Title:
Trim cover assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A trim cover assembly formed by sewing together a plurality of cover materials into a three-dimensional configuration which is to undergo a foaming process in which a liquid foaming agent is injected into the trim cover assembly and a resultant foam padding is filled therein. Each of the cover materials comprises a top cover layer and a slab foam wadding layer fixed to a reverse side of the top cover layer. The slab foam wadding layer is of a continuous cellular structure having an air permeability of from 0.2 cc/cm2/sec. to 1 cc/cm2/sec. so that, during the foaming process, the liquid foaming agent is impregnated and cured in the slab foam wadding layer at a proper rate relative to the thickness of the latter so as not to reach the top cover layer.



Inventors:
Takei, Yoshiyuki (Tokyo, JP)
Application Number:
10/795244
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
03/09/2004
Assignee:
TACHI-S CO., LTD. (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C27/14; A47C7/02; B29C39/10; B68G5/02; B68G7/06; B29K105/04; B29L31/58; (IPC1-7): A47C7/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20020003371Back of a chairJanuary, 2002Link
20060238006Armchair for formation and correction of human spineOctober, 2006Baranov et al.
20020195851Child protector device for child car seat, bed or the likeDecember, 2002Kassai et al.
20080203778Seating Implement with TabletAugust, 2008Weber et al.
20050017565Office chair with inflatable cellular insertJanuary, 2005Sprouse II
20070236055GROUND BASED PORTABLE SEATOctober, 2007Gausman
20060097556Chair backrest having adjustable head and lumbar zonesMay, 2006Jang
20080246327Specialized restraint systems for amusement ridesOctober, 2008Collins et al.
20050099052Stackable chair with modular slide-on seat backMay, 2005Bertolini et al.
20090212190Seat Mount With Integrated AdjustmentAugust, 2009Dahlbacka et al.
20060244292Children's safety seat with guide and tension deviceNovember, 2006Bijl et al.



Primary Examiner:
BARFIELD, ANTHONY DERRELL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Browdy and Neimark, PLLC (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A trim cover assembly formed by sewing together a plurality of cover materials into a three-dimensional configuration which is to undergo a foaming process in which a liquid foaming agent is injected into said trim cover assembly and a resultant foam padding is filled therein, wherein each of said plurality of cover materials comprises: a top cover layer having an outer surface side and a reverse side; and a slab foam wadding layer integrally laminated on said reverse side of said top cover layer, and wherein said slab foam wadding layer is of a continuous cellular structure having an air permeability of from 0.2 cc/cm2/sec. to 1 cc/cm2/sec.

2. The trim cover assembly as claimed in claim 1, where said to cover layer is of an air permeable property.

3. A foamed product using said trim cover assembly claimed in claim 1, which is formed by the foaming process comprising the steps of placing said trim cover assembly in a foaming die, injecting said liquid foaming agent into an inside of said trim cover assembly, and subjecting the trim cover assembly and said liquid foaming agent to foaming, under such a condition that a foaming pressure is set relative to a thickness of said slab foam wadding layer at a rate that allows the liquid foaming agent to be impregnated in at most half of thickness of said slab foam wadding layer.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a surface cover material or what is called “trim cover” for vehicle or automobile, which covers a body of automotive seat, headrest, armrest or the like. In particular, the invention is directed to a trim cover assembly of this kind formed by sewing together cover materials into a three-dimensional configuration which is suited for a foaming process where a liquid foaming agent is injected in the trim cover assembly and subjected to foaming and curing therein.

[0003] 2. Description of Prior Art

[0004] Among various sorts of trim cover assemblies, there has been known such trim cover assembly as disclosed in the Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No 63-35314, which is formed by sewing together a plurality of three-layer laminated cover materials each comprising an air permeable top cover layer, a slab foam layer (i.e. an urethane soft foam layer) adhered to the reverse side of the top cover layer, and an impermeable film laminated to the slab foam layer.

[0005] The foregoing publication teaches a foaming process involving the steps of placing the thus-formed three-dimensional trim cover assembly in a foaming die, then injecting a liquid foaming agent into the inside of that trim cover assembly, and finally having the agent foamed and cured into an increased mass of foam padding body which is filled in the trim cover assembly at a predetermined degree of foaming pressure, while simultaneously, the trim cover assembly is forcibly brought by that foaming pressure to intimate contact with a whole of inner walls of a foaming die. As consequence thereof, a desired shape of foamed product, such as a headrest, is formed.

[0006] It has been found defective that this sort of trim cover assembly having an impermeable film therein is prone to partial breakage and opening, such as a local opening along a seam, due to the increased foaming pressure in the die, thus undesirably resulting in leakage of the liquid foaming agent through the opening to the outside, and further, it has been frequently the case that, during that foaming process, an air is trapped in the curing foam layer portion adjoining with the impermeable film to form undesired hollow regions in the resultant foamed padding since the air is not escaped through such impermeable film. It has been therefore necessary to provide a special step or material for preventing the breakage and leakage problem as well as for avoiding the air trap problem.

[0007] On the other hand, the foregoing problems are not found for such a permeable two-layered lamination of trim cover assembly that comprises an air permeable top cover layer and a slab foam layer, which allows for escape of air therethrough and decrease foaming pressure in the foaming die. Nonetheless, another problem has been with this two-layered type of trim cover assembly. That is, during the foaming process, it has been the frequent case that the air is easily escaped through the two layers of trim cover assembly, thereby making it difficult to retain a proper degree of forming pressure in the die, as a result of which, some of the resultant foamed products can not achieve a desired precise outer configuration and might create objectionable creases and slack portions on the resultant trim cover assembly. Moreover, in this case, during the foaming steps, the liquid foaming agent is impregnated in the inner cellular structure of the slab foam layer and cured therein to create hardened portions which will impair the cushiony touch of the trim cover assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In view of the above-stated drawbacks, it is a purpose of the present invention to provide an improved trim cover assembly having a neatly finished outer surfaces without any crease and slack portion therein, with a normal soft touch given thereto.

[0009] In order to achieve such purpose, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a trim cover assembly formed by sewing together a plurality of cover materials into a three-dimensional configuration which is to undergo a foaming process in which a liquid foaming agent is injected in the trim cover assembly and filling a resultant foam padding therein, wherein each of the plurality of cover materials comprises:

[0010] a top cover layer having an outer surface side and a reverse side; and

[0011] a slab foam wadding layer integrally laminated on the reverse side of top cover layer,

[0012] and wherein the slab foam wadding layer is of a continuous cellular structure having an air permeability of from 0.2 cc/cm2/sec. to 1 cc/cm2/sec.

[0013] Accordingly, owing to such air permeability of from 0.2 cc/cm2/sec. to 1 cc/cm2/sec., under a proper degree of foaming pressure, a liquid foaming agent is impregnated in the slab foam wadding layer at a proper impregnation rate relative to a thickness of the latter to such a degree that the liquid foaming agent or a resulting cured film, which is impregnated in the slab foam wadding layer, does not reach the top cover layer, while also causing the trim cover assembly to be uniformly stretched by an increased mass of foam padding being formed from the liquid foaming agent, without any crease and slack portion created in the outer surfaces of the trim cover assembly.

[0014] Other various aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from reading of the description, hereinafter, with reference to the annexed drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a sectional view showing the state that a trim cover assembly of the present invention is placed in a foaming die prior to a foaming operation and a liquid foaming agent is injected into the inside of the trim cover assembly;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a fragmentary sectional view of the trim cover assembly;

[0017] FIG. 3 is a sectional view showing the state that the foaming process is completed and a foam padding is filled in the trim cover assembly; and

[0018] FIG. 4 is an enlarged section fragmentary in part, which shows a point corresponding to the circle indicated by “V” in the FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

[0019] Referring to FIGS. 1 to 4, there is illustrated one exemplary mode of trim cover assembly (T) in accordance with the present invention, which is to undergo a subsequent foaming process.

[0020] As can be seen from the cross-sectional view of FIG. 1, the trim cover assembly (T) is formed by sewing together a plurality of separate cover materials (A) into the illustrative three-dimensional configuration. Designations (A1) denote sewn connection corner portions of the thus-formed trim cover assembly. As far as the present embodiment is concerned, the trim cover assembly (T) is of such a generally cubic shape conforming to a predetermined outer shape of a headrest, by way of example, and has an injection hole (A2) formed in one wall of the trim cover assembly (T) in order to allow insertion of an injection nozzle therethrough as will be explained later.

[0021] FIG. 1 shows, in cross-section, a first foaming die (40) and a second foaming die (41), which are fit engageable with each other so as to receive the foregoing trim cover assembly (T) therein for a subsequent foaming process.

[0022] In accordance with the present invention, each cover material (A) of the trim cover assembly (T) is comprised of a top cover layer (1) and a slab foam wadding layer (2) laminated to the reverse side of the top cover layer (1).

[0023] The top cover layer (1) is such a known air-permeable material as a woven material, non-woven fabric, a leather material or any other proper air-permeable cover material normally used for a vehicle seat, headrest, armrest or other interior items in a vehicle or automobile.

[0024] But, the slab foam wadding layer (2) in the present invention is formed from a soft urethane foam material with a continuous cellular structure. As will be elaborated, its thickness is preferably 3 mm to 8 mm, and an air permeability of that foam wadding layer (2) is preset within the range from 0.2 cc/cm2/sec. to 1 cc/cm2/sec.

[0025] Now, a description will be made of a foaming operation to subject the above-described trim cover assembly (T) to foaming in the dies (40) (41) on the understanding that a resulting foamed product or a resulting headrest (P) is to be formed thereby for instance.

[0026] At first, a preformed three-dimensional trim cover assembly (T) with the above-discussed two-layer and air-permeable structure is provided. A pair of suitable first and second die elements (40) (41) are also provided, which each has a predetermined shape of inner die surface conforming to a half of the outer shape of the trim cover assembly (T). Designation (42) denotes a through-hole formed in the mating boundaries respective of the first and second die elements (40) (41), which is adapted for allowing insertion of an injection nozzle (N) therethrough. Although not shown, the injection nozzle (N) is operatively connected with a suitable supply device for supplying a liquid foam agent thereto, so that, in operation, a certain amount of the liquid foam agent (L) is injected from the nozzle (N) in such a manner as seen in FIG. 1.

[0027] Then, as shown in FIG. 1, an entirety of the trim cover assembly (T) is placed in position within the mated first and second die elements (40) (41), while disposing a headrest frame (C) centrally of the two die elements, such that the injection hole (A2) of the trim cover assembly is aligned with the through-hole (42) of the die elements (40) (41). Under such state, the injection nozzle (N) is inserted through those two aligned holes (A2) (42) and then a predetermined amount of the liquid foam agent (L) is injected from the nozzle (N) into the inside of the trim cover assembly (T).

[0028] At this stage, it is important to preset the amount of the liquid foam agent (L) to be injected in the trim cover assembly (T), because it is a factor for determining the degree of foaming pressure as known in the art. Thus, a proper amount of the liquid foaming agent (L) is injected in the trim cover assembly (T) in order to impregnate that particular liquid foam agent in a predetermined depth of the slab foam wadding layer (2) and thereby form an appropriate impregnation ratio (at l2, say, about 30% to 40%, for instance) of cured foaming agent or an impermeable film, as indicated by (20), relative to a whole thickness (l1) of the slab foam wadding layer (2). That is, it is an essential aspect of the present invention to avoid full occupation of such film (20) in the slab foam wadding layer (2) and also to prevent that film (20) from reaching the top cover layer (1), as shown in FIG. 4. Preferably, the liquid foaming agent (L) should be impregnated in at most half of the thickness of the slab foam wadding layer (2).

[0029] For that purpose, for example, suppose that the thickness of the slab foam wadding layer (2) is 5 mm, it is found optimal to set the foregoing degree of foaming pressure to approximately 0.1 kg in order to successfully maintain the above-noted impregnation proportion of the liquid foaming agent (L) in the 5 mm thickness of slab foam wadding layer (2), which substantially corresponds to the designation (l2) shown in FIG. 4. This was confirmed by experiments conducted on a number of different sample cover materials each of this kind of two-layer structure having such air permeable top cover layer and slab foam wadding layer with different sizes and scales.

[0030] Now, in practice, a foaming is effected to an entirety of the trim cover assembly (T), frame (C) and injected liquid foaming agent (L) within the tightly engaged dies (40, 41) under the following conditions:

[0031] a) The air permeability of the slab foam wadding layer (2) is set to be 0.2 cc/cm2/sec.,

[0032] b) The degree of foaming pressure is set to be approximately 0.1 kg, and

[0033] c) The thickness of the slab foam wadding layer (2) is 5 mm.

[0034] Note: As known in the art, the degree of foaming pressure depends on an amount of liquid foaming agent to be injected in the trim cove assembly with respect to an inner volume defined in the dies (40) (41).

[0035] As a result thereof, there was produced a resulting headrest body (P) as shown in FIG. 3, in which a mass of foam padding or foam cushion member (B) created from the liquid foaming agent (L) is filled within the trim cover assembly (T) together with the headrest frame (C). It is therefore observed and appreciated that:

[0036] (i) The liquid foaming agent (L) is impregnated evenly in the slab foam wadding layer (2) at a proper ratio of impregnation, i.e. approx. 2 mm, relative to a whole thickness, i.e. 5 mm, of that slab foam wadding layer (2), and cured therein to form approx. 2 mm thickness of an impermeable film layer (20) between the top cover layer (1) and a foam cushion member (B) being created from the liquid foaming agent (L), as in FIG. 4. Accordingly, such film layer (20) serves to enclose a whole inner space of trim cover assembly (T) and prevent escape of air therethrough, thereby allowing an increasing foamed mass of liquid foaming agent, or an outwardly increasing foaming pressure, to be applied evenly to all the inner walls of trim cover assembly (T) during foaming process, so that the outer surfaces of trim cover assembly (T) are in an optimum stretched state. In addition thereto, an outward pressure given from the increased mass of foam cushion member (B) created from the liquid foaming agent (L) effectively brings each of the cover materials (A) or the trim cover assembly (T) to pressed contact with the inner die surfaces of the dies (40, 41) in conformity therewith. Thus, it is practically possible to attain a neatly finished and desired outer appearance of resulting headrest body (P) without any crease and slack portion therein.

[0037] Also, the liquid foaming agent (L) is impregnated and cured in the sewn connection portions (A1), and particularly filing seam or needle holes therealong (not shown), thereby insuring to prevent leakage of the liquid foaming agent (L) itself from the seam or needle holes.

[0038] In this context, experiments show that use of slab foam wadding layer (2) with the air permeability of over 1 cc/cm2/sec. results in undesired penetration of liquid foaming agent (L) past through that slab foam wadding layer (20) to reach the top cover layer (1). In that instance, a substantive area of the top cover layer (1) becomes hardened to lose its stretchable property, as a result of which, the outer surfaces of trim cover assembly (T) are not uniformly stretched, with a plenty of objectionable creases and slack portions caused therein. On the other hand, experiments show that use of slab foam wadding layer (2) with the air permeability of less than 0.1 cc/cm2/sec. results in reducing air escape therethrough and thus an excessive exertion of foaming pressure upon the trim cover assembly (T) to the degree of causing the liquid foaming agent (L) to leak outwardly through the seam or needle holes of the sewn connection portions (A1).

[0039] (ii) Even if an air is trapped in the boundary between the liquid foaming agent (L) and slab foam wadding layer (2) during the foaming process, the air permeability of top cover layer (1) and the non-excessive impregnation of the liquid foaming agent (L) in the slab foam wadding layer (2) are effective in not only forcing such trapped air into the slab foam wadding layer (2), but also causing the air to flow therethrough and escape through the permeable top cover layer (1) to the outside of the trim cover assembly (T). This prevents creation of any trapped air region in local areas of trim cover assembly (T) which are adjacent to the outer surfaces of the resultant headrest (P), thus avoiding such unpleasant seating touch and problems as stated in the description of prior art.

[0040] (iii) As stated above, the liquid foaming agent (L) is impregnated in the slab foam wadding layer (2) at a small proportion relative to the whole thickness of the latter (2). Therefore, the liquid foaming agent (L) is not impregnated outwardly through the slab foam wadding layer (2) and does not reach the top cover layer (1), neither, so that the cured layer of the foaming agent (L), i.e. the film (20), is not formed beneath the top cover layer (1), thus giving an original soft cushiony touch of the hardest body (P) to a passenger.

[0041] While having described the present invention, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the illustrated embodiment, but other modification, replacement, and addition may be applied thereto without departing from the scopes of the appended claims.