Title:
PADDED SEAT ASSEMBLY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat assembly comprises a seat base defining an opening, and a seat pad comprising a substrate and an exterior layer formed from a material having a thermal conductivity of less than 0.25 W·m−1·K−1, wherein the seat pad closes the opening of the seat base.



Inventors:
Ahrens, Kenneth A. (Mattawan, MI, US)
Amemiya, Minoru (Portage, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/679286
Publication Date:
08/30/2007
Filing Date:
02/27/2007
Assignee:
Interkal, LLC (Kalamazoo, MI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/232
International Classes:
A47C31/02; A47C15/00
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Primary Examiner:
WHITE, RODNEY BARNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLER, CANFIELD, PADDOCK AND STONE (DETROIT, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A seat assembly comprising, in combination; a seat base defining an opening; and a seat pad comprising a substrate and an exterior layer formed from a material having a thermal conductivity of less than 0.25 W·m−1·K−1, and the seat pad closes the opening of the seat base.

2. The seat assembly of claim 1 wherein the exterior layer comprises nylon covered neoprene.

3. The seat assembly of claim 1 wherein the seat pad further comprises a substrate and foam padding between the substrate and the exterior layer.

4. The seat assembly of claim 1 wherein the seat pad is positioned in a recess in the seat base so that the exterior layer is substantially flush with a top of the seat base.

5. The seat assembly of claim 1 wherein the seat base has a top, and the seat pad is affixed to the top of the seat base.

6. The seat assembly of claim 1 wherein the insulating material comprises one of a family of synthetic rubbers based on polychloroprene.

7. The seat assembly of claim 1 wherein the exterior layer is glued and stapled to a substrate.

8. The seat assembly of claim 7 wherein the substrate comprises wood.

9. A seat assembly comprising, in combination: a seat base defining an opening; and a seat pad comprising a substrate and an exterior layer formed from a material which feels warm to the touch of a person at about normal temperature, and the seat pad closes the opening of the seat base.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority benefit of U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/777,475 filed on Feb. 28, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to improvements in seat assemblies, and more particularly to improvements in telescoping seat assemblies and other stadium seating.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Seating is commonly provided in school gymnasiums, sporting arenas and other areas where it is desirable to provide a large seating area for spectators. Rows of seating (typically comprising bleacher seats, stadium seats, etc.) are deployed for convenience of viewing, ingress and egress. Such rows of seating can comprise either a seat base with a seat back, or just the seat base alone. U.S. Pat. No. 4,518,199 to Lewis shows seat modules formed as a series of molded plastic modules. Such known rows of seating tend to feel cold when a person first sits down on the seat base. Further, rows of seating such as bleacher seating may be at a cold place, such as outdoors, or in an iced arena, etc. Also, known rows of seating tend to feel uncomfortably hard when sitting for long periods of time.

It would be desirable to provide a seat assembly which does not feel cold to the touch and which increases comfort when used for extended periods of time.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a first aspect, a seat assembly comprises a seat base defining an opening, and a seat pad comprising a substrate and an exterior layer formed from a material having a thermal conductivity of less than 0.25 W·m−1·K−1, wherein the seat pad closes the opening of the seat base.

From the foregoing disclosure and the following more detailed description of various preferred embodiments it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention provides a significant advance in the technology of seat assemblies. Particularly significant in this regard is the potential the invention affords for providing a high quality, low cost, comfortable seat assembly. Additional features and advantages of various preferred embodiments will be better understood in view of the detailed description provided below,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a padded seat assembly in accordance with a preferred embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the seat pad.

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the seat pad.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a seat assembly with the seat pad removed.

FIG. 5 shows a preferred embodiment where the seat pad is formed as a seat insert.

FIG. 6 shows a preferred embodiment where the seat pad is formed as a seat insert.

It should be understood that the appended drawings are not necessarily to scale, presenting a somewhat simplified representation of various preferred features illustrative of the basic principles of the invention. The specific design features of the seat assembly as disclosed here, including, for example, the specific dimensions of the seat pad, will be determined in part by the particular intended application and use environment. Certain features of the illustrated embodiments have been enlarged or distorted relative to others to improve visualization and clear understanding. In particular, thin features may be thickened, for example, for clarity of illustration. All references to direction and position, unless otherwise indicated, refer to the orientation illustrated in the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art, that is, to those who have knowledge or experience in this area of technology that many uses and design variations are possible for the seat assembly disclosed here. The following detailed discussion of various alternative and preferred features and embodiments will illustrate the general principles of the invention with reference to a bleacher seat assembly suitable for use in applications such as schools, stadiums, auditoriums and the like. Other embodiments suitable for other applications will be apparent to those skilled in the art given the benefit of this disclosure, such as seat assemblies having both a seat base and a seat back.

Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a seat assembly 10 with a seat base 16 and seat pad 14. The seat base 16 may be constructed from one of several materials, including rigid plastics such as polyethylene, wood, etc. Most preferably the seat base is formed from a rigid injection molded plastic so that the assembly is lightweight. The seat base 16 may optionally be provided with a connection assembly 20 allowing a series of seat assemblies to be connected together. For example, a mounting bracket and projections can cooperate to interlock the seat assemblies together to form a row of seating suitable for use as bleacher seats, in a telescoping seat assembly, etc.

In accordance with a highly advantageous feature, the exterior layer 12 of the seat pad 14 comprises a material that is both softer than the hard plastic seat base and has a low thermal conductivity, i.e., the layer is an insulating material which feels warm to the touch of a person sitting on such a layer. That is, it feels warm upon skin contact when the skin is at or near normal body temperatures. Thermal conductivity is typically expressed in units of (W·m−1·K1) at ambient temperatures. High density polymers such as those used for the seat base may have thermal conductivity of about 0.3-0.5 W·m−1·K−1. By comparison, water a good conductor of heat, has a thermal conductivity of about 0.6 W·m−1·K−1. Preferred materials for use here as an exterior layer 12 have a thermal conductivity of less than 25 W·m−1·K−1 or even lower. Such material can comprise, for example neoprene (one of the family of synthetic rubbers based on chloroprene) covered with a nylon jersey, which has a thermal conductivity of about 0.15 W·m−1·K−1. FIGS. 2-3 show top and bottom sides of the seat pad 14. Preferably the seat pad comprises an exterior surface layer 12 and a substrate 30, and may optionally have a resilient layer such as a foam material 66 (shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) inserted between the exterior layer and the substrate to provide extra cushioning. Suitable foam materials can comprise, for example, urethane foam. The exterior layer 12 is seen to have a flange 31 which extends around to the bottom side. The substrate is a rigid structural member which provides sufficient stiffness for a person to sit on it. The exterior layer may be attached to the substrate in one of several ways, either with fasteners, adhesive, an interference fit around the substrate, or a combination of several fastening methods.

Fasteners 32 such as nuts may be inserted into the substrate 30. Such fasteners may cooperate with screws (not shown) to secure the seat pad 14 to the seat base 16. Other devices for securing the seat pad to the seat base will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art given the benefit of this disclosure. FIG. 4 shows a seat base 16 in accordance with a preferred embodiment having an opening 36 adapted to receive and be closed by a seat pad 14. Reinforcing ribs 37, are provided to enhance structure and rigidity of the seat base. The ribs 37 are formed generally at right angles to ribs 38. FIGS. 5-6 show various alternate preferred embodiments of the seat base. FIG. 5 shows a seat pad 14 formed as a seat onsert, affixed to a top of the seat base 116, closing the opening. FIG. 6 shows the seat base 16 with a recess 117 adapted to receive the seat pad 14 so that the seat pad is positioned more substantially flush with the top of the seat base. Seat pads formed as seat inserts or onserts are advantageous for service, as they can be replaced without the need for replacing the entire seat base.

From the foregoing disclosure and detailed description of certain preferred embodiments, it will be apparent that various modifications, additions and other alternative embodiments are possible without departing from the true scope and spirit of the invention. For example, padding may be applied in a similar manner to a seat back of seat assemblies which have a seat back. The embodiments discussed were chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to use the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally, and equitably entitled.