Title:
MODULAR MATTRESS SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular mattress system having at least one mattress block which includes an array of resilient coil springs, along with a foam pad, and a washable/dryable fabric mattress cover. The components of the modular mattress system are compressible into an air evacuable bag for purposes of storing, shipping, and disposal. The size, firmness, type of foam pad, pattern and color of the fabric mattress cover, and type of securable seam available for the fabric mattress cover used in the modular mattress system may be specified by the consumer. Mattress size ranges from Crib size through King size, with custom sizes available as well. Various methods of specifying, ordering, and distributing the modular mattress system are detailed. The care, maintenance, assembly and usage of the modular mattress system are discussed.



Inventors:
Erdman, Thomas C. (Fort Atkinson, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/552768
Publication Date:
05/01/2008
Filing Date:
10/25/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/716
International Classes:
A47C23/04; A47C17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A mattress comprising: a plurality of mattress blocks, each of said mattress blocks including an array of resilient coils, the array of coils being enclosed in a mattress block covering material.

2. The mattress of claim 1, wherein the mattress blocks are arranged in a fabric mattress cover having a top layer, a bottom layer, and at least one sidewall.

3. The mattress of claim 2, wherein the fabric mattress cover includes a selectively sealable seam, the selectively sealable seam providing access to an interior of the fabric mattress cover for inserting or removing the mattress blocks.

4. The mattress of claim 3, wherein the selectively securable seam is disposed along an intersection of the bottom layer of the fabric mattress cover and at least one of the at least one sidewalls of the fabric mattress cover.

5. The mattress of claim 2, further comprising a layer of foam disposed between the mattress blocks and a surface of the fabric mattress cover.

6. The mattress of claim 1, wherein each of the mattress blocks is adapted to be compressed to a compact condition upon sealing the mattress block in a compressible, air evacuable container and evacuating air from the air evacuable container.

7. The mattress of claim 1, wherein each of the resilient coils of each of the mattress blocks is individually wrapped in a compressible material.

8. The mattress of claim 1, wherein the fabric mattress cover is machine washable.

9. A method of packaging a mattress, comprising: selecting a fabric mattress cover having a top layer, a bottom layer, and at least one sidewall separating the top and bottom layers, the fabric mattress cover including a selectively securable seam; selecting a plurality of mattress blocks, each of the mattress blocks including an array of resilient coils, the array of coils being enclosed in a mattress block covering material, and the plurality of mattress blocks configurable to occupy an interior of the fabric mattress cover; securing at least the plurality of mattress blocks in a compressible, air evacuable container; and evacuating air from the air evacuable container, thereby compressing the mattress blocks.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising securing the fabric mattress cover in the air evacuable container with the plurality of mattress blocks prior to evacuating air from the air evacuable container.

11. The method of claim 9, further comprising selecting a foam pad to be disposed in the interior of the fabric mattress cover between the plurality of mattress blocks and one of the top and bottom layers of the fabric mattress cover.

12. The method of claim 11, further comprising securing the foam pad in the air evacuable container with the plurality of mattress blocks prior to evacuating air from the air evacuable container.

13. The method of claim 9, further comprising identifying a mattress size, and wherein, in selecting the fabric mattress cover, selecting the fabric mattress cover to have dimensions corresponding to the identified mattress size.

14. The method of claim 9, further comprising identifying at least one characteristic of a portion of the mattress and wherein, in selecting the mattress blocks, at least one of the selected mattress blocks provides the identified characteristic.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the identified characteristic is stiffness.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein in selecting the mattress blocks, the at least one mattress block providing the selected characteristic includes distinguishing indicia on an exterior of the mattress block covering material, the indicia indicating that mattress block provides the selected characteristic.

17. The method of claim 9, further comprising identifying a desired stiffness of at least a portion of the mattress, and in selecting at least one of the fabric mattress cover, the mattress blocks, and the foam pad, the combined stiffness of the selected fabric mattress cover, the mattress blocks, and the foam pad provides the desired stiffness.

18. A method of assembling a mattress, comprising: opening a fabric mattress cover having a bottom layer, a top layer, at least one side wall separating the bottom and top layers, and a selectively securable seam; arranging a plurality of mattress blocks in the fabric mattress cover, each of the mattress blocks including an array of resilient coils, the array of coils being enclosed in a mattress block covering material; and securing the selectively securable seam.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising, prior to securing the selectively sealable seam, inserting a foam pad between the plurality of mattress blocks and one of the layers of the fabric mattress cover.

20. A method of ordering, packaging, and distributing mattresses, comprising: providing an interface between a customer and a mattress distributor; identifying a mattress size; selecting a fabric mattress cover having a top layer, a bottom layer, and at least one sidewall separating the top and bottom layers, the fabric mattress cover including a selectively securable seam, and having dimensions corresponding to the identified mattress size; selecting a plurality of mattress blocks from a mattress block supply, each of the selected mattress blocks including an array of resilient coils, the array of coils being enclosed in a mattress block covering material, and the plurality of selected mattress blocks configurable to occupy an interior of the selected fabric mattress cover; enclosing at least the plurality of selected mattress blocks in a compressible, air evacuable container; evacuating the air from the air evacuable container, thereby compressing the selected mattress blocks; and inserting the fabric mattress cover and the compressed air evacuable container having the compressed mattress blocks therein into a shipping container.

21. The method of claim 20, further comprising identifying a plurality of additional mattress characteristics selected from the group of firmness of at least a portion of a mattress, fabric mattress cover exterior color, fabric mattress cover exterior pattern, and foam pad type, and wherein in selecting the fabric mattress cover and plurality of mattress blocks, the selected fabric mattress cover and selected mattress blocks correspond to the identified characteristic.

22. A modular mattress system, comprising: a fabric mattress cover having a top layer, a bottom layer, and at least one sidewall separating the top and bottom layers, the fabric mattress cover including a selectively securable seam; a plurality of mattress blocks arranged in the fabric mattress cover, each of said mattress blocks including an array of resilient coils, the array of coils being enclosed in a mattress block covering material; and a foam pad disposed between the plurality of mattress blocks and one of the top and bottom layers of the fabric mattress cover.

23. The modular mattress system of claim 22, wherein the stiffness of the fabric mattress cover, the stiffness of at least one of the plurality of mattress blocks, and the stiffness of the foam pad are selectable, whereby the modular mattress system has a selectable resulting stiffness.

Description:

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure relates generally to mattresses and, more specifically, to a modular mattress system designed for ease of manufacturing and shipping by the manufacturer, and for ease of feature selection, handling and assembly or installation by the consumer.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

In the retail mattress market, there are various ways in which a consumer may purchase a mattress and box spring set, referred to hereafter as a mattress set. A mattress set may be purchased, for example, by visiting a retail store, by placing a telephone order to a retailer, or by placing an order over an internet website. In each of these purchasing instances, the specific size of the mattress set, and possibly the firmness of the mattress set and the type of padding layer covering the mattress, may be specified by the consumer. If the mattress set is being delivered to and assembled at the consumer's living space, then additional fees may be charged for such services. These may be flat fees or may vary based on, e.g., the size of the mattress set being delivered and distance from the warehouse to the consumer's living space.

The mattress industry promotes certain standard bed sizes, as follows: Crib size is 28 inches wide by 52 inches long; Twin size is 38 inches by 75 inches; Full (“Double”) size is 53 inches by 75 inches; Queen size is 60 inches by 80 inches; King size is 76 inches by 80 inches; and California King size is 72 inches by 84 inches. Mattress firmness may typically be specified as soft, medium, or firm, with other firmness options available depending upon the manufacturer. Along with industry-standard regular mattress padding layers, manufacturers may also offer other options such as a “pillow top” surface consisting of a two to four-inch-thick cushion of soft material, or a “memory foam” surface designed to minimize stress that a mattress will exert upon the sleeper's body.

For mattress sets ordered via the internet, the consumer may specify the size, firmness, and padding layer covering the mattress by choosing these features using their computer in a point-and-click manner with their mouse devices. Other features, such as fabric pattern, frame type, etc., may be available for the consumer to choose as well. Additionally, the consumer may need to input other information such as the address to which the mattress set will be delivered, payment information, and other delivery and assembly particulars (e.g., major intersections, acceptable delivery times, stairway configurations, elevator dimensions, or other potential physical obstacles for delivery personnel to consider).

Following mattress set specification and an online purchase transaction, the mattress set may then be shipped from the website's local warehouse via truck to the consumer's house and assembled by the delivery crew. Each component of the mattress set, i.e., a mattress and a box spring, is typically wrapped in a plastic sheathing, which will be removed by the delivery crew upon installation. The disposal of the consumer's old mattress set is often subject to the purchase agreement. Some companies may offer to discard the old mattress sets (for a disposal fee or free of charge) or move them to another location within the customer's living space. Other times, the consumer may be expected to dispose of their old set.

For mattress sets purchased via telephone, typically only the specific size and possibly the firmness of the mattress and style of the mattress padding layer may be specified by the consumer. These purchases usually occur on the local level, where consumers call either a local telephone number or perhaps a toll-free number and a local company delivers and assembles the mattress set.

For those mattress sets purchased directly (in person) from a retailer, the specific size, the firmness of the mattress set, and the style of the mattress padding layer may be specified by the consumer. The consumer interacts with the sales staff to determine exactly which features are important to him or her in order to make an informed decision, and at the time of purchase, arrangements are typically made for home delivery and assembly.

Consumers who purchase mattress sets hope to get many years of service out of them. In order to prolong the useable life of a mattress, the industry suggests rotating and flipping the mattress on a regular basis. This is done to promote reasonable wear patterns since most mattresses are manufactured using series of tightly grouped coil springs. These springs can fatigue or develop a “memory” if they are subject to the same bodily forces on a regular basis, as may occur from a consumer sleeping in the same position each night. The bigger the mattress set, the more difficult it becomes for the consumer to flip the mattress. For many mattress sets larger than twin size, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for one person (particularly an elderly person) to flip the mattress. In many instances, consumers will forego this industry-recommended flipping procedure and thus may reduce the useable life of their mattress. Continued use of a mattress past its useful life frequently leads to discomfort, poor sleep, and back problems.

When a mattress set is installed in a consumer's living space, that may be the last time that the consumer has help available to handle their mattress set. The consumer may be incapable of moving the mattress in order to flip it, to clean under the bed, or to rearrange the layout of their living space.

Over its useable life, the fabric cover of a mattress may also become stained or otherwise contaminated and may need to be cleaned. Since mattresses are rather thick and soft, they have a tendency to absorb any applied cleaning solution. This absorption may make difficult the thorough drying of the surface of the mattress. Stain removers are also not very effective. Machine washing or dry cleaning of just the fabric cover of a mattress would be preferable, but is not possible with a conventional mattress, as the fabric cover is not removable. The manner in which these and other shortcomings of conventional mattresses are overcome is described in the following Summary of the Disclosure and Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

A modular mattress system is disclosed in which the spring structure of a typical marketplace coil spring mattress is divided into segments of grouped coil springs, hereafter referenced as mattress blocks, that may be tightly compressed, shipped to a consumer via common delivery channels in packaging that can be received by a consumer, brought into their living space, and easily assembled by the consumer without assistance. The modular mattress system of the present disclosure, when assembled, has the same external appearance as a conventional mattress and offers a premium sleep surface comparable or superior to most conventional coil spring mattresses.

A modular mattress system includes mattress blocks that have the same vertical cross-sectional appearance as that of a standard coil spring mattress. Each mattress block includes a plurality of rows and columns of resilient coil springs, which coil springs may or may not be individually wrapped. The rectangular array of springs is contained in a thin shell which shell may, by way of example only, be a woven or non-woven fabric. Mattress blocks may be manufactured in various sizes that, when assembled together and secured in an appropriate fabric cover with a selected layering of foam material above the mattress blocks, create a standard size mattress such as a Twin size mattress, Queen size mattress, or other size mattress.

Due to their coil spring structure and thin shell, all the mattress blocks necessary for assembly of a mattress of a given standard size may be compressed, such as in an air evacuable storage bag or similar packaging material using, for example, an industrial vacuum cleaner.

A fabric mattress cover may be provided with each modular mattress system. This fabric mattress cover may include two fabric layers (one top and one bottom) with each layer having the same length and width as that of the associated final mattress size. These mattress cover pieces may be joined together with other fabric to cover the sides of the final mattress configuration. A selectively securable seam, such as a zipper, may be provided preferably along three sides of the bottom layer of the mattress cover in order to allow access to the interior of the fabric mattress cover for insertion or removal of the mattress blocks. It is recognized that other securement means, such as Velcro™ hook-and-loop fasteners, snaps, or buttons, may alternatively be used to provide a selectively securable seam to open or close the fabric mattress cover. For assembly, mattress blocks are arranged in an open mattress cover. During assembly by the consumer, the mattress cover is preferably upside down, with the top layer spread out on the floor or box spring. If desired, one or more foam (or similar) layers of padding is supplied to cover the arranged mattress blocks. Once the internal structure of the mattress system is arranged according to the consumer's final desired configuration, the mattress cover is closed and the mattress is ready to be turned right side up, with the selectively securable seam concealed from sight.

Mattress blocks may be provided in various degrees of firmness, including but not limited to soft, medium, and hard. In a coil spring mattress, the stiffness of the coils is a significant factor in determining the final firmness experienced by the consumer. The stiffer the coils, the firmer the mattress will feel to the consumer. The firmness of mattress blocks employed in a mattress of the present disclosure may be specified by the consumer, and indicia and/or color coding of the exterior of the mattress blocks may be used to differentiate mattress blocks of different firmness. Though each individual mattress block will be of uniform firmness throughout the entire block, blocks of different firmness may be assembled together in the final mattress configuration to achieve a mattress having regions of varying firmness. For example, the consumer may choose a different firmness for the mattress block supporting the back than for the mattress block supporting the head, or for different sides of the mattress, so sleepers having different stiffness preferences can share the same mattress while satisfying their individual, distinct mattress support preferences.

The firmness of the modular mattress system at any point, as felt by the consumer, is a combination of the firmness of not only the mattress blocks, but also of the firmness of its other components. Thus, foam pad firmness and fabric mattress cover firmness may also factor into the overall firmness of the modular mattress system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mattress block, including an array of resilient coil springs;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a mattress block, partially cut away, exposing an array of resilient coil springs;

FIG. 3 is a side cut away view of a mattress block, exposing a plurality of resilient coil springs;

FIG. 4 is a side cut away view of a single resilient coil spring and its cloth wrapping;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an open fabric mattress cover and its selectively securable seam;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a foam pad of a modular mattress system of the present disclosure;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a plurality of mattress blocks of a modular mattress system of the present disclosure;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a foam pad and a plurality of mattress blocks, as installed in an unsecured fabric mattress cover;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an underside of a modular mattress system, showing a bottom layer of the fabric mattress cover of FIG. 8 after securement of the bottom layer of the fabric mattress cover over the plurality of mattress blocks;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a modular mattress system, as set into its final assembled position, with a selectively securable seam of the fabric mattress cover hidden underneath;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a fabric mattress cover with its selectively securable seam unsecured, and its bottom layer displayed in the foreground;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a foam pad;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a plurality of mattress blocks;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a foam pad and a plurality of mattress blocks, as placed directly on the exposed bottom layer of the unsecured fabric mattress cover of FIG. 11;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the modular mattress system shown in FIG. 14, after securement of the selectively securable seam of the fabric mattress cover;

FIG. 16 is a comparative illustration of the standard mattress sizes (in inches) produced for the retail mattress industry;

FIG. 17 is a top plan view of a modular mattress system; with fabric mattress cover, foam pad, and mattress block covering material cut away, exposing arrays of resilient coil springs of each mattress block;

FIG. 18 is a top plan view of a modular mattress system; with fabric mattress cover, foam pad, and mattress block covering material cut away, exposing arrays of resilient coil springs of each mattress block arranged in a different configuration from the configuration of mattress blocks shown in FIG. 17;

FIG. 19 is a perspective view, partially cut away, of a plurality of mattress blocks, as installed in an unsecured fabric mattress cover, exposing a single coil spring within one of the mattress blocks, and portion of a foam pad;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of an open fabric mattress cover;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a washer and;

FIG. 22 is a flowchart of a process of the present disclosure for ordering, packaging, and distributing a modular mattress system;

FIG. 23 is a perspective View of a plurality of mattress blocks, a foam pad, and a fabric mattress cover for a modular mattress system of the present disclosure;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a plurality of mattress blocks, a foam pad, and a fabric mattress cover, as gathered together in preparation for compressing and shipping;

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of the plurality of mattress blocks, the foam pad, and the fabric mattress cover of FIG. 24, in a stacked arrangement, along with an air evacuable bag large enough to enclose these modular mattress system components;

FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the stacked plurality of mattress blocks, foam pad, and fabric mattress cover enclosed within the air evacuable bag of FIG. 25, with the air evacuable bag being attached to an industrial vacuum cleaner;

FIG. 27 is perspective view of a compressed plurality of mattress blocks, foam pad, and fabric mattress cover enclosed within an air evacuable bag, from which air has been removed by an industrial vacuum cleaner; and

FIG. 28 is a flowchart of a possible life cycle of a modular mattress system of the present disclosure in which components of the modular mattress system are compressed within an air evacuable bag and shipped from a manufacturer to a consumer, and after the useful life of the modular mattress system, the components are recompressed into the air evacuable bag for disposal in the trash, facilitating transportation and minimizing the space ultimately occupied by the modular mattress system in a landfill.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Having reference to the drawings, where like reference numbers comprise like elements, there is shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 a mattress block, generally denoted by reference number 10. The mattress block 10 includes a covering material 12 which encloses an array of resilient coil springs 14, with each coil spring 14 preferably surrounded by a compressible cloth wrapping 16. FIG. 3 shows a cross-sectional view of the mattress block 10, including an array of coil springs 14, each surrounded by a cloth wrapping 16, all enclosed within covering material 12. FIG. 4 shows a cross-sectional view of a typical coil spring 14 surrounded by its cloth wrapping 16.

Each coil spring 14, with its cloth wrapping 16, is designed to move independently of any other coil spring 14. The coil springs 14 are tightly packed adjacent to one another within covering material 12 such that no gap or crease is felt between rows or columns of the coil springs 14. For any given size of mattress block 10, the smaller the diameter of each coil spring 14, the more coil springs 14 may be packed into the mattress block 10. Generally, in mattress design, the more springs that can be inserted into a given size mattress, the better that mattress may be in conforming to the body shape of the sleeper. The same holds true for the mattress block 10 design of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 5-10 show an embodiment of a modular mattress system 22 of the disclosure, which may include a fabric mattress cover 24, a foam pad 28, and a plurality of mattress blocks 10. FIG. 5 shows a fabric mattress cover 24 which may include a top layer 24A, a bottom layer 24B, and at least one sidewall 24C. A selectively securable seam 26, such as a zipper, is provided along the intersection of the bottom layer 24B and at least one sidewall 24C of the fabric mattress cover 24, in order to allow access to its interior space for inserting and removing mattress blocks 10 (see FIG. 2C). FIG. 6 shows a foam pad 28 which may be inserted into the open fabric mattress cover 24 of FIG. 5 to create the first layer of padding experienced by the consumer, which may lie underneath the top layer 24A of the fabric mattress cover 24.

The second layer of the mattress interior, within the fabric mattress cover 24, may be created by a plurality of mattress blocks 10, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. FIG. 8 shows both the foam pad 28 and the mattress blocks 10 installed in an open fabric mattress cover 24. FIG. 9 shows the fabric mattress cover 24 secured in the closed position (enclosing the foam pad 28 and the mattress blocks 10) through the use of the selectively securable seam 26. Upon securement of the selectively securable seam 26, the modular mattress system 22 may be flipped over as shown in FIG. 2F, such that the selectively securable seam 26 is hidden from view, underneath the modular mattress system 22, as shown in FIG. 2G.

Advantageously, not only is there no gap or crease felt between rows or columns of the coil springs 14 of a given mattress block 10, but because the covering material 12 is sufficiently thin, no gap or crease is created or felt between adjacent mattress blocks 10. The only way a person lying on the mattress of the modular mattress system 22 might feel that the mattress includes different mattress blocks 10 would be in situations where mattress blocks 10 of different firmness are arranged in the modular mattress system 22, as described below.

FIGS. 11-15 show an alternative way in which a modular mattress system 22 may be assembled, without the need to flip the mattress over upon completion of assembly. FIG. 11 shows an open fabric mattress cover 24. FIG. 12 and FIG. 13 show the insertable components, a foam pad 28 and mattress blocks 10, respectively. FIG. 14 shows the mattress blocks 10 abutting the top layer 24A of the fabric mattress cover 24, and the foam pad 28 abutting the mattress blocks 10. Also visible is the selectively securable seam 26. FIG. 15 shows the modular mattress system 22, after the fabric mattress cover 24 has been pulled downward over the foam pad 28 and the mattress blocks 10 (see FIG. 3D) and secured with the selectively securable seam 26. This selectively securable seam 26 is hidden away from view along the edge of the bottom layer 24B of the fabric mattress cover 24 of the modular mattress system 22.

FIG. 16 shows a comparison of the relative sizes of mattresses which the mattress industry promotes as standard. Mattress sizes 29 range from a Crib size of 28 inches wide by 52 inches on the small end to a King size of 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. The main component of the modular mattress system 22 of this disclosure is the mattress block 10. Mattress blocks 10 may be combined within the modular mattress system 22 in order to create the standard sizes as shown in FIG. 4, as well as other non-standard mattress sizes, as necessary. Certain standard mattress sizes 29 may be replicated using a plurality of mattress blocks 10 of the same size or of varying sizes. The number of mattress blocks 10 needed and their size may best be determined by the manufacturer, in order to balance the comfort of the sleeper with the cost or ease of manufacturing and supplying the mattress blocks 10, for example.

A consumer may purchase a conventional coil spring mattress with a given firmness, such as soft or firm, that is uniform throughout the mattress. The firmness is typically consistent across the entire mattress, from the area where a consumer's head would rest down through the area where their feet would rest. However, a consumer may purchase a modular mattress system 22 of the present disclosure, in which they advantageously may specify variable firmness levels of mattress blocks 10, and/or foam pad 28 layers.

FIGS. 17 and 18 show a top view of mattress blocks 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44 positioned in a modular mattress system 22. Any foam pad 28 that may have been covering the mattress blocks 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44 has been removed, along with the fabric mattress cover 24. FIG. 17 shows a modular mattress system 22 in which mattress blocks 30, 32, 34, 36 are each made of an array of coil springs 14 having a first stiffness, corresponding, for instance, to a desired firmness. Also shown are mattress blocks 38, 40, 42, 44, each made of an array of coil springs 14 having a second stiffness, for example, to provide relatively less support. Correspondingly, the consumer who sleeps on this modular mattress system 22 may have a different firmness supporting their head and back as compared to the firmness supporting the lower portion of their body.

Similarly, FIG. 18 shows a modular mattress system 22 in which mattress blocks 30, 32, 34, 36 are each made of an array of coil springs 14 having a first stiffness, corresponding, for instance, to a desired firmness. Also shown are mattress blocks 38, 40, 42, 44, each made of an array of coil springs 14 having a second stiffness, for example, to provide relatively less support. Thus, the person who sleeps on the left side (as viewed from above) of this modular mattress system 22 may have one consistent firmness (more firm) supporting their entire body as compared to the person who sleeps on the right side, who will have a different firmness (less firm) supporting their entire body.

Another way in which the firmness of the sleeping surface of the modular mattress system 22 may be varied is in the selection of the foam pad 28 that may be used to cover the mattress blocks 10. Consumers may specify that foam pads 28 of different uniform firmness be included in the modular mattress system 22 that they purchase. For example, a consumer may specify that all of the mattress blocks 10 used in their modular mattress system 22 be of the same firmness, but that they be given two foam pads 28 with their order. One foam pad 28 may satisfy the firmness requirement of the person who sleeps on the right side of the bed and covers the mattress blocks 10 that support that person; and another foam pad 28 may satisfy the firmness requirement of a second person who sleeps on the left side of the bed and covers their supporting mattress blocks 10.

The firmness felt by a person at any given point on the surface of the modular mattress system 22 is primarily a combination of the stiffness of the foam pad 28 at that point, along with the stiffness of the mattress block 10 and the stiffness of the fabric mattress cover 24 at that point, given by the equation:


1/kfoam pad+1/kmattress block+1/kfabric mattress cover=1/ktotal

In this equation, the constant “k” represents the stiffness of the foam pad 28, the mattress block 10, the fabric mattress cover 24, or the total, i.e. combined, stiffness. Therefore, the firmness felt by the consumer at any point on the modular mattress system 22 may be achieved by varying the firmness of the foam pad 28, by varying the firmness of the mattress blocks 10, by varying the firmness of the fabric mattress cover 24, or by varying some combination of these components 28, 10, 24. For example, a desired firmness for the area that supports a person's head may be achieved through the use of a “firm” mattress block(s) 10 and a “soft” foam pad 28, or similarly, by using a “soft” mattress block 10 along with a “firm” foam pad 28 covering it. Similar firmnesses may be achieved in different ways. Manufacturers could use this principle to help them balance their inventories of foam pads 28, mattress blocks 10, and fabric mattress covers 24, as modular mattress systems 22 are specified and ordered by consumers.

Consumers may be offered the option to order modular mattress system 22 components, such as mattress blocks 10, foam pads 28, and fabric mattress covers 24, as replacement parts for components that they may have been damaged, destroyed or lost. The purchase of replacement component parts has not been practical for damaged conventional coil spring mattresses, so they are often discarded in their entirety, and new mattress sets purchased. With the modular mattress system 22 of the present disclosure, consumers may also be given an opportunity to purchase replacement parts such as foam pads 28 or individual mattress blocks 10 if they desire to change the firmness of their modular mattress system 22, for example, if they are pregnant or suffered a particular bodily injury such that they would benefit from a change in the firmness of a portion of their mattress.

An important procedure for extending the life of a conventional inner coil spring mattress is the industry-recommended act of turning the mattress over at manufacturer-recommended intervals. In other words, flipping the mattress every six months, for example, may minimize the development of wear patterns in the array of resilient coil springs 14. For the modular mattress system 22 of the present disclosure, this procedure may be simplified. There may be no more struggling on the part of an individual consumer to lift and turn over their one-piece mattress. Since the modular mattress system 22 includes a plurality of mattress blocks 10 of separate arrays of coil springs 14, when flipping of the mattress is desired, the consumer need only open the selectively securable seam 26 of the fabric mattress cover 24, remove, flip, and replace each individual mattress block 10, then re-secure the selectively securable seam 26.

As seen again in FIGS. 17 and 18, all mattress blocks 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44 are exposed upon opening of the fabric mattress cover 24 and any extra layers of foam pad 28. The consumer then simply flips each mattress block 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44 over and then reassembles the fabric mattress cover 24 and any layers of foam pad 28 that were temporarily removed to gain access to the mattress blocks 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44.

As an aid to the consumer, as well as manufacturing and warehouse personnel, each mattress block 10 may display a label, tag, or some other sort of indicia which identifies characteristics such as firmness, size, date of manufacture, country of origin, etc. Also present may be information regarding the manufacturer-recommended procedure for flipping the mattress blocks 10 at certain intervals. Similar information may be displayed on other modular mattress system 22 components such as foam pads 28 and fabric mattress covers 24.

Another important feature which distinguishes the modular mattress system 22 disclosed herein from a conventional mattress is shown in FIGS. 19-22. FIG. 19 shows the modular mattress system 22 with the selectively securable seam 26 of its fabric mattress cover 24 unsecured, exposing a plurality of mattress blocks 10. FIG. 20 shows the fabric mattress cover 24 alone, after the mattress blocks 10 and any foam pad 28 have been removed. As represented in FIG. 21, a consumer may place this fabric mattress cover 24 directly into a residential or commercial washer 25 and dryer 27, for cleaning and drying purposes. The fabric mattress cover 24 is designed to withstand repeated cleaning and drying cycles. In order for a consumer to clean and dry a conventional mattress, a cleaning solution would need to be applied to the mattress and the subsequent wet area would need to be either air dried or, perhaps, fan dried. This procedure may be considered tedious, especially for an entire mattress. The ability for this fabric mattress cover 24 to be so easily removed from the mattress system 22 so as to be independently cleaned and dried may be considered especially desirable for incontinent individuals, those who provide assistance to them, and parents of children who are bedwetters.

Turning to FIG. 22, various methods of specifying, ordering, and distributing a modular mattress system 22 are also within the scope of the present disclosure. A consumer may specify and order a modular mattress system 22 by going to a retail store 60, placing a telephone call 62, or by using the internet 64. In all cases, the consumer may choose among such modular mattress system 22 characteristics as size, firmness of individual mattress blocks 10, fabric mattress cover 24 exterior color, fabric mattress cover 24 exterior pattern, type of foam pad 28 used over or under the mattress blocks 10, type of selectively securable seam 26 used in securing the fabric mattress cover 24, etc. At the same time the consumer may specify such delivery details as the method of delivery and the timeframe. When ordering a conventional coil spring mattress, consumers may be able to choose only a few characteristics such as size, overall firmness, type of foam padding used for the mattress and the delivery details. Regarding a conventional mattress set delivery, the consumer may also be concerned with the extra step of having delivery personnel come into their residence and assemble the mattress set, whereas with the mattress system 22 of the present disclosure, with its comparatively easy assembly, no such extra step is required.

FIG. 22 is a flow-chart diagram of a ordering, packaging, and distributing a modular mattress system 22. A consumer may order their new modular mattress system 22 via a retail store 60, the telephone 62, or the internet 64. In each case, the consumer's order may be entered into an order processing computer or CPU 66, which may forward information regarding the components necessary to build the specific modular mattress system 22 ordered, to the appropriate warehouse personnel for fulfillment. The order picker 68 may then obtain the warehouse stocked components necessary to fulfill the specified order. Each of these stocked components may be stored in different but convenient supplies, such as a mattress block supply 70, a mattress pad supply 72, and a fabric mattress cover supply 74. When all components have been gathered together, personnel may take an appropriately-sized air evacuable bag 78 and place the components into this bag 78. They may then proceed to use an industrial vacuum source 78 to remove air from the bag 78 in order to compress the contents into a shippable size. It will be appreciated that all or part of the order-taking, packaging, and distributing process may be automated, such as by use of conveyor or robotic technology.

Individual components of the modular mattress system 22, such as mattress blocks 10, foam pads 28, and fabric mattress covers 24, occupy less volume than complete coil spring mattress sets and are considerably lighter in weight as well. The compact size of the components of the modular mattress system 22 should be beneficial in reducing the number of personnel, and the size and complexity of the storage and handling equipment needed along the entire supply chain, as compared to that of the conventional coil spring mattress. Fewer manufacturing personnel, warehouse personnel, retail stocking personnel, and delivery personnel, along with the need for less rugged, and thus cheaper, storage and handling equipment may increase the profit margins for those companies along the modular mattress system 22 supply chain.

Since modular mattress systems 22 may require fewer and less expensive resources to stock, handle, and ship them, as compared to the resources needed for conventional coil spring mattress sets, more companies may be interested in selling modular mattress systems 22. These companies may include those specializing in internet sales 60, retail stores 62, and catalog merchandisers specializing in telephone sales 64.

Since the modular mattress system 22 may include mattress blocks 10 of arrays of resilient coil springs 14, along with a fabric mattress cover 24 and a foam pad 28, all of these components are compressible when surrounded by an appropriately-sized air evacuable bag 78 and air is removed from the bag 78. The bulky nature of a conventional coil spring mattress precludes this method of vacuum packaging for ease of shipping. As indicated in FIG. 22, after air is removed from the air evacuable bag 78 and the contents are compressed, the bag 78 may then be placed into an appropriately-sized shipping container 80, such as a cardboard box. This box may then be sealed, staged for shipment, and then shipped to the consumer via selected delivery channels. Since the shipping container 80 may be of a manageable size and weight, the consumer is able without assistance to receive the shipment, bring the shipping container 80 into his or her residence, and unpack the air evacuable bag 78. The consumer may then proceed to open the air evacuable bag 78 according to the instructions enclosed. When the air evacuable bag 78 is opened, the compressed contents of the bag 78 will expand back to their original specifications, and will be ready for assembly into the modular mattress system 22. Even when expanded, the mattress blocks 10 and other components of the mattress system 22 are sufficiently small and manageable for the individual to move the mattress to any desired location before assembly, avoiding the problems associated with negotiating conventional mattresses through corridors, around tight corners, up or down stairways, or into elevators with low ceilings.

For retail store 60 transactions, consumers may opt to purchase a modular mattress system 22 and transport it home by themselves. To transport a conventional coil spring mattress set typically requires at least two people to place the mattress set into a vehicle large enough to contain it, or in many instances, to secure the mattress set on top of the vehicle, exposing the mattress to outside elements. The bulkiness of the mattress set, whether inside or on top of the vehicle, may obstruct the mirrors and windows of the driver, and may distract the attention of the driver or other drivers, thus increasing risks while driving. Since a modular mattress system 22 includes components which individually occupy much less volume than complete conventional coil spring mattress sets, and are correspondingly lighter in weight; the average consumer, without assistance, may be able to pack the components of the modular mattress system 22 into their vehicle in a safe configuration, and transport them home without incident. The mattress systems of the present disclosure occupy so little space when compressed for transport that a number of the mattress systems 22 may be transported inside a single compact size vehicle.

The vacuum packaging procedure for the components of a sample modular mattress system 22 is shown in FIGS. 23-27. FIG. 23 shows the components as a plurality of mattress blocks 10, along with a fabric mattress cover 24, and a foam pad 28. FIG. 24 shows these components 10, 24, 28 gathered together and then reoriented (see FIG. 25) into a vertical stacked arrangement, with the appropriately-sized air evacuable bag 78 to enclose them located adjacently. FIG. 26 shows the vertically stacked components 10, 24, 28 enclosed within the air evacuable bag 78, with this air evacuable bag 78 attached to an industrial vacuum source 79. FIG. 27 shows the air evacuable bag 78 after air has been removed from it, and it has been disconnected from the vacuum source 78, with its contents compressed into a shippable size. Within this air evacuable bag 78 is the compressed modular mattress system 22, which is ready to place into a shipping container 80 and ship 82 to the consumer 84.

FIG. 28 represents a potential life cycle for the modular mattress system 22 as vacuum packaged in an air evacuable bag 78. For this particular sample modular mattress system 22, it may be shipped from the manufacturer 86 to the storage warehouse 88 in an air evacuable bag 78, and stored in the warehouse 88 in that manner. It may then be pulled from the shelves of the warehouse 88 and shipped to a consumer 90. The consumer 90 may unpack, assemble, and use the modular mattress system 22 at their residence for its useful lifespan, and then the consumer 90 may disassemble the mattress into its components and place the components back into the air evacuable bag 78 in which they originally came (or obtain a replacement air evacuable bag 78 if the original has been damaged, disposed of, or misplaced). The consumer 90 may evacuate the air within the air evacuable bag 78 once more (with their own vacuum cleaner) and place the air evacuable bag 78 into the trash 92. The air evacuable bag 78 containing the compressed modular mattress system 22 may then be delivered to the landfill 94, advantageously occupying substantially less space than a conventional mattress.

While various embodiments of modular mattress systems 22 have been described herein, it is recognized that this disclosure is not limited to these embodiments. Variations may be made thereto which are still within the scope of the appended claims.