Title:
Retainer and wire rod for child seat attachment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Wire rods used as child safety seat anchorages are mechanically attached to seat component, e.g., to a recliner mechanism or other seat frame element. The wire rods may also be spot welded or otherwise coupled to the mechanism, primarily for the purpose of positioning the wire rod at the prescribed location within a vehicle so that hooks or other connectors from a child seat can be attached thereto. Tabs on a retainer plate hold the wire rod against the recliner mechanism and cause the wire rod to rotate with the seat back, when adjusted by the recliner mechanism, and a rivet mechanically attaches the retainer plate and wire rod to the recliner mechanism.



Inventors:
Tong, Benjamin C. (Farmington Hills, MI, US)
Moraru, Dinu V. (Livonia, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/281548
Publication Date:
04/29/2004
Filing Date:
10/28/2002
Assignee:
Johnson Controls Technology Company
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60N2/28; (IPC1-7): A47C1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDELL, JOSEPH F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An anchorage system for holding an article to a vehicle seat, the vehicle seat having a coupling location, the anchorage system comprising: a wire rod having a connection portion adapted to receive coupling device from the article; a retainer capturing the wire rod; and a fastener extending through the retainer and mechanically attaching the retainer and rod to the vehicle seat at the coupling location.

2. The anchorage system of claim 1, wherein the wire rod further includes two legs extending from the connection portion, each leg of the two legs including a bent portion and a curled end.

3. The anchorage system of claim 2, wherein the two legs extending from the connection portion extend substantially perpendicularly from the connection portion.

4. The anchorage system of claim 2, wherein the legs each include a 90 bend and the bent portion is located between the 90 bend and the curled end.

5. The anchorage system of claim 3, wherein the retainer includes a plate having an aperture therein.

6. The anchorage system of claim 5, wherein the retainer includes a collar extending from at least one side thereof, the collar defining the aperture.

7. The anchorage system of claim 2, wherein the retainer includes a plate having an aperture therein.

8. The anchorage system of claim 7, wherein the retainer includes a collar defining the aperture.

9. The anchorage system of claim 8, wherein the fastener is a rivet.

10. The anchorage system of claim 4, wherein the retainer includes a plate having an aperture therein.

11. The anchorage system of claim 10, wherein the retainer includes a collar defining the aperture.

12. The anchorage system of claim 11, wherein the retainer includes a pair of tabs extending from the plate and each tab of the pair of tabs is respectively arranged to capture one bent portion of the wire rod between the tab and the collar.

13. The system of claim 12 wherein the plate includes a third tab and the coupling location of the seat includes a slot arranged to receive the third tab.

14. The system of claim 13 wherein the coupling location is a seat recliner mechanism for moving a seat back to be folded onto a seat cushion, the recliner mechanism including a component which moves with the seat back, and the slot being located in the component.

15. An anchorage system for coupling a wire rod anchorage to a seat recliner mechanism of a vehicle seat having a seat back, the anchorage system comprising a wire rod having an attachment portion arranged for receiving a coupling device from a child safety seat, the attachment portion being elongated and generally coplanar with and spaced from the seat back, wherein the wire rod further has a leg extending from an end of the attachment portion, the leg has a first portion extending to the seat recliner mechanism and a second portion bent from the first portion, the leg further has a capture portion extending from the second portion, the capture portion being aligned for engagement with the seat recliner mechanism and terminating in an end, the anchorage system further including a retainer for holding the capture portion of the leg against the seat recliner mechanism.

16. The anchorage system of claim 15, wherein the retainer includes a plate having a tab extending from the periphery thereof and a central circular collar and the capture portion of the leg is located between the collar and the tab.

17. The anchorage system of claim 16 further comprising a fastener extending through the collar to attach the retainer to the seat recliner mechanism.

18. The system of claim 17 wherein the fastener is a rivet.

19. The system of claim 18 wherein the retainer includes a third tab extending from the plate and wherein a slot is located in the vehicle seat and the third tab is located in the slot to cause the retainer and wire rod to rotate with the seat back of the vehicle seat.

20. An anchorage system for use in connecting a child safety seat to a vehicle seat, the vehicle seat including a seat back, a seat base, a recliner mechanism for moving the seat back with respect to the seat base and a bite line defined by the seat back and seat base, the anchorage system comprising a wire rod having an elongated attachment portion being generally aligned with the seat back, wherein the wire rod further has a leg extending from an end of the attachment portion, the leg has a capture portion aligned for engagement with the recliner mechanism and a retainer for attaching the capture portion of the leg against the recliner mechanism.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application is related to the application titled Mechanical Attachment of Anchorage, to Medvecky, et al., file______; and to the application titled Mechanical Attachment of Anchorage and Bracket, to Adams, et al., filed______, which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to the field of securely anchoring child safety seats or other articles to a vehicle seat. More particularly the present invention relates to a robust way of mechanically attaching the wire rod anchorage to the vehicle or vehicle seat.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Anchoring of various articles to vehicle seats is becoming increasingly important as new products, rules, regulations and laws begin to transform prior practices. For example, until recently car seats for infants, toddlers and small children were held in place using the available shoulder and lap belt which were, of course, designed for protection of much larger passengers and their effectiveness at retaining an article in a vehicle seat vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle and from article to article.

[0004] Some modifications were made to what will hereinafter be referred to as “child safety seats,” such as providing belt notches to guide the factory installed vehicle seat belt across the child, and even as of the filing date of this specification, law enforcement personnel, child seat manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers and sellers, and various safety advocates are trying to teach parents and other child care givers about the best ways to attach child safety seats and snug them into compressive engagement with the seat cushion and seat back.

[0005] In addition to child safety seats, it is also desirable to be able to securely attach other articles and devices to vehicle seats, e.g., play or activity centers, auto-office products, and entertainment centers (such as those which include VHS, DVD or CD input to a monitor or screen). It is important to ensure that such articles and devices do not come loose and injure passengers, e.g., in the event of a severe vehicle impact.

[0006] In numerous foreign countries (e.g., Australia and Canada), and recently in the United States, a new system for child safety seat attachment has been developed and mandated for use. This system is known in the United States as L.A.T.C.H. (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) The system involves providing anchorage at the bite line of a vehicle seat (i.e., the area between the seat cushion and the seat back) to which straps, belts or a linkage from a child safety seat are attached. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards relating to Crash Worthiness as set forth in 49 C.F.R. Parts 571 and 596, which are incorporated herein by reference, require a pair of wire rod anchorage to be spaced apart from one another by a specific distance, and in use a child safety seat is placed on the seat cushion between them. In particular, it is required that the child safety seat anchorages be standardized and independent of the vehicle seat belts. Two straps secured to the child safety seat (or a single strap passing through the child safety seat) have hooks or other connectors attached to their free ends. The hooks are placed over the wire rods, and slack is taken out of the straps using length adjustment devices which, in and of themselves, are of the types used with passenger lap belts. The child safety seat is then held in place by a system which ultimately depends on the robustness of wire rods.

[0007] It can also be mentioned here that a third point of anchoring the child safety seat is also being required, namely a package shelf anchorage (for the rear seat of a vehicle which has a package shelf) or a third anchorage at the base of the back of a seat (such as captain, bucket, or bench seats in SUV's, vans and the like). The latter allows a third strap or tether attached to the top of a child safety seat to be secured to this third anchorage to assist in preventing forward tilting of the child safety seat in the event of an impact. The applicability of the present invention to such third anchorages will become apparent to those skilled in the art as the description of the background and the preferred and alternate embodiments of the invention continue.

[0008] The number of ways in which the wire rods used in the aforementioned system are construed varies widely, due to the style of seat and vehicle, and the available seat frame or vehicle frame locations for attachment of the wire rods are numerous. In most cases, however, the wire rods are attached by welding them to a seat frame or vehicle frame component such as a tube connected to the seat. The type of connection may also depend upon the type of seat that the anchorage is being connected such as a bench seat, a captain's chair or other alternative seat. Therefore, the robustness of the load bearing performance of the wire rod anchorage is dependent on many factors including the wire rod material, geometry, weld materials, weld design and workmanship, and many events subsequent to wire rod installation which could affect the integrity of the welds.

[0009] Several examples exist which demonstrate types and designs of connections for attaching a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,354,648; 6,196,628; 6,030,046; 5,941,601; 5,918,934; 5,816,651; 6,361,115; 6390,560; and 6,276,754 all disclose a variety of designs for attaching an anchorage to a vehicle seat and all of which have significant drawbacks in that they either require the wire rod anchorage be directly welded to another seat device or they require a manufacturing process that is overly complex and costly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] A primary feature of the present invention is to provide a mechanical attachment design and method of manufacturing for attaching a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat component such as a recliner mechanism wherein the mechanical attachment relies primarily on mechanical coupling rather than welding to transfer loads applied to the wire rod to the vehicle seat structure or to the vehicle frame.

[0011] Another feature of the present invention is to provide a technique for mechanically coupling a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat which may readily be adapted to a wide variety of vehicles and vehicle seat styles.

[0012] A further feature of the present invention is to provide a wire rod anchorage having improved reliability.

[0013] A different feature of the present invention is to provide a method for coupling a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat mechanism wherein the method of coupling reduces assembly time and cost.

[0014] A still further feature of the present invention is to provide a mechanical attachment for connecting a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat having improved load transfer characteristics in the event of a rapid change in acceleration of the vehicle.

[0015] How the foregoing and other features of the present invention are accomplished individually, collectively or in various sub-combinations will be described in the following detailed description of the preferred and alternate embodiments taken in conjunction with the attached FIGURES. Generally, however, they are accomplished by mechanically coupling the wire rods to a seat component, such as a recliner or folding mechanism. Welds may be employed, especially for ensuring a proper location of the anchorages relative to the seat, but with the mechanical coupling system of the present invention, such welds do not play a substantial role in the transfer of loads from the car seat (or other device) to the load bearing component of the seat.

[0016] In the preferred embodiment, the wire rod is generally U-shaped and includes curled ends on the leg portions of the “U” and a 90° bend in each leg. The portion of each leg between the bend and its curled end is bent in a generally curved manner so that the curled ends lie generally adjacent or even touching one another. The bend is configured so that the bent portion will abut a collar of a retainer having preferably a circular shape. The retainer includes a plate extending about the collar and several, preferably three, down-turned tabs. In the illustrated embodiment, a tab extends about each bent portion of the rod, and another tab extends between the two legs of the “U” at the location of the rod bends. A fastener, for example a rivet, extends through the collar to attach the retainer to a seat component, e.g., a folding seat mechanism. The bottom or connection portion of the “U” is thus properly located for attachment of a connector from a child seat or other device, and if loads are suddenly imposed on the connector, they are transferred to the component and the vehicle seat, without the need for welds contacting the wire rod. It is possible to provide a spot weld to maintain the location of the wire rod anchorage about the axis of the opening of the retainer.

[0017] Other ways in which the above-referenced features are accomplished will become apparent to those skilled in the art after they have read this specification, and such other ways are deemed by the present inventors to fall within the scope of the present invention if they fall within the scope of the claims which follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] In the attached FIGURES and description below, like reference numerals will be used to designate like components, wherein:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a mechanical coupling for attaching a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the mechanical coupling of FIG. 1 shown from the opposite direction;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the mechanical coupling embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 attached to a recliner mechanism of a vehicle seat;

[0022] FIG. 4 a front perspective view of a mechanical coupling for attaching a wire rod anchorage to a vehicle seat according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the mechanical coupling of FIG. 4 shown from the opposite direction; and

[0024] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the mechanical coupling according to the alternate embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 attached to a recliner mechanism of a vehicle seat.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0025] Initially provided are several general comments about the applicability and scope of the present invention. First, the materials used for the wire rods and other structural components shown in the FIGURES can be selected from those known to the art, including steel, various other alloys, or high strength metals such as stainless steel and steel alloys. In particular, the wire rod is preferably made of steel consistent with ASTM A510 standard—steel grade 1018 which is reduction hardened to have a minimum yield strength of at least 80 k.s.i. using any known or appropriate manufacturing process or what may be mandated by other regulation or standard.

[0026] Second, the number of anchorages will vary with the type of vehicle, application and seat design. The spacing between a pair of anchorages remains substantially constant according to standards and regulations but may be of any known or appropriate distance. There will typically be a single pair of anchorage for a given passenger seat. Thus, for a bench seat having multiple passenger seats, two or three pairs of seat anchorage may be included. Further, it should be noted that the particular syntax and usage of the term anchorage herein is intended to be interpreted as appropriately applicable to either a given passenger seat and a given child safety seat or a plurality of same regardless of the correct grammatical context.

[0027] Third, the mechanical attachment feature of the present invention is primarily illustrated in connection with seat bite line anchorages. It is understood that any anchorage for a vehicle seat, including a tether anchorage, can also benefit from the teachings set forth herein.

[0028] Fourth, the child safety seat anchorages are illustrated for use with passenger vehicles, such as automobiles, light trucks, SUV's, vans and the like. However, the principles of the present invention are readily adaptable to install anchorages at other locations with in a particular vehicle as well in any appropriate application including such as in airplanes, trains, buses and even in strollers with detachable seats.

[0029] Referring now generally to all of the FIGURES and in particular to FIGS. 1-2, a preferred embodiment is depicted in front and rear perspective views. The anchorage system 10 of the present invention preferably includes a wire rod 12 and a retainer 14. The wire rod 12 is generally U-shaped and includes a straight middle or connection portion 16 and first and second legs 17 and 18. Each of legs 17 and 18 preferably includes a 90° bend 20 and curled ends 22. As best shown in FIG. 2 the legs 17 and 18 of the wire rod 12 of the anchorage system 10 each further include a bent portion 24 located between bend 20 and end 22. It is possible to use any of the legs 17 and 18 or the connection portion 16 for attachment by the article or child safety seat.

[0030] The retainer 14 of the anchorage system 10 includes a central aperture 30 defined by a collar 32 depending from a plate 34. Three extending tabs 35, 36 and 37 extend to one side of the plate 34. The wire rod 12 is captured between collar 32 and the tabs 35 and 36 as best shown in FIG. 2. The first tab 36 captures leg 17, while second tab 35 captures leg 18. While the retainer 14 is shown as being a single piece, it is possible that the plate 34, collar 32 and tabs 35, 36 and 37 may be integrated from separate parts without departing from the broader aspects of the present invention.

[0031] FIG. 3 shows the wire rod 12 and retainer 14 of the anchorage system 10 of the present invention, coupled to a seat a recliner mechanism 50. A rivet 52 (or other appropriate attaching device) having a shaft (not shown) extends through aperture 30 of the retainer 14 to secure the anchorage system 10 to the recliner mechanism 50.

[0032] It will be appreciated that the wire rod 12 is connected to the recliner mechanism 50 so that the connection portion 16 of the wire rod 12 will be located with respect to the bite line of the vehicle seat to allow for attachment of an anchoring hook or other attachment device of a child safety seat or other article (not shown) when the recliner mechanism 50 is in the use or upright position illustrated in FIG. 3. When the seat back component 58 of the recliner mechanism 50 is folded forwardly (as indicated by the arrow in FIG. 3), the wire rod 12 will rotate to a storage position.

[0033] An opening 56 may be provided in the rotating arm 58 of the recliner mechanism 50 to receive tab 37 to ensure the rotation of the assembly 10 as the seat back component 58 is rotated forwardly.

[0034] While one embodiment of the invention has been described in connection with the illustrations, and various modifications thereto have been referred to in the written text, the present invention generally relates to the mechanical attachment of a wire rod to various vehicle seat support structure, and the shift away from using welds as the primary mechanism by which loads are imparted to the supports. Accordingly, the invention may be variously embodied using this basic principle without departing from its intended scope. The invention is therefore not to be limited to the materials, shapes, orientations and proportions illustrated and described, but it is to be limited solely by the scope of the claims which follow.