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Shear cushion with interconnected columns of cushioning elements

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Shear cushion with interconnected columns of cushioning elements


In accordance with one implementation, a cushion includes at least two columns of axially aligned cushioning elements and one or more binding layers elastically connecting the at least two columns together. The binding layer may be oriented in a direction substantially perpendicular to the axial alignment at an intersection of two or more cushioning elements. In one implementation, the shear reduction may be directionally tuned so as to provide for different shear force mitigation in different directions.
Related Terms: Columns

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USPTO Applicaton #: #20140210250 - Class: 29745248 (USPTO) -


Inventors: Eric Difelice

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140210250, Shear cushion with interconnected columns of cushioning elements.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/758,697, entitled “Shear Force Reduction” and filed on Jan. 30, 2013, which is specifically incorporated by reference herein for all that it discloses or teaches.

BACKGROUND

When seated on a cushion, vibrations and other forces may cause horizontal movement of an occupant of the cushion. This horizontal movement causes shear forces at the interface between the occupant and the seat cushion, which are absorbed by the cushion and/or the body tissue of the occupant. These interface shear forces can cause the occupant discomfort, irritation, fatigue, and in extreme cases, pressure ulcer development.

SUMMARY

Implementations described herein address at least one of the foregoing problems by providing a shear cushion comprising a first column of two or more interconnected cushioning elements; a second column of two or more additional interconnected cushioning elements, wherein the first column is oriented substantially parallel and adjacent to the second column; and a first binding layer elastically connecting the first column to the second column, wherein the first column and the second column are both extend in a direction substantially normal to the first binding layer.

Implementations described herein address at least one of the foregoing problems by further providing a method of using a shear cushion to reduce peak shear force on an occupant of the shear cushion comprising tilting a first column of two or more interconnected cushioning elements and a second column of two or more additional interconnected cushioning elements in a direction of a shear force applied to the shear cushion, wherein the first column is elastically connected to the second column with a first binding layer, and wherein the first column is oriented substantially parallel to the second column.

Implementations described herein address at least one of the foregoing problems by still further providing a shear cushion comprising a first column of two or more interconnected cushioning elements; a second column of two or more additional interconnected cushioning elements; a third column of two or more additional interconnected cushioning elements; a fourth column of two or more additional interconnected cushioning elements; wherein each of the first column, the second column, the third column, and the fourth column are oriented substantially parallel; a first binding layer elastically connecting the first column, the second column, the third column, and the fourth column at first interfaces between adjacent cushioning elements in each of the first column, the second column, the third column, and the fourth column; and a second binding layer elastically connecting the first column, the second column, the third column, and the fourth column at second interfaces between adjacent cushioning elements in each of the first column, the second column, the third column, and the fourth column, wherein the second binding layer is offset from and oriented substantially parallel to the first binding layer, and wherein the first column, the second column, the third column, and the fourth column are all oriented substantially normal to the first binding layer and the second binding layer.

Further implementations are apparent from the description below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present technology may be realized by reference to the figures, which are described in the remaining portion of the specification.

FIG. 1A is a side elevation view of an occupant seated on an example shear cushion prior to application of a lateral force.

FIG. 1B illustrates the occupant seated on the example shear cushion of FIG. 1A subjected to a braking lateral force.

FIG. 1C illustrates the occupant seated on the example shear cushion of FIG. 1A subjected to an accelerating lateral force.

FIG. 2A is a rear elevation view of an occupant seated on an example shear cushion prior to application of a lateral force.

FIG. 2B illustrates the occupant seated on the example shear cushion of FIG. 2A subjected to a left-turning lateral force.

FIG. 2C illustrates the occupant seated on the example shear cushion of FIG. 2A subjected to a right-turning lateral force.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an example shear cushion.

FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of an example two-layer shear cushion subjected to a shear force.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of an example four-layer shear cushion subjected to a shear force.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of an example six-layer shear cushion subjected to a shear force.

FIG. 7 is a graph illustrating peak shear force over time of an example shear cushion.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an example shear cushion with offset cushioning layers.

FIG. 9 is a side elevation schematic of an example shear cushion.

FIG. 10 is a side elevation schematic of an example shear cushion subjected to a lateral force.

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of an example shear cushion 1102 with directional cushioning elements and non-directional cushioning elements.

FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of an example four-layer shear cushion with columns of progressively changing cushioning elements.

FIG. 13 illustrates example operations for using a shear cushion to reduce peak shear force on an occupant of the shear cushion.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Many cushions are designed to absorb compression (or normal) forces (i.e., forces substantially perpendicular (i.e., with less than a 5 degree variation or less than a 1 degree variation) to an user interface plane of a cushion) created when an occupant sits on or otherwise interfaces with a cushion. Often, these compression forces are a result of gravitational forces on the occupant. However, these cushions are not designed to reduce or prevent shear forces (i.e., forces substantially parallel (i.e., with less than a 5 degree variation or less than a 1 degree variation) to the user interface plane of the cushion) between the occupant and the cushion, which can occur when the seated occupant slides horizontally across a top of the cushion. Often, these shear forces are a result of inertial forces on the occupant when a directional change of motion occurs. Such shear forces can be uncomfortable and potentially physically harmful to the occupant. For example, motorcycle saddles may be subjected to intense lateral vibrations and/or inertial forces that can cause irritation, particularly when the occupant turns the motorcycle and is caused to shift or slide laterally with respect to the saddle. This rubbing of body tissue against the motorcycle seat can cause irritation and injury. Similarly, other saddles and seats associated with moving vehicles (e.g., car seats, aircraft seats, motorboat seats, horse saddles, pedal bike saddles, and wheel chair seats) may similarly inadequately protect the occupant from shear forces. Inadequate protection from shear forces can cause rubbing, bruising, irritation, fatigue, and can contribute to the formation of pressure ulcers on an occupant.

Peak shear forces decrease dramatically if a top portion of the cushion elastically moves with an occupant while a bottom portion of the cushion remains fixed. Therefore, allowing the top portion of the cushion to move laterally along with the occupant is an effective way of reducing or eliminating shearing between the occupant and the cushion. Accordingly, the stacked opposed void cushions disclosed herein may provide both a normal pressure distribution (e.g., a pressure distribution oriented substantially normal to the interface surface between the occupant and the cushion) and reduction of peak shear forces between the occupant and the cushion. In one implementation, the normal pressure distribution may be tuned separately from peak shear force reduction. In another implementation, peak shear force reduction may itself be directionally tuned so as to provide for different magnitudes of shear reduction or elimination in different directions.

FIG. 1A is a side elevation view of an occupant 100 seated on an example shear cushion 102 prior to application of a lateral or shear force. The cushion 102 may be a component cushion of any seat or saddle of a moving or movable (but currently stationary) vehicle (not shown). Further, while the occupant 100 is depicted using the cushion 102 in a sitting position, the presently disclosed technology could also apply to cushion the occupant 100 oriented in another position. For example, the cushion 102 could support the occupant 100 in a prone, supine, or a combination lying/sitting position with a similar effect as described herein. Further, the cushion 102 may provide the occupant 100 support in areas other than the user\'s posterior (e.g., the cushion 102 could be used to support the occupant\'s torso, legs, shoulders, head, etc.).

A gravitational (or normal) force is oriented downward as illustrated by arrow 104 pushing the occupant 100 against the cushion 102, which pushes back against the occupant 100 with an equal and opposing force, as illustrated by arrow 106. No lateral load is depicted in FIG. 1A and the cushion 102 merely provides support in a direction generally normal to an interface surface 108 of the cushion 102 with the occupant 100.

FIG. 1B illustrates the occupant 100 seated on the example shear cushion 102 of FIG. 1A subjected to a braking lateral force illustrated by arrow 110. FIG. 1B assumes that the occupant 100 is in motion in the vehicle. Although, in other implementations, a similar effect would occur when the user is accelerated rearward when the vehicle is stationary. The braking lateral force is created due to an inertial force of the moving occupant 100 resisting braking or deceleration of the vehicle, which is oriented in the opposite direction of the braking lateral force illustrated by the arrow 110. Further, in various implementations, the braking lateral force and corresponding inertial force is in addition to and independent of the gravitational (or normal) force and corresponding equal and opposite force depicted in FIG. 1A.

A shear force illustrated by arrow 112 allows the occupant 100 to remain fixed to the cushion 102 even though the inertial force is acting on the occupant 100. Shear force is defined as a force parallel to the interface surface 108 between the occupant 100 and the cushion 102. Shear stress is the shear force per unit of shear area at the interface surface 108 (e.g., the area of the occupant\'s body in contact with the cushion 102). Shearing movement is any movement that overcomes frictional forces that causes the occupant 100 to move across the interface surface 108 of the cushion 102. The shear cushion 102 is adapted to reduce peak shear force and peak shear stress and reduce or eliminate any shearing movement between the occupant 100 and the cushion 102.

If a conventional cushion were used, an equal and opposing shear force would immediately be applied to the occupant to resist the braking lateral force. When the shear cushion 102 is used, a top portion of the cushion 102 moves laterally with the occupant 100, reducing the opposing shear force/stress magnitude so long as the shear cushion 102 moves laterally with the occupant 100. If the braking lateral force is relatively short in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 102 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 102 to the occupant 100 remains below a peak shear force that would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion. If the braking lateral force is relatively long in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 102 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 102 to the occupant 100 may equal that which would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion, but the peak shear force would be reached more gradually, which can reduce the risk of fatigue or injury on the occupant 100 user.

FIG. 1C illustrates the occupant 100 seated on the example shear cushion 102 of FIG. 1A subjected to an accelerating lateral force illustrated by arrow 114. FIG. 1C assumes that the occupant 100 is in motion in the vehicle. Although, in other implementations, a similar effect would occur when the user is accelerated forward when the vehicle is stationary. The accelerating lateral force is created due to an inertial force of the moving occupant 100 resisting acceleration of the vehicle, which is oriented in the opposite direction of the braking lateral force illustrated by the arrow 114. Further, in various implementations, the accelerating lateral force and corresponding inertial force is in addition to and independent of the gravitational (or normal) force and corresponding equal and opposite force depicted in FIG. 1A.

A shear force illustrated by arrow 116 allows the occupant 100 to remain fixed to the cushion 102 even though the inertial force is acting on the occupant 100. If a conventional cushion were used, an equal and opposing shear force would immediately be applied to the occupant 100 to resist the accelerating lateral force. When the shear cushion 102 is used, a top portion of the cushion 102 moves laterally with the occupant 100, reducing the opposing shear force/stress magnitude so long as the shear cushion 102 moves laterally with the occupant 100. If the accelerating lateral force is relatively short in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 102 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 102 to the occupant 100 remains below a peak shear force that would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion. If the accelerating lateral force is relatively long in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 102 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 102 to the occupant 100 may equal that which would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion, but the peak shear force would be reached more gradually, which can reduce the risk of fatigue or injury on the occupant 100.

Structural details of the cushion 102 are discussed below. Further, while the forces illustrated by arrows 104, 106, 110, 112, 114, 116 are oriented either in the normal direction or in the shearing direction for simplicity sake. Forces applied to the occupant 100 may be oriented in directions that include both a normal component and a shearing component. In these cases, a similar analysis is made by separating out the normal and shearing components.

FIG. 2A is a rear elevation view of an occupant 200 seated on an example shear cushion 202 prior to application of a lateral force. The cushion 202 may be a component cushion of any seat or saddle of a moving or movable (but currently stationary) vehicle (not shown). Further, while the occupant 200 is depicted using the cushion 202 in a sitting position, the presently disclosed technology could also apply to cushion the occupant 200 oriented in another position. For example, the cushion 202 could support the occupant 200 in a prone, supine, or a combination lying/sitting position with a similar effect as described herein. Further, the cushion 202 may provide the occupant 200 support in areas other than the user\'s posterior.

A gravitational (or normal) force is oriented downward as illustrated by arrow 204 pushing the occupant 200 against the cushion 202, which pushes back against the occupant 200 with an equal and opposing force, as illustrated by arrow 206. No lateral load is depicted in FIG. 2A and the cushion 202 merely provides support in a direction generally normal to an interface surface 208 of the cushion 202 with the occupant 200.

FIG. 2B illustrates the occupant seated on the example shear cushion of FIG. 2A subjected to a left-turning lateral force illustrated by arrow 210. FIG. 2B assumes that the occupant 200 is in motion in the vehicle. Although, in other implementations, a similar effect would occur when the user is accelerated to the left when the vehicle is stationary. The left-turning lateral force is created due to an inertial force of the moving occupant 200 resisting turning of the vehicle, which is oriented in the opposite direction of the lateral force illustrated by the arrow 210. Further, in various implementations, the left-turning lateral force and corresponding inertial force is in addition to and independent of the gravitational (or normal) force and corresponding equal and opposite force depicted in FIG. 2A.

A shear force illustrated by arrow 212 allows the occupant 200 to remain fixed to the cushion 202 even though the inertial force is acting on the occupant 200. If a conventional cushion were used, an equal and opposing shear force would immediately be applied to the occupant 200 to resist the left-turning lateral force. When the shear cushion 202 is used, a top portion of the cushion 202 moves laterally with the occupant 200, reducing the opposing shear force/stress magnitude so long as the shear cushion 202 moves laterally with the occupant 200. If the left-turning lateral force is relatively short in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 202 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 202 to the occupant 200 remains below a peak shear force that would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion. If the left-turning lateral force is relatively long in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 202 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 202 to the occupant 200 may equal that which would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion, but the peak shear force would be reached more gradually, which can reduce the risk of fatigue or injury on the occupant 200.

FIG. 2C illustrates the occupant 200 seated on the example shear cushion 202 of FIG. 2A subjected to a right-turning lateral force illustrated by arrow 214. FIG. 2C assumes that the occupant 200 is in motion in the vehicle. Although, in other implementations, a similar effect would occur when the user is accelerated to the right when the vehicle is stationary. The right-turning lateral force is created due to an inertial force of the moving occupant 200 resisting turning of the vehicle, which is oriented in the opposite direction of the lateral force illustrated by the arrow 214. Further, in various implementations, the right-turning lateral force and corresponding inertial force is in addition to and independent of the gravitational (or normal) force and corresponding equal and opposite force depicted in FIG. 2A.

A shear force illustrated by arrow 216 allows the occupant 200 to remain fixed to the cushion 202 even though the inertial force is acting on the occupant 200. If a conventional cushion were used, an equal and opposing shear force would immediately be applied to the occupant 200 to resist the right-turning lateral force. When the shear cushion 202 is used, a top portion of the cushion 202 moves laterally with the occupant 200, reducing the opposing shear force/stress magnitude so long as the shear cushion 202 moves laterally with the occupant 200. If the right-turning lateral force is relatively short in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 202 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 202 to the occupant 200 remains below a peak shear force that would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion. If the right-turning lateral force is relatively long in duration compared with the time to move the top portion of the cushion 202 laterally, the peak shear force applied by the cushion 202 to the occupant 200 may equal that which would otherwise occur with a conventional cushion, but the peak shear force would be reached more gradually, which can reduce the risk of fatigue or injury on the occupant 200.

Structural details of the cushion 202 are discussed below. Further, while the forces illustrated by arrows 204, 206, 210, 212, 214, 216 are oriented either in the normal direction or in the shearing direction for simplicity sake. Forces applied to the occupant 200 may be oriented in directions that include both a normal component and a shearing component. In these cases, a similar analysis is made by separating out the normal and shearing components.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an example shear cushion 302. The shear cushion 302 includes six cushioning layers 318, 320, 322, 324, 326, 328, but in other implementations (see e.g., FIGS. 4-6) a greater or fewer number of cushioning layers may be used than that shown in FIG. 3. Each of the cushioning layers 318, 320, 322, 324, 326, 328 includes a planar array of cushioning elements. For example, the cushioning layer 318 includes cushioning elements 330, 332 oriented in the x-direction and cushioning 330, 334 elements oriented in the y-direction. In other implementations (see e.g., FIGS. 4-6), a greater or fewer number of cushioning elements make up each cushioning layer.

Each of the cushioning elements includes an upper void cell and a lower void cell bounded by two binding layers. The upper and lower void cells are attached together at a cell interface. For example, cushioning element 340 includes upper void cell 336 and lower void cell 338, and is bound by binding layers 342, 344 and attached together at cell interface 346. In some implementations, the void cells integrally protrude from each binding layer. In other implementation, the void cells are independently formed and attached to each binding layer. Further, each binding layer between adjacent cushioning layers can include two layers, one associated with an upper cushioning layer with void cells protruding there from and the other associated with a lower cushioning layer with void cells protruding there from. The two layers are attached together to form the binding layer. For example, the two layers may be physically attached to one another, such as by an adhesive. In another implementation, the two layers are not physically attached and frictional forces prevent the two layers from sliding relative to one another under a shear force. In other implementations, each binding layer lying between adjacent cushioning layers is a singular planar layer with void cells protruding in both directions from the binding layer.

Each cushioning element relies on elastic cell walls to operate as a spring in conjunction with other cushioning elements in the shear cushion 302. Further, each cushioning element in a cushioning layer is aligned with other cushioning elements in other cushioning layers of the shear cushion 302 to form substantially parallel (i.e., with less than a 5 degree variation or less than a 1 degree variation) columns of interconnected cushioning elements. For example, cushioning element 340 in cushioning layer 318 is aligned in the z-direction with cushioning elements 348, 350, 352, 354, 356 in cushioning layers 320, 322, 324, 326, 328 to form column 358. Column 358 is centered on axis 360, which is oriented in the z-direction.

As used herein, the term “vertically adjacent” shall mean adjacent to a given element along an axis in the z-direction. For example, the binding layer 344 is positioned between vertically adjacent cushioning elements 340 and 348. The binding layers can provide an adhesion interface to bind the vertically adjacent cushioning elements together and also to connect each cushioning element to one or more cushioning elements in horizontally adjacent columns (adjacent along an axis in the x-y plane).



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140210250 A1
Publish Date
07/31/2014
Document #
14167474
File Date
01/29/2014
USPTO Class
29745248
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
47C7/24
Drawings
14


Columns


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