Title:
Seat insert for transit vehicle seat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat insert for a seat and a method for making the seat insert includes providing a fiberglass portion comprising fiberglass matting and providing a cover portion having an inner surface and an outer surface. The fiberglass portion and the cover portion may be positioned within a mold cavity and a resin material may be introduced into the mold cavity and absorbed by the fiberglass portion. The resin material bonds the inner surface of the cover portion to the fiberglass portion and the resin material when the resin material cures. The seat insert thus comprises an integrally or unitarily formed and bonded body and cover for a seat.



Inventors:
Goosen, Gregory F. (Cedar Springs, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/043712
Publication Date:
08/04/2005
Filing Date:
01/26/2005
Assignee:
GOOSEN GREGORY F.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/02; A47C7/26; A47C31/00; B29C39/02; B29C70/00; B60N2/58; B60N2/68; B60N2/70; (IPC1-7): A47C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TENTONI, LEO B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VAN DYKE, GARDNER, LINN & BURKHART, LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A seat insert for a seat, said seat insert comprising: a fiberglass portion comprising fiberglass matting; a cover portion having an inner surface and an outer surface; and a polyester resin, said polyester resin being absorbed by said fiberglass portion, said polyester resin bonding said inner surface of said cover portion to said fiberglass portion and said polyester resin as said polyester resin cures.

2. The seat insert of claim 1, wherein said seat insert comprises a vandal resistant seat insert, said cover portion being substantially bonded to said polyester resin and said fiberglass portion and being resistant to cuts that are readily visible.

3. The seat insert of claim 2, wherein said cover portion comprises a pile fabric, said outer surface of said pile fabric comprising a plurality of fibers extending outwardly from a backing material of said pile fabric.

4. The seat insert of claim 1, wherein said inner surface of said cover portion comprises substantially microscopic fibers extending at least partially inwardly from said inner surface.

5. The seat insert of claim 4, wherein said polyester resin bonds to said substantially microscopic fibers and does not substantially soak into and through said cover portion.

6. The seat insert of claim 1, wherein said polyester resin is introduced into a mold cavity containing said fiberglass portion and said cover portion, whereby said seat insert is formed via a single molding process.

7. The seat insert of claim 1 including at least one fastener extending from an opposite side of said seat insert than said cover portion, said at least one fastener being adapted to attach said seat insert to a seat frame of said seat.

8. The seat insert of claim 1, wherein said fiberglass portion is pre-formed to substantially correspond to a contour of a mold cavity that receives said fiberglass portion and said polyester resin to form said seat insert.

9. A method of forming a seat insert for a seat, said method comprising: providing a mold cavity; placing a cover portion in said mold cavity, said cover portion having an inner surface and an outer surface; and introducing a resin material into said mold cavity, said resin material forming a body portion of said insert and bonding said inner surface of said cover portion to said resin material as said resin material cures.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein said seat insert comprises a vandal resistant seat insert, said cover portion being substantially bonded to said resin material and being resistant to cuts that are readily visible.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said cover portion comprises a pile fabric, said outer surface of said pile fabric comprising a plurality of fibers extending outwardly from a backing material of said pile fabric.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein said inner surface of said cover portion comprises substantially microscopic fibers extending at least partially inwardly from said inner surface, said resin material bonding to said substantially microscopic fibers as said resin material cures.

13. The method of claim 9 including placing at least one fastener in said mold cavity before introducing said resin material, said at least one fastener being molded into said resin material, said at least one fastener extending from an opposite side of said seat insert than said cover portion, said at least one fastener being adapted to attach said seat insert to the seat.

14. The method of claim 9 including placing a fiberglass matting portion in said mold cavity and adjacent to said inner surface of said cover portion, wherein said resin material is absorbed into said fiberglass matting portion to form said body portion.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein said resin material and said fiberglass matting material form said body portion and said resin material bonds said cover portion to said body portion when said resin material cures.

16. The method of claim 9, wherein introducing said resin material into said mold cavity comprises one of injecting, pouring and dispensing said resin material into said mold cavity.

17. The method of claim 9, wherein providing a mold cavity comprises providing a substantially closed mold cavity, said resin material being introduced into said substantially closed mold cavity and cured therein.

18. The method of claim 9, wherein providing a mold cavity comprises providing an open mold cavity, said resin material being introduced into said open mold cavity and cured therein.

19. The method of claim 9, wherein said resin cures via one of a heat curing process, a UV curing process, and an activator curing process.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims benefit of U.S. provisional application, Ser. No. 60/540,458, filed Jan. 30, 2004, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to seats for vehicles, such as transit vehicles, such as buses or the like, and, more particularly, to a seat insert or onsert for such seats.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Typically, transit vehicles, such as buses and the like, include a number of seats for passengers to sit in. The seats often have seat inserts that are attached to a seat frame, such that the seat inserts may be removed and replaced as necessary. It is known to form the seat inserts so as to provide a vandal resistant seat insert, such that slices and cuts made to the seat inserts are not readily visible and do not immediately lead to fraying and deterioration of the seat insert. For example, and as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,061,539, and 4,917,931, a vandal resistant seat insert may include a vertical pile fabric cover that is glued to a hard substrate, whereby the hard substrate may be attached to the seat frame in the vehicle. Such a seat insert is formed by first molding the hard substrate to the desired shape and then applying an adhesive layer to the substrate and to the backing of the vertical pile fabric cover, such that the layer of adhesive permeates the backing of the cover and adheres the fabric cover to the hard substrate.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a seat insert or onsert, and optionally a vandal resistant seat insert or onsert, that includes a seat cover fabric or material that is bonded directly to the fiberglass body portion of the seat insert as the fiberglass body portion is molded and formed. The seat insert thus may be formed in a single molding process, whereby the seat cover is bonded directly to the seat insert body, with no adhesive being necessary and, thus, no separate adhesive application step being necessary. Although shown and described herein as comprising a seat insert for application in a recess of a seat frame or shell, the term “seat insert” as used herein is intended to also encompass seat onserts (where the onsert is attached to a generally planar seat frame or shell), and/or seat back inserts/onserts and/or other types of panels or inserts or onserts or the like.

According to an aspect of the present invention, a seat insert for a seat includes a fiberglass body portion comprising a fiberglass matting or block and a polyester resin. The seat insert includes a cover portion that has an inner surface and an outer cover surface that faces outwardly from the seat insert, such as upwardly when the seat insert is installed in a seat of a vehicle. The polyester resin is absorbed by the fiberglass body portion and is formed to the desired shape and contours of the seat insert. The polyester resin bonds an inner surface of the cover portion to the fiberglass portion and the polyester resin when the polyester resin cures.

The cover portion may comprise a pile fabric, wherein an outer cover material of the pile fabric comprises a plurality of fibers extending outwardly from the outer surface of a backing material of the pile fabric. The inner surface of the backing material may comprise substantially small or microscopic fibers that extend at least partially inwardly from the inner surface. The polyester resin bonds to the microscopic fibers and does not soak into and through the backing material. The seat insert may include at least one fastener extending from an opposite side of the body portion than the cover portion. The fastener or fasteners may be adapted to attach the seat insert to the seat of the vehicle.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a method of forming a seat insert for a seat includes providing a mold cavity and placing a cover portion in the mold cavity. The cover portion has an inner surface and an outer surface. A body material is dispensed or disposed or introduced (such as by pouring or injection molding) into the cavity to form the desired insert body and to bond to the inner surface of the cover material. For example, a fiberglass matting portion or block may be placed in the mold cavity and adjacent to the inner surface of the cover portion. A polyester resin may then be introduced into the mold cavity. The polyester resin is absorbed by the fiberglass block and bonds the inner surface of the cover portion to the fiberglass block and the polyester resin when the polyester resin cures.

The seat insert may comprise a vandal resistant seat insert, whereby the cover portion is substantially bonded to the polyester resin and the fiberglass block and wherein the cover portion is resistant to cuts that are readily visible. In such an embodiment, the cover portion may comprise a pile fabric or material that has an outer surface defined by a plurality of outwardly extending fibers that extend from a backing material of the fabric.

Therefore, the present invention provides a seat insert and method of making or forming a seat insert that does not include an adhesive to attach a cover portion to a pre-formed hard substrate of the seat insert. The cover portion of the seat insert of the present invention is bonded to the rigid body portion of the seat insert during the molding process of the body portion, whereby the resin used to mold the body portion bonds directly to the backing of the cover portion. The present invention thus provides a seat insert that includes a cover portion that may be substantially uniformly bonded to the rigid body portion or panel and thus may be highly resistant to removal from the rigid body portion. The method of the present invention thus forms such a seat insert via a single molding process, and does not require an additional adhesive application process and pressing together of a cover portion to a preformed hard substrate to adhere the cover to the substrate.

These and other objects, advantages, purposes and features of the present invention will become apparent upon review the following specification in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a seat for a transit vehicle having seat inserts in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a seat insert in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation of the seat insert of the FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the seat insert of FIGS. 2 and 3;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of a seat back insert in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a side elevation of the seat back insert of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a lower plan view of the seat back insert of FIGS. 5 and 6; and

FIG. 8 is a sectional view of the seat and seat insert of the present invention, such as taken along the line VIII-VIII in FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings and the illustrative embodiments depicted therein, a seat or seat assembly 10 for a vehicle, such as a transit vehicle, such as a bus or the like, includes a seat frame portion 12, which receives one or more seat inserts or onserts 14 and/or seat back inserts or onserts 16 (FIG. 1). The seat inserts 14 and seat back inserts 16 may comprise a substantially rigid fiberglass body portion 18, 20 and an outer cover portion 22, 24 that substantially covers and is bonded to the fiberglass body portion 18, 20, respectively. The seat cover 22 and seat back cover 24 may provide a cushion or cover for a person to sit on or lean against, and may provide a vandal resistant cover that resists showing of cuts and tears in the cover material should such cuts and tears occur over time. The seat assembly may be installed in a vehicle, and the seat inserts and seat back inserts may be removably attached to the seat frame to facilitate replacement of the seat inserts and seat back inserts without having to remove the entire seat assembly.

As shown in FIGS. 2-4, seat insert 14 may be shaped to fit within a recessed insert receiving portion 12a (FIG. 8) of the seat shell or frame 12, and may be contoured to provide a comfortable seating arrangement for a person to sit in while riding in the transit vehicle. Optionally, the seat onsert may be attached to a generally planar and non-recessed shell or frame, without affecting the scope of the present invention. In the illustrated embodiment, seat insert 14 is a generally square or rectangular shaped insert, with the cover portion 22 substantially covering and defining an upper surface 14a, and being wrapped around the sides or edges 14b and partially covering the outer perimeter portions of a lower surface 14c of the insert 14.

Likewise, and with reference to FIG. 5-7, seat back insert 16 may comprise a generally square or rectangular shaped insert for attaching to the seat frame 12 of vehicle seat 10 (such as in a recessed receiving portion or the like of the seat frame). Seat back insert 16 also includes cover portion 24, which substantially covers an upper or forward portion or surface 16a of seat back insert 16, and wraps around the side or edges 16b of the seat back and partially covers the perimeter portions of a bottom or rear surface 16c of the seat back. As can be seen in FIGS. 2-7, seat insert 22 and seat back insert 24 may include a plurality of fasteners 26 for attaching the inserts to the seat shell 12 or seat frame. The fasteners may comprise bolts or nuts or other threaded fasteners or the like or any other fastening means for removably attaching the inserts to the seat shell or frame, without affecting the scope of the present invention.

With reference to FIG. 8, cover portion 22 of seat insert 14 may comprise a fabric material that includes a backing portion 22a and an exterior fabric portion 22b at an exterior surface of the backing portion 22a. Cover 22 may comprise any fabric or material, such as a velour material or other fabric material, or any other type of material that may be bonded to the fiberglass body portion, such as vinyl or other suitable materials for providing and exterior seat or panel surface, without affecting the scope of the present invention. In the illustrated embodiment, cover 22 comprises a vertical pile fabric material having a plurality of fibers 22c extending outwardly from backing material 22a (as shown in FIG. 8). As can be seen in FIG. 8, the fabric cover 22 may be bonded to the substantially rigid body portion 18, with no adhesive layer or the like between the backing material and the body portion. Insert 14 may be attached to the seat frame 12 via one or more fasteners 26, such as a threaded nut 26 insert molded within the body portion 18. The seat insert may be removably attached to the seat frame via a threaded bolt 27 or the like extending through the seat frame 12 and engaging the threaded nut 26 of the seat insert. The seat back insert may be similarly constructed and attached.

The seat insert and seat back insert of the present invention are formed or molded to bond the cover portions to the respective substantially rigid body portions during the same molding processes that form and mold the substantially rigid body portions. For example, a mold cavity may be provided for receiving the cover portion therein and molding the body portion in a desired body or insert shape. The cover portion may be placed within the mold cavity with the inner surface or backing portion or backing material facing into the mold cavity and the exterior surface of the cover portion facing against the wall of the mold cavity. A fiberglass mat or matting material or member or block may be positioned within the mold cavity and at or adjacent to or on top of the inner surface of the cover portion. A liquid resin material, such as a polyester resin or the like, may be disposed or dispensed or introduced into the mold cavity (such as via injection of the material or pouring of the material or otherwise dispensing or introducing the material into the mold cavity) and may soak into or be absorbed into the fiberglass matting block and may contact the inner surface or backing material of the cover portion.

The resin may then be absorbed into the fiberglass matting block and fills the mold cavity to form the seat insert body in the desired body shape and contours and to form a substantially rigid body portion when the resin material cures. The backing material or inner surface of the cover portion may include small or substantially microscopic fibers extending inwardly therefrom and toward the seat insert body, whereby the uncured polyester resin may engage or surround or encompass the substantially microscopic fibers and may thus bond the cover portion to the body portion as the resin is cured. The cover portion is thus bonded substantially uniformly over the exterior surface of the fiberglass body portion during the forming/molding of the rigid body portion, and without requiring a layer of adhesive or any gluing processes.

In a particular embodiment of the present invention, the method of forming the seat insert or seat back insert or panel may include the initial pre-molding steps of cutting the cover material to the desired dimension and shape and placing the cover material into the mold with the visible surface facing down in one half of the mold cavity. The piece of fiberglass matting or block may then be placed directly on top of the inner surface or backing material of the cover material and on the same half of the mold cavity. The fiberglass mat may comprise just a block of matting material and need not be formed to the seat contour (the mat thus may be pre-formed to the seat contour shape or may not be pre-formed, without affecting the scope of the present invention). While the fiberglass mat is positioned in the mold and before the resin is introduced into the mold, the fastener or fasteners may be positioned in the mold at the desired locations and may insert through openings in the fiberglass mat or block if desired, such that when the resin is introduced into the mold cavity and absorbed into the fiberglass mat, the fasteners are molded into the body portion and retained therein. Optionally, the fastener or fasteners may be otherwise attached to the molded seat insert after it has been molded and cured, such as by adhering or bonding or otherwise attaching the fasteners to the underside of the molded seat insert, without affecting the scope of the present invention. Optionally, the seat insert may not require any fasteners, and may otherwise attach to the seat shell or frame, such as via insertion into or along slots or the like in the shell or frame or via adhesively attaching or bonding the seat insert to the seat shell or frame or the like, without affecting the scope of the present invention.

The mold may then be closed and a polyester resin may be introduced into the mold cavity and onto/into the fiberglass matting, and may be allowed to soak into the fiberglass matting and around the substantially microscopic fibers extending from the backing of the cover material. The polyester resin introduced into the mold cavity may saturate the mat or block and fill in voids in the fiberglass material, and may form to the contours of the mold cavity to define the shape of the seat insert, all while simultaneously bonding to the backing material of the fabric cover. The polyester resin is then allowed to cure, such as for approximately 12-14 minutes at room temperature, and the cured seat insert is then removed from the mold and trimmed to remove any excess polyester resin material. The cover material that may extend around the fiberglass insert portion may be wrapped around to the underside of the seat insert, as shown in FIG. 4.

Optionally, the resin material may be introduced into a mold cavity, such as by injection of the material into a closed cavity, or the resin material may be otherwise introduced, such as by pouring or otherwise dispensing the resin material into an open mold (such as in a cold-molding process), without affecting the scope of the present invention. The mold may comprise a closed mold or a closable mold cavity that contains the fiberglass matting and resin material therein while the resin cures. Optionally, the mold may comprise a one-sided mold cavity, with no upper half, such that the resin material may be poured or otherwise dispensed or introduced into the open mold and allowed to cure therewithin, such as via a UV curing process for a UV curable resin, or such as via other known curing processes. For example, the mold (with the fiberglass matting and resin material) may be covered with a plastic cover or sheet (or placed in a plastic bag), and the bag or cover may optionally be vacuumed to remove a substantial amount of air from within the bag to create a partial vacuum within the bag, and then the resin material may be cured via exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Optionally, the resin material may be contained or molded and cured via other known molding and/or curing processes, without affecting the scope of the present invention.

During the molding process, the polyester resin mixture saturates the fiberglass matting material or mat, and may force substantially all of the air from the cavity to allow the polyester resin to bond uniformly with the fiberglass mat and with the backing of the cover material. The polyester resin does not penetrate into and through the backing material or cover material, but instead bonds to the small or substantially microscopic fibers present on the rear or inner surface of the backing material or cover material. The molded fiberglass body of the seat insert of the present invention is thus formed at the time it is bonded to the fabric, such that the fabric does not have to be separately glued to the molded body after it is formed. The seat insert of the present invention thus is formed without using adhesives (or any other type of binder or attachment layer or material), because as the resin material hardens and cures, it bonds to the fabric and forms an integral unit comprising the exterior cover and the rigid fiberglass body portion.

The body portion of the seat insert thus may comprise a fiberglass reinforced plastic composed of a fiberglass reinforcement block and a resin material. The resin material may be colored to the desired color of the seat insert, if desired. The resin material may comprise any suitable resin material, such as a polyester resin or the like, without affecting the scope of the present invention. The selected resin material may encompass or wrap around and between the glass fibers of the mat and bond thereto to provide the desired strength and rigidity to the body portion of the seat insert. Typically, the resin material includes a polyester material and an activating material that activates the polyester material to cause curing and hardening of the polyester material in the mold. The fiberglass mat may comprise any type of fiberglass material, such as fabric woven roving, continuous roving, chopped spun roving or swirl mat or the like, without affecting the scope of the present invention. The fiberglass mat may have a glass content of at least approximately 25% by weight, and may preferably have the fiberglass material distributed substantially uniformly throughout the mat or block. Clearly, however, other glass content and distribution may be provided, without affecting the scope of the present invention.

Although described above as having the polyester resin material injected or otherwise introduced into a mold cavity to mold the body portion and to bond the cover portion to the body portion, other types of molding and bonding processes may be performed to integrally form the molded and covered insert, without affecting the scope of the present invention. For example, the body portion may be formed by a spray layup process, where the resin and glass materials are shot into the mold (such as on top of the fabric in the mold) at substantially the same time, or a hand layup process, where the glass material may be laid down in the mold (such as on top of the fabric) and the resin material may be poured or spread onto the glass material by hand or other process (or layers of resin material may be applied to layers of glass material), or a resin spraying process, where the resin material may be sprayed or otherwise applied to or dispensed on the fiberglass matting material or block and the fabric backing, or a pre-pregnate process, where the resin material may be pre-pregnated into the fiberglass matting material, whereby the matting may be pressed against the fabric backing to bond the fabric backing to the fiberglass body portion, or a sheet molding compound (SMC) process, where the glass fibers and the polyester material are mixed together and flattened into a sheet form and then placed in the mold (such as on top of the fabric) and where the activating material or activator may be part of the compound and may be heated to activate the curing process (or where the activator may be sprayed onto or otherwise applied to the sheet form to cause the resin to harden and cure), or a bulk molding compound (BMC) process, where the glass fibers and polyester material are mixed together and placed into the mold (such as on top of the fabric) and the compound is pressed into the desired form and the activator may then be activated (such as by heating), or may be sprayed or applied to the pressed form, to cause the resin to harden and cure, or any other type of composite or compression molding process or the like, without affecting the scope of the present invention. The body portion is thus formed and/or molded and hardened and cured at and against the fabric material, such that the fabric material is molded to or bonded to the body portion during the same process that forms the body portion.

The molding process and integral or unitary seat insert of the present invention is particularly useful in bonding vertical pile fabric material to a fiberglass seat insert portion, so as to form a vandal resistant seat insert. The vertical pile fibers that extend upward from the backing portion of the cover function to substantially hide or conceal slices or cuts that may occur in the exterior cover of the seat insert, while the bonding of the backing portion to the fiberglass insert portion functions to retain and substantially preclude fraying of the fabric material and detachment of the fabric material from the fiberglass insert portion. However, the method and seat insert of the present invention is equally suitable for molding and bonding other types of fabric materials or other suitable cover materials to a fiberglass insert portion or panel as the insert portion is molded and/or formed.

Although shown and described above as being a seat insert or seat back insert for use in vehicle seating applications and the like, the present invention may be equally suitable for molding and bonding cover materials onto other inserts or body portions, such as divider panels or the like, without affecting the scope of the present invention. The term “seat insert” as used herein, is not intended to be limited to inserts that a person may sit on, but rather is intended to encompass seat onserts, seat back inserts and onserts, divider panels and other such inserts and onserts and panels and the like as well.

The present invention thus provides a seat insert and the like that has an exterior cover that is bonded to the fiberglass body portion during the molding and forming process of the body portion. The cover is thus bonded to the surface of the fiberglass body portion during the same molding process that forms the body portion, such that no adhesive and/or the like (or any other type of binder or attachment layer or material) is/are required to retain the cover to the fiberglass portion. The seat insert or seat back insert or panel or the like of the present invention thus comprises a unitarily formed insert or panel that has the cover integrally formed with or bonded to the rigid body portion of the insert. Such an arrangement provides a substantially uniform and substantially durable attachment of the cover to the insert body to limit or substantially preclude detachment of the cover from the body.

Changes and modifications to the specifically described embodiments of the present invention may be carried out without departing from the principles of the present invention, which is intended to be limited only by the scope of the appended claims as interpreted according to the principles of patent law.