Title:
Energy management head restraint insert
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An head restraint with an insert on seats in motor vehicles whereby said head restraint controls occupant's head acceleration and reduces neck loading in cases of impact. This head restraint comprises a post of any shape inserted into a seatback, foam of a desired thickness, an insert sized to cover a majority of the surface area on the front face and top of said head restraint, and a trim cover. Alternatively, the head restraint may be of integral design without posts. The insert is meant to float within foam in the head restraint and one can use clips or locating pins during manufacturing to obtain desired floating effect.



Inventors:
Veine, Eric (Madison Heights, MI, US)
Locke, Gerald S. (Lake Orion, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/736717
Publication Date:
06/16/2005
Filing Date:
12/16/2003
Assignee:
Lear Corporation (Southfield, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C1/10; B60N2/48; (IPC1-7): A47C1/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CUOMO, PETER M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOKS KUSHMAN P.C. / LEAR CORPORATION (SOUTHFIELD, MI, US)
Claims:
1. 1-4. (canceled)

5. A head restraint arrangement for a vehicle seat, the head restraint arrangement comprising: a head restraint post associated with the vehicle seat; a head restraint cushion disposed around the head restraint post; and an insert panel disposed in the head restraint cushion and spaced apart from the head restraint post; wherein the insert panel is adapted to move toward the head restraint post in response to force exerted by a head of an occupant and distribute force to reduce deformation of the head restraint cushion.

6. The head restraint arrangement of claim 5 wherein the insert panel further comprises a plurality of apertures filled with foam.

7. The head restraint arrangement of claim 5 further comprising a trim cover disposed proximate an outer surface of the head restraint cushion.

8. The head restraint arrangement of claim 7 wherein the insert panel is wider than the head restraint post in a direction extending substantially parallel to the outer surface.

9. The head restraint arrangement of claim 5 wherein the insert panel further comprises a first section that extends generally parallel to a front surface of the head restraint arrangement.

10. The head restraint arrangement of claim 9 wherein the insert panel further comprises a second section disposed adjacent to the first section and above the head restraint post.

11. The head restraint arrangement of the claim 10 wherein the second section extends away from the head of the occupant.

12. The head restraint arrangement of claim 5 wherein the head restraint arrangement is integral with the seatback.

13. The head restraint arrangement of claim 5 wherein the head restraint cushion further comprises a front surface and a top surface, and the insert panel further comprises a first section having a first section surface area and a second section having a second section surface area, wherein the first section surface area is greater than a majority of the front surface and the second section surface area is greater than a majority of the top surface.

14. A vehicle seat for use with a vehicle, the vehicle seat comprising: a seatback; a head restraint support attached to the seatback; a head restraint cushion formed around the head restraint support, the head restraint cushion having an outer surface; a trim cover disposed proximate the outer surface; and a generally L-shaped insert panel disposed in the head restraint cushion such that the insert panel is spaced apart from the head restraint support, the insert panel including a generally planar first portion disposed between the trim cover and the head restraint support and a second portion integrally formed with the first portion and disposed above the head restraint support; wherein the insert panel is adapted to move between an initial position and an actuated position in which the insert panel is moved toward the head restraint support upon application of rearward force by a head of an occupant.

15. The vehicle seat of claim 14 wherein the insert panel reduces penetration of the head into the head restraint cushion.

16. The head restraint arrangement of claim 14 wherein the insert panel is made of plastic.

17. The head restraint arrangement of claim 14 wherein the insert panel is made of metal.

18. A method of making a head restraint arrangement for a vehicle seat, the head restraint arrangement including an insert panel, an head restraint post, and a head restraint cushion, the method comprising: positioning the insert panel and the head restraint post in a cavity such that the insert panel is spaced apart from the head restraint post; and providing a foam material that encapsulates the insert panel and at least a portion of the head restraint support to define the head restraint cushion; wherein the foam material permits movement of the insert panel relative to the head restraint post and inhibits the insert panel from contacting the head restraint post.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein the cavity is defined by a trim cover.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the trim cover further comprises an aperture for receiving a locating pin.

21. The method of claim 20 wherein the step of positioning the insert panel further comprises providing a locating pin that extends from a surface of the insert panel and positioning the locating pin to effect positioning of the insert panel.

22. The method of claim 20 wherein the locating pin is disposed on a side of the insert panel facing away from the head restraint post.

23. The method of claim 20 further comprising the step of removing the locating pin after the foam material is provided.

24. The method of claim 20 further comprising the step of removing the locating pin from the insert panel after the head restraint cushion is formed.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to head restraints in motor vehicles. More specifically, it relates to a safer head restraint and manufacturing thereof by utilizing a floating insert to increase head restraint stiffness and energy management without necessarily changing the foam or posts of traditional head restraints.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Today, most, if not all, motor vehicles come with seats equipped with head restraints. Head restraints provide not only comfort for riders but also are there to protect an occupant's head and neck in case of an accident.

Many current head restraints use U or M shaped posts with foam covering the posts. These head restraints simply have the foam interior molded around the posts. See U.S. Pat. No. 6,120,100 for an example. A problem with this design is that the foam is often times too soft and does not provide adequate structure within the head restraint. In the event of a rear impact, the head may penetrate too deeply between or above the post structure, increasing the forces on the neck. A more uniform loading surface is desired to control head displacement in all potential areas of head contact.

Comfort requirements can work against safety recommendations of using stiffer foam to reduce head movement during a crash. A method of reducing head penetration without significantly changing the comfort of the head restraint is greatly desired. It should also be noted that the application of this type of insert to a seat with an integrated head restraint (also known as a high-back seat) serves a similar benefit. In this case, the posts are replaced by some other seat back structure.

Regulatory actions are mandating that head contact surfaces return to within a small distance of the initial position after load-deflection tests are completed. Soft foam has a slow recovery time. As a result, many head restraints do not meet some safety standards imposed on motor vehicle manufacturers.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The object of this invention is to overcome the above-mentioned problems with current head restraints. A floating insert of a somewhat rigid material would help reduce neck injuries and help meet safety regulations.

Accordingly, this head restraint comprises a post, foam, an insert, and trim cover. Alternatively, the head restraint may be integrated and supported by some other seat back structure. The insert is placed so that the insert will cover a majority of the surface area on the front face and top of the head restraint. The insert may be held in place for manufacturing by any number of existing or new methods. Foam is then applied over the insert and post, if present. The insert may have holes designed to allow foam to completely fill the area around it. A trim cover is typically applied over the head restraint, but the requirement of a cover is optional.

This invention solves the above-mentioned problems by using an insert that possesses good elastic properties. This insert in head restraints provides a more uniform stiffness and energy management without having to change foam or posts in current head restraints. It will also provide a more uniform loading surface for an occupants head. Unlike many inserts that are rigidly attached to the post or other seat back structure, this insert is allowed to move relative to the structure under test or crash conditions. This action controls the acceleration of the head to reduce the peak magnitude while simultaneously minimizing the penetration. The effect is to reduce forces and moments on the neck as well as to reduce the head rotation relative to the torso.

For the foaming process, the insert may be held into position relative to the post by clips over the post. These clips are designed in a manner that provides little resistance to the movement of the insert under head impact conditions. Alternatively, when a post is not present, removable locating pins may be used in the foaming process to position the insert.

Additionally, the elasticity of the insert would help head restraints to meet the deflection criteria for backset retention and height retention. The insert will assist the foam recovery so that the foam will return to acceptable limits within a reasonable time after the loading event.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side cross-sectional view of the head restraint.

FIG. 2 depicts the method of using locating pins to keep the insert in place while the foam is being poured.

FIG. 3 depicts a rear view of the method of using clips on the insert to keep the insert in place.

FIG. 4 depicts the action of an occupant's head on impact and the way the insert assists with controlling head and neck movement.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the occupant's head on impact and the use of the insert to help control head and neck movement.

FIG. 6 is a view of the seat insert located in a high-back seat.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

With reference to FIG. 1, this invention comprises a post 4, foam 6, an insert 8, and trim cover 14 creating head restraint 2. This insert 8 that is the object of this invention will be sized to fit any variety of head restraints. Generally, head restraints use an M or U shaped post but the insert 8 can be designed to fit any shaped post.

The insert 8 is molded into the foam 6 on the front side of the post 4 at some nominal distance below the surface of the head restraint 2. The insert 8 needs to be buried within the foam 6 so that the head restraint 2 still is comfortable for occupants. This insert 8 also needs to cover a majority of the front surface area and top of the head restraint 2. The insert 8 could also be formed to fit a variety of head restraint contour designs. Additionally, the insert 8 can comprise of plastic, metal, or a composite material. The versatility of the designs for this insert 8 allow it to be used in most if not all head restraints.

The insert 8 is not meant to be rigidly attached to the post 4. The safety feature of this insert 8 works best when the insert 8 floats inside the foam 6. However, the insert 8 must be able to stay in place while the foam 6 is molded over the post 4 and insert 8. In one embodiment of this invention, seen in FIG. 3, the insert 8 is fashioned with clips 10. These clips 10 hold the insert 8 in place over the post 4. Then the foam 6 is poured over the insert 4 and post 6. These clips 10 are strong enough to hold the insert 8 in place but weak enough to break away when impacted by occupant's head. By the clips 10 being able to break away, this still maintains the object of the insert 8 that it floats in the foam. The trim cover 14 envelopes the post 4, foam 6, and insert 8.

Another embodiment of this invention, seen in FIG. 2, is that the insert 8 utilizes locating pins 12. The locating pins 12 would mate with holes in the insert 8 to locate the position of the insert 8 over the post 4. The locating pins 12 would then hold the insert 8 in place while the foam 6 is poured over the post 4 and insert 8. Once the foam 6 is poured, then the locating pins 12 would be pulled out. The trim cover then envelopes the post 4, foam 6, and insert 8.

FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 show how the head restraint insert 8 aids in controlling the motion of an occupants head and neck in cases or rear impact. This controlled motion helps to reduce injury that is common in rear impacts.

FIG. 6 depicts another embodiment of this invention. In a high-back seat, there is not a separate head restraint. However, this insert can still be used to protect and occupants head and neck. The insert 8 is simply located in a position near the top of the high back seat so that in cases or rear impact, the insert 8 will provide the same safety features as it would in a separate head restraint.

The above presents a description of the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention. The claims should not be read as limited to the described order or elements unless stated to that effect. Therefore, all embodiments that come with the scope and spirit of the following claims and equivalents thereto are claimed as the invention.