. 8 also illustrates an articulating arm for manufacturing bean bag chairs.

FIG. 8A illustrates an articulating arm for manufacturing bean bag chairs.

FIG. 9 illustrates a fill table for manufacturing bean bag chairs.

FIG. 10 illustrates a flowchart of a method for manufacturing bean bag chairs.

FIG. 11 illustrates a photograph of a bean bag chair.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

This document discloses systems, apparatus, methods, etc. for manufacturing bean bag chairs as well as various bean bag chairs.

FIG. 1 illustrates various bean bag chairs. More specifically, FIG. 1 illustrates area 100, bean bag chair 102, user 104, bean bag chair 106, user 108, panels 110, panels 112, leather/plastic panels 114, piles 116, and draft 118. In general, FIG. 1 therefore illustrates two users 104 and 108 reclining, respectively, on bean bag chairs 102 and 106. As those skilled in the art will understand, many users 104 and 108 sometimes prefer to recline in bean bag chairs in general rather than sitting upright in straight-back and/or other types of framed-chairs. However, heretofore available bean bag chairs 102 feel cold or hot depending on the ambient temperature. Bean bag chairs 102 in cold areas 100 (illustrated by draft 118) tend to feel cold to users 104 while bean bag chairs 102 in hot areas tend to feel hot to such users 104.

Additionally, or in the alternative, such bean bag chairs 102 appear unpleasing to many users. Indeed, while some manufacturers attempt to paint, dye, or otherwise color the panels 110 of the bean bag chairs 102, doing so tends to result in a flat or drab appearance that many users 104 and 108 find less than tasteful. Manufacturers of other heretofore available bean bag chairs 102 moreover might use leather as the material for the panels 110 to avoid such drab appearances. However, the tanning process and subsequent processing of the leather can leave it in a polished or shiny condition which some users 104 and 108 find harsh on the eye. Thus, heretofore available bean bag chairs 102 suffer from a number of drawbacks.

With continuing reference to FIG. 1, embodiments provide bean bag chairs 106 that are aesthetically pleasing and which provide enough insulation so that they feel neither hot nor cold. Indeed, bean bag chairs 106 of various embodiments have a shaggy appearance that many users 104 and 108 (and particularly children and/or adolescent users) find pleasing, humorous, novel, etc. Many users 108 of bean bag chairs 106 of the current embodiment also find the same to be pleasant to the touch and neither hot not cold (substantially without regard to the ambient temperature in area 100). One reason among many (perhaps) for these differing reactions to bean bag chairs 102 and 106 is that whereas the panels 110 of bean bag chair 102 are made of leather, plastic, or plastic-like materials, panels 112 of bean bag chair 106 can be made from fabric with piles 116 projecting therefrom. More specifically, in some embodiments, the panels 112 are made from chenille fabric which has relatively deep or elongated piles 116. The chenille fabric, it is believed, both insulates the user 108 from the ambient environment in area 100 and allows their skin to breath through the interstitial spaces between individual piles 116. At this juncture, it might be helpful to discuss aspects of bean bag chairs 106 in more detail.

FIG. 2 illustrates top and bottom plan views of a bean bag chair. More specifically, FIG. 2 illustrates side panels 130, piled panel(s) 132, top panel 134, bottom panel 136, seams 137, zipper 140, and top seam 150 of bean bag chair 106. As illustrated, the bean bag chair 106 of the current embodiment includes numerous panels including several side panels 130, at least one piled panel 132, and one or more closure panels (top panel 134 and bottom panel 136). Together these panels enclosed a volume which plastic pellets or “beans” (not shown) fill. Various seams 137 and/or 150 join the panels together. For instance a particular seam 137 joins two panels 130 to the piled panel whereas a top seam joins the top panel 134 and one or more panels 130 and/or the piled panel 132. A like arrangement is shown with respect to the bottom panel 136.

The bottom panel, as FIG. 2 illustrates, further comprises two portions generally divided by the zipper 140. The zipper 140 when open allows the addition and/or removal of beans into/from the interior volume of the bean bag chair 106. When closed, the zipper 140 prevents the addition of and removal of beans from the same. Thus, when the zipper 140 is closed and the bean bag chair 106 is at least partially filed with beans (to some desired degree), users 108 can recline on it and enjoy its cushioning effect as well as its insulating effect. Indeed, the bean bag chair 106 will tend to allow a user 108 to sink partially into itself while generally conforming to the users 108 body (or the portion thereof in contact with the bean bag chair 108. Moreover, the contact between the user 108 and the bean bag chair of the current embodiment is further insulated and cushioned by the numerous piles 116 spread across at least some of the bean bag chair 106 and/or its piled panels 132.

However, it is noted here that as a user reclines on or sinks into the bean bag chair 106, their weight transfers through the beans therein causing the seamed panels to experience a tensile force. As is disclosed further herein, the seams 137 and 150 (and their like associated with bottom panel 136) can withstand such tensile forces. Indeed, bean bag chairs 106 of embodiments have been repeatedly subject to use, abuse, laundering, etc. and have been observed suffering little in the way of degradation. Moreover, the chenille fabric from which many panels of the current embodiment also tends to wear well during such tests. As a result, embodiments provide rugged/durable bean bag chairs 106 that are both comfortable (in terms of heat transfer and cushioning) and which appeal to the aesthetic tastes of many users 104 and 108.

FIG. 3 illustrates panels and other components of a bean bag chair. More specifically FIG. 3 shows the components for a particular bean bag chair 106 which include: several panels 130, at least one piled panel 132, two closure panels (top panel 134 and bottom panel 136), and zipper 140 (which includes two halves 142 and a slider 143). While panels 130 may or may not be piled, piled panel 132 is illustrated as being covered at least in apart in piles 116. Additionally, along at least one of its edges it has a smooth portion 156. Smooth portions 156 could have been formed by removing piles 116 from a portion of a piled panel 132. In which case, smooth portion 156 might have one or more small holes 157 where each of the piles 116 were removed. Nonetheless, as is further disclosed herein, such smooth portions 156 are typically sufficiently smooth so as to allow a seam 137 and/or 150 to be formed therewith. In the alternative, or in addition, the piled panel 132 could have been fabricated without piles 116 in one or more of the smooth portions 156. Accordingly, one or more smooth portions 156 might have no noticeable holes therein. Note that in some embodiments, all panels including both closure panels (top and bottom panels 134 and 136) are piled panels and have smooth portions 156 where seams might be made.

Top panel 134 of the current embodiment is illustrated by FIG. 3 as being generally circular. Of course, top panel 134 could be other shapes depending on the shape of bean bag chair 106 which is desired. For instance, an oval top panel 134 could be associated with a bean bag chair that is pinched across one pair of sides or another. Of course, the top panel 134 could also be shaped something like a cap whose shape is defined by a plane passing through a sphere at a particular longitude of that sphere. Similar considerations could apply to the bottom panel 136.

On that note, panels 130 and piled panel 132 have shapes that also help define the shape of the bean bag chair 106 into which they can be assembled. In the case of a generally spherical bean bag chair 106, these panels 130 and 132 would correspond to sections of the surface of a sphere that has been truncated along a pair of longitudinal lines where the top and bottom panels 134 and 136 can be joined the panels 130 and 132. Thus they could have arcuate ends and would have sides that roughly correspond to various meridians on such a sphere. Note that the terms, top, bottom, sides, longitudinal, meridian, and the like do not imply that these panels or the resulting bean bag chair 106 need be maintained, used, etc. in any particular orientation. Indeed, users 104 and 108 typically use bean bag chairs 106 in many orientations such as with the top panel 134 on the bottom and the bottom panel 136 on the top. Of course, many other orientations are possible with bean bag chairs 106 of the current embodiment and are within the scope of the current disclosure.

The other closure panel, bottom panel 136 can be comprised of two portions which might not be symmetrical. However, FIG. 3 illustrates that bottom panel 136 does comprise two roughly semi-circular halves 152 and 154. Both bottom halves 152 and 154 can include smooth portions 156 along their edges where seams are to be formed. For instance, both bottom halves 152 and 154 have smooth portions 156 along their generally linear edge and along their semi-circular edges.

With continuing reference to FIG. 3, it is noted that bottom panel 134 need not be bifurcated as shown into separate portions. Rather, the bottom portions could have remained integral with one another at one or both ends of their generally linear edges and/or elsewhere. However, it has been found that manufacture of the resulting bean bag chairs 106 can be facilitated if the bottom panel 134 begins as two separate portions. In that way, one half 142 of zipper 140 can be seamed to one portion of bottom panel 134 along one linear edge and the other half 142 of zipper 140 can be seamed to the other portion of bottom panel 134 (here bottom halves 152 and 154). Slider 144 can then be added to one end or the other of the two zipper halves 152 and 154 and some provision to stop the slider 144 can be made at the other end.

Thus generally, to manufacture a bean bag chair 106 of the current embodiment, the panels 130 and piled panel 132 can be sewn together along their chord-like side edges one after another or in some other sequence. Each pair of respective edges would be thus used to form a seam 137. When a piled panel 132 is sewn into such an assembly or to one of the other panels 130 or 132, a smooth area 156 of that piled panel(s) 132 can be used to form the seam along with a suitable portion of the other panel(s) or object (for instance, zipper 140) involved.

Also, it might be worth noting that, along edges where seams are to be formed, the various panels can include enough “extra” material such that they can be formed into a seam without altering the desired shape (and/or size) of the bean bag chair 106 into which it is desired that they be incorporated. Accordingly, the unassembled panels will not usually correspond exactly to their shapes as viewed when assembled into the bean bag chair 106 of the current embodiment.

FIG. 4 illustrates a seam joining two panels of a bean bag chair. More specifically, FIG. 4 illustrates seam 437 and folds 402 and 404, stitching 406, binding 408, stitching 410, piles 416, panel 430, piled panel 432, first surface 431, seam 437, second surface 433, and smooth portions 456 and 458. As alluded to above, in the current embodiment, one of the panels is a piled panel 432 while the other panel 430 is not. With regard to the piled panel 432, FIG. 4 illustrates it as being substantially covered with piles 416 except for the smooth portion 456. These piles 416 of the current embodiment are formed from polyester or some other desired material and are about ______inches in diameter and about ______inches from end to end. By way of comparison, the substrate 418 of the piled panel 432 is about ______inches in thickness. The individual piles 416 are generally in a “U” shaped configuration with either leg of the “U” protruding through the substrate from one side and hanging loose on the other. The base of the “U” shaped pile is stitched or otherwise affixed relatively firmly against the substrate 418 to secure the pile 416 in place securely against the substrate 418.

In some embodiments, the second panel is received with pilings 416 distributed across the piled panel 432. Thus, as is disclosed further herein, to form the seam 437 it is often desirable to remove the piles 416 from an area thereby forming substantially smooth portion 456. While removing the piles 416 from the smooth portion 456 might leave some relatively small holes in that portion, leaving the piles 416 in place in the smooth portion would allow them to interfere with stitching's 406 and 410. Accordingly, in some situations, piled panel 432 can be formed without piles 416 in the smooth portion 456 if desired whereby no or few holes would be formed (or found) in smooth portion 456 absent extenuating circumstances. As illustrated in FIG. 4, smooth portion 456 extends along the length of fold 404 and, perhaps, for some distance beyond fold 404 and farther on to piled panel 432. In many cases though, it might be desirable to have smooth portion 456 and fold 404 be coextensive.

Regarding panel 430, it might or might not be piled. If it is piled, then it can also define a smooth portion 456 whether it is manufactured with a smooth area 456 or the piles 416 are removed from it. Either way, it defines fold 402 which is of approximately the same length as fold 404 on the piled panel. However, that need not be the case. Seam 437 can be formed by folding fold 402 and 404 until they form approximately 90 degree angles with the substrates 433 of their respective panels 430 and 432. Moreover, the folds 402 and 404 can point away from the piles 416. The folds 402 and 404 can then be brought into abutting relationship and a thread may be passed through the distal ends of the folds 402 and 404 along the length of the seam 437 to form the seam 437. Thus, the two panels 430 and 432 can be joined in such a fashion.

If it is desired to form a stronger seam 437, another thread may be passed through the two folds 402 and 404 near their junction with the substrates 433 of their respective panels 430 and 432. Thus, another stitching 406 can be formed rendering seam 437 a double-stitched seam 437. Furthermore, if it is so desired, the binding 408 can be folded lengthwise over the folds 402 and 404 prior to performing the double stitch of seam 437. In this way, when the double stitch is made, the thread of stitching 410 will pass not only through both folds 402 and 404 but also through opposite sides of binding 408 thereby stitching the binding 408 over the seam 437 and lending a more aesthetic appearance to seam 437. In addition, or in the alternative, a separate stitching 410 can be formed to attach binding 408 to the seam 437 to thereby strengthen seam 437 further and/or to cover it.

Moreover, seam 437 can be formed on the opposite side of the panels 430 and 432 from the distal ends of piles 416 as illustrated in FIG. 4. With the seam 437 and piles on opposite sides of the panels 430 and 432, seam 437 would be largely hidden behind the panels 430 and 432. Moreover, any telltale gap between the panels 430 and 432 (or the folds 402 and 404) would be covered by the piles 416 in most situations. Indeed, unless a user pushed aside the piles 416 in the vicinity of the seam 437 (viewed from the piled side), the seam 437 would be largely hidden. Moreover, as FIG. 4 illustrates, the two stitching's 406 and 410 can run the length of the seam 437. Moreover, these stitching's 406 and 410 can be arranged so as to alternate along that length with one seam stitching 406 generally being through the panels 430 and 432 at one position and the other stitching 410 generally running along the panels at that position and vice versa. In some embodiments, all of the seams 437 and 450 of particular bean bag chairs are formed in such a manner and are arranged so as to be on the interior surface of these bean bag chairs in their nominal configuration when in use.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of a bean bag chair. More specifically, FIG. 5 illustrates a child user asleep on top of a child sized bean bag chair 502 of embodiments. Note that whereas the child tends to sink into the bean bag chair 506, the piles 516 near the child tend to bunch up around him/her. This action, in cooperation with the piles 516 which the child happens to be laying on directly, help insulate the child from the ambient temperature whether the area 100 is warm or cold. This aspect of the bean bag chair 506 plays a role in making these bean bag chairs 506 feel “comfortable” to the user. Moreover, many users find the anemone-like appearance of the piles (and the bean bag chair 506 in general) esthetically pleasing.

FIG. 6 illustrates a manufacturing jig for bean bag chairs. More specifically, FIG. 6 illustrates the manufacturing jig 600 of embodiments and its component parts: articulating arm 602, expandable claw 604, fill table 606, table jack 607, dispersing pedestal 608, and jack actuator 609. FIGS. 7-9 further illustrate handle 612, hoop 618, prongs 620, claw actuator 622, claw linkage 624, jig structure 628, arm brace 630, working surface 636, retaining ring 638, fill cavity 640, fill aperture 641, pedestal dome 642, and pedestal base 644. Briefly, the skin (or the sewn together panels) of a bean bag chair can be placed in the retaining ring 638 (with chair's open end up) and over the dispersing pedestal 608. The expandable claw 604 can be lowered and inserted into the open end of the bean bag chair and expended to engage the sides of the chair and support the same from above. A nozzle can then be placed in the chair (through the hoop 618) and the filling of the chair can begin. As the chair fills, the beans distribute themselves more or less evenly about the inner perimeter of the chair due to the presence of the dispersing pedestal 608 protruding into the interior volume with the skin of the chair draped over the dispersing pedestal 608. Moreover, as the chair fills, the fill table 606 rises from a lower position such that the skin of the partially filled chair rises from encircling the dispersing pedestal thereby allowing its upper volumes to fill with the beans. Of course, once the chair is filled, the expandable claw 604 can be contracted and removed from the bean bag chair. Meanwhile, the zipper 140 can be closed and the chair removed from the manufacturing jig 600 freeing it for filling another chair if desired. Note also that while the manufacturing jig 600 of the current embodiment allows for manual operations, manufacturing jigs 600 of other embodiments can provide other components (motors, pumps, switches, sensors, controllers, etc.) allowing their automated use.

At this juncture it might be helpful to consider the manufacturing jig 600 of the current embodiment and its components with more specificity. In no particular order, the articulating arm 602 couples to the expandable claw 604 at its distal end (and is supported by appropriate jig structure at its proximal end). Moreover, it pivots about a pinned connection to that jig structure 628 at its proximal end such that it can raise and lower the expandable claw 604. If desired, other degrees of freedom can be provided in the articulating arm 602 through appropriate sliding and/or telescoping couplings and/or other pivot points. Thus, articulating arms 602 of embodiments are not limited in the number of degrees of freedom through which they can move.

As noted elsewhere herein, the expandable claw 604 can support bean bag chairs as they are filled with beans. In some embodiments, the claw expands and contracts in a radial direction such that in an expanded position it engages the sides of the bean bag chair and in a contracted position the expandable claw 604 and the interior sides of the bean bag chair are spaced apart from one another. The expandability of the expandable claw 604 allows bean bag chairs to be placed on and taken off of the expandable claw 604. Moreover, the expandable claw 604 can be configured such that it can engage the sides of these bean bag chairs, retain the chairs thereon, and provide support for them while empty, partially filled, and/or entirely filled.

With continuing reference to FIG. 6, the fill table 606 can provide a generally flat surface on which the bean bags chairs and support apparatus, tools, supplies, etc. can be placed as might be convenient. In embodiments it includes the retaining ring 638 and defines an aperture therein for the dispensing pedestal 608 and/or the bean bag chairs. The retaining ring 638 and jig structure 628 supporting the articulating arm 602 can generally be at/near opposite ends of the fill table 606. Note also that various portions of the jig structure 628 of the manufacturing jig 600 can hold the articulating arm 602 (or at least its pivot point) and fill table 604 (and hence retaining ring 638) in a fixed relationship to each other. However, in some embodiments, the fill table 606 can move vertically relative to the remainder of the manufacturing jig 600 as is further disclosed herein. The table jack 607 (in conjunction with jack actuator 609) of the current embodiment lowers and raises the table between an unfilled position (lower) and a filled position (higher) as is disclosed further herein.

As FIG. 6 also illustrates, the dispersing pedestal 608 can be located concentrically with the retaining ring 638 and/or the aperture defined for the dispersing pedestal 608 by the retaining ring 638 and/or the fill table 606. Dispersing pedestal 608 of embodiments can include a dome, cone-shaped, etc. distal end. The remainder of the dispersing pedestal 608 can be cylindrical, oblong, etc. in cross-section matching that of the distal end. Furthermore, the dispersing pedestal 608 can have an overall height hl such that when the fill table 606 is lowered to a point at which an empty bean bag chair can be placed on the dispersing pedestal 608, the bean bag chair (or its skin) can drape over the dispersing pedestal 608 with the open end of the bean bag chair at about the top of the dispersing pedestal 608. Thus, bean bag chairs in such situations will enclose an annular volume with the dispersing pedestal 608 filling the innermost circle of the annulus (when viewed from one end or the other thereof).

Accordingly, beans dropped into the open bean bag chair from above will likely encounter the portion of the bean bag chair resting atop the dispersing pedestal 608 and flow more or less evenly to the perimeter of the bean bag chair while falling within the same. As a result of the dispersing pedestal 608, therefore, the beans tend to disperse laterally throughout the bean bag chair. As the fill progresses, the fill table 606 can be raised (using table jack 607 and jack actuator 609) in time with the flow of beans into the partially filled bean bag chair. While, initially, the beans will form an annular column within the partially filled bean bag chair as the fill progresses, the fill table 606 (in conjunction with table jack 607) will lift the bean bag chair to a point at which the level of beans is at or near the same level as the top of the dispersing pedestal 608. Beans will then begin filling more or less the entire interior cross-section of the bean bag chair until the chair is full and/or the flow of beans is stopped. Accordingly, the dispersing pedestal (in conjunction with the action of the fill table 606) disperses the beans through the volume of the bean bag chair.

FIG. 7 illustrates an articulating arm for manufacturing bean bag chairs. More specifically, FIG. 7 illustrates articulating arm 602, expandable claw 604, hoop 618, prongs 620, claw actuator 622, claw linkage 624, jig structure 628, and arm brace 630. Furthermore, FIG. 7 illustrates several views of the articulating arm 602 of embodiments. In some views, the expandable claw 604 is in an open position with the prongs 620 thereof spread for engaging and/or support a bean bag chair while it is empty and/or full of beans and/or partially full. The articulating arm 602 itself is shown in its fill position by FIG. 7.

In its fill position, the articulating arm 602 extends from jig structure 628 out toward the region of the retaining ring 638 and/or the dispersing pedestal 608. Thus, the structure of the articulating arm 602 and/or the manufacturing jig 600 can be sized and dimensioned to support their own weight and that of a fully loaded bag and perhaps some extra to account for operational loads thereon. In addition, or in the alternative, the manufacturing jig 600 can include an arm brace 630 for providing additional support and/or stability to the articulating arm 602 when it is in its fill position and the arm brace 630 is placed between the articulating arm 602 and the arm support 628.

Moreover, the articulating arm 602 of the current embodiment supports the expandable claw 604 at the end of the arm (at or near where the retaining ring 638 and/or dispersing pedestal 608 are located. The expandable claw 604 can include two or more structures for holding the prongs 620 and in some embodiments includes two hoop halves 619 of the hoop 618. Together, in the expanded position illustrated, the hoop halves 619 hold the prongs in a circular, oval, oblong, etc. arrangement which can generally correspond to the shape of bean bag chairs to be engaged by and/or supported by the expandable claw 604 and/or the articulating arm 602. While the hoop halves 619 are supported by the articulating arm 602, they also operatively couple with the claw linkage 624. Further, the claw linkage 624 operatively couples with the claw actuator 622.

Thus, a user can actuate the expandable claw 604 between contracted and expanded positions. More specifically, by actuating (turning, pushing, pulling, etc.) the claw actuator 622 in a first direction, the user can cause the linkage 624 to move the hoop halves 619 away from each other and therefore out of the retracted position. Note that in the embodiment illustrated by FIG. 7, the hoop halves 619 (and therefore the prongs 620) trace arcs as they travel upwardly and outwardly from their retracted positions. By actuating the claw actuator 622 in the other direction, though, a user can cause the claw linkage 624 to move the hoop halves 619 toward each other and the prongs 620 toward their retracted positions.

FIG. 8 also illustrates an articulating arm for manufacturing bean bag chairs. More specifically, FIG. 8A shows the articulating arm 602 in its non fill position. FIG. 8 also shows the expandable claw 604 in its retracted position. Note that between its fill position (FIG. 7) and its non fill position the articulating arm 602 can pivot about jig structure 628 by an angle α of about 60 degrees as illustrated.

FIG. 9 illustrates a filling table for manufacturing bean bag chairs. In the current embodiment, the fill table 606 defines the working surface 636 and includes the retaining ring 638. Together, the fill table 606 and the retaining ring 638 define the fill cavity 640 where bean bag chairs in various stages of their filling can be positioned. In addition, the fill table 606 of the current embodiment defines a pedestal aperture 641 through which the dispersing pedestal 608 can protrude. Indeed, as the fill table 606 moves between its unfilled and filled positions, the fill aperture 641 (or rather its sides) will traverse at least a portion of the length of the dispersing pedestal 608. Note that both the fill aperture 641 and the dispersing pedestal have outer diameters of approximately a length dl although the dimensions of these components do allow some tolerance there between so that the dispersing pedestal 608 and fill table 606 can move freely with respect to each other (at least in a direction parallel to the overall length hl of the dispersing pedestal 608). Note also that between the operational positions of the fill table 606, the dispersing pedestal 608 defines an operative length hl over which bean bag chairs being filled can be draped. That length hl can reflect the distance through which the fill table 606 travels as bean bag chairs are filled. Of course, the dimensions of a particular manufacturing jig 600 can correspond to the bean bag chairs for which it is designed to manufacture (in whole or in part).

FIG. 10 illustrates a flowchart of a method for manufacturing bean bag chairs. More specifically, FIG. 10 illustrates that method 1000 includes various operations such as cutting the various panels 130, 132, 134, and 136 (and/or bottom halves 152 and 154) which can be assembled into a bean bag chair. See reference 1002. If desired, smooth portions 156 can be formed on one or more of the panels where seams 137 are to be made as reference 1004 illustrates. More specifically, piles 116 can be removed from one or more of the panels to form the smooth areas where seams 137 and 150 are to be made. In the alternative, or in addition, some or all of the panels can be received with the smooth portions formed thereon and without necessarily having to remove piles 116. See reference 1206.

The panels can be joined by forming various seams as shown by reference 1008. In some embodiments, pairs of the various panels 130, 132, 134, and/or 136 are joined to form the skin or outer surface of the bean bag chair. Of course, seams 137 can be used to do so. See reference 1008. At some point, binding 610 can be added to the seams 137 to cover them at reference 1010. If desired, that can be done by double stitching the seam 437. See reference 1008. Additional panels 130, 132, 134, and/or 136 can continue to be added to the assembly until all of the panels are joined together to form the outer skin or covering of the bean bag chair undergoing manufacture. See reference 1014.

Moreover, at some point, zipper 140 can be sewn on to the two bottom halves 152 and 154 as illustrated at references 1220 and 1222 respectively. Note that zipper 140 can be added to the bottom panel (halves) 136 using seams 437 or by other techniques (for instance, single stitching zipper 140 thereto). The zipper slider 144 can be slid onto the zipper halves 152 and 154 and provisions can be made at either end thereof to retain the slider 144 on the zipper 140 while in use. See reference 1015.

With continuing reference to FIG. 10, at some point, it might be desirable to fill the skin of the bean bag chair being manufactured with the beans. However, it has been discovered that some chenille fabrics weigh enough and are sufficiently airtight that methods of filling bean bag chairs heretofore available do not work for use with chenille fabrics or, at the least, prove somewhat difficult to use. Thus, method 1000 in accordance with embodiments can include placing the bean bag chair on a manufacturing jig 600 as indicated at reference 1016. One aspect of some manufacturing jigs 600 for use in method 1000 (and/or at other times) is that they can provide support for the bean bag chairs as they are filled and, more specifically, they can support them from above by hanging them if desired.

In this way, the aperture formed when the zipper 140 is open can facilitate filling the bean bag chair. In methods 1200 in accordance with some embodiments, that aperture can be clamped to divide it into two or more portions using clamp 762. A fill nozzle 760 for injecting the beans into the bean bag chair (or otherwise filling it) can be placed in one portion of the zipper aperture and an air filter 764 can be placed in the other. See reference 1230. Beans can then flow into the bean bag chair via the nozzle 760 while the bean bag chair vents through the portion of the zipper aperture where the air filter 764 is located as reference 1232 indicates. Once a desired amount of beans have filled (either completely or partially) the bean bag chair, the nozzle 760 and air filter 764 can be removed from the zipper aperture. Additionally, or in the alternative, the clamp 762 can be removed therefrom. The zipper 140 can then be closed and the bean bag chair removed from the manufacturing jig at reference 1024. With that bean bag chair filled to some level, method 1000 can be repeated in whole or in part for other bean bag chairs as reference 1026 indicates.

FIG. 11 illustrates a photograph of a bean bag chair. More specifically, the bean bag chair 1100 illustrated by FIG. 11 includes Cheniele piles across substantially its entire exterior surface. Moreover, it also includes seams between its various panels similar to seams 437 (as illustrated by FIG. 4). These seams, in the current embodiment, are hidden behind the piles 1116.

CONCLUSION

Although the subject matter has been disclosed in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the subject matter defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts disclosed above. Rather, the specific features and acts described herein are disclosed as illustrative implementations of the claims.