Title:
Upholstered seat element and a method for its manufacture
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An upholsterd seat element, in particular for vehicle seats, is disclosed along with a method for its manufacture. It comprises a cover (10) that encloses a layer of padding (20) on one side and is placed under tension so that it is pulled around the periphery of a cushion carrier (30). By way of its edge the cover (10) is directly attached to the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30), which has been placed on the other side of the layer of padding (20).



Inventors:
Banovic, Ivan (Esslingen, DE)
Malsch, Heiko (Heiningen, DE)
Rager, Bernd (Bissingen, DE)
Walk, Hansjorg (Reutlingen, DE)
Application Number:
10/461994
Publication Date:
03/18/2004
Filing Date:
06/12/2003
Assignee:
BANOVIC IVAN
MALSCH HEIKO
RAGER BERND
WALK HANSJORG
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/24; (IPC1-7): A47C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDELL, JOSEPH F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MACMILLAN, SOBANSKI & TODD, LLC - LEAR (TOLEDO, OH, US)
Claims:
1. An upholstered seat element, in particular for vehicle seats, with a layer of padding (20) over which a cover (10) is disposed, characterized in that the cover (10) encloses the padding layer (20) from one side and is placed under tension so that it is pulled around the periphery (32) of a cushion carrier (30) that has been disposed on the other side of the padding layer (20).

2. The seat element according to claim 1, characterized in that the cover (10) is arranged so that its edge (12) is folded around the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30), in particular is folded into a U shape.

3. The seat element according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the cover (10) is fixed in position by a plurality of individual attachment elements (40), which engage the cushion carrier (30) at positions that are spaced apart around its periphery.

4. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the attachment elements (40) are provided as pins, cotter pins, rivets or clamps.

5. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 4, characterized in that the attachment elements (40) are inserted through the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30) and the edge (12) of the cover (10).

6. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 4, characterized in that the attachment elements (40) are pushed over the edge (12) of the cover (10) and the periphery (32) of the cushion carrrier (30) and clamp them together.

7. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 6, characterized in that the attachment elements are secured against being pulled away from the cover (10) and the cushion carrier (30).

8. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 7, characterized in that cushion units with separate covers, padding layers and cushion carriers are arranged in pairs next to one another and along the adjacent edges (12) of their covers (10) are connected together by shared attachment elements (40), which simultaneously fix the stretched covers (10) in position.

9. The seat element according to claim 8, characterized in that the cushion carriers (30) at least in their peripheral region have a degree of elasticity, such that two units that have been connected together can be disposed at an angle to one another.

10. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 9, characterized in that below the cushion carrier (30) a backing spring arrangement (60) is inserted, which reinforces or replaces the layer of padding (20) on its back side.

11. The seat element according to claim 10, characterized in that the backing spring arrangement (60) consists of a plurality of strip-shaped spring elements (62) that are spaced apart from one another and coupled or fixed to one another near their ends.

12. The seat element according to claim 11, characterized in that the spring elements (62) have a zig-zag configuration in their longitudinal direction, such that a plurality of mushroom-shaped elevations or projections (64) are disposed next to one another.

13. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 12, characterized in that the cushion carrier (30) is a flat, molded piece made of plastic, metal or a plastic-metal composite and at its periphery (32) comprises a circumferential ridge (34) over which the edge (12) of the cover (10) is folded under tension.

14. The seat element according to claim 13, characterized in that the cushion carrier (30) has a three-dimensional configuration that specifies the shape into which the seat element is to be molded, such that the cushion carrier (30) can function as a backing spring for a seat back or as a shell to accomodate a seat cushion.

15. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 14, characterized in that the cover (10) is constructed in one piece and is made of a textile material, plastic, or imitation or genuine leather.

16. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 15, characterized in that the layer of padding (20) consists of plastic foam, a nonwoven woollen or polyester fabric and/or rubberized hair.

17. The seat element according to any one of the claims 1 to 16, characterized in that the cover (10) and the layer of padding (20) are made of the same or similar plastic materials, and in the region of U-shaped channels (14) that have the appearance of decorative seams are permanently joined to one another by a thermoforming process, in particular are glued, fused or welded together.

18. A method for manufacturing a seat upholstery element, in which a layer of padding is provided with a cover, characterized by the following process steps: (a) a cover (10) is laid into a forming tool (50) with U-shaped cross section and is fixed therein, (b) a layer of padding (20) is set into the cover (10), (c) a cushion carrier (30) is placed onto the layer of padding (20) and the edge (12) of the cover (10) is folded inwardly around the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30), (d) by moving a plunger into the forming tool so that it presses against the cushion carrier (30), the layer of padding (20) is compressed to a specified thickness and simultaneously the tension of the cover (10) is adjusted, and (e) while the tension produced in step (d) is maintained, the edge (12) of the cover (10) is fixed directly to the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30).

19. The method according to claim 18, characterized in that the cover (10) is fixed to the cushion carrier (30) by means of a plurality of individual attachment elements (40) spaced apart from one another.

20. The method according to claim 18, characterized in that the attachment elements (40) are installed substantially simultaneously.

21. The method according to any one of the claims 18 to 20, characterized in that the attachment elements (40) are pushed over the edge (12) of the cover (10) as well as the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30) and fixedly clamped there, or in that the attachment elements (40) are pushed through the edge (12) of the cover (10) as well as the periphery (32) of the cushion carrier (30) and fixed in that position.

22. The method according to any one of the claims 18 to 21, characterized in that after the attachment elements (40) have been installed, they are secured so that they cannot be accidentally released.

23. The method according to any one of the claims 18 to 22, characterized in that cushion units are prepared according to the steps (a) to (d) while arranged in pairs disposed side by side, in that a part (56) of the forming tool (50) between the two units is removed and the sides of the two units are brought together, and in that in step (e) the two apposed units are connected to one another by shared attachment elements (40), which simultaneously fix the stretched covers (10) in position.

24. The method according to any one of the claims 18 to 23, characterized in that a backing spring arrangement (60) comprising a plurality of strip-shaped spring elements (62) is inserted under the cushion carrier (30) and integrated into the seat element.

25. The method according to any one of the claims 18 to 24, characterized in that for the cover (10) and the layer of padding (20) the same or similar plastic materials are used, and in that by means of a thermoforming process U-shaped channels (14) are incorporated into the cover (10) and the layer of padding (20) to serve as decorative seams, in the region of which the materials are permanently joined to one another.

26. The method according to claim 25, characterized in that polyester is used for the cover (10) and the layer of padding (20) and in the region of the channels (14) the two structures are fused or welded together.

27. The method according to any one of the claims 18 to 26, characterized in that for the padding layer (20) a foam material with uniform thickness is used, in particular a material that is provided in rolls.

Description:

DESCRIPTION

[0001] The invention relates to an upholstered seat element, in particular for vehicle seats, comprising a layer of padding enclosed in a cover. The invention relates further to a method of manufacturing such an upholstered seat element, in which a layer of padding is provided with a cover.

[0002] Such upholsterd seat elements for vehicle seats are known in widely diverse constructions. In practice, as a rule, many processing steps are required for the manufacture of such seat elements. The first step is often to produce a molded object, made of rubberized hair, to serve as carrier for a layer of padding that usually consists of a molded foam material. Comfort is often assisted by adding a layer of soft material that can “breathe” and/or absorb moisture.

[0003] Finally, on top of this structure there is disposed a cover comprising a large number of sewn seams, in order to ensure that the cover will conform to the shape of the prepared seat element, so that it follows uniformly the contours of the padding below it, is stretched smooth everywhere and encloses the padding reliably as far as the back surface of a seat element.

[0004] In a more comfortable vehicle seat, such a seat element includes not only a broad middle part, sometimes termed a “mirror”, but also adjacent side parts that provide the user with lateral support. In such a case the covering is naturally still more complicated in structure, and prior to assembly is sewn together from several cover pieces, so as to fulfill the requirements mentioned above.

[0005] Even when templates are available for the manufacture of such covers, and markers are provided to assist coordination of the various cover pieces when they are sewn together, it seems obvious that this sewing process is very laborious and entails considerable cost. Furthermore, such sewing work of course involves tolerances, which in the most unfavorable cases can add up so that when the cover is being installed, appreciable correction may be needed. This, again, contributes to an undesirable increase in the manufacturing costs.

[0006] The object underlying the present invention is thus to disclose an upholsterd seat element, in particular for vehicles, as well as a method for its manufacture, with which such seat elements can be produced in a simpler manner in order to reduce the manufacturing costs.

[0007] The object is achieved in accordance with the invention in that an upholsterd seat element of the kind cited at the outset is constructed so that the cover encloses the layer of padding from one side, and tension is applied to pull it around the circumference of a cushion carrier, whereupon the edge of the cover is directly attached to the circumferential region of the cushion carrier on its side that faces away from the padding layer.

[0008] With such a seat element the object is satisfactorily achieved. Owing to the fact that the cover is attached directly to the cushion carrier, sewing work on the cover can be entirely eliminated. Because the cover is pulled into position and attached while under tension, the cover lies smoothly on the padding layer, so that the shape of the seat element can be specified by the cushion carrier.

[0009] In a further development of the seat element in accordance with the invention it is provided that the cover is so positioned that its edge is folded around the circumference of the cushion carrier, in particular is pulled around it in a U shape. Thus a particularly reliable fixation of the cover is ensured.

[0010] In a further development of the seat element in accordance with the invention it is provided that the cover is attached with a large number of individual attachment elements, so that the attachment sites are spaced apart from one another around the periphery of the cushion carrier. In this way the attachment elements can be positioned in a targeted manner, i.e. precisely where fixation of the cover is desired. It is obviously not necessary for this attachment to be continuous along the entire periphery of the cushion carrier, or the entire edge of the cover.

[0011] In particular the attachment elements can take the form of pins, cotter pins, rivets or clamps, as long as they hold the cover firmly to the cushion carrier and keep the cover under tension.

[0012] In one embodiment of the seat element the attachment elements are stuck through the peripheral part of the cushion carrier and the edge of the cover.

[0013] In another embodiment the attachment elements are pushed over the edge of the cover and the peripheral part of the cushion carrier so that they clamp the cover and carrier together.

[0014] It is especially advantageous for the attachment elements, after they have been put into position, to be secured against being pulled away from the cover and the cushion carrier, so as permanently to maintain the tension under which the cover has been placed. For this purpose, when they are in position the attachment elements can be bent over, riveted or hooked into attachment eyelets. Furthermore, the attachment elements can be equipped with barbs that facilitate their introduction but counteract forces tending to pull them out.

[0015] In a further development of the seat element in accordance with the invention it is provided that in each element two cushion units with separate covers, padding layers and cushion carriers are disposed side by side and, along the apposed edges of the covers, are fixed to one another with shared attachment elements that simultaneously fix the stretched covers in position.

[0016] This measure enables fewer attachment elements to suffice for the seat element. At the same time, it is ensured that the cushion units are suitably aligned with one another. This is interesting, for example, when an appropriate side part is to be disposed next to the middle part or “mirror” of a seat element. It will be obvious that such a side part can be disposed on each side of the mirror or middle part, by the same means.

[0017] It is especially advantageous for the cushion carriers in the seat element in accordance with the invention to have a degree of elasticity, at least in their peripheral region, so that two units connected together can be arranged at an angle to one another. This feature makes it unproblematic to produce a shell-like shape when the seat requires it.

[0018] In a further development of the seat element in accordance with the invention it is provided that a backing spring arrangement is inserted under the cushion carrier, which reinforces the layer of padding from the back or replaces it. In such a case the padding layer can be made thinner or the spring arrangement, if appropriately constructed, can even serve as a substitute for the padding layer to a great extent.

[0019] In a special embodiment it is provided that the backing spring arrangement comprises a plurality of strip-shaped spring elements spaced apart from one another and coupled or fixed to one another near their ends.

[0020] A backing spring arrangement of this kind can be profiled or preformed in a manner suitable to ensure the desired comfort during operation, or a support appropriate to the shape of an operator's body.

[0021] In a special embodiment of the backing spring arrangement it is provided that the spring elements have a zig-zag configuration in the longitudinal direction, so as to form a plurality of mushroom-shaped projections disposed next to one another. This measure achieves good stability as well as support appropriate to the body shape.

[0022] Such a backing spring arrangement can be used not only in a seat element but also in an element for a back rest, in which case the spring elements are advantageously oriented in a direction transverse to the seat element.

[0023] In a further development of the seat element in accordance with the invention it is provided that the cushion carrier consists of a flat, molded part made of plastic, metal or a plastic-metal composite and at its periphery comprises a circumferential ridge around which the edge of the cover is pulled.

[0024] By this means good shape-stability of the cushion carrier is ensured, while its configuration can be adapted to the prevailing circumstances. The cushion carrier can, for example, have the shape of a lath grid within which the individual webs are suitably profiled, in which case the cushion carrier extends over or supports both the region of the middle part or mirror, and also the region of the side parts.

[0025] For this purpose the cushion carrier advantageously has a three-dimensional configuration that determines the shape of the seat element, such that the cushion carrier serves the function of providing a spring support for a seat back or a shell to support a seat cushion.

[0026] In the seat element in accordance with the invention the cover is advantageously constructed in one piece and consists of a textile material, plastic, imitation leather or genuine leather. All materials are equally well suited for the seat element.

[0027] The padding layer can be made of plastic foam, a nonwoven woolen or polyester fabric, or rubberized hair as well as combinations of these materials. The basic construction of the seat element and the attachment of the cover do not change, regardless of which of these is used.

[0028] In a further development of the seat element in accordance with the invention it is provided that the cover and the padding layer are made of the same or similar plastic materials, and in the region of U-shaped channels with a decorative function the materials are permanently joined to one another by a thermoforming process.

[0029] Such channels in the form of decorative seams can be provided in both the horizontal and the vertical direction. They serve on one hand to fix the cover to the layer of padding, and on the other hand can also be superimposed on the cover design as decoration.

[0030] The method in accordance with the invention for manufacturing a seat upholstery element, in which a cover is disposed over a layer of padding, comprises the following process steps:

[0031] (a) a cover is laid into a forming tool with U-shaped cross section and is fixed therein,

[0032] (b) a layer of padding is set into the cover,

[0033] (c) a cushion carrier is placed onto the layer of padding and the edge of the cover is folded inwardly so that it passes around the circumference of the cushion carrier,

[0034] (d) pressure directed into the forming tool is applied to the cushion carrier by means of a plunger, so that the material of which the layer of padding is made is compressed to a specified thickness and at the same time the tension of the cover is adjusted, and

[0035] (e) while the tension created in step (d) is maintained, the edge of the cover is fastened directly to the periphery of the cushion carrier.

[0036] Such a method eliminates the need for sewing work; instead, the cover made of the selected material can be laid directly into an appropriate forming tool and retained in an initial position therein, for example by applying a subatmospheric pressure.

[0037] It is also not necessary to use a pre-shaped cushioning element as the layer of padding. By appropriate adjustment of the shape of the forming tool on one hand, and that of the cushion carrier on the other hand, it is possible to obtain the desired configuration of the seat upholstery element.

[0038] After the procedural steps cited above have been carried out, the seat upholstery element can be removed from the forming tool and installed in a suitable frame or bearing block of a vehicle seat.

[0039] In a further development of the method in accordance with the invention it is provided that the cover is attached to the cushion carrier by means of a plurality of attachment elements spaced apart from one another. The number of attachment elements that are required will depend on the configuration of the individual seat element, the criterion being that enough should be provided to ensure the necessary retention and smoothing of the cover.

[0040] It is especially advantageous for the attachment elements to be attached at substantially the same time. This can be achieved, for example, in that the attachment elements are inserted into a plunger component of the forming tool which, after the cover has been placed under the specified tension, presses them directly into the previously prepared attachment receptacles of the cover or the cushion carrier.

[0041] In the method in accordance with the invention the attachment elements, in one embodiment, can be attached in such a way that they clamp the edge of the cover to the periphery of the cushion element; in another embodiment the attachment elements can be stuck through both the edge of the cover and the periphery of the cushion element and thereafter fixed in position. In either case it is ensured that the cover, while kept under tension, is fixed in position over the layer of padding.

[0042] In this process it is advantageous to provide some means of ensuring that after the attachment elements have been fixed in position, they cannot be accidentally released. This can be achieved by riveting, inserting pins or cotter pins which are then bent or spread out, or similar means. The attachment elements can also be equipped with barbs, which likewise prevent their accidental release.

[0043] In a further development of the method in accordance with the invention it is provided that two cushion units as specified in the steps (a) to (d) are prepared side by side, and that subsequently a part of the forming tool that has served as a barrier between the units is removed, so that the adjacent sides of the two units can be brought into contact. Then in step (e) the two apposed units are attached to one another with shared attachment elements, which simultaneously fix the pre-stretched covers in position. By this means the seat upholstery elements can be assembled to form quite complicated structures.

[0044] In a further development of the method in accordance with the invention it is provided that a backing spring arrangement comprising a plurality of strip-shaped spring elements is inserted under the cushion carrier and is made integral with the seat element. This additionally simplifies the manufacturing procedure, even when complex structures of the seat element are required.

[0045] In a further development of the method in accordance with the invention it is provided that the same or similar plastic materials are used for the cover and the layer of padding, and that a thermoforming process is used to incorporate U-shaped channels into the cover and padding, which serve both as decoration and as regions in which the materials are permanently joined to one another. This can be accomplished, for example, by using a forming tool that is partially heated, so that it produces a local thermoplastic deformation of the cover as well as the underlying padding layer that is sufficient to connect the two structures together.

[0046] It is particularly advantageous when polyester is used for the cover and the padding layer, and these are fused or welded to one another in the region of the channels by the thermoforming process.

[0047] In the method in accordance with the invention, when a foam material with a constant thickness is used for the padding layer, in particular a material supplied in rolls, the manufacturing process can be additionally simplified. That is, no initial shaping process is required for the layer of padding. The pressure applied by the above-mentioned piston adjusts such a layer of padding to the desired thickness, and the material is shaped appropriately by the interaction of the forming tool and the cushion carrier.

[0048] In the following the invention is explained, also regarding additional characteristics and advantages, with reference to exemplary embodiments, the description of which is assisted by the attached drawings, wherein

[0049] FIG. 1 is a schematic sectional view to explain the method in accordance with the invention for the manufacture of a seat upholstery element;

[0050] FIG. 2 is a schematic sectional view to explain a modified embodiment of the method in accordance with the invention for the manufacture of a seat upholstery element;

[0051] FIG. 3 shows another phase in the method in accordance with the invention as shown in FIG. 2;

[0052] FIG. 4 is a schematic sectional view to explain a backing spring arrangement for a seat upholstery element in accordance with the invention;

[0053] FIG. 5 is a schematic plan view of a backing spring arrangement for such a seat element;

[0054] FIG. 6 is a schematic side view to explain the production of a U-shaped channel to serve as a decorative seam in a seat element in accordance with the invention; and

[0055] FIG. 7 is a perspective drawing to explain such a decorative seam, which was produced by the method according to FIG. 6.

[0056] In the following, reference will first be made to FIG. 1, which shows a method for manufacturing a seat upholstery element in accordance with the invention. Visible in the lower region is a forming tool 50 with a lower part 52 and a side part 54 as well as a plunger 58 on the upper side. The profiled lower part 52 and the side part 54 together form a mold cavity to accommodate a cover 10, which is suitably arranged therein and held in position, for example by suction openings (not shown).

[0057] The cover 10 can consist of any suitable material, for example textile materials, plastics, imitation or genuine leather.

[0058] Onto the cover 10 is placed a layer of padding 20, which can be made of a variety of suitable materials, such as plastic foam, a nonwoven wool or polyester fabric, rubberized hair or combinations of these materals.

[0059] This padding layer need not be a pre-formed molded object, but rather can also be a loose material or a piece of foam material with a uniform thickness, such as may be obtained in a roll. As explained in more detail below, the padding layer 20 will in any case be given the desired shape by the method described below.

[0060] Onto the padding layer 20 is placed a cushion carrier 30. This can be a flat molded piece of plastic, metal or a plastic-metal composite material. The cushion carrier 30 advantageously has at its periphery 32 a circumferential ridge 34, which makes the carrier sufficiently rigid.

[0061] The cushion carrier 30 has a three-dimensional configuration designed as desired in order to specify the shape that will be given to the seat element and ensure the necessary support for a user. In this regard the cushion carrier 30 can be made so as to function as a backing spring for a seat back or else as a shell to support a seat cushion.

[0062] In the region of its periphery 34 or the associated ridge 32, the cushion carrier 30 can comprise apertures or through holes 36 that can serve to receive attachment elements 40, as indicated schematically on the right side in FIG. 1.

[0063] In the arrangement according to FIG. 1 an attachment element 40 of this kind has been set into a receptacle 59 provided for this purpose. This indicates schematically that such attachment elements 40 are prepared for use in attaching the cover 10 to the cushion carrier 30.

[0064] FIG. 1 also makes clear that the edge of the cover 10 has been folded around the ridge 32 and hence the periphery 34 of the cushion carrier 30. The plunger 58 of the forming tool 50 is advanced from above in the direction of the arrow F and imposes the stamping pressure required to reduce the padding layer 20 to a specified thickness and simultaneously create tension in the cover 10.

[0065] It should be evident that this adjustment of initial tension can be achieved reproducibly and does not depend on any sort of tolerances in the cover or the padding layer. In particular, the attachment of the cover can be brought about with no need for any kind of sewing work.

[0066] As attachment elements 40 pins, cotter pins, rivets or clamps can be used; these are either stuck transversely through corresponding apertures or through holes 36 and then fixed in position, for example by bending them over, spreading them apart or riveting. Alternatively, U-shaped clamps can employed by pushing them down over the U-shaped edge 12 of the cover 10 and the enclosed ridge at the periphery 32, and then closing the clamp. When closed, such clamps can be hooked into the apertures or through holes 36 at the periphery 32 of the carrier 30.

[0067] In the method in accordance with the invention, it is also possible for a larger part of the edge 12 of the cover 10 to be folded over, so that it extends into the region between the plunger 58 and the cushion carrier 30. This measure enhances the tension applied to the cover 10. Alternatively or in addition, the plunger 58 can comprise entrainment or suction devices that reliably pull the edge 12 of the cover 10 around the periphery 32 of the carrier 30 and thus apply tension. These measures are not represented individually in the drawing.

[0068] The edge 12 of the cover 10 does not itself need to be provided with apertures or through holes. The attachment elements 40, which as a rule are made of metal or plastic, are sufficiently solid to penetrate the material of which the cover 10 is made, and thus to fix it to the cushion carrier 30. The attachment elements 40 are advantageously equipped with barbs, which allow penetration through the cover 10 but counteract withdrawal of the attachment elements 40.

[0069] FIG. 2 shows a modified embodiment of the method in accordance with the invention. Elements that are identical in the two figures of the drawings are identified by the same or corresponding numerals. In this case two cushion units are produced at the same time, being situated in corresponding forming tools 50 that are separated from one another by a partition or sliding barrier 56. The shapes produced by the forming tools are different in the left and right regions.

[0070] Both cushion units are prepared in the same way, as explained above. In the present case only the plunger 58 on the right is provided with apertures 59 to receive corresponding attachment elements 40 (not shown). At the same height, in the middle region of the cushion carriers 30, apertures or through holes 36 are provided.

[0071] This arrangement makes it possible, after removal of the partition or sliding barrier 56, to bring the two units together and, in the region of the folded-over edges 12 of the covers 10 that are now apposed to one another, to connect and attach both covers with a shared attachment element 40. On the right side of the right plunger 58 corresponding attachment elements 40 are provided and employed for fixation.

[0072] The cushion carriers 30 have a degree of elasticity, at least in their peripheral region, so that two cushion units thus connected together can be disposed at a certain angle to one another, as indicated schematically by the slanted configuration in the right region of FIG. 2 and FIG. 3. As a result, for example, it is possible to construct seat elements with side parts slightly tilted with respect to the middle part or “mirror” of a seat. The slant in the beveled region where the covers 10 are adjacent to one another is, of course, greatly exaggerated in the drawing.

[0073] FIG. 4 shows schematically a cross section through a so-called backing spring arrangement 60; in this example it consists of a plurality of strip-like spring elements or leaf springs 62, as indicated schematically in FIG. 4. These strip-like spring elements 62 are advantageously spaced apart from one another as shown in FIG. 5. Near their ends such spring elements 62 are coupled by a connector 66, as indicated schematically in FIG. 5 by the fixation points 68.

[0074] A backing spring arrangement 60 with such a substantially flat construction can, for example, be disposed below the cushion carrier 30, opposite the cover 10, and thus reinforce the padding layer 20 or replace it, at least in part. This depends on the particular circumstances and the requirements with respect to comfort.

[0075] In a special embodiment according to FIG. 4 the spring elements 62 have a zig-zag configuration in the long direction, so as to produce a plurality of mushroom-shaped protrusions or elevations 64 disposed side by side. The dimensioning and profiling of the spring elements 62 are adjusted to suit the particular circumstances, with the aim of achieving the desired elasticity and firmness.

[0076] In FIG. 6 is shown schematically how U-shaped channels are incorporated into such a seat element. This is possible in particular when the cover 10 on one hand and the padding layer 20 on the other hand are made of the same, similar or at least compatible plastic materials, which can be shaped permanently as desired by a thermoforming process. It is particularly advantageous when, for instance, polyester is used for both the cover 10 and the padding layer 20.

[0077] For this purpose the seat element comprising cushion carrier 30, padding layer 20 and cover 10 is disposed between a base plate 74 and a tool 70 with a projection 72, which produces a channel 14 having a decorative appearance. The projection 72 of the tool 70 can be heated, at least in part, so as to carry out a thermoplastic shaping process. In this process the materials of which the cover 10 and the padding layer 20 are composed become fused with or welded to one another in the region of the channel 14 currently being formed. It is also possible to use a cover 10 that on its inner surface is laminated with a thermal adhesive, which is activated when the tool 70 is inserted so as to glue the cover to the padding layer 20.

[0078] By this means a local fixation of the cover 10 to the padding layer 20 is achieved. This contributes to the general fixation of the cover 10 and also produces a decorative effect. Such channels 14 can be formed both in the long direction and also in the transverse direction of the seat element.

[0079] Finally, FIG. 7 shows schematically, in a perspective drawing, the appearance of the seat element after the channel 14 has been incorporated. 1

List of reference numerals
10Cover
12Edge
14Channel
20Layer of padding
30Cushion carrier
32Periphery
34Ridge
36Aperture or through hole
40Attachment element
50Forming tool
52Lower part
54Side part
56Partition
58Plunger
59Recess
60Backing spring arrangement
62Spring element
64Elevation or projection
66Connector
68Fixation point
70Tool
72Projection
74Base plate