Title:
Heat diffusing cushion or mattress
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cushion including a base and an array of individual upstanding, interconnected air cells arranged in of transverse and longitudinal rows on the base. The air cells are spaced apart and define ambient airflow paths between the cells. Each cell has a top and a perimeter wall that tapers inwardly from the base to the top. The dimension of the cell at the base is greater that the dimension of the top of the cell so that when the cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly and the periphery of the compressed cell does not protrude beyond the area of the base so as to impinge upon the ambient airflow paths between the cells. When the cell is depressed or collapsed by the weight of the seated user, ambient air still can circulate among the cells to dissipate heat generated by the seated user.



Inventors:
Clapper, Dennis L. (Swansea, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/002375
Publication Date:
06/09/2005
Filing Date:
12/02/2004
Assignee:
CLAPPER DENNIS L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/655.3
International Classes:
A47C4/54; A47C7/74; A47C27/10; A61G5/10; A61G7/057; (IPC1-7): A47C27/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRETTEL, MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A cushion comprising: a base; and an array of individual upstanding, interconnected air cells arranged in of transverse and longitudinal rows on the base, the cells being spaced apart to define ambient air flow paths between the cells, each cell having a top surface and a perimeter wall that tapers inwardly from the base to the top surface, wherein a peripheral dimension of the cell at the base is greater than a peripheral dimension of the top surface of the cell so that when the cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly resulting in a compressed cell wherein the cell does not impinge upon the ambient air flow paths between the cells so as to allow ambient air can to circulate among the cells to dissipate heat generated by a seated user.

2. The cushion of claim 1 wherein the cell has a substantially conical configuration.

3. The cushion of claim 1 further comprising an array of cells along at least one side of the cushion base, said array of cells comprising at least one bolster along the at least one side of the cushion base.

4. The cushion of claim 3 wherein each cell comprising the array of cells along the at least one side of the cushion base have a perimeter dimension around the cell at the base which is greater than a perimeter dimension around a top surface of the cell so that when the cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly resulting in a compressed cell wherein the cell does not impinge upon ambient air flow paths.

5. The cushion of claim 1 wherein the arrays of cells are formed from a plastic material.

6. The cushion of claim 1 wherein the arrays of cells are formed from a neoprene material.

7. A cushion comprising: a base; and an array of individual upstanding, interconnected air cells arranged in of transverse and longitudinal rows on the base, the cells being spaced apart to define ambient air flow paths between the cells, each cell having a substantially conical configuration including a top surface and a perimeter wall that tapers inwardly from the base to the top surface, wherein a circumference of the cell at the base is greater than a circumference of the top surface of the cell so that when the cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly resulting in a compressed cell wherein the cell does not impinge upon the ambient air flow paths between the cells so as to allow ambient air can to circulate among the cells to dissipate heat generated by a seated user.

8. The cushion of claim 7 further comprising an array of cells along at least one side of the cushion base, said array of cells comprising at least one bolster along the at least one side of the cushion base.

9. The cushion of claim 8 wherein each cell comprising the array of cells along the at least one side of the cushion base is a substantially elongated cell having perimeter dimension around the cell at the base which is greater than a perimeter dimension around a top surface of the cell so that when the cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly resulting in a compressed cell wherein the cell does not impinge upon ambient air flow paths.

10. A cushion comprising: a base; and a first array of individual upstanding, interconnected air cells arranged in of transverse and longitudinal rows on the base, the cells being spaced apart to define ambient air flow paths between the cells, each cell having a top surface and a perimeter wall that tapers inwardly from the base to the top surface; and a second array of cells along at least one side of the cushion base, said array of cells comprising at least one bolster along the at least one side of the cushion base, wherein a peripheral dimension of the cells at the base is greater than a peripheral dimension of the top surface of the cells so that when a cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly resulting in a compressed cell wherein the cell does not impinge upon the ambient air flow paths between the cells so as to allow ambient air can to circulate among the cells to dissipate heat generated by a seated user.

11. The cushion of claim 10 wherein the cells comprising the first array of cells have a substantially conical configuration.

12. The cushion of claim 10 wherein the cells comprising the arrays of cells are formed from a plastic material.

13. A heat dissipating cushion comprising: a base; and an array of individual upstanding, interconnected air cells arranged in of transverse and longitudinal rows on the base; a plurality of ambient airflow paths between the cells, wherein each cell has a top surface and a perimeter wall that tapers inwardly from the base to the top surface, wherein a peripheral dimension of the cell at the base is greater than a peripheral dimension of the top surface of the cell so that when the cell is compressed, the cell collapses inwardly resulting in a compressed cell wherein the cell does not impinge upon any of the plurality of ambient air flow paths between the cells so as to allow ambient air can to circulate among the cells to dissipate heat generated by a seated user.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to provisional application Ser. No. 60/527,472, filed Dec. 5, 2003, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to cushions and mattresses and more specifically to cushions and mattresses comprising upstanding air cells having air circulating and heat diffusing characteristics.

Seating cushions and resting mattresses are known to the art. In most cases, these devises are comprised of a supportive, yet resilient material that usually deforms in some manner to accommodate the anatomy of the user so as to provide support and comfort. Such cushions and mattresses may be constructed from a myriad of materials having desired supportive and comfort characteristics. For example, such devices are constructed from batting filled fabrics, foam rubber, or air filled bladders or the like.

In recent years, the assignee of the present invention has determined that cushions and mattresses having medical applications can be constructed of upstanding air cells that have support characteristics that allow for the even distribution of pressure on the user's body, such as the buttocks and back, to prevent or relieve decubitus ulcers or pressure sores. These cushions are the subject matter of “shape fitting technology”. Examples of cushions and mattresses derived from such shape fitting technology, employing these therapeutic characteristics are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,541,136; U.S. Pat. No. 4,698,864; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,163,196.

In general, these representative therapeutic cushions and mattresses are comprised of a base with an array of individual, interconnected upstanding air cells. The cells, when deflected under seating pressure, remain at the same internal pressure. Because the air cells of these representative embodiments generally deflect to contact each other along their sides to provide a generally continuous seating surface, there is very little space between the deflected cells, for example to allow air flow between the cells.

Although the above described cushions and mattresses are the design of choice when seeking the benefit of a therapeutic cushion, there are situations that do not require shape-fitting technology. These uses may include recreational cushions or mattresses, cushions for office or desk chairs, portable cushions to place on vehicle seats. It would be desirable to have a cushion design for these non-therapeutic uses that have different deflection characteristics that allow air flow among the upstanding air cell so as to provide some ventilation and heat dissipation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is among the various aspects and objects of the invention to provide a cushion having a base and an array of upstanding air cells arranged in longitudinal and transverse rows that have deflection characteristics that create airflow paths between the deflected cells so as to provide for ventilation and heat dissipation.

In one aspect of the invention, the cushion of the present invention includes a base with an array of individual upstanding, spaced apart, interconnected air cells arranged in a desired pattern of transverse and longitudinal rows having ambient air flow paths between the cells. In this aspect of the invention, the cells have a generally circular horizontal cross section. Each cell has a dome-shaped top and a perimeter wall that tapers inwardly from the base to the top resulting a cone-shaped cell with a rounded top surface. The circumference of the cell at its base is greater that the circumference of the top of the cell so that when the cell is depressed or compressed, the cell collapses inwardly and the periphery of the compressed cell does not protrude beyond the circumference of the base to impinge upon the ambient air flow paths between the cells. When the cell is depressed or collapsed by the weight of the seated user, ambient air can circulate among the cells to dissipate heat generated by the seated user.

These same characteristics may be employed in a cushion having cells of different configurations that allow for the cells to collapse inwardly so that the periphery of the collapsed cell does not protrude beyond the perimeter of the base. Such designs could be pyramidal, pyramidal with a flattened top surface, conical, frusto-conical, or the like, wherein the dimension around the perimeter of the base of the cell is greater than the dimension of the perimeter of the top of the cell.

The overall configuration of the cushion can be any desired configuration so as to conform to a seating surface such as a chair, vehicle seat, bench and so forth. The cushion can include cells of varying configurations around the periphery of the bases so as to create rear or side bolsters or transition areas between the cushion and the seating surface. The cushion can be expanded in size to conform to the size of a bed, for example, and be employed as a mattress.

The cushion of the present invention preferably is vacuum molded from a suitable plastic material, but also can be dip molded from alternative materials such as neoprene or the like.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a cushion of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an alternative configuration of the cushion of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of another alternative configuration of the cushion of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the cushion of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a vertical cross sectional view of an air cell taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a vertical cross sectional view of the air cell of FIG. 5 in a compressed state;

FIG. 7 is top plan view of another configuration of the cushion of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is another top plan view of the cushion of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A cushion of the present invention is indicated generally by reference numeral 10 in FIGS. 1 and 4. A similar, but alternative configuration of the cushion is also illustrated in FIG. 8 as 10A. Referring to these particular figures, cushion 10 or 10A comprises a base 12 and an array of upstanding individual air cells 14 arranged in transverse and longitudinal rows resulting in a desired peripheral configuration, in the case of cushion 10 and 10A, the cushion is configured to adapt to placement on a seating surface such as a chair or vehicle seat.

Base 12 is comprised of a top layer 16 (FIGS. 5 & 6), which includes the integrally molded cells 14, and a bottom layer 18. The respective layers generally are vacuum molded from a suitable material, such as polyvinyl chloride or other plastic material. The layers also can be dip molded from neoprene following the principles set out in U.S. Pat. No. 4,541,136, which is incorporated herein by reference.

The two layers have complementary air channels formed between the cells so that when the two layers are appropriately bonded together, either by RF welding or gluing or the like, there are patent air channels 19 interconnecting the cells. There is an air-filling valve 20 in fluid connection with at least one cell for introducing air into the cushion. Because the cells are interconnected, air introduced through valve 20 flows among the cells until the cells have equal internal pressure.

As will be appreciated by referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the cells 14 in the primary seating area, which generally comprises the center of the cushion, are of a uniform configuration having and circular base 22, a rounded or dome shaped top surface 24 and a peripheral wall 26 that tapers inwardly from bottom to top, giving, in the preferred embodiment, an overall appearance of cone, better illustrated in FIG. 5.

Referring again to figures, the cells 14 are spaced apart in the array, resulting in ambient air flow paths between the cells, as shown by reference numeral 28. These paths allow air to circulate among the cells so as to provide some cooling and dissipation of heat that may build up between the body of the user seated on the cushion and the cushion itself. As shown in FIG. 6, when cell 14 compressed or depressed by the weight of the user, the top surface of the cell and the cell wall curl into the cell itself, resulting in a compressed cell having a perimeter dimension generally less than, and no greater than, the circumference of the base of the cell.

Because cell 14 has the above described compression characteristics, the cell wall is not deflected in such a manner as to impinge on the surrounding airflow paths 28. Consequently, the cushion maintains its heat dissipating characteristics even under load. This ventilation and heat-dissipating feature of the novel cushion allows prolonged seating comfort in situations where the user does not require the benefit of therapeutic shape fitting technology.

The ventilation and heat dissipating structure can be incorporated into complex cushion designs, such as those shown in FIGS. 1, 4 and 8. For example, cushions 10 and 10A include cells 30 along the rear periphery that function as bolsters to give added structure and support to the cushion. Cell 30 has a generally elongated base 32 and cell wall 34 that tapers inwardly toward the apex 36. However, as illustrated by FIGS. 4 and 5, the cross section of cell 30 taken across the center of the cell discloses that the cell has the same compressive qualities as cell 14. The apex of cell 30 will collapse into cell and the cell wall does not deflect beyond the perimeter of the cell base.

FIGS. 2, 3 and 7 illustrate other general configurations of cushions of the present invention, illustrated as 10B, 10C and 10D respectively. Similarly numbered structures in cushions 10B-10D correspond to the same structures in the previously described cushions. The configurations of cushions of the present heat dissipating design are limited only by the configuration of the seating surface on which they are to be used. In other words, the invention lies in the configuration, spacing and compression characteristics of the cells and not in the ultimate use of the cushion. The cells of the various embodiments 10B-10D have the same generally configuration so as to fold in upon themselves when compressed or depressed and not deflect inordinately into the surrounding ambient air passage areas 28 to allow for flow of air among the cells and the dissipation of heat.

These same characteristics may be employed in a cushion having cells of different configurations that allow for the cells to collapse inwardly so that the periphery of the collapsed cell does not protrude beyond the perimeter of the base. Such designs could be pyramidal, pyramidal with a flattened top surface, conical, frusto-conical, or the like, wherein the dimension around the perimeter of the base of the cell is greater than the dimension of the perimeter of the top of the cell. Consequently, any cell design, that collapses into itself resulting in air flow paths around or between the cells is intended to be included within the scope of the claims, whether that cell design is now for seeable or unforeseeable to one skilled in the art.

The cushions of the instant invention can be used as shown or with a cover, preferably a cover that has some elasticity, such as a stretchable fabric, and also some porosity or airflow characteristics through the material.

Various changes and modifications may be made in the heat-dissipating cushion of the present invention without departing from, or limiting the scope of, the invention.





 
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