Title:
Honeycomb mattress support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus providing a sleeping surface is described. A mattress support includes a honeycomb core formed of undulated strips of resilient thermoplastic material, thermal compression bonded together and expanded to form cell walls defining a plurality of contiguous regularly shaped cells. The honeycomb core has a top face and a bottom face, and includes a thermal compression planarizing deformation of the top face and the bottom face. A first facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material is bonded to the top face of the honeycomb core, and a second facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material is bonded to the bottom face of the honeycomb core. The mattress support is configured to support the mattress and a human being positioned on top of the mattress, the mattress positioned on top of the first facing sheet of the mattress support.



Inventors:
Wilson, Susan (San Jose, CA, US)
Landi, Curtis L. (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/009666
Publication Date:
06/15/2006
Filing Date:
12/10/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/690
International Classes:
A47C27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LIU, JONATHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUCHANAN, INGERSOLL & ROONEY PC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A mattress system, comprising: a mattress; and a mattress support that supports the mattress, the mattress support, comprising: a honeycomb core formed of undulated strips of resilient thermoplastic material, thermally bonded together and expanded to form cell walls defining a plurality of contiguous regularly shaped cells, the honeycomb core having a top face and a bottom face; a thermal compression planarizing deformation of the top face and the bottom face; a first facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material bonded to the top face of the honeycomb core; and a second facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material bonded to the bottom face of the honeycomb core; where the mattress support is configured to support the mattress and a human being positioned on top of the mattress, the mattress positioned on top of the first facing sheet of the mattress support.

2. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the mattress support is substantially rectangular shaped.

3. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the mattress support is at least approximately 5 feet in length and at least approximately 3 feet in width.

4. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the honeycomb core is at least approximately 4 inches in thickness between the top face and the bottom face.

5. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the honeycomb core is formed from a thermoplastic polyurethane material having a durometer of approximately 80-85.

6. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the first facing sheet is formed from a 20 gauge thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer material and is approximately 0.015 to 0.025 inches in thickness.

7. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the mattress support includes two or more honeycomb cores bonded together.

8. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first facing sheet, the second facing sheet, or the strips of resilient thermoplastic material forming the honeycomb core include perforations.

9. The mattress system of claim 1, wherein the mattress comprises a honeycomb core formed of undulated strips of resilient thermoplastic material, thermal compression bonded together and expanded to form cell walls defining a plurality of contiguous regularly shaped cells, the honeycomb core having a top face and a bottom face.

10. The mattress system of claim 9, wherein the mattress further comprises: a thermal compression planarizing deformation of the top face and the bottom face; a first facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material bonded to the top face of the honeycomb core; and a second facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material bonded to the bottom face of the honeycomb core.

11. The mattress system of claim 10, wherein for the mattress at least one of the first facing sheet, the second facing sheet or the strips of resilient thermoplastic material include perforations.

12. A mattress support, comprising: a honeycomb core formed of undulated strips of resilient thermoplastic material, thermal compression bonded together and expanded to form cell walls defining a plurality of contiguous regularly shaped cells, the honeycomb core having a top face and a bottom face; a thermal compression planarizing deformation of the top face and the bottom face; a first facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material bonded to the top face of the honeycomb core; and a second facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material bonded to the bottom face of the honeycomb core; where the mattress support is configured to support a mattress and a human being positioned on top of the mattress, the mattress positioned on top of the first facing sheet of the mattress support.

13. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the mattress support is substantially rectangular shaped.

14. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the mattress support is at least approximately 5 feet in length and at least approximately 3 feet in width.

15. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the honeycomb core is at least approximately 4 inches in thickness between the top face and the bottom face.

16. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the honeycomb core is formed from a thermoplastic polyurethane material having a durometer of approximately 80-85.

17. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the first facing sheet is formed from a 20 gauge thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer material and is approximately 0.015 to 0.025 inches in thickness.

18. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the mattress support includes two or more honeycomb cores bonded together.

19. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein at least one of the first facing sheet, the second facing sheet, or the strips of resilient thermoplastic material forming the honeycomb core include perforations.

20. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the mattress support configured to support a mattress has width and length dimensions at least the same as width and length dimensions of the mattress.

21. The mattress support of claim 12, wherein the mattress support configured to support a mattress and a human being is provided with at least enough stiffness to support the weight of a mattress and a human being lying horizontally thereon.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to an apparatus providing a sleeping surface.

BACKGROUND

A typical bed includes a mattress supported by a bed frame. Often, a box spring is positioned between the mattress and the bed frame to provide additional support for the user. A typical mattress is formed from coiled springs and padding encased in a fabric covering, although other types of mattresses are available, including mattresses made from manmade foam or from natural fibers, such as cotton or wool. Alternatively, a mattress or mattress overlay can be formed from a honeycomb material, for example, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,701,621, entitled “Liner for Overlaying a Mattress”, issued to Landi, et al, on Dec. 30, 1997. A box spring is usually formed from coiled springs and a wooden frame encased by a fabric covering.

SUMMARY

This invention relates to an apparatus providing a sleeping surface for humans. In general, in one aspect, the invention features a mattress system including a mattress positioned on top of a mattress support, and a mattress support. The mattress support includes a honeycomb core formed of undulated strips of resilient thermoplastic material, thermal compression bonded together and expanded to form cell walls defining a plurality of contiguous regularly shaped cells. The honeycomb core has a top face and a bottom face, and includes a thermal compression planarizing deformation of the top face and the bottom face. A first facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material is bonded to the top face of the honeycomb core, and a second facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material is bonded to the bottom face of the honeycomb core. The mattress support is configured to support the mattress and a human being positioned on top of the mattress, the mattress positioned on top of the first facing sheet of the mattress support.

Embodiments can include one or more of the following features. The mattress support can be at least approximately 5 feet in length and at least approximately 3 feet in width. The honeycomb core can be at least approximately 4 inches in thickness between the top face and the bottom face. The honeycomb core can be formed from a thermoplastic polyurethane material having a durometer of approximately Shore A 80-85. The first facing sheet can be formed from a 20 gauge thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer material that is approximately 0.015 to 0.025 inches in thickness. The honeycomb core can be formed from two or more honeycomb panels fused together. The facing sheets and/or the honeycomb core can be formed from a perforated material.

The mattress can also be formed from a honeycomb core formed of undulated strips of resilient thermoplastic material, thermal compression bonded together and expanded to form cell walls defining a plurality of contiguous regularly shaped cells. The honeycomb core has a top face and a bottom face, and includes a thermal compression planarizing deformation of the top face and the bottom face. A first facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material is bonded to the top face of the honeycomb core, and a second facing sheet of resilient thermoplastic material is bonded to the bottom face of the honeycomb core.

Implementations of the invention can realize one or more of the following advantages. The honeycomb mattress support is lighter in weight than a conventional box spring. The honeycomb panel used to form the honeycomb mattress support resists deformation. Different materials can be used to make the honeycomb panel to vary the properties, e.g., firmness, weight.

The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a user lying on a mattress system.

FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of a portion of a honeycomb panel.

FIGS. 3-6 are schematic cross-sectional views illustrating a process for fabricating the honeycomb panel of FIG. 2.

FIG. 7 is a schematic perspective view of a honeycomb panel.

FIG. 8 is a schematic perspective view of a honeycomb panel attached to a spreader plate.

FIGS. 9A-F are schematic representations of cells of a honeycomb panel.

FIGS. 10-12 are schematic cross-sectional views illustrating a process for bonding facing sheets to a honeycomb core.

FIGS. 13A-B are schematic top views of a mattress support formed from two honeycomb panels.

FIGS. 14A-F are schematic sides views illustrating a process for seaming a side of a honeycomb panel.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a honeycomb mattress system 1 is shown providing a sleeping surface 2 for a user 3. The honeycomb mattress system 1 includes a mattress 4 positioned on top of a mattress support 5. Optionally, the mattress support 5 can be supported by a frame 6. The mattress support 5 is made from a honeycomb core material and replaces a box spring used in a typical bed having a mattress and box spring configuration. That is, the mattress support 5 provides additional support beneath the mattress 4, to further support the user 3 while lying prostrate on sleeping surface 2.

Referring to FIG. 2, an embodiment of a honeycomb core 10 used to form the mattress support 5 is shown. The honeycomb core 10 is made of strips 12 of plastic material that are bonded together and expanded. Facing sheets 14 and 16 can be thermal compression bonded to the honeycomb core 10. Alternatively, one of the facing sheets 14 or 16 can be eliminated. The honeycomb core 10 is an anisotropic three-dimensional structure having predetermined degrees of flex along the x, y, and z axes. Each cell is formed in part of generally S-shaped wall segments, each of which is shared with an adjacent cell. In addition, each cell shares a double thickness wall segment with two adjacent cells. In one embodiment, each cell can be a hermetically sealed chamber.

The mattress support 5 has high tear and tensile strength and is highly resilient, with optimal compression load and shock absorption or dispersion characteristics, yet can be relatively lightweight. Selected combinations of elastomeric material, honeycomb cell configuration, core thickness and facing material variables can determine the characteristics of softness or hardness, resilient recovery rate and rigidity or flex. The facing materials can be selected from a wide variety of films, including thermoplastic urethanes, foams, EVA's, elastomer impregnated fibers and fabrics.

FIGS. 3 through 12 illustrate an exemplary method of fabrication of the mattress support 5, although other techniques can be used. The first step in the sequence is to prepare the multiple sheets of plastic material from which the honeycomb core 10 is to be fabricated. In one embodiment, the sheets are made of 0.015 inch thick thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer of 85 durometer, that is cut into 17 inch by 58 inch rectangular pieces. As depicted in FIG. 3, the first sheet 20 is laid out upon the upper surface of a bonding fixture base 22, which can have a closed cell foam pad 23 forming its upper surface. A Teflon® coated fiberglass fabric spacer in the general shape of a comb having a plurality of teeth or fingers 24 is then placed over the sheet 20, and a second sheet 26 is placed over the comb fingers 24.

Referring to FIG. 4, a Teflon impregnated fiberglass fabric sheet 28 is placed over sheet 26, and the base 22 is moved into position beneath a thermal bonding plate 30 having horizontally extending bonding ribs 32. Note that the lateral center-to-center spacing between the elongated ribs 32, the lengths of which extend into the plane of the drawing, is substantially the same as the center-to-center spacing between the fingers 24 of the Teflon spacer comb. As indicated, the depth of ribs 32 is selected so that little if any heat is transferred from the valleyed surfaces 33 to sheet 26. The fingers 24 are positioned laterally offset so as to be centered between the ribs 32.

As suggested by the arrow 34, the base 22 is then moved upwardly to cause the top surface of sheet 28 to engage ribs 32 and force the areas of the bottom surface of sheet 26 lying beneath the ribs 32 into compressive engagement with corresponding top surface areas of sheet 20. Since the plate 30 is elevated to a temperature of approximately 460 degrees Fahrenheit, heat will be transmitted from the ribs 30 and through sheet 28 to sheets 26 and 20, causing the contacting areas to be thermal compression bonded together. Note that the base travel (and thus the compression force), the temperature of plate 30, and the dwell time of each bonding cycle are carefully selected and controlled to achieve a desired bond quality. The function of the Teflon comb fingers 24 is to maintain separation between sheets 20 and 26 in the unbonded sheet surface areas between the bonded surface areas.

The base 22 is then lowered and, as depicted in FIG. 5, a second comb shaped separator is laid upon the upper surface of sheet 26, laterally offset relative to the first comb 24 so that the second comb's fingers 36 lie directly over the previously bonded areas of the sheets. A third sheet 38 of plastic material is then placed over the comb fingers 36, and the protective Teflon sheet 28 is replaced over the top of sheet 38. The base 22 is thereafter shifted rightwardly, as indicated by arrow 40, a predetermined distance so that the areas of sheet 38 to be bonded to sheet 26 lie directly beneath ribs 32. As depicted in FIG. 6, the base 22 is then again moved upwardly to engage ribs 22 with sheet 28 and effect bonding between sheets 26 and 38. Note that the ribs 32 are now aligned directly over the comb fingers 24 and sandwich the rows of surface areas 37 of sheets 26 and 38 therebetween, causing such areas to be thermally bonded to each other.

Although not depicted in detail, base 22 is then again lowered, the comb 24 is removed from between sheets 20 and 26, and after removal of sheet 28, is laid upon the upper surface of sheet 38. A fourth plastic sheet is subsequently laid thereupon along with the protective sheet 28, the base 22 is shifted leftwardly, and the assembly is again moved upwardly into contact with ribs 22 to complete the third bonding operation. The above-described process is successively repeated until a laminated assembly having a pre-selected number of laminations, such as is graphically represented in FIG. 7, is provided. In one implementation, the laminated block 50 includes 110 sheets of material bonded together along the bond row surface areas 52.

The laminated block 50 can then be cut into multiple core strips. As depicted in FIG. 7, the strip cutting operation can be carried out by a commercially available waterjet cutting machine, the jet nozzle 54 of which is caused to traverse along a line transverse to and in a plane normal to the lengths of the bonded row areas 52 so that its jet 56 causes a core strip 58 to be severed from the block 50. In another implementation, the longitudinal cuts are made with a guillotine cutter. Alternatively, a shearing device or any other suitable means of cutting the block 50 into core strips can be used. In one embodiment, to create a honeycomb core 10 for use in a mattress support, a core strip 58 approximately 4.25 inches is severed from the block 50.

The core strip 58 is then expanded into a honeycomb configuration. This may be accomplished either manually, or mechanically by suitable mechanisms. In one implementation, the core expansion operation is accomplished using metal spreader plates such as that depicted at 60 in FIG. 8. The plate 60 has predetermined width W and length L and includes along each length extending side a row of vertically projecting pins 61 and 62 (e.g., polyvinyl chloride pins) disposed at regular intervals. For example, when expanded the core strip 58 before trimming is approximately 40 inches by 86 inches. The “L direction” shown in FIGS. 2 and 8 is the direction including the double-thickness walls. Preferably, the L direction coincides with the length of the core 58, although the opposite orientation (i.e., the L direction coinciding with the width) can be used.

The core strip 58 is expanded by application of separating forces in the directions illustrated by the arrows E in FIG. 7. In one implementation, the outermost row of cells on the upper side 63 are hooked over pins 61, while the cells on the lower side 64 are hooked over pins 62 as shown in FIG. 8. The spacing between pins in the L direction and the spacing between the rows of pins in the W direction are carefully selected in conjunction with the bond row width (as determined by the width of bonding plate ribs 32) and separation between bond (as determined by the spacing between ribs 32) such that, when the core is expanded and hooked over the pins 61 and 62, a particular cell configuration will be defined. Note for example that for a particular combination of a selected number of core sheets, bond width and bond spacing, a particular pin spacing in the L direction and a particular pin row spacing in the W direction might yield a cell configuration such as that illustrated in FIG. 9a wherein the cell dimension d1 in the core expansion direction is greater than the cell dimension d2 in the core strip length direction.

On the other hand, by increasing the spacing (in the direction) between pins in each row and decreasing the spacing (in the W direction) between pin rows, the same core when expanded will have cells with different cell dimensions d3 and d4, as depicted in FIG. 9b. Moreover, by changing the bond row width B and the separation between bond rows, a still different cell configuration can be achieved as illustrated in FIG. 9c. FIG. 9d shows an alternative implementation, wherein the cell is configuration in an approximate hexagonal shape. Other configurations are possible. Thus by judicious selection of core bond width core bond spacing, spreader plate pin separation (in both L and W directions) and the type of materials used for the core one can provide a honeycombed core structure having particular desired characteristics.

In one embodiment, the dimensions of the cells in the mattress support 5 are as follows. Referring to FIG. 9a, each cell is approximately 1.5 inches in the d1 direction and approximately 1.25 inches long in the d2 direction. Dimensions of each core cell can be varied by changing the dimensions and/or spacings of the bonding ribs used during the build up of the core stack.

In another implementation, a honeycomb expander mechanism can be used to expand the core 58. For example, the honeycomb expander mechanism described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,375,305 issued to Stillman on Dec. 27, 1994, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference, can be used to expand the core 58. Other mechanisms or techniques can be used to expand the core 58.

Referring to FIG. 8, the core 58 can be positioned upon plate 60 and an inspection made to assure that the rows of cells are properly aligned and oriented. At this point, the core is ready for planarization in order to prepare the core for receiving the facing sheets 14 and 16. Referring to FIG. 10, the spreader plate 60 and attached core 58 are placed on a lifting bed 69 beneath a press plate 70 having a smooth lower surface which is aligned parallel to plate 60, and a 10 mil Teflon sheet 72 is placed over the core 58.

The bed 69 is then raised causing core 58 and sheet 72 to be moved upwardly into engagement with plate 70 to effect one or more searing operations which have the effect of planarizing the upper surface of core 58 by deforming the upper extremities of the core walls as indicated at 74. Again, the bed travel, press plate temperature and press dwell time are carefully selected and controlled to achieve the desired result. In one implementation, the press plate temperature is approximately 400 degrees Farenheit and the press dwell time is approximately 10 seconds.

Referring to FIG. 11, after the first planarizing operation is complete, and while the core is still warm, the Teflon sheet 72 is removed, and a facing sheet 14 is placed over the planarized core surface. In one embodiment, the facing material is comprised of a 0.020 inch thick sheet of 20 gauge thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer with an 85 A durometer. After facing sheet 14 is placed upon core 58, a 10 mil Teflon cover 78 is placed over the facing 76, and the bed 69 is again moved upwardly causing sheet 78 to engage plate 70 and transmit heat and pressure to the interface between the flattened core wall tops 74 of core 58 and sheet 78, causing the two to be thermal compression bonded together.

If applying facing sheets to both sides of the honeycomb core 10, the single faced core assembly is stripped from the spreader plate 60, inverted and placed on another flat plate, positioned beneath press 70, and the operations illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11 are repeated to planarize the second side of core 58, and then affix a second facing sheet 16 to the second side. In one implementation, the second facing sheet is also a 0.020 inch thick sheet of 20 gauge thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer with an 85 durometer. The press plate can have a slightly lower temperature of 390 degrees Farenheit and a press dwell time of approximately 7 seconds. In other embodiments, multiple facing sheets or laminated facing sheets may be bonded to an expanded honeycomb core.

To insure proper cooling and to maintain planarization of the bonded surfaces, a flat cooling plate may be placed atop the panel following each facing bonding operation and left in place for a predetermined period. Alternatively, a weighted plate may be rubbed several times across the heated surface to achieve the same result.

At this point, the honeycomb core 10 (with facing sheets 14, 16 attached) is complete and ready for trimming and final inspection, and has a cross sectional configuration such as that depicted in FIG. 12, which is a cross section taken along the line 1010 of FIG. 2. As indicated, each wall of the core has a structure resembling an I-beam, as indicated at 80, the upper and lower extremities 82 and 84 of which are firmly bonded to the facing sheets 76 and 86. In addition, as shown in FIG. 2, each cell is formed of generally S-shaped vertical wall segments 88 joined together with two wall segments 90 and 92 of double thickness. Preferably, the mattress support 5 is orientated such that the wall segments 90 and 92 of double thickness are aligned with the length of the mattress support 5 (i.e., the longer dimension), to provide additional support to the structure, although other orientations can be used. With the top and bottom edges of these walls bonded to the upper and lower facing sheets 14 and 16 a unitary honeycomb panel is provided with no seams or separations. Because of the high integrity of the bonds between the core and facing sheets, the anisotropic features of the structure are uniform and predictable.

In one embodiment, perforations may be formed in one or both of the facing sheets to unseal the honeycomb cells. Alternatively, or additionally, the cell walls can include perforations. Referring to FIGS. 9E and 9F, in FIG. 9E, a cell 110 is shown with perforations 112. FIG. 9F shows a top view of a facing sheet 114 with perforations 116 overlying a cell 118. That is, before starting the process for forming the honeycomb cells described above, the sheets to be used can be perforated, such that a matrix of small holes exist throughout. Perforating the honeycomb core walls and/or the facing sheets reduces the weight of the mattress support 5, since the overall quantity of material used is reduced, and increases the resiliency and flexibility. The flexibility is increased because there is less material to constrain each segment of the material from bending. The resiliency, or ability of the structure to spring back to its original form after being compressed, is also enhanced by virtue of the additional passages through which air can return to fill the cells. The perforations can also provide improved air circulation.

The mattress support 5 can be formed in various sizes to accommodate mattresses of various sizes. For example, the mattress support 5 can have dimensions of approximately: 74 inches by 36 inches to accommodate a twin size mattress; 80 inches by 30 inches to accommodate a queen size mattress; or 84 inches by 36 inches to accommodate a king size mattress. With respect to the queen and king size embodiments, two mattress supports 5 can be used positioned side by side lengthwise to support a corresponding mattress (see further description below). In one embodiment, the mattress support 5 can be approximately 4 inches thick. A honeycomb core strip having a pre-planarization thickness of 4.25 inches can be used. The overall thickness is reduced by approximately ⅛th of an inch on each face of the honeycomb core 10 during the planarization process. The mattress support 5 can be sized after the honeycomb core 10 is fabricated as described above, i.e., trimmed down to the desired dimensions, or the honeycomb core 10 can initially be formed according to the desired dimensions.

Referring to FIGS. 13A and 13B, in one implementation, a mattress support 100 can be formed by fusing together two or more honeycomb cores 102, 104 (e.g., for a queen or king size mattress support), before or after applying the facing sheets. This can facilitate fabrication, because smaller core panels can be created. Additionally, if a defect is found in a panel rendering it useless, because the panel is smaller than if a single panel were being used, less material is wasted. One technique for fusing the panels together is radio frequency sealing, although other techniques can be used (e.g., adhesive, heat fusing a strip of facing material down the seam, etc.). For example, the sides to be joined can be pressed against each other and heat sealed at a temperature of approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The honeycomb panel assembly then undergoes planarization to prepare the upper and lower faces for facing sheets. Alternatively, the honeycomb core panels 102, 104 can be planarized separately before they are fused to one another. In yet another alternative, the honeycomb core panels 102, 104 can be planarized and faced separately before being fused together.

In one embodiment, the mattress support 5 is formed from the honeycomb core and facing sheets 14, 16 as described above. The four sides of the mattress support 5 are not faced, and the cell structure is visible. Optionally, the mattress support 5 can be encased, for example, in a fabric encasement.

Referring to FIGS. 2, 13A and 13B, although the cells are shown as substantially horizontal in shape, as discussed above in reference to FIGS. 9A-D, other configurations are possible. For example, the cells can be configured to be substantially hexagonal in shape. Additionally, as also discussed above, the honeycomb core can be oriented such that the L-direction (direction parallel to the double-thickness walls) is lengthwise, widthwise or otherwise oriented with respect to the mattress support.

In another embodiment, a seam can be formed along the sides of the mattress support 5 by bonding together opposing top and bottom edges. An exemplary process for forming the seams in a mattress support 200 is shown in FIGS. 14A-C.

Referring to FIG. 14A, slits 202 are cut along the length of the side 204 that is to be seamed on both the upper and lower faces of the mattress support 5. The slits 202 extend through the upper and lower face sheets 206, 208 and partially into the walls of the cells. The slits 202 allow the upper and lower edges 210, 212 to be pulled toward each other. Referring to FIG. 14B, the upper and lower edges 210, 212 are positioned on a base 214 of a radio frequency sealing apparatus, and a radio frequency sealing bar 216 is pressed downwardly onto, and compresses, the edges 210, 212. Radio frequency energy is transmitted through the radio frequency sealing bar 216 causing the edges 210, 212 to fuse to one another. Optionally, a non-stick material, such as a Teflon® sheet, can be placed between the radio frequency sealing bar 216 and the edge 210 during the fusion process.

As shown in FIG. 14C, once the radio frequency sealing operation is complete, a melt sealed flange 218 is created that bonds the two edges 210, 212. The flange 218 is similar to a seam allowance created when sewing two pieces of fabric together using a sewing machine. The flange 218 can be trimmed back as much as possible, while maintaining the bond between the edges 210, 212. Optionally, an edge trim can be applied to the flange 218, for example, a fabric trim, for a more appealing, finished look. The technique for joining the edges 210, 212 described above used radio frequency joining, however, other joining techniques can be used, for example, a heat joining technique, or other convenient methods to create the seam as described.

An alternative exemplary process for forming the seams in a mattress support 300 is shown in FIGS. 14D-F. The process is similar to what was described above in reference to FIGS. 14A-C, except that the slit 302 (or slits) made in the mattress support 300 are made approximately horizontally along the side 304 to be flanged. The opposing edges 306 and 308 are then pulled toward one another, and positioned on a base 310 of a radio frequency sealing apparatus. As shown, a sheet of non-stick material, such as a Teflon sheet 312 can be placed between the radio frequency sealing bar 314 and the edge 306. The radio frequency sealing bar 314 is pressed downwardly onto, and compresses, the edges 306, 308. Radio frequency energy is transmitted through the radio frequency sealing bar 314 causing the edges 306, 308 to fuse to one another. Other techniques for creating a seamed edge can be used, for example, it is not necessary to make a slit or slits in the material before fusing.

In another embodiment, facing sheets can be applied to the four sides of the mattress support, in addition to the upper and lower faces as described above. In one implementation, facing sheets can be applied to the sides by fusion using a hot iron.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the honeycomb mattress system 1 includes a mattress 4 positioned on top of the mattress support 5. The mattress 4 can be formed from any kind of material, including coiled springs, cotton, wool, foam or a honeycomb panel. In one embodiment, the mattress 4 is made from a honeycomb core that is similar to the honeycomb core used to form the mattress support 5. The honeycomb core used for the mattress 4 can be made from a 5 mil thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer having a 70-75 A durometer. The cells can be approximately 0.375 inches in width and length. The mattress 4 optionally can be faced with facing sheets made from an approximately 0.020 gauge thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer having a 85 durometer. The mattress 4 can be bonded to the mattress support 5, for example, by heating the two surfaces separately and then thermal compression bonding them together.

The mattress support 5 can optionally be positioned on top of a frame 6, as depicted in FIG. 1, although the frame 6 is not necessary. The frame 6 can be made from any suitable material, including metal, wood and/or plastic.

A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.





 
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