Title:
Vehicle seat incorporating a seat back panel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A vehicle seat includes a seat bottom and a seat back including a frame connected to the seat bottom. The seat back includes a front surface configured to support an occupant and a rear surface. A seat back panel securable to the seat back frame includes an outer appearance surface and a retainer structure disposed on an inner surface. The retainer structure is releasably secured to the seat back frame such that the seat back panel at least partially covers an opening in the rear surface of the seat back.



Inventors:
Prasatek, Anthony Adam (Rochester, MI, US)
Dodge, Chris (Clawson, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/840899
Publication Date:
11/10/2005
Filing Date:
05/07/2004
Assignee:
Lear Corporation (Southfield, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/62; B60N2/64; B60N2/68; (IPC1-7): A47C7/62
View Patent Images:
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20090212610Vehicle seatAugust, 2009Yajima
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20110031799Passenger head supportFebruary, 2011Dejoode



Primary Examiner:
MCPARTLIN, SARAH BURNHAM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOKS KUSHMAN P.C. / LEAR CORPORATION (SOUTHFIELD, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A vehicle seat comprising: a seat bottom; a seat back including a having a pair of side frame members connected to the seat bottom and a top frame member extending between the side frame members, a front surface configured to support an occupant and, a rear surface; and a seat back panel securable to the seat back frame, the seat back panel including an outer appearance surface and a retainer structure on an inner surface, the retainer structure having more than one retainer clip releasably secured to the top and side frame members of the seat back frame such that the seat back panel at least partially covers an opening in the rear surface of the seat back.

2. (canceled)

3. The vehicle seat of claim 1, and wherein the retainer structure of the seat back panel further comprises a mounting arm provided adjacent an upper portion of the seat back panel adapted to engage the top frame member of the seat back.

4. The vehicle seat of claim 1 wherein the retainer structure of the seat back panel further comprises a pair of retainer clips provided adjacent an upper portion of the seat back panel releasably engaging the seat back frame.

5. The vehicle seat of claim 1 wherein the retainer structure of the seat back panel further comprises an opposing pair of clips releasably engaging opposing side frame members of the seat back frame.

6. The vehicle seat of claim 1 wherein the seat back panel is formed from a polymeric material as a one-piece structure.

7. The vehicle seat of claim 6 wherein the retainer structure is integrally formed into the inner surface of the seat back panel.

8. The vehicle seat of claim 1 wherein the retainer structure is secured to the inner surface of the seat back panel.

9. The vehicle seat of claim 8 wherein the retainer structure is secured to the inner surface of the seat back panel by heat staking.

10. The vehicle seat of claim 1 wherein the seat back includes a cover placed over the seat back frame to support the occupant of the seat.

11. The vehicle seat of claim 10 wherein the cover comprises a polymeric membrane disposed over a padding layer.

12. The vehicle seat of claim 1 further comprising a head rest adjustably positioned relative to and secured to the seat back frame.

13. A seat back panel releasably secured to a frame in a seat back of a vehicle seat, the seat back panel comprising: an outer appearance surface having a storage area defined therein; an inner surface; and a retainer structure disposed on the inner surface of the seat back panel, the retainer structure including more than one retainer clip releasably engaging a seat back frame and a mounting arm provided adjacent an upper portion of the seat back panel adapted to engage the seat back frame such that the seat back panel is releasably secured to the seat back frame and at least partially covers an opening in the a surface of the seat back.

14. The seat back panel of claim 13 wherein the seat back frame includes a pair of side frame members connected to a seat bottom and a top frame member extending between the side frame members.

15. The seat back panel of claim 13 wherein the retainer structure further comprises a pair of retainer clips provided adjacent an upper portion of the seat back panel releasably engaging the seat back frame.

16. The seat back panel of claim 14 wherein the retainer structure further comprises an opposing pair of clips releasably engaging opposing side frame members of the seat back frame.

17. The seat back panel of claim 13 wherein the retainer structure is integrally formed into the inner surface of the seat back panel.

18. The seat back panel of claim 13 wherein the retainer structure is secured to the inner surface of the seat back panel.

19. The seat back panel of claim 18 wherein the retainer structure is secured to the inner surface of the seat back panel by heat staking.

20. A method of assembling a seat back panel to a vehicle seat, the method comprising the steps of: providing a seat back including a frame, a front surface configured to support an occupant and a rear surface having an opening; providing a seat back panel having an outer appearance surface and a retaining structure on an inner surface, the retaining structure including at least one retaining clip; positioning the inner surface of the seat back panel adjacent the opening in the rear surface of the seat back; inserting the retaining structure into the opening in the rear surface of the seat back; and securing the at least one retaining clip to the seat back frame such that the seat back panel at least partially covers the opening in the rear surface of the seat back panel.

21. The seat back panel of claim 13 wherein the seat back panel is formed from a polymeric material as a one-piece structure.

22. A vehicle seat comprising: a seat bottom; a seat back including a frame having a pair of side frame members connected to the seat bottom and a top frame member extending between the side frame members, a front surface configured to support an occupant and, a rear surface; and a seat back panel securable to the seat back frame, the seat back panel including an outer appearance surface and a retainer structure on an inner surface such that the seat back panel is releasably secured to the seat back frame and at least partially covers an opening in the rear surface of the seat back, wherein the retainer structure includes a mounting arm provided adjacent an upper portion of the seat back panel adapted to engage the top frame member of the seat back, a pair of retainer clips provided adjacent an upper portion of the seat back panel releasably engaging the top frame member, and an opposing pair of clips releasably engaging the opposing side frame members of the seat back frame.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to improvements in vehicle seat assemblies, and more particularly to a vehicle seat back incorporating a seat back panel.

2. Background Art

Generally, vehicle seats are formed as an assembly of elements including internal structural support mechanisms attached to a bottom and back frame member so as to extend across the seating area, a padding layer positioned over the support mechanism and the frame, and a finish seat covering sewn to provide the final protective and aesthetic appearance of the seat.

While such a seat assembly has proven satisfactory for many vehicles, the need to develop vehicles having lower manufacturing costs and better fuel efficiency has heightened the need to provide vehicle component designs that simplify manufacturing processes while also lowering overall vehicle weight. Such considerations are also critical in designing alternative fuel vehicles. However, such reduced weight components must still provide structural rigidity to the seat to meet vehicle safety standards.

One area for reducing the weight of a vehicle is provide lower weight vehicle seats. However, because conventional vehicle seat assemblies require providing separate and assembling separate structural components, it is difficult to meet to the above-noted design goals. Further, it is difficult to perform maintenance on seat assemblies once installed in a vehicle passenger compartment.

Accordingly, a need exists for a vehicle seat assembly that reduces overall weight of the seat while increasing structural rigidity. In addition, a need exists for a vehicle seat design that allows for maintenance of the vehicle seat once installed in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, a vehicle seat includes a seat bottom and a seat back including a frame connected to the seat bottom. The seat back includes a front surface configured to support an occupant and a rear surface. A seat back panel securable to the seat back frame includes an outer appearance surface and a retainer structure disposed on an inner surface. The retainer structure includes at least one retainer clip releasably secured to the seat back frame such that the seat back panel at least partially covers an opening in the rear surface of the seat back. The retainer structure may be integrally formed into the inner surface of the seat back panel or may be secured to the panel by a variety of fastening methods.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a vehicle passenger seat incorporating a seat back panel in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear plan view of the vehicle seat with the seat back panel removed;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the seat back panel in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of a top frame retainer clip of the seat back panel;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view of a corner frame retainer clip of the seat back panel; and

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view of a side frame retainer clip of the seat back panel in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

Referring now to FIG. 1, a vehicle seat assembly 10 is illustrated having a seat bottom 12 and a pivotally connected seat back 14. Seat bottom 12 is conventional in design and can be constructed in accordance with any known manner. Seat bottom 12 generally includes a structural frame (not shown) covered by an outer finish cover material 16 extending about a foam pad layer or other suitable seating material. It is contemplated that cover material 16 may include fabric, vinyl, leather or other materials used in the vehicle passenger compartments based on manufacturing requirements. The upper portion of seat bottom 12 is designed to support the lower body portions of an occupant of the vehicle.

Seat bottom 12 includes a base 18 adjustably mounted to a support assembly 20. As shown in FIG. 1, support assembly comprises a pair of rails 20 mounted to the floor 22 of the vehicle. Each rail 20 includes a channel 24 extending longitudinally through the rail which receives a sliding mechanism (not shown) connected to a lower surface of base 18. Base 18 is adjustable along the pair of rails 20 forward or rearward relative to the vehicle floor 22. Alternatively, base 18 of seat bottom 12 may be mounted directly to the vehicle floor 22 in a stationary position.

Referring additionally to FIG. 2, seat back 14 includes a frame 26 preferably formed from a lightweight material such as polycarbonate fiber or aluminum. In a preferred embodiment, frame 26 is formed as a one-piece, hollow tubular structure having substantially vertical opposing side frame members 28, 30 pivotally connected to base 18 of seat bottom 12. A top frame member 32 extends between upper portions of side frame members 28, 30.

In one aspect of the invention, opposing side frame members 28, 30 of seat back 14 may be pivotally adjustable relative to seat bottom 12 by reclining mechanism 34. Alternatively, a bottom frame member 36 extending between side frame members 28, 30 and disposed opposite top frame member 32 may provide additional structural support for side frame members 28, 30 and cooperate with reclining mechanism 34 to adjust seat back 14 relative to seat bottom 12. It is also understood that seat back 14 may be fixedly connected to seat bottom 12.

Seat back 14 includes a headrest 38 adjustable relative to seat back 14. Headrest 38 includes a pair of arms 40 secured to receiving portions 42 on a top surface of the seat back 14. Alternatively, arms 40 may be secured to the top frame member 32 of seat back frame 26. Headrest 38 may be pivotally and vertically adjustable relative to seat back 14. Alternatively, seat back 14 may have an integrally formed headrest portion or may exclude a headrest.

Referring additionally now to FIG. 3, a seat back panel 44 is removably secured over an opening 46 in a rear surface 48 of seat back 14. Seat back panel 44 is preferably molded from a polymeric material as a one-piece support structure having an outer appearance surface 50 and an inner mounting surface 52 facing an inner portion of the seat back 14. Opening 46 in the rear surface 48 of seat back 14 allows access to components on the inside of seat back 14, including wireframe support structure 54, cover terminating portions 56 and padding layer 58 extending over frame 26 of seat back 14 for maintenance purposes. A cover material 60 extends over padding layer 58 and cooperates with frame 26 and support structure 54 to define a front surface supporting an upper body portion of a vehicle seat occupant. Cover material 60 is similar to cover material 16 of seat bottom 12.

Outer appearance surface 50 of seat back panel 44 includes a user accessible storage area 62. FIG. 1 illustrates a storage pocket 62 formed of a polymeric or cloth fabric which extends across a channel 64 formed in outer surface 50. Storage pocket 62 defines an opening to channel 64 which allows a user to store a variety of items securely within. It is understood that outer appearance surface 50 may be designed to accommodate a variety of features, such as storage hooks or handles assisting occupants in entering and exiting a passenger compartment of a vehicle.

Referring now to FIGS. 3-6, inner mounting surface 52 of seat back panel 44 includes a seat back panel retaining structure 66 provided adjacent an upper portion 68 of panel 44. Retaining structure 66 includes one or more mounting clips 70 which releasably engage frame 26 to secure panel 44 over the opening in the rear surface of the seat back. Mounting clips 70 are sized to receive a variety of different geometries and sizes of frames 26. Stops 72 provided on a lower portion 74 of the inner surface 52 of panel 44 engage the lower portion 74 of panel 44 to a receiving surface on the seat back. It is understood that fasteners may be substituted for stops 72 to engage a corresponding fastener portion on the receiving surface of the seat back.

Seat back panel 44 is molded from a polymeric material as a semi-rigid panel. In one aspect of the present invention, retaining structure 66 is a separate structure that is secured to the inner surface 52 of panel 44 by heat staking. It is understood that a variety of other adhering or securing processes may also be used, such as ultrasonic welding or mechanical fastening. In another aspect of the invention, retaining structure is integrally molded as part of the inner surface of the seat back panel.

In a preferred aspect of the invention shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, an L-shaped upper mounting arm 70 is formed on retaining structure 66 to receive the top frame member 32 of seat back frame 26. Upper mounting arm 70 includes a projection 76 extending from a clip body 78. Projection 76 cooperates with top frame member 32 to position panel 44 adjacent opening 46 in seat back 14. A passage 80 formed by projection 76, body 78 and the inner surface 52 of panel 44 receives the top frame member 32.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 5, a pair of retainer clips 82, 84 extend from retainer structure 66 adjacent the upper portion 68 of back seat panel 44. Retainer clips 82, 84 generally include a clip body 86 extending from the retainer structure 66 and a finger 88 pivotally mounted to the clip body 86. Finger 88 is configured to releasably engage the seat back frame 26 adjacent the top frame member 32 and side frame member 28. Retainer clips 82, 84 create an interference fit with the seat back frame 26.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 6, a pair of opposing clips 90, 92 extend from retainer structure 66 and are configured to engage the opposing side frame member 28, 30 of seat back fame 26. Clips 90, 92 include an arm 94 extending from the retainer structure 66 and a stop 96 provided on an upper portion 98 of arm 94. Stop 96 extends over side frame member 28 to secure seat back panel 44 to seat back frame 26.

Referring back to FIGS. 1-3, seat back panel 44 is secured to the seat back 14 by positioning the inner surface 52 of panel 44 adjacent opening 46 in the rear surface 48 of seat back 14. Retainer structure 66 is inserted through opening 46 such that mounting arm 70 receives top frame member 32. Once mounting arm 70 engages top frame member 32, fingers 88 of retainer clips 82, 84 engage and secure seat back frame 26 adjacent clip body 86. Stops 96 of side retaining clips 90, 92 are then placed over side frame member 28, 30. Once completed, seat back panel 44 is secured in position over opening 46 and is finish mounted to the rear surface 48 of seat back 14.

While embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it is not intended that these embodiments illustrate and describe all possible forms of the invention. Rather, the words used in the specification are words of description rather than limitation, and it is understood that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.