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1. WO2006094715 - VEHICLE SEAT, ESPECIALLY A MOTOR VEHICLE SEAT

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

VEHICLE SEAT, ESPECIALLY A MOTOR VECHICLE SEAT

Background of the invention

[0001] Vehicle seats, especially vehicle seats for a motor vehicle, have different comfort and/or safety equipment. Vehicle seats that are electrically adjustable are known. Adjustment of the seat can occur in a vertical and/or horizontal direction. It is also known that individual components of the vehicle seat, for example the back or seat surface are electrically adjustable separately. Vehicle seats equipped with massage devices in the region of the seat surface and/or the back are also known. Vehicle seats that are air-conditioned are also known.
[0002] With increasing safety requirements, vehicle seats have also been developed that have belt tighteners and/or airbags or other safety equipment.
[0003] It is necessary for the safety and/or comfort components of a vehicle seat that they be supplied with electrical power and/or air. This supply occurs via lines, cables or tubes that are guided from the structure to the vehicle seat. The lines, cables, tubes or the like must be laid so that movement of the vehicle seat is guaranteed. On the other hand, these lines, cables or tubes or the like must be laid so that they are not adversely affected or inadvertently damaged by persons or seat movement. In particular, in vehicle seats used in recreational vehicles this is a problem, since ordinarily these vehicle seats are also pivotable around an essentially vertical axis.
[0004] Laying of lines and connection of lines, cables or tubes to the corresponding components of the vehicle seat are connected requires considerable labor. Moreover, there is the problem in that the space available for assembly is relatively limited.
[0005] An arrangement comprising a vehicle seat, especially a vehicle seat of a motor vehicle with at least one power conduit is known from EP 1 138 555 A2. The power conduit is connected on one end to the vehicle seat and on the other end to a structure, the vehicle seat being movable relative to the structure. The power conduit is then arranged with an upper run and a lower run so that the po- wer conduit is moveable in essentially two orthogonal directions in which movement can occur essentially parallel or perpendicular to the structure.
[0006] The objective of the present invention is to provide an arrangement of a vehicle seat and at least one power conduit so that the movement capability of the vehicle seat is further increased.
[0007] The arrangement according to the invention has a vehicle seat, especially a vehicle seat of a motor vehicle and at least one power conduit. The power conduit is connected on one end region to the vehicle seat and on the other end region to a structure, especially a vehicle body, the vehicle seat being moveable relative to the structure. The arrangement according to the invention has at least one power conduit having bends that are opposite to each other, hi the simplest case, the power conduit has two oppositely arranged bends so that in the retracted position of the power conduit it is essentially S-shaped. The power conduit may have several bends that are meandering. With this arrangement the vehicle seat can have a large adjustment range, the power conduit having a compact structure so that when it is arranged beneath the vehicle seat it is preferably covered by the vehicle seat. Damage to the power conduit by passengers can be largely avoided with this arrangement.
[0008] A power conduit can be arranged both upright, horizontally, or at an angle between these extremes. In an upright arrangement of the power conduit, the sections of the power conduit present between the bends lie one over the other. In a horizontal arrangement of the power conduit, the sections between the bends are arranged essentially next to each other. In an upright arrangement, there is the possibility of providing the power conduit beneath the vehicle seat. This might be problematical if sufficient space is available beneath the vehicle seat for a power conduit, but the radii of curvature of the bends are so small that they fall short of the admissible bending radii of the lines, tubes, cables or the like that are carried in the power conduit. Consequently, there is the possibility of arranging the power conduit, for example, horizontally under the vehicle seat.
[0009] The problem of unduly small bending radii is preferably solved via horizontal arrangement of the power conduit. In addition, in a horizontal arrangement of the power conduit simple assembly of the power conduit, the vehicle seat, and the structure is accomplished.
[0010] In particular, the power conduit has plugs and/or coupling elements on its end that can cooperate with correspondingly designed plugs and/or coupling ele-ments on the vehicle seat or structure so that assembly of the power conduit can be greatly simplified. The plugs and/or couplings on the ends of the power conduit are preferably designed differently so that only one installation possibility exists for the power conduit.
[0011] The horizontal arrangement of the power conduit also has the advantage that it is particularly suitable for vehicle seats in which the vehicle seat is pivo-table around an essentially vertical axis in addition to mobility in a vertical and horizontal plane, as is the case, for example, in recreational vehicles. The pivota-bility of such a vehicle seat is not restricted by the power conduit of the present invention.
[0012] According to an advantageous variant of the invention, it is proposed that the radius of curvature of at least one bend be different from at least one other bend in the power conduit. Improved adaptation to the adjustment range of the vehicle seat can be achieved by this expedient.
[0013] According to another advantageous embodiment of the invention, it is pro-posed that the power conduit have at least one laterally deflectable section. This laterally deflectable section is particularly expedient when the power conduit is arranged horizontally, since the load on the power conduit is reduced by the laterally deflectable section of the power conduit. The laterally deflectable power conduit is known from WO 00/12913, which is incorporated herein by reference for use in combination with the present invention.
[0014] A preferred variant of the arrangement has a section formed by chain links hinged to each other in which each chain link is formed by plates that have in one end region an essentially cylindrical (or round cross-section) hinge element, and on the other end region a hinge receptacle having an essentially oval cross-section.
[0015] The power conduit of the arrangement can be formed fully or partly from individual chain links hinged to each other, but this is not absolutely necessary. According to an advantageous embodiment of the invention, it is proposed that the power conduit have a channel in which lines, tubes or the like are carried, which is formed by segments. The segments are connected to at least one support belt. The support belt has alternating support sections and link sections.
[0016] The segments are preferably connected by force-fitting and/or shape- mating to the support belt. Force-fit and/or shape-mated connection of the segments with the support belt offers the possibility of designing power conduits of different configurations and structures. The possibility therefore exists, by using differently configured segments, to construct power conduits that have different radii of curvature, for example.
[0017] According to another advantageous embodiment of the invention, it is proposed that the segments have side walls and each support section and/or at least one side wall have a recess and/or a first protrusion as a connection element, designed so that the protrusion of one engages in the recess of an adjacent element. This advantageous embodiment of the invention results in a simple, compact structure of the power conduit. In particular, because of this expedient, the power conduit can be adapted to the corresponding specific application according to a modular principle.
[0018] According to another advantageous embodiment of the invention, it is proposed that the power conduit have at least one output section which itself has a passage running across the longitudinal direction of the support belt through which at least one connection element extends to join the side walls of one seg-ment. Because of this, even higher flexibility is achieved with respect to different applications, the number of components required for constructing the power conduit being relatively limited.
[0019] Especially in vehicles that are driven by different persons, the electrical adjustment possibilities of the vehicle seat are frequently used. It must therefore be ensured that even during frequent adjustments to the vehicle seat, a safe and reliable- guiding of the lines, cables, tubes or the like connected to the vehicle seat is achieved. In particular, it is proposed that the power conduit have at least one essentially rigidly designed section of the line receiving channel, which is connected to two flexible sections. By this expedient, retraction of the power conduit is reliably achieved.
[0020] The sections of the power conduit can be of different lengths in the retracted state. However, a variant in which the length of the individual sections is essentially the same is preferred.
[0021] The rigid section can be implemented by rigidly connecting the links or segments of the power conduit to each other. As an alternative or in addition to, there is also the possibility of forming the rigid sections by at least one hollow profile.
[0022] Especially in vehicles having a very large adjustment range, it is advantageous if at least one conduit driver (motor) be provided, arranged adjacent to the first region in the power conduit. At least one counter-driver can also be provided, which is connected to the power conduit and cooperates with the driver so that during transfer of the power conduit from an extended position into a meandering position of the power conduit, at least one bend region is formed between the driver and the counter-driver.
[0023] The invention also has numerous advantages. In particular, the power con-duit can be equipped with corresponding lines, cables, tubes or the like. The lines, tubes or the like can be provided with different connections or terminals. A power conduit can be connected to corresponding connections or terminals on the seat and on the structure, especially of a motor vehicle. Especially in vehicle seats that are also pivotable, the possibility is created by the invention of providing comfort and/or safety devices on the vehicle seat. The invention also protects the lines, cables or tubes from damage and thereby increases safety. In particular, damage to the lines by unskillful installer or destructive handling is avoided.
[0024] Additional details and advantages of the invention are explained by means of the practical examples depicted in the drawings, without the object of the in-vention being restricted to these specific practical examples.

Brief description of the drawings
[0025] Figure 1 schematically depicts a first practical example of an arrange-mentwith a vehicle and power conduit in accordance with the present invention; [0026] Figure 2 shows a second practical example of an arrangement comprising a vehicle seat and a power conduit in accordance with the present invention;
[0027] Figure 4 schematically depicts a practical example of a power conduit in accordance with the present invention;
[0028] Figure 5a schematically depicts the movement process in a snapshot view of the power conduit according to Figure 4;
[0029] Figure 6 shows a second practical example of a power conduit in accordance with the present invention;
[0030] Figures 7a-e schematically depict the movement sequence of the power conduit according to Figure 6;
[0031] Figure 8 is a partial perspective view of assembled supporting and articulated sections forming a part of a power conduit in accordance with the present invention;
[0032] Figure 9 is an exploded perspective view of a side wall connector for segments in a power conduit in accordance with the present invention;
[0033] Figure 10 is a top view of articulated sections of a power conduit in accordance with the present invention; and
[0034] Figure 11 is a perspective view of a power conduit in accordance with the present invention.

Description of the preferred embodiments
[0035] Figure 1 shows a first practical example of an arrangement comprising a vehicle seat 100 and a power conduit 5. The vehicle seat 100 has a back 101 and a seat surface 102 connected to back 101. The vehicle seat is preferably moveable vertically and/or horizontally. There is also the possibility that the vehicle seat 100 can be rotated around an essentially vertically running axis.

[0036] The vehicle seat 100 has comfort and/or safety devices that are connected to components outside of the vehicle seat via lines, tubes, cables or the like (not shown). These cables, lines or the like are carried in a power conduit 5. The power conduit 5 has a line receiving channel 3 in which the lines, cables, tubes or the like can be laid.
[0037] The power conduit 5 is connected on a first end region 1 to the vehicle seat, especially the seat surface 102. The other end region 2 of the power conduit is connected to a structure 103.
[0038] The power conduit 5 is designed so that it follows the movement of the vehicle seat, especially a vehicle seat of a motor vehicle. Figure 1 shows that the power conduit 5 has bends 12, 13 that are opposite each other. A compact layout of the power conduit 5 is achieved on this account. On the other hand, large adjustment ranges of the vehicle seat 100 are made possible by such a power conduit 5.
[0039] Figure 1 shows a variant of the arrangement in which the power conduit 5 is arranged upright. The individual sections of the power conduit 5 form an S-shaped in the practical example lie one over the other.
[0040] In Figures 2 and 3 a second practical example of an arrangement is shown. Figure 2 shows a vehicle seat 100 having a back 101 and a seat surface 102. A power conduit 5 is arranged beneath the seat surface 102. The arrangement of the power conduit 5 is essentially horizontal, as is apparent from the plan view of Figure 3. The power conduit has first and second end regions 1, 2. The first end region 1 is connected to vehicle seat 100. The second end region 2 is connected to a structure 103, which can be a body structure.
[0041] The comfort and/or safety devices of the vehicle seat are not shown in the figures. In addition, representation of the adjustment mechanism has been dispensed with in the interest of clarity.
[0042] A practical example of a power conduit 5 for guiding at least one line between the fixed connection point of the structure 103 and the moving vehicle seat 100 is shown in Figure 4. The power conduit has a first end region 1 and a second end region 2. A line receiving channel 3 is provided between the first end region 1 and the second end region 2, which is formed at least partially by segments 4 hinged to each other.
[0043] Figure 4 shows the power conduit 5 in a first end position of end region 1. The power conduit 5 in this end position is essentially looped meander-like. The practical example shows that the power conduit 5 is looped in an essentially S- shape. It has two bends 12, 13 that are opposite each other.
[0044] In a preferred embodiment of the power conduit 5, it has at least one rigid section 6. This rigid section 6 is connected to two flexible sections 7, 8.
The essentially rigid section 6 in the depicted variant partially forms an intermedi- ate strand 10. This intermediate strand lies between strands 9 and 11. The flexible sections 7, 8 are connected to each other via flexible bends 12, 13. The radii of curvature KR of the bends 12, 13 are the same in the depicted practical example. This is not absolutely necessary. There is also the possibility for the radii of curvature of the curvature sections 12, 13 to be different.
[0045] Figures 5a to 5e schematically show the movement process of the power conduit 5 in a sequence snapshot views. Figure 5a shows the power conduit 5 in a position in which the first end region 1 assumes its first end position EE.
[0046] In this first end 1 position the power conduit 5 is formed essentially S-shaped.. During movement of the power conduit 5 in the direction of arrow B, the first end region 1 is moved out of the first end position EE. Figure 5b shows the power conduit 5 in a snapshot view in which the power conduit 5 has traveled so that the strand 9 and strand 10 lie on a common line. In a continuation of movement of the first end region 1, the power conduit 5 is moved according to ordinary power conduits. Figure 5c shows the power conduit 5 in an essentially stretched position. In this position the first end region 1 has assumed its second end position ZE. The first end region 1 can assume any position EE and the second end position ZE. These positions are dependent on the movement. An intermediate position S is indicated with a dashed line in Figure 5c. An intermediate position lying between the first end position EE and the second end position ZE is denoted ZS. If the first end region 1 is transferred from the second end position to the first end position EE, the first end region 1 moves in the direction of arrow R5 as shown in Figure 5d. During this movement, a loop-like region 17 is formed, as shown in Figure 5d. The loop-like region 17 is formed until it occupies the first end region 1 during backward movement ZS. If the first end region 1 has reached the intermediate position ZS, the flexible section 7 that forms the strand 9 lies over the rigid section 6 that forms the intermediate strand 10 in the first end position EE. During continuation of movement of the first end region 1 from this intermediate position ZS into the first end position EE, the loop-like region 17 of the power conduit remains essentially unchanged until the first end region 1 assumes its first end position EE. In this case, the rigid section 6 exerts a pressure force on the flexible section 8 so that the bend 13 migrates in movement direction R so that the flexible section 8 is transferred to its initial position in which it forms strand 11. Figure 5e shows the power conduit after the first end region 1 has assumed its first end position EE again.
[0047] The depiction shows the movement process of the power conduit 5 when the vehicle seat is moved in essentially a horizontal plane. This movement process can be imposed by a movement of the vehicle seat. If the vehicle seat is moved vertically upward, the first end region 1 of the power conduit follows this movement. This also applies if the vehicle seat 100 is moved vertically downward. The power conduit 5 is expediently formed so that it assumes its initial position in the lowermost position of the vehicle seat 100. This is not absolutely necessary.
[0048] The movement process just described occurs when the power conduit 5 is in the horizontal and in the upright arrangement.
[0049] Figure 6 schematically depicts a second practical example of a power conduit 5. The power conduit 5 has a driver 18 arranged adjacent to the first end re-gion 1. In a longitudinal section of the power conduit lying between the driver 18 and the second end region 2 at least one counter-driver 20 cooperating with driver 18 is provided. In the depicted practical example, a stop 19 is also provided at a spacing from driver 18, whose functionality will be discussed later.
[0050] A sequence of snapshot views of a movement process of the power conduit as shown in Figure 6 are schematically shown in Figures 7a to 7e.

[0051] Figure 7a shows the power conduit in a position in which the first end region 1 assumes its first end position EE. By movement of the first end region 1 in the direction of the second end region 2, the strand 9 is transferred partially to the intermediate strand 10, as shown in Figure 7b. The driver 18 stops against stop 19. On further movement of the first end region 1 in the direction of arrow B, the tensile force is introduced to the power conduit via the stop 19. Figure 7c shows a snapshot view in which the first end region 1 assumes its second end position ZE. If the first end region 1 moves in the opposite direction R, a loop-like region 17 is formed. The first end region 1 with the driver 18 stops against counter-driver 20 so that the loop-like section 17 remains unchanged. Figure 7d shows the loop-like section 17 formed between the driver 18 and the counter-driver 20.
[0052] If movement of the first end region 1 is continued further, the driver 18 exerts a compressive force on the counter-driver 20. Since the counter-driver is connected to a segment 4 or chain link of the power conduit, this compressive force is introduced to the power conduit. The direction of the compressive force corresponds to the movement direction of the first end region 1. In this case thes-trand 11 is pushed into the original position until the first end region 1 assumes its first end position EE, as shown in Figure 7e.
[0053] It is understood that the movement processes shown in Figures 7a to 7e are only schematic. The first end region 1 can assume any arbitrary position between the first end position EE and the second end position ZE, in which the embodiment of the power conduit 5 always makes it possible for the power conduit to be arranged S-shaped or meander-like, when the first end region 1 assumes its first end position EE. Movement of the power conduit 5 can be imposed by a vertical movement of the vehicle seat 100.
[0054] The embodiment of the arrangement according to the invention permits movement of the vehicle seat 100 without disturbance. In addition, the arrangement opens up the possibility of simple and rapid assembly. In particular, the vehicle seat 100 can be equipped with a fully mounted power conduit 5 so that this can be merely connected to a corresponding connection on the structure 103.

[0055] Figure 8 shows a power conduit (line guidance unit) 110 according to this invention having a supporting belt 115 including supporting sections 300 and articulated sections 800 which are joined together with the help of a dual component injection molding technique. The power conduit 110 is formed of connected seg-ments 130, 130' which have side walls 150, 150' and a bottom web 190 to form a channel 120 for accommodating lines or cables or the like (not shown). Each side wall 150 is opposite another side wall 290. The side walls 150, 150' each have a partial top web 280 which extends in the direction of the opposite side wall 290. With the help of the partial webs 280 it is readily possible to introduce lines or cables into the channel 120.
[0056] The supporting sections 300 are designed with a profile 230 which reduces the weight of the power conduit 110 and increases the rigidity of the supporting section 300. The profile 230 includes a recess 160 to which segments 130, 130' and/or side walls 150, 150', 290 can be attached. The side walls 150, 150', 290 have an overlap area 600 with which channel 120 is sealed at the side walls 150, 150', 290 with a curvature of the power conduit 110. The overlap area 600 also results in an additional stability of the power conduit 110 due to the fact that it can absorb lateral forces applied through the side walls 150, 150', 290. Figure 8 also illustrates a bushing 250 running across the longitudinal direction of the power conduit 110 so that at least one connecting element connects the side walls 150, 150' of a segment 130, 130' by passing through this bushing 250. This provides a modular design of the line guidance unit which has a high flexibility with regard to different applications, whereby the number of components required to construct the power conduit is relatively small. The segments 130, 130' are joined together with the overlap area 600 in a rotationally fixed manner about the longitudinal axis of the supporting belt 115. Such a power conduit 110 can be produced inexpensively in a simple manner and is characterized by a great versatility and flexibility in use.
[0057] Figure 9 shows an alternate power conduit segment 130 that can be assem-bled with connecting means 155 formed by connecting elements 185 with which the side walls 150, 290 can be joined together. The supporting belt is clamped between the connecting element 185 and the second projection 265 on its supporting section 135. A third projection 305, 305' also contributes toward stabilization of the power conduit 110 in that the third projection 305 of a segment 130 engages behind the third projection 305' of an adjacent segment 130'.
[0058] Figure 10 shows another embodiment of the supporting belt 115 according to this invention having supporting sections 300, 300' and are articulated sections 800, where the supporting section 300 and/or the articulated section 800 are designed to be trapezoidal and/or rhomboidal. A trapezoidal design of the supporting section 135 defines a certain path which the supporting belt can assume in three- dimensional space. With a symmetrical trapezoid, for example, the power conduit 110 may execute a helical movement. Also, the alternate use of a flexible articulated section 140 or simply a loose fit between the articulated section and the adjoining support sections 300 can create a section that permits a degree of lateral deflection.
[0059] Figure 11 shows another embodiment of a power conduit 205 in accordance with the invention which has a supporting belt 115 which corresponds essentially to the embodiment of the supporting belt 115 in the other drawings of this invention. This embodiment has an oval-shaped first end 1 for connection to a vehicle seat 100. The first end region 1 may include electrical connections 415 for connecting to a vehicle seat control unit (not pictured.) A second and round end 2 of the power conduit 205 has a bottom part 335. The bottom part 335 has a fastening body 365. Two straps 345 extend away from the fastening body 365 and are connected in a form-fitting manner and optionally in a frictionally engaged manner to the supporting belt 115. Straps 345 have connecting means which engage in corresponding recesses in the supporting belt 115. The bottom part 335 may be connected to a structure 103. To do so, the fastening body 365 has boreholes 355. A supply opening 375 is provided for passing lines through the bottom part 335. Multiple supply openings 375 may also be provided so that it is possible to pass lines 415 separately through the bottom part 335.