Title:
Thermally insulative cushion
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for thermally insulating a cushion can include the step of affixing a metalized fabric to an exterior surface of the cushion so as to cause a reduction in radiant heat transfer between external objects and the exterior surface. The method further can include the step of wrapping the metalized fabric with at least one additional layer of fabric. The method yet further can include the step of wrapping the metalized fabric with at least one additional layer of cushioning material. Finally, the method yet further can include the steps of placing a non-metalized fabric in a vacuum chamber; and, depositing metallic elements within fibers of the non-metalized fabric in the vacuum chamber to produce the metalized fabric.



Inventors:
Corneil, Chad (Lake Worth, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/371579
Publication Date:
08/26/2004
Filing Date:
02/21/2003
Assignee:
CORNEIL CHAD
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/954
International Classes:
A47C31/10; (IPC1-7): A47C20/02; A47C27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEVEN M. GREENBERG (FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A thermally insulative cushion comprising: a cushion having an external surface and an internal core body member; and, a metalized fabric affixed to said external surface of said cushion, said metalized fabric comprising a non-metallic fabric having metal elements dispersed throughout fibers of said non-metallic fabric while retaining a non-metallic fabric feel.

2. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, wherein said cushion comprises an inflatable cushion comprising an air valve having an orifice at a surface portion of said external surface, said air valve being coupled to said core body member, said air valve having a configuration so that air can be drawn into said core body member as said inflatable cushion is de-compacted, and further so that air can be expelled from said core body member as said cushion is compacted.

3. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 2, wherein said inflatable cushion comprises a self-inflatable cushion having an air impervious foam core body member.

4. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, wherein said cushion comprises a cushion selected from the group consisting of a mattress, a sleeping pad, a sleeping bag and a pillow.

5. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, wherein said non-metallic fabric comprises a fabric selected from the group consisting of a woven nylon fabric

6. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 5, wherein said woven nylon fabric comprises a rip stop weave.

7. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, wherein said metalized fabric further comprises a finish coating.

8. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 7, wherein said finish coating comprises at least one coating selected from the group consisting of an emulsion of urethane, acrylic and fluorocarbon polymers, an antimicrobial agent, a surfactant, a catalyst, a dry-cleaning protectant, and a machine washing protectant.

9. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, wherein said metallic elements comprise aluminum.

10. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, further comprising an exterior non-metallic fabric layer disposed about an exterior surface of said metalized fabric opposite to an interior surface of said metalized fabric which is affixed to said external surface.

11. The thermally insulative cushion of claim 1, further comprising at least one intermediate shell disposed between said metalized fabric and said core body member.

12. A method for thermally insulating a cushion, the method comprising the step of affixing a metalized fabric to an exterior surface of the cushion so as to cause a reduction in radiant heat transfer between external objects and said exterior surface.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising the step of wrapping said metalized fabric with at least one additional layer of fabric.

14. The method of claim 12, further comprising the step of wrapping said metalized fabric with at least one additional layer of cushioning material.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of: placing a non-metalized fabric in a vacuum chamber; and, depositing metallic elements within fibers of said non-metalized fabric in said vacuum chamber to produce said metalized fabric.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Statement of the Technical Field

[0002] The present invention relates to an inflatable cushion such as a self-inflating air mattress, and more particularly to a thermally insulative inflatable cushion and method for making the same.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] Inflatable support cushions are known in the art for conventional use in sleeping pads or cushions. Generally, backpackers, campers, and the like utilize inflatable sleeping pads and cushions for sleeping. Unlike ordinary sleeping pads and cushions, however, inflatable sleeping pads and cushions permit compact storage for travel, while providing adequate support for reclining and sleeping. In this regard, oftentimes inflatable cushion devices represent the only legitimate option for the dedicated outdoorsmen.

[0005] Inflatable cushions typically include open-cell foam disposed within a body member having an upper layer and a lower layer and closed-cell foam bonded throughout its extent to the upper layer and lower layer of the body member. Inflatable cushions such as inflatable sleeping pads also have been provided with an air valve to allow air to selectively enter and leave the cavity within the body which contains the open-cell foam. However, such inflatable cushions have not been constructed so as to provide thermal reflective capabilities thus increasing the insulative properties of the cushion. Accordingly, inflatable cushions are not suitably configured for cold weather use such as winter outdoor use.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 4,624,877 to Lea et al. (hereinafter “Lea”) relates to a self-inflating air mattress and method of making the same. In general, the Lea self-inflating apparatus can include an open cell foam core enclosed within, and bonded to, upper and lower sheets. As a self-inflating air mattress, the use thereof can reduce weight and can require little storage space. Notably, the compressible foam of Lea can permit the easy collapsing of the mattress merely by “rolling-up” the mattress. A valve can operate so as to permit the expulsion of air within the mattress during the collapsing process. Similarly, the value can control the air volume in the mattress causing the mattress to remain compact or to self-inflate.

[0007] Importantly, Lea teaches the use of number of synthetic materials as the outer sheet layer used in the construction. The synthetic materials can include, for instance, polyurethane, thermoplastic materials, polyester, cotton, polypropylene, wool and cellulose. Still, as it will be recognized by the skilled artisan, the external skin of the Lea self-inflating mattress can include mere fabric. Accordingly, the Lea mattress has proven to have poor insulative qualities. Rather, the Lea mattress relies exclusively upon the insulative properties of the layering of the synthetic fabric. Specifically, it is contended in Lea that air trapped between the foam core provides insulation properties between the ground and the person utilizing the sleeping pad. Trapped air alone, though, cannot provide the thermal insulation required in cold weather applications.

[0008] Significantly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,091,482 to Malcolm relates to sleeping bag. A metalized plastic web material can be included in the Malcolm sleeping bag as lofting in order to replace down fill. By including a metalized plastic as lofting, the insulation properties of the sleeping bag can be enhanced. Yet, the use of metalized plastic as a sleeping bag filler is different than constructing a sleeping pad with outer lining made of woven synthetic fabric. While the Malcolm sleeping bag may demonstrate thermal qualities required for moderately cold weather use, it is no substitute for the comfort and protection offered by a thermal radiant sleeping pad.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 4,092,750 to Ellis teaches an inflatable insulating apparatus. The Ellis apparatus can include foil sheets or alloys bonded to a natural or synthetic fabric to cover the air chambers or envelopes in order to create insulation and thermal radiant capabilities. Bonding the metal to the nylon or synthetic fabric can reduce rustle noises which otherwise would be apparent were just the metal alloy used as a covering material. The Ellis process can be cumbersome inasmuch as foil sheets must be bonded to a fabric to cover air chambers and envelopes. Consequently, the complex design of Ellis can limit the manufacture and use of the Ellis apparatus as a portable sleeping pad self inflating mattress or cushion.

[0010] Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,452,487 to Leggett discloses an insulated puncture resistant inflatable mattress. The mattress of Leggett can include a heat reflective metalized plastic film such as aluminized Mylar, a flexible plastic film of polyethylene, or a metal coated fabrics as an internal air impervious envelope or tube making up an inflatable chamber. Nevertheless, the insulative layers of the Leggett mattress are disposed within the mattress to make up a chamber, rather than at the surface thereby limiting the effective thermal insulative properties required for use of the mattress in cold weather. More particularly, the internal configuration of the metalized plastic film produces a end product that is significantly more cumbersome, requires more steps to manufacture and cannot effectively inhibit the thermal radiant heat transfer between the exterior elements and the mattress.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The present invention is a thermally insulative inflatable cushion, such as a self-inflating air mattress, and a method of making the same. The method and apparatus of the present invention addresses the core deficiencies of the prior art cited above and provides a novel and non-obvious thermally insulative inflatable cushion wherein a metalized fabric can be disposed externally about an inflatable core. It will be recognized by the skilled artisan that by wrapping the inflatable cushion with a metalized fabric, the feel and pliability of the fabric used as the sheet layers will not be altered in a way which might be noticed by the end user.

[0012] Importantly, as it is well-known in the art, metalized fabric, unlike fabric in which a metal has been bonded thereto, can retain the look and feel or “hand” of the fabric while the metallic elements of the fabric can be interwoven or interspersed among the fibers of the fabric. Thus, the metalized fabric can provide for insulation and heat radiant properties of a fabric which has had a metal sheet affixed thereto. Yet, the look and feel of the fabric will not be that of the affixed metal. As a result, the application of a metalized fabric to the self-inflatable cushion of the present invention can provide both a level of comfort and insulation not presently available in a conventional self-inflating cushion. Furthermore, by combining the compact nature of the self-inflating mattress with a thermally insulative metalized fabric, the cushion of the present invention can be characterized by a reduced weight and more compact size.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] There are shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred, it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown, wherein:

[0014] FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a thermally insulative cushion which has been configured in accordance with the present invention; and,

[0015] FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating a process for thermally insulating an inflatable cushion to produce the thermally insulative cushion of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0016] FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a thermally insulative cushion which has been configured in accordance with the present invention to reflect thermal radiation 130 rather than to absorb the same. In a preferred aspect of the present invention, a thermally insulative inflatable cushion can include an inflatable cushion having an external surface 120 of an internal foam core, for instance a self-inflatable air impervious foam core body member 110, or a solid cushion for instance a pillow, solid foam, air mattress and the like (not shown). An air valve 160 further can be included having an orifice at a surface portion of the external surface 120. The air valve 160 can be coupled to the foam core body member 110 through an air channel 150. The air valve 160 further can have a configuration so that air 170 can be drawn into the foam core body member 110 as the inflatable cushion is de-compacted, and further so that air 170 can be expelled from the foam core body member 110 as the cushion is compacted.

[0017] Importantly, the thermally insulative inflatable cushion can include a metalized fabric 140 affixed to the external surface 120 of the foam core 110 of the inflatable cushion. The metalized fabric 140 can include a non-metallic fabric having metal elements such as aluminum dispersed throughout fibers of the non-metallic fabric while retaining a non-metallic fabric feel. More particularly, the non-metallic fabric can include a woven nylon fabric, for instance a nylon fabric having a rip stop weave. Notably, the metalized fabric 140 further can include one or more finish coatings, such as a an emulsion of urethane, acrylic and fluorocarbon polymers, an antimicrobial agent, a surfactant, a catalyst, a dry-cleaning protectant, and a machine washing protectant

[0018] Significantly, the metalized fabric 140 can be manufactured by vacuum metalizing a fabric with aluminum, and applying various finishing solutions including, but not limited to urethane and acrylic. The use of urethane or acrylic can facilitate the washability of the fabric as well as the calendaring of the fabric. Once metalized, the fabric 140 can be affixed to the exterior surface 120 of the foam core body member 110 of a self-inflating mattress. In this regard, the metalized fabric 140 can be thermally bonded or affixed to the exterior surface 120 of the foam core body member 110 of the cushion using a polymer film, or otherwise fastened with the assistance of glue, snaps or other such fasteners.

[0019] The metalized fabric 140 of the present invention can be affixed to the exterior surface 120 of the core body member 110 as an exterior cover. Alternatively, the metalized fabric 140 of the present invention can be disposed between the core body member 110 and an exterior non-metalized fabric or foam cushion (not shown) acting as an exterior cover. In the latter case, the metalized fabric 140 can be considered to be an insulative liner. The core body member 110 itself can be a monolithic core, or the core body member can include multiple foam layers (not shown), some closed cell and some open cell.

[0020] In one aspect of the present invention, a method for improving the insulation and thermal radiant factors of the cushion, for instance an air mattress, self inflating air mattress or cushion can be provided. In the preferred aspect of the invention, a layer of metalized fabric can be provided as the outside sheet layers to a cushion, or as an internal layer to the cushion to increase the thermal radiant properties of the cushion. An increase in thermal radiance can permit users of the cushion to remain warmer in cold weather situations due to the fact that the ground temperature can be reflected back into the ground, while heat emanating from a body in contact with the cushion can be reflected back toward the body, resulting in reduced heat loss and increased warmth.

[0021] A synthetic fabric can be provided which can be metalized in a vacuum chamber in which metal can be deposited within the fibers of the fabric. Various finishing coatings can be applied to the metalized fabric including, but not limited to, an emulsion of urethane, acrylic and fluorocarbon polymers, antimicrobial agents, a surfactant, a catalyst, a solution to protect the fabric from dry-cleaning, a solution to protect the fabric from machine washing. Additionally, the fabric itself can include synthetic material such as nylon, polyester, rayon, polyurethane, thermoplastic materials and polypropylene. The metallization process itself can include aluminum, though the invention is not limited exclusively to aluminum and other metals of similar thermal conductivity can be applied.

[0022] FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating a process for thermally insulating a cushion to produce the thermally insulative cushion of FIG. 1. A method for thermally insulating an cushion can include a first step in block 210 of placing a non-metalized fabric in a vacuum chamber; and, depositing metallic elements within fibers of the non-metalized fabric in the vacuum chamber to produce the metalized fabric. In block 220, a finish coating can be applied to the metalized fabric. Finally, in block 230, the metalized fabric can be affixed to an exterior surface of the cushion so as to cause a reduction in radiant heat transfer between external objects and the exterior surface. The method further can include the step of wrapping the metalized fabric with at least one additional layer of fabric. Similarly, the method yet further can include the step of wrapping the metalized fabric with at least one additional layer of cushioning material.