Title:
Method of fabricating a fixture mounting via product encapsulation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture to the interior of a vehicle. The mounting assembly includes a multi-part shell produced by employing the irregularly shaped fixture to create a replica of the fixture's external size, shape and topography. An anchor assembly is appended to an external surface of the multi-part shell for retaining the multi-part shell to a surface of the vehicle. The fixture can be removably housed within the multi-part shell for use by an operator of the vehicle.



Inventors:
Giordano, Michael A. (Rohnert Park, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/412513
Publication Date:
11/16/2006
Filing Date:
04/27/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B81/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BONIFAZI, MELISSA ANN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dergosits & Noah LLP (San Francisco, CA, US)
Claims:
1. An assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture to the interior of a vehicle, said assembly comprising a multi-part shell produced by employing said irregularly shaped fixture to create a replica of the fixture's external size, shape and topography, said assembly fixture comprising an anchor assembly for attaching said multi-part shell to a surface of said vehicle said multi-part shell removably housing said fixture therein for accessing it by an operator of said vehicle.

2. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said multi-part shell comprises a top portion and bottom portion, said top and bottom portions being selectively detachable from one another to introduce and remove said fixture from the interior of said multi-part shell.

3. The assembly of claim 2 wherein said top portion of said multi-part shell is provided with open regions to enable a user to access functions of said fixture.

4. The assembly of claim 2 wherein said anchor assembly is appended to an outer surface of said bottom portion of said multi-part shell.

5. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said multi-part shell comprises a plastic color coordinated to the interior of said vehicle.

6. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said multi-part shell further comprises a port configured therein for supplying power to said fixture.

7. The assembly of claim 4 wherein said anchor assembly is removably appended to said bottom portion of said multi-part shell.

8. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said multi-part shell is sized to provide internal space for both said fixture and a layer of cushioning material.

9. The assembly of claim 1 wherein said multi-part shell further comprises one or more ports to allow access to sensors or other vital components of said fixture.

Description:

PRIOR APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application No. 60/676,418 filed Apr. 29, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to an assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture to the interior of a vehicle. The irregularly shaped fixture is used to create a multi-part shell which conforms precisely to its external size, shape and topography. This invention is capable of mounting after market products, especially those of irregular shape, to a vehicle's interior and which can provide an integrated color-coordinated mount of the fixture as an aesthetically pleasing adjunct to the vehicle's interior.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Current mounting methods for irregularly shaped products can only utilize the minimal contact surface area that exists between the product and that portion of the mount that contacts the product, frequently making the mount unsecure. Current mounting methods also do not assimilate a product's incompatible color scheme and/or texture to that of the vehicle's interior. Current mounting methods also do not protect the aftermarket product, thus making it susceptible to being damaged in every day use.

In addition, fixtures mounted in the vehicle are either permanently affixed to the vehicle making their replacement or removal for repair difficult, or they are temporarily affixed by, for example, suction cups, which often result in an unsecured mount.

It is thus an object of the present invention to provide an assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture to the interior of a vehicle in a fashion which is much more convenient and aesthetically pleasing than prior art alternatives.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide an assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture within a multi-part shell, the shell providing support for the fixture in a predetermined location enabling one to selectively remove the fixture as needed for replacement and repair.

These and further objects will be more readily apparent when considering the following disclosure and appended claims.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to an assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture to the interior of a vehicle, said assembly comprising a multi-part shell produced by employing said irregularly shaped fixture to create a replica of the fixture's external size, shape and topography. An anchor assembly is appended to an external surface of said multi-part shell for retaining said multi-part shell to a surface of said vehicle and removably housing said fixture within said multi-part shell for use by an operator of said vehicle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view illustrating a primary shell, positioned atop a fixture which, in turn, is positioned atop a spacer, and placed atop a platen of a vacuum forming machine.

FIG. 2 is an exposed isometric view of a vehicle support surface area, an anchor assembly, and encapsulated assembly.

FIG. 3 is an exploded isometric view of a vehicle support surface area, an anchor assembly, and encapsulated assembly.

FIG. 4 is a cutaway side view of a mounted fixture with emphasis on the universal mounting point.

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the mounted fixture of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As noted previously, there is currently no available means to releaseably encapsulate a fixture of irregular shape to the interior of a vehicle, and yet provide a secure encapsulation that enables a user to selectively remove the fixture(s) as needed. Further, there does not currently exist a means of releaseably mounting a fixture, regardless of its original color and texture that will aesthetically compliment the color and texture scheme of said interior. Although the present invention can be used with virtually any aftermarket fixture in virtually any vehicle with vacuum forming as one of many available manufacturing processes, the appended drawings have been created with the fixture being the Edge Juice Attitude Monitor. A vacuum forming method is disclosed in detail as an example of how one would create the assembly of the present invention. However, there are many other methods of producing the claimed assembly and the present invention is not to be limited to a single fabrication method.

The present invention, as noted previously, is directed to an assembly for mounting an irregularly shaped fixture to the interior of a vehicle. The assembly comprises a multi-part shell produced by employing the irregularly shaped fixture to create a replica of the fixture's external size, shape and topography. An anchor assembly is appended to an external surface of the multi-part shell for retaining the multi-part shell to a surface of the vehicle and removably housing the fixture within the multi-part shell for use by an operator of the vehicle. Most commonly, the multi-part shell comprises a top portion and bottom portion, the top and bottom portions being selectively detachable from one another to introduce and remove the fixture from the interior of the multi-part shell. The two portions can be sized during fabrication such that they snuggly fit together frictionally. As the fixture is employed as a template for producing the multi-part shell, usually the top portion of it is provided with open regions to enable a user to access functions of the fixture. Preferably, the anchor assembly be it appended to the stem of a rear view mirror or as a swing arm from the dashboard or any of the structural components of the interior is appended to an outer surface of the multi-part shell, usually its bottom portion. In fabrication, this shell is generally composed of a plastic color coordinated to the interior of the vehicle to provide an exceedingly well received aesthetic appearance. The shell can be provided with a port configured therein for supplying power to the fixture noting further that the shell can be sized, during fabrication, to be larger than the fixture to enable spacers and cushioning layers to be embedded therein as needed.

As an example of a typical fabrication method, reference is first made to FIG. 1. Fixture 2 is placed upon spacer 7 which is in turn placed upon platen 8 of a suitable vacuum forming machine, the operation which is well known to those skilled in this art. Noting that it is often times desirable to place a cushioning material and/or spacer material beneath a fixture when installed in a vehicle, spacer 7 is placed below fixture 2 during vacuum forming so that the sidewalls of the primary shell 1, are made to extend a distance beyond the sidewalls of fixture 2.

Turning to the illustrated method, a suitable shell material is placed over fixture 2 and spacer 7 through the application of heat and vacuum. In doing so, a primary shell 1 is created about the top and sides of fixture 2 and the sides of spacer 7. The primary shell 1 is a convex impression of fixture 2 and spacer 7. A mold is created from the interior of the primary shell 1. Said mold is employed as a template to create multiple shells.

Referring to FIG. 2 a shell 1A has been produced from the mold and area 1B may be removed to provide access to viewable display(s), control button(s), etc. The encapsulated assembly consists of one or more fixtures 2, one or more shells 1A, one or more bases 4, suitable cushioning and/or spacing material 3 and, referring to FIG. 3, one or more universal mounting points 4A. The anchor assembly consists of one or more universal mounting points 5A, one or more linkages 5B and one or more anchor points 5C.

Referring to FIG. 4 in the present illustration, a basic U-shaped metal rod is employed as an anchor assembly where one leg is securely appended at one or more anchor points 5C to vehicle surface 6. The other leg of the U-shaped rod is the universal mounting point 5A of said anchor assembly and is designed to integrate with the universal mounting point 4A of the encapsulated assembly securing both the encapsulated assembly and the anchor assembly with one another.

Referring back to FIG. 2, it has been determined that it is often advantageous to include cushioning material 3 upon base 4. Often times this cushioning material 3 is resilient and provides a snug fit of fixture 2 within shell 1A. In operation, fixture 2 can be inserted within shell 1A with or without cushioning and/or spacing material 3 and is releaseably fit over receiving portion of base 4B, thus creating the encapsulated assembly. Shell material may be made to aesthetically compliment the interior of the vehicle. Due to the releaseable fit between shell 1A and receiving portion of base 4B, fixture 2 will remain in place. However, when fixture 2 requires replacement or repair a user need only release shell 1A from base 4 providing access to fixture 2 as needed.

The present invention can also provide for support of a fixture requiring one or more external and/or electrical connections. Although the installation of said connections is not illustrated, anyone skilled in this art would readily appreciate the various ways that said connections may be concealed during installation.

Further, although the present figures show but one example of an anchor assembly, those skilled in this art could easily appreciate the application of various alternative ways of appending an encapsulated assembly to a vehicle's interior. These would include anchor assemblies which may be repositioned (swivel, pivot, etc.) or fixed in place.