Title:
Adjustable armrest and method for the use thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable armrest includes a base member pivotable about a first horizontal axis in a side-to-side direction. An arm support member is connected to the base member. A first latch member includes a plurality of notches, while a second latch member includes a pawl shaped to releasably engage at least one of the plurality of notches. One of the first or second latch members is mounted on the base member, with the second latch member being moveable relative to the first latch member between at least one engaged position and a release position. In another aspect, a chair includes a pair of adjustable armrests. In another aspect, a method of adjusting the lateral position of an armrest is provided.



Inventors:
Weber, Jeffrey A. (Golden Valley, MN, US)
Holt, Jason (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Aldrich, John F. (Grandville, MI, US)
Hoogland, Timothy A. (Zeeland, MI, US)
Roth, Robert W. (Holland, MI, US)
Seeley, Robert M. (Zeeland, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/229223
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
08/20/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/411.37
International Classes:
A47C7/54
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GABLER, PHILIP F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BGL (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. An adjustable armrest comprising: a base member pivotable about a first horizontal axis oriented in a fore-and-aft direction, wherein said base member is pivotable about said axis in a side-to-side direction; an arm support connected to said base member and comprising an elongated armrest support extending in the fore-and-aft direction; a first latch member comprising a plurality of notches; and a second latch member comprising a pawl shaped to releasably engage at least one of said plurality of notches, wherein one of said first or second latch members is mounted on said base member, wherein said second latch member is moveable relative to said first latch member between at least one engaged position, wherein said pawl is engaged with at least one of said plurality of notches such that said base member is prevented from pivoting about said first horizontal axis, and a release position, wherein said pawl is disengaged from said plurality of notches such that said base member is pivotable about said first horizontal axis.

2. The armrest of claim 1 wherein said arm support comprises a stem moveably connected to said base member, wherein said stem and said base member are vertically moveable relative to each other.

3. The armrest of claim 2 wherein said armrest support is connected to an upper portion of said stem.

4. The armrest of claim 2 wherein said stem is coupled to said second latch member, wherein said second latch member is moveable to said release position in response to an upward movement of said movement of said stem.

5. The armrest of claim 4 wherein one of said stem or said base member comprises a second plurality of notches and the other of said stem or base member comprises a second pawl, wherein said second pawl is moveable relative to said second plurality of notches between at least one engaged position, wherein said second pawl is engaged with at least one of said plurality of second notches and said stem is coupled to said second latch member, and a release position, wherein said second pawl is disengaged from said second plurality of notches and said stem is decoupled from said second latch member.

6. The armrest of claim 5 wherein said stem further comprises a trigger connected to an actuator member, wherein said actuator member comprises said second pawl and wherein said second plurality of notches are disposed on said base member.

7. The armrest of claim 5 further comprising a rack configured with said second plurality of notches, wherein said rack is moveably mounted to said base member and wherein said second pawl is moveable relative to and engageable with said rack.

8. The armrest of claim 7 further comprising a spring biasing said rack in a downward direction.

9. The armrest of claim 7 wherein said rack is engaged with said second latch member, wherein said second latch member is moveable between said engaged and release positions as said rack is moveable between at least a first position and a second position.

10. The armrest of claim 2 wherein at least a portion of said stem has a curved shape, with said stem having an inner concave contour and an outer convex contour.

11. The armrest of claim 1 wherein said one of said base member or said first latch member comprises an indexing member engaged with at least one of a plurality of second notches formed on the other of said base member or said first latch member.

12. The armrest of claim 1 wherein said second latch member is rotatably mounted to said base member about a second horizontal axis spaced from said first horizontal axis.

13. A chair comprising: a seat having a longitudinally spaced front and back and laterally spaced opposite sides; and a pair of armrests positioned along said opposite sides of said seat, each of said armrests comprising: a base member pivotable about a longitudinally extending horizontal axis; an arm support connected to said base member, wherein said arm support and said base member are pivotable about said horizontal axis toward and away from one of said sides of said seat; a first latch member comprising a plurality of notches; and a second latch member comprising a pawl shaped to releasably engage at least one of said plurality of notches, wherein one of said first or second latch members is mounted on said base member, wherein said second latch member is moveable relative to said first latch member between at least one engaged position, wherein said pawl is engaged with at least one of said plurality of notches such that said base member is prevented from pivoting about said first horizontal axis, and a release position, wherein said pawl is disengaged from said plurality of notches such that said base member is pivotable about said first horizontal axis.

14. 14-24. (canceled)

25. A method of adjusting the position of an armrest comprising: pulling up on an upper portion of said armrest; pivoting said armrest about a horizontal axis in a side-to-side direction toward and away from a side of a seat to a desired lateral position; and releasing said upper portion of said armrest.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein said pulling up on said upper portion of said armrest is performed free of any actuation of any release mechanism.

27. The method of claim 25 further comprising pushing down on said upper portion of said armrest and thereby locking said armrest such that said armrest is prevented from pivoting about said horizontal axis.

28. The method of claim 27 wherein said locking said armrest is automatically performed by said pushing down on said upper portion free of any independent actuation of any locking mechanism.

29. The method of claim 25 further comprising moving an armrest vertically between a plurality of height positions and locking said armrest at a desired one of said plurality of height positions, wherein said pulling up on said upper portion of said armrest is carried out while said armrest is locked at any one of said plurality of height positions, wherein said armrest is laterally adjustable when locked at any one of said plurality of height positions.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein said moving said armrest vertically between said plurality of height positions further comprises actuating a trigger and moving said upper portion of said armrest between said plurality of height positions, releasing said trigger and thereby maintaining said armrest at said desired one of said height positions.

31. A method of adjusting the position of an armrest comprising: pivoting said armrest about a horizontal axis in a side-to-side direction toward and away from a side of a seat to a desired position free of any load being applied downwardly to said armrest; and pushing down on said armrest and thereby locking said armrest such that said armrest is prevented from pivoting about said horizontal axis, wherein said locking said armrest is automatically performed by said pushing down on said armrest free of any independent actuation of any locking mechanism.

32. A chair comprising: a seat having a longitudinally spaced front and back and laterally spaced opposite sides; and a pair of armrests positioned along said opposite sides of said seat, each of said armrests comprising: a lower support pivotable about a longitudinally extending horizontal axis; and an upper support connected to said lower support, wherein said upper support and said lower support are pivotable about said horizontal axis toward and away from one of said respective sides of said seat, and wherein said upper support is moveably connected to said lower support in a substantially vertical direction such that the height of such upper support is adjustable relative to said lower support.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/965,978, filed Aug. 23, 2007, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to an armrest, and in particular, to an adjustable armrest, a chair incorporating such an armrest and the method for the use thereof.

BACKGROUND

Chairs of the type typically used in offices and the like often are configured with armrests. In many instances, the armrests are provided with vertical adjustability. In some instances, an upper portion of the armrest is provided with lateral adjustability, such that an arm pad can be moved side-to-side to accommodate users having different body widths. Typically, however, the armrest includes a stem that is not laterally moveable, such that lateral adjustment of the upper portion does not provide more or less room between the stems, for example to accommodate a large individual with wide legs. Conversely, stems that are spaced too far apart can take up excess room, for example when chairs are situated around a conference table. Therefore, while the lateral adjustment of the upper portion of an armrest may provide for a variety of reconfigurable positions to accommodate a range of users, the fixed positions and/or configurations of the stems may not be ideally suited for a wide cross-section of users and/or applications.

In addition, the actuation of armrests, whether for vertical or lateral adjustment, often requires independent actuation of a trigger or release mechanism that allows the armrest to be moved. Such triggers, however, may not be easily located by a user unfamiliar with a particular chair, or may be difficult to actuate, for example, by someone of limited dexterity and strength.

SUMMARY

The present inventions are defined by the claims, and nothing in this section should be read as a limitation on those claims. Rather, by way of general introduction and briefly stated, various embodiments are described that relate to an adjustable armrest, chairs incorporating such an armrest, and/or the method for the use thereof.

For example and without limitation, in one aspect, one embodiment of an adjustable armrest includes a base member pivotable about a first horizontal axis oriented in a fore-and-aft direction, wherein the base member is pivotable about the axis in a side-to-side direction. An arm support is connected to the base member and includes an armrest support extending in the fore-and-aft direction. A first latch member includes a plurality of notches, while a second latch member includes a pawl shaped to releasably engage at least one of the plurality of notches. One of the first or second latch members is mounted on the base member, with the second latch member being moveable relative to the first latch member between at least one engaged position and a release position. In the engaged position, the pawl is engaged with at least one of the plurality of notches such that the base member is prevented from pivoting about said first horizontal axis. In the release position, the pawl is disengaged from the plurality of notches such that the base member is pivotable about the first horizontal axis.

In another aspect, a chair includes a pair of adjustable armrests and a seat having a longitudinally spaced front and back and laterally spaced opposite sides. The pair of armrests are positioned along the opposite sides of the seat and are pivotable in a side-to-side direction about a longitudinally extending horizontal axis.

In another aspect, a method of adjusting the position of an armrest includes pulling up on an upper portion of the armrest, pivoting the armrest about a horizontal axis in a side-to-side direction toward and away from a side of a seat to a desired lateral position, and releasing the upper portion of the armrest. In one embodiment, the method further includes adjusting a height of the armrest.

In another aspect, a method of adjusting the position of an armrest includes pivoting the armrest about a horizontal axis in side-to-side direction toward and away from a side of a seat to a desired position while free of any load being applied downwardly to the armrest. The method further includes pushing down on the armrest and thereby locking the armrest such that the armrest is prevented from pivoting about the horizontal axis. Locking the armrest is automatically performed by pushing down on the armrest free of any independent actuation of any locking mechanism.

The various aspects and embodiments provide significant advantages over other armrests, chairs and methods for the user thereof. For example, and without limitation, the lateral position of the entire armrest can be easily adjusted to accommodate different users, while providing a chair with a variable width footprint. In addition, the lateral position of the armrests can be easily adjusted without a separate, independent actuation of a trigger mechanism, while at the same time providing rigid support when loaded.

Of course, it should be understood that the various aspects disclosed herein can be used individually or in combination, with various combinations providing additional advantages. The present invention, together with further objects and advantages, will be best understood by reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of one embodiment of an armrest assembly.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the armrest assembly shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 2 taken along line 3-3.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4.

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the armrest shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a rear view of a rack.

FIG. 7 is a front view of another embodiment of an armrest.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a sleeve member.

FIG. 9 is a front view of a second latch member.

FIG. 10 is a front view of a rack.

FIG. 11 is a front view of another embodiment of an armrest.

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 11 taken along line 12-12.

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 11 taken along line 13-13.

FIG. 14 is an exploded perspective view of another embodiment of an armrest.

FIG. 15 is a partial front view of the armrest shown in FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a partial front view of another embodiment of an armrest.

FIG. 17 is a partial side view of the armrest shown in FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the armrest shown in FIG. 16.

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a chair configured with an armrest.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of a spring plate.

FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional view of an arm pad.

FIG. 22 is a front view of an armrest.

FIG. 23 is an interior side view of the armrest shown in FIG. 22.

FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 23 taken along line 24-24.

FIG. 25 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 23 taken along line 25-25.

FIG. 26 is a cross-sectional view of the armrest shown in FIG. 23 taken along line 26-26.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

General

The terms “longitudinal” and “lateral” as used herein are intended to indicate the directions 50, 52 of the chair from front to back and from side to side, respectively. Similarly, the terms “front”, “side”, “back”, “forwardly”, “rearwardly”, “upwardly” and “downwardly” as used herein are intended to indicate the various directions and portions of the chair as normally understood when viewed from the perspective of a user sitting in the chair. It should be understood that the terms “mounted,” “connected”, “coupled,” “supported by,” and variations thereof, refer to two or more members or components that are joined, engaged or abutted, whether directly or indirectly, for example, by way of another component or member, and further that the two or more members, or intervening member(s) can be joined by being integrally formed, or by way of various fastening devices, including for example and without limitation, mechanical fasteners, adhesives, welding, press fit, bent-over tab members, etc. The term “plurality” means two or more.

As shown in FIG. 19, a chair 2 includes a seat 4 having a front 6 and back 8 and opposite sides 10. The chair includes a support structure 12 supporting the seat. The support structure 12 is shown as including a base 14 with five arms, each terminating in a caster. A central support column 16 is connected to a control housing 18, with the control housing being rotatable relative to the base about a vertical axis. A back 20, including a support member, extends from and is pivotally connected to the control housing. The back 20 and seat 4 are configured to tilt relative to the tilt housing.

It should be understood that in other embodiments (not shown), the chair can include other types of support structures, including three or more fixed legs, sled bases, and other known structures. In addition, it should be understood that the chair can be configured with a seat and back that tilt together but at different rates, or with a seat and back that are fixed and tilt together at the same rate. In other embodiments, the seat may remain fixed, with the back tilting by itself, or with both the seat and back being fixed. It should be understood that an armrest can be connected to the support structure for any of these types of chairs, or other seating structures, including without limitation vehicular and airplane seating, carts, bicycles, wheelchairs, stadium seating or any other type of body support structures having a seating surface.

Armrest Assembly:

Referring to the drawings, FIGS. 1-6, 8 and 22-26 show an armrest 22 having an upper arm support 24 and a lower arm support 26. The lower arm support includes a tubular structure 28. A pair of mating sleeves (inner and outer) 30, 32 are mounted inside the tube and define an interior cavity 34 therein. One of the sleeves 32 includes an upper annular flange 36 that forms a cap on the lower arm support 26 and defines an upper opening into the cavity 34. In another embodiment, both sleeves include a portion of the annular flange, with the sleeves in combination forming the entire flange. The inner sleeve 30 is configured with a pair of flanges 38 that form a track in combination with an inner surface of the lower arm support. The flanges are spaced outside of a corresponding pair of flanges on the interior of the lower arm support, so as to provide an anti-rotation coupling between the inner sleeve and the lower arm support. The inner sleeve 30 also includes an elongated opening 40 formed between the flanges so as to provide access to the track. A rack is 42 slideably positioned within the track between the flanges of the lower arm support. A spring 44 is positioned between an upper portion of the rack 42 and a lower surface of the annular flange 36 of the sleeve. The spring 44 biases the rack 42 downwardly. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 26, a spring 176 biases a latch member 66, and by way of engagement, the rack 44 downwardly. The rack has a limited amount of travel within the track, with the rack 42 bottoming out in the track as it bears against a top surface formed in the tubular structure 28. The rack 42 includes a plurality of notches 46 formed by teeth facing outwardly toward the cavity 34 with the notches exposed through the elongated opening 40 formed in the sleeve 30. An opening 48 is formed intermediate the top and bottom ends of the rack and opens inwardly toward the cavity 34.

The lower arm support 26, otherwise referred to as a base member, is configured with an inwardly extending flange 54. A latch member 56 is mounted to the flange 54, with a pair of shims 58 secured to the latch member. The latch member 56 includes a rack 60, configured as a plurality of notches 74 defined by teeth formed along a top thereof. The latch member 56 is fixedly mounted to the support structure 12 in a non-rotatable relationship using the shims 58, with the base member 26, including the flange 54, being pivotally mounted to the latch member 56 and support structure about a main pivot axis 62. The pivot axis 62 extends substantially horizontally along the longitudinal (fore-and-aft) direction 50. In this way, the lower arm support or base member 26, and connected upper arm support 24, are pivotable about the main pivot axis 62 in a side-to-side direction so as to accommodate users of different widths. The flange 54 is provided with slots 64 of varying length as a function of the distance from the pivot axis 62, such that the lower arm support 26 can pivot relative to the latch member 56. A pair of covers 117, separate from or integral with the lower arm support, are also configured with slots 64.

A second latch member 66 is pivotally mounted to the base member 26, and in particular the flange 54, about a second pivot axis 72, also running in the fore-and-aft or longitudinal direction 50. The pivot axis 72 is spaced apart, preferably inwardly and/or upwardly, from the main pivot axis 62. The second latch member 66 includes a downwardly extending pawl 68 that is shaped to engage at least one of the notches 74 of the rack 60 of the latch member 56. The term “pawl” as used herein means any protuberance, projection, detent or other member capable of mating with and/or engaging a corresponding opening or projection/protuberance, such as a notch, tooth, etc. A distal end 70 of the latch member 66 is inserted into the opening 48 formed in the rack 42 and is constrained by the rack 42. It should be understood that in an alternative embodiment the position of the pawl and rack can be reversed on the two latch members 56, 66. In yet another embodiment, a pivotable latch member, having a pawl or rack, is pivotally connected to the support structure, and a latch member fixed relative to the support structure and having a mating rack or pawl, is moveably connected to the base member or lower arm support such that the latch member remains pivotally stationary as the base member pivots.

In an alternative embodiment, shown in FIG. 7, the end 170 of the latch member 166 is rotatably connected to a rack 142 configured with notches 146. A spring 176 is connected to one or both of the rack 142 and latch member 166 and biases the latch member 166 and rack in a downward direction such that a plurality of pawls 168 engage notches 74 of rack 60.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4 and 22-26, the upper arm support 24 includes a stem 76 slidably received and vertically moveable relative to the lower arm support 24. The upper and lower arm supports are curved relative to a longitudinal axis, with an inner concave curvature (curved surface 78) facing the user and an outer convex curvature (curved surface 80) facing away from the user. In this way, the curved armrest provides greater clearance for the user, including for example the user's thighs.

The upper arm support 24 includes an elongated armrest support 80 extending forwardly from the stem, and also rearwardly a lesser amount. As shown in FIGS. 19 and 21, a pad 82, made from one or more of a foam, gel, fabric or other compressible or non-compressible material, is mounted on an upper portion 80 of the armrest support. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an opening 84 is formed in a forward portion of the stem. A trigger 86 extends at least partially outside of the opening for exposure to the user and is moveably, e.g., rotatably, secured to the stem. An upper surface 88 of the trigger on the interior of the stem engages the bottom of a free end 94 of a spring plate 90. The spring plate 90 has an opposite end 92 fixedly secured to the stem.

An actuator member 98 includes a head 100 that is connected to the spring plate 90 intermediate the free end 94 and the fixed end 92. A necked portion 102 of the head is inserted into a slot 96 to connect the actuator and spring plate. The actuator includes an elongated shaft 104. An annular flange 106 extends transversely from the shaft below the head and slideably engages the interior side walls of the cavity 134 of the upper arm support, or stem, so as to stabilize the actuator. A lower end 112 of the actuator includes a tapered cavity 108 with a slotted opening formed therein. A pawl 110, configured as a bullet shape, is slideably secured to the lower end 112 of the actuator, for example in a track, and extends through an opening 113 in the stem 76. The pawl 110 is slideable along the tapered surface 114 of the cavity such that the pawl is extended or retracted transversely relative to the actuator shaft and rack 42 as the shaft moves down and up respectively in response to actuation of the trigger 86. In an alternative embodiment, the pawl 110 is not attached to the actuator, but rather simply is inserted through the opening 113 in the stem 76, and is biased in and out of engagement with the rack simply by movement of the rack and a tapered opening behind the pawl, thereby allowing it to move out of engagement with the rack. The pawl 110 is releasably engaged with one of the notches 46 formed in the rack to secure the upper arm support 24 in a desired vertical (height) position relative to the lower arm support 26. Instead of the spring plate, or in addition thereto, a spring 115 is attached to the bottom of the actuator as shown in FIG. 26 so as to pull the actuator downwardly and thereby engage the pawl 110 with at least one of the rack notches 46.

It should be understood that when the upper support member pawl 110 is engaged with the rack 42, the upper support member 24 is “coupled” to the latch member 166 by way of the rack 42. Of course, when the upper support member pawl 110 is disengaged with the rack 42, for example when the height of the armrest is being adjusted, the upper support member is not coupled to the latch member 66, such that the pawl 68 remains engaged with at least one of the notches 74 on the latch member 56. In this way, an adjustment of the height of the armrest, by pulling up on the armrest with the trigger 86 depressed, does not inadvertently disengage the latch members 66, 56 thereby allowing the armrest also to move side-to-side. At the same time, it should be understood that even when the upper support member pawl 110 is engaged with the rack 42, the upper support member 24 is moveable in a vertical direction relative to the lower support member 26 a small amount so as to allow the rack 42 to move and disengage the pawl 68 from the latch member 56.

Referring to the embodiment of FIGS. 11-15, a pair of latch members 256 each has a rack with notches 274 formed along a top thereof. A pair of outer covers 280 are secured to the latch members. A base member 226 includes a pair of sleeve members 230, 232 sandwiched between the latch members 256. The sleeve members include an upwardly extending stem portion that is configured with a rack 242. An upper arm support 282 is moveably secured to the sleeve members, and in particular the stem portion, and includes a pawl (not shown) that releasably engages the rack 242. The base member 226, or lower arm support, also includes a stem 276 connected to a flange 254, which are sandwiched between the sleeve members. The sleeve members 230, 232 and upper arm support 282 are slidably connected to the stem 276 and flange 254. Specifically, the flange 254 includes a pair of vertically elongated slots 286. The sleeve members include a pair of guides 288 extending therebetween that slide in the slots thereby allowing the sleeve members to move vertically relative to the stem. A spring 290 engages against the bottom end of the stem and biases the sleeve members 230, 232 downwardly. A latch member 292, formed as a pin defining a pawl, is engaged by a bottom surface of inwardly extending arm portions 296 of the sleeve members 230, 232. A vertically elongate slot 298 is formed in the flange member 254 of the stem and receives the latch member 292. The latch member 292 releasably engages one of the notches 274 of the rack. The flange 254 includes an elongated slot 250 curved relative to the main pivot axis 62. A pin 252 connects the latch members 256. The armrest, including the base member 226 and upper arm support 282, pivots about the main pivot axis 62 as the pin 252 rides in the slots 250.

In another aspect of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 14 and 15, a second rack 218 is configured along a top edge of an opening formed in the flange 254 connected to the stem. A resilient detent member 220, having a plurality of pawls, is connected to the base member plates. The detent member 220 acts as an indexing member that holds the lower arm support 226 in a desired position (five shown) relative to the latch members 256. It should be understood that a plurality, meaning more than one, position can be provided, including the five shown.

In yet another embodiment shown in FIGS. 16-18, the armrest includes a lower arm support 376, or base member, pivotally connected to a support structure and latch members 380 along a longitudinal extending (fore-and-aft) horizontal pivot axis 378. The pair of latch members 380 each have a rack with a plurality of notches 382 formed along an upper edge thereof. An upper arm support 384 is slidable relative to the lower arm support 376 in a vertical direction. A latch member 386, configured as a pin or pawl, is coupled or secured to the upper arm support 384, with a shaft of the pin riding in a slot 388 formed through the lower arm support 376, such that the latch member is moveably mounted to the lower arm support 376. A spring (not shown) can be included to bias the upper arm support and connected latch member 386 downwardly into engagement with the latch member 380.

The upper and lower arm supports, or various components thereof such as the tubular structure, flange and rack, are preferably made of plastic, for example nylon 33% GF BASF Capron 8223G HS, although it should be understood that they can be made of other materials, such as metal with the flange being welded to a tubular structure (see FIG. 14), or can include components made of plastic and components made of metal. Likewise, the sleeve members making up a portion of the lower arm support also are preferably made of plastic, such as acetal copolymer ticona celcon LW90, or other suitable materials such as metal. The latch members are preferably made of metal, such as steel or aluminum, although they also can be made of plastic, composites or other suitable materials.

Operation of Width Adjustment:

In operation, and referring to the embodiments of FIGS. 1-5, the user lifts up on the upper portion of the upper arm support 26, for example by grasping the armrest support 80. The upward lifting of the stem 76 thereby raises the rack 42 within the track of the lower arm support 24 against the biasing force of the spring 44 by way of the engagement between the pawl 110 and the rack 42. As the rack 42 is moved upwardly by the pawl 110, the end of the latch member 66 connected to the rack 42 is also lifted upwardly thereby disengaging the pawl 68 from the notches 74 of the rack 60 formed on the latch member 56. The user thereafter pivots the armrest side-to-side toward and away from the side of the seat to a desired lateral position. The user then simply releases the armrest 22, with the spring 44 and gravity thereby moving the rack 42 downwardly in the track and thereby moving the latch member 66 downwardly and engaging the notches 74 of the rack with the pawl 68. In this way, adjustment of the lateral position of the armrest is made possible simply by pulling upwardly on the armrest 22 free of any actuation of any other release mechanism.

Referring to the armrest embodiment of FIGS. 16-18, the user again simply pulls upwardly on the upper arm support 384 so as to disengage the latch member 386 from the latch members 380, moves the armrest side-to-side toward and away from the side of the seat to a desired lateral position and then releases the upper arm support to reengage the latch members at a different lateral setting.

Alternatively, in the various embodiments, the user can simply push the armrest sideways so as to overcome the spring force and bump the latch member 66, 380 to another location as long as a downward force is not being applied.

In some embodiments, such as in FIG. 7, the lateral position of the armrest can be adjusted simply by pushing or pivoting the armrest 22 in a side-to-side direction toward and away from the side of the seat free of any load being applied downwardly to the armrest. Again, this lateral adjustment can be performed simply by pushing the armrest free of any actuation of any other release mechanism.

The armrest embodiment of FIGS. 11-15 is adjusted the same way. In particular, the user pulls upwardly on the armrest 22, or simply pushes the armrest sideways such that the latch member 292 disengages from one of the notches 274 and reengages with another notch at a desired location. The indexing member 220 helps to provide some resistance to the lateral adjustment.

In any of the embodiments, when the user pushes down on the armrest 22, for example when exiting the chair or when working with their arms resting on the armrests, the latch members 56, 66, 166, 256, 292, 380, 386 are firmly engaged and prevent any rotation of the armrest in a lateral direction. In addition, when no load is applied to the armrest, one or more springs bias the latch members into engagement such that the lateral position of the armrest is not inadvertently changed.

Operation of Height Adjustment:

In operation, and referring to the embodiments of FIGS. 1-5, the height of the armrest is adjusted by pushing or pulling the trigger 86, which in turn pushes upwardly on the spring plate 90. The spring plate 90 in turn pulls the actuator 104 upwardly and thereby causes the latch member 110 or pawl to retract into the cavity 108 of the actuator along the tapered surface 114 thereof. As the pawl 110 retracts from the rack 42, the upper arm 24 support can be moved to a desired location, wherein after the trigger 86 is released. Of course, the trigger can be released once the pawl 110 is moved out of a notch 46 and the armrest is raised and lowered but before the pawl is aligned with another notch, such that the pawl 110 is automatically biased into engagement with a notch 46 once they are brought into alignment. In either case, once the trigger is released, the pawl 110 and rack 42 are engaged such that the upper arm support is again coupled to the latch member 66. The spring plate 90 is biased downwardly thereby moving the actuator 104 downwardly and moving the pawl 110 inwardly into engagement with one of the notches 46 in the rack 42 as the pawl 116 slides along the tapered surface 114 of the actuator.

In addition, as explained above, when the pawl 110 is disengaged with the rack 42, for example when the height of the armrest is being adjusted, the upper support member 24 is not coupled to the latch member 66, such that the pawl 68 remains engaged with the rack 74 on the latch member 56. In this way, an adjustment of the height of the armrest by pulling up on the armrest with the trigger depressed does not inadvertently disengage the latch members 66, 56 thereby allowing the armrest also to move side-to-side.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. As such, it is intended that the foregoing detailed description be regarded as illustrative rather than limiting and that it is the appended claims, including all equivalents thereof, which are intended to define the scope of the invention.