US20060061166A1 - Toddler swing - Google Patents

Toddler swing Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060061166A1
US20060061166A1 US10928903 US92890304A US2006061166A1 US 20060061166 A1 US20060061166 A1 US 20060061166A1 US 10928903 US10928903 US 10928903 US 92890304 A US92890304 A US 92890304A US 2006061166 A1 US2006061166 A1 US 2006061166A1
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Prior art keywords
swing
wall portion
portions
user
swing seat
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US10928903
Inventor
Matthew Bolland
Brian Zeilinger
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PLAYSTAR Inc
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PLAYSTAR Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63GMERRY-GO-ROUNDS; SWINGS; ROCKING-HORSES; CHUTES; SWITCHBACKS; SIMILAR DEVICES FOR PUBLIC AMUSEMENT
    • A63G9/00Swings

Abstract

A swing includes a swing seat having a front wall portion containing apertures for receiving the legs of a user, a back wall portion, side wall portions extending between and integrally connecting the front and back wall portions, and a bottom wall portion extending between and integrally connecting the front, back, and side wall portions. The swing seat is made of plastic that is injection molded into a final swing seat shape suitable for receiving a user for swinging. At least a portion of the swing seat is pliable after being molded into the final swing seat shape.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention relates to children's swings, and more particularly to swings designed for use by toddlers.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • There are numerous types of swings used by children on swing sets or playstations. Older children often ride swings that have the swing seat constructed of a flexible belt connected between two chains. Other swing seats are more rigid and provide a generally flat seating surface. These types of swing seats are suitable for older children who can support their bodies in an upright position while sitting and swinging. However, younger children (e.g., toddlers) typically require a swing seat that offers more support and that more securely retains the toddlers in the swing seat.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Prior art toddler swings have been designed to offer the additional support needed for toddlers, but are usually uncomfortable for the toddler. Many prior art toddler swings are made of hard, rigid plastic. Often, these swings include separate, rigid plastic retaining bars that form a detachable portion of the swing for securing the toddler within the swing. Others prior art toddler swings are made of a more flexible plastic material that is molded around a metal insert. The metal insert stiffens the flexible plastic such that the toddler seat is rigid and uncomfortable.
  • The invention provides an improved toddler swing that provides the support a toddler needs to ride the swing, while providing a smooth, comfortable ride for the toddler. The toddler swing is made of a flexible plastic material selected and ergonomically formed to comfortably match and conform to the contouring of the toddler's legs, rear, and back. Added stiffening of the generally flexible toddler swing is accomplished by molding the plastic resin material of the swing to include integral stiffening features. No rigid metal inserts are needed to achieve added stiffening of the swing in selected regions.
  • To further improve the support and positioning of the toddler in the toddler swing, the swing is designed to be hung such that the swing mounts lie in a generally horizontal plane. With this configuration, the toddler swing and the toddler riding the toddler swing are in a reclined position, thereby comfortably supporting the toddler.
  • More specifically, the invention provides a swing including a swing seat having a front wall portion containing apertures for receiving the legs of a user, a back wall portion, side wall portions extending between and integrally connecting the front and back wall portions, and a bottom wall portion extending between and integrally connecting the front, back, and side wall portions. The swing seat is made of plastic that is injection molded into a final swing seat shape suitable for receiving a user for swinging. Furthermore, at least a portion of the swing seat is pliable after being molded into the final swing seat shape.
  • In one aspect of the invention, at least one of the wall portions is capable of conforming substantially to the shape of a portion of a user's body. In another aspect of the invention, the wall portions of the swing seat have a substantially uniform thickness. In yet another aspect of the invention, the side wall portions are spaced apart by a first generally horizontal distance adjacent the bottom wall portion and are spaced apart by a second generally horizontal distance that is greater than the first distance at a point vertically spaced from the bottom wall portion. In a further aspect of the invention, the front wall portion and the back wall portion are spaced apart by a first generally horizontal distance adjacent the bottom wall portion and are spaced apart by a second generally horizontal distance that is greater than the first distance at a point vertically spaced from the bottom wall portion.
  • Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the following detailed description, claims, and drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toddler swing embodying the invention connected to a swing set or playstation.
  • FIG. 2 is a front view of the toddler swing of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 is a partial top view of the toddler swing of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 4 is a partial top view similar to FIG. 3, but shown with portions of the toddler swing conforming generally to the shape of the user's body.
  • FIG. 5 is a section view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 6 is an enlarged partial section view of the toddler swing showing a mounting insert.
  • FIG. 7 is a section view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 3.
  • Before one embodiment of the invention is explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including”, “having” and “comprising” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • FIGS. 1-7 illustrate a toddler swing assembly 10 of the present invention. With reference to FIG. 1, the toddler swing assembly 10 is shown connected to a swing set or playstation 14, but can also be mounted to other suitable support structures. The playstation 14 includes a generally horizontal support beam 18 from which hanging elements such as chains 22 depend. Any suitable mounting methods can be used for connecting the chains 22 to the support beam 18. Of course, other types of hanging elements (e.g., swing hangers, cables, ropes, etc.) can be used in place of the chains 22.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the toddler swing assembly 10 is pre-assembled with a pair of hanging elements in the form of chain assemblies 26 that interconnect with the chains 22 in order to quickly, easily, and interchangeably connect the toddler swing 10 to the playstation 14. Alternatively, the chain assemblies 26 can be connected directly to swing hangers (not shown) coupled to the horizontal support beam 18. More specifically, each chain assembly 26 includes two chain segments 30 that are coupled together at one end and that are coupled to the toddler swing 10 at the other ends, as will be described in detail below. In the illustrated embodiment, a substantial portion of each chain segment 30 is chain that is coated with a plastic material such that the chain links are generally fixed with respect to one another and such that the metal chain is not exposed. Each chain assembly 26 further includes an interconnecting chain segment 34 that is coupled to the coupled ends of the respective chain segment 30. Each interconnecting chain segment 34 can be connected to a respective chain 22 using a quick-link chain connector 38 or via other suitable connection methods. While various other chain configurations can be used to mount the toddler swing assembly 10 to the playstation 14, the illustrated configuration provides a quick and easy system for interchangeably securing the toddler swing assembly 10 to the playstation 14.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2, and 5, the toddler swing assembly 10 further includes a swing seat 42 having a front wall portion 46 containing apertures 50 for receiving the legs of a user 54 (see FIG. 5), a back wall portion 58, side wall portions 62, and a bottom wall portion 66. The swing seat 42 is integrally formed of plastic that is injection molded into the configuration illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2, and 5, such that the side wall portions 62 extend between and integrally connect the front wall portion 46 and the back wall portion 58, and such that the bottom wall portion 66 extends between and integrally connects the front wall portion 46, the back wall portion 58, and the side wall portions 62. Unlike some prior art toddler swings, the swing seat 42 can be injection molded to its final, functional form without requiring additional forming or fastening together of portions of the swing seat 42. No fasteners (e.g., rivets) are required to form the swing seat 42 into its final, functioning configuration in which a user 54 can sit and swing. In addition, no separate restraining bars or similar structural members are needed to complete the swing seat 42.
  • The swing seat 42 is injection molded from a thermoplastic olefin (TPO) material having a durometer hardness ranging from about 40 to about 42 on the D scale. In the illustrated embodiment, the TPO material used has a product designation ADFLEX V109F and is available from Basell Polyolefins of Elkton, Md. Also in the illustrated embodiment, the TPO material has a durometer hardness of about 41 on the D scale. This TPO material results in a pliable swing seat 42 having portions that are capable of substantially conforming in shape to the shape of portions of the user's body.
  • For example, FIG. 3 illustrates a partial top view of the swing seat 42 when no user 54 is present. Notice the shape or contour of the back wall portion 58. FIG. 4 illustrates the same view of the swing seat 42 when the swing seat 42 is occupied by a toddler 54. As seen in FIG. 4, the weight of the toddler 54 causes at least some of the back wall portion 58 to deform from the shape illustrated in FIG. 3, and to conform substantially to the shape or curvature of the toddler's back and shoulder region. As the back wall portion 58 conforms to the shape of the toddler 54, the side wall portions 62 may be drawn closer together to further conform substantially to the torso and hip region of the toddler 54 (see FIG. 5). Of course, the degree to which portions of the seat conform to the shape of the user's body will depend on the size and weight of the user 54. Nonetheless, the ability of the swing seat 42 to conform substantially to the shape of a portion of the user's body means that the swing seat 42 is more comfortable and secure than prior art toddler swings made of rigid plastics that will not readily conform to the contours of a user's body.
  • In addition to material selection, the material thickness also contributes to the pliability of the swing seat 42. With reference to FIGS. 5 and 7, it can be seen that with the exception of portions of the side wall portions 62 in the vicinity of where the chain segments 30 attach to the swing seat 42, the wall portions 46, 58, 62, and 66 all have a substantially uniform thickness T0 ranging from about 5 mm to about 7 mm. In the illustrated embodiment, the thickness T0 is about 6.3 mm.
  • While the wall portions 46, 58, 62, and 66 are relatively pliable to provide a comfortable and somewhat form-fitting swing seat 42, there are areas of the swing seat 42 that include integrally molded stiffening features. For example, as best seen in FIGS. 2 and 5, the front wall portion 46 includes an upper edge 70 where the TPO material is molded into a rolled-over lip 74 that stiffens the front wall portion 46. The rolled-over lip 74 is sized and configured to minimize the ability of the side wall portions 62 to move toward one another immediately adjacent the front wall portion 46. The rolled-over lip 74 further adds to the comfort of the swing seat 42 by providing a smooth rolled-over surface where a toddler 54 may rest his arms or hands during swinging.
  • Still referring to FIGS. 2 and 6, the side wall portions 62 also include respective upper edges 78 where the TPO material is molded into a rolled-over lip 82 that stiffens each side wall portion 62. The rolled-over lips 82 are sized and configured to minimize the ability of the front wall portion 46 and the back wall portion 58 to move toward one another immediately adjacent the side wall portions 62. In the illustrated embodiment, the upper edges 78 are recessed or concave in the areas of the rolled-over lips 82 to provide a smooth rolled-over surface where a toddler 54 may rest his arms, elbows, or hands while swinging.
  • The integrally-formed, rolled-over lips 74 and 82 provide stiffening to select areas of the swing seat 42 without the need for separate, insert-molded stiffening materials (e.g., metal plates or metal bands) that are commonly used with other prior art toddler swings. In fact, the swing seat 42 includes no reinforcing inserts in any of the front wall portion 46, the back wall portion 58, and the bottom wall portion 66. Rather, the wall portions 46, 58, and 66 are completely and homogeneously formed from only the TPO material, making the swing seat 42 more comfortable than prior art toddler swings with stiffening inserts in areas of the swing that are regularly in contact with the user (e.g., the backrest area, the rear-end and leg support area, and the waist and leg hole areas).
  • In addition to material selection and material thickness as contributing factors to the overall comfort provided by the swing seat 42, other aspects of the swing seat 42 have been ergonomically designed for the comfort and support of the user 54. With reference to FIG. 5, the back wall portion 58 includes a curved region 86 designed to conform to the contour and curvature of the user's lower back region. The bottom wall portion 66 also includes a curved region 90 designed to conform to the contour and curvature of the user's rear-end and upper leg region. As best shown in FIGS. 2, 5, and 6, the front wall portion 46 also includes a curved region 94 between the leg apertures 50 that provides a smooth guide surface for the user's legs as the user 54 is inserted into the swing seat 42. The curved region 94 in the front wall portion 46 can also function like the rolled-over lips 74 and 82 to stiffen the area of the front wall portion 46 between the leg apertures 50.
  • Yet another feature of the swing seat 42 that contributes to the comfort and support of the user 54 is the taper or draft angle designed into the swing seat 42. This feature also facilitates the injection molding process and results in the ability of multiple swing seats 42 to be nested within one another for packaging. FIG. 2 illustrates the taper designed into the swing seat 42 such that the distance between the side wall portions 62 increases in a direction from the bottom wall portion 66 toward the upper edge 70 of the front wall portion and toward an upper edge 98 of the back wall portion 58. Specifically, at a generally horizontal plane P1 adjacent the bottom wall portion 66, the side wall portions 62 are spaced apart by a generally horizontal distance D1 that is less than a distance D2 measured at a generally horizontal plane P2 that is spaced vertically (upwardly in FIG. 2) from the bottom wall portion 66 and the plane P1.
  • Likewise, as shown in FIG. 5, the swing seat 42 is designed with a taper or draft angle such that the distance between the front wall portion 46 and the back wall portion 58 increases in a direction from the bottom wall portion 66 toward the upper edge 70 of the front wall portion and toward the upper edge 98 of the back wall portion 58. Specifically, at a generally horizontal plane P3 adjacent the bottom wall portion 66, the front wall portion 46 and the back wall portion 58 are spaced apart by a generally horizontal distance D3 that is less than a distance D4 measured at a generally horizontal plane P4 that is spaced vertically (upwardly in FIG. 5) from the bottom wall portion 66 and the plane P3.
  • The tapering of the swing seat 42 as previously described enhances the comfort and support of the user by offering a snug fit for the user's rear-end and legs adjacent the bottom wall portion 66, while providing more room toward the upper edges 70, 98 that allows the user 54 to shift and move his upper body and arms more easily. At its widest point in the illustrated embodiment (see FIG. 2), the swing seat 42 has a width W between the side wall portions 62 of about 331 mm. At its deepest point in the illustrated embodiment (see FIG. 5), the swing seat 42 has a depth D between the front wall portion 46 and the back wall portion 58 of about 426 mm. At its approximate tallest point in the illustrated embodiment (see FIG. 5), the swing seat 42 has a height H between the bottom wall portion 66 and the top of the rivets 26 of about 310 mm. Based on these dimensions, the swing seat 42 has a ratio of maximum width to maximum depth of about 1:1.3, a ratio of maximum width to maximum height of about 1.1:1, and a ratio of maximum height to maximum depth of about 1:1.4. These exemplary dimensions and ratios result in the swing seat 42 being sufficiently sized and configured to fully and properly support a toddler 54 for comfortable swinging.
  • The side wall portions 62 of the swing seat 42 include mounting portions 102 where the last link of each of the four respective chain segments 30 is connected to the swing seat 42. As illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, the mounting portions 102 include reinforcing inserts 106, made of plastic or other suitable materials, that are insert-molded into the side wall portions 62 during the injection molding of the swing seat 42. The inserts 106 can take any suitable form, and in the illustrated embodiment, include a body portion 110 defining a bore 114, and leg portions 118 that extend from the body portion 110. Projections 122 extend from the leg portions 118 and offer additional surface area to improve the bond between the TPO material and the plastic inserts 106.
  • As shown in FIG. 6, the last link of the chain segment 30 is coupled to the swing seat 42 via a rivet 126 that passes through the bore 114 of the insert 106. The illustrated rivet 126 is known as a blind rivet and is available from Cherrymate Fastening Systems of Stanfield, N.C. as part number BALM-8BP-12. While other suitable fasteners or fastening systems may be used, the illustrated rivet 126 provides a quality, permanent connection between the chain segments 30 and the swing seat 42.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 7, the mounting portions 102 of the side wall portions 62 have an overall thickness T1 that is greater than the thickness T0 of the remainder of the wall portions 46, 58, 62, and 66. The thickness T1 ranges from about 7 mm to about 9 mm. In the illustrated embodiment, the thickness T1 is about 8.5 mm. The slightly increased thickness T1 accounts for the insert 102 and for the minimum length of the rivet 126 in order to achieve a tight fit between the riveted chain link and the mounting portion 102.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, the toddler swing assembly 10 is designed to be connected to the playstation 14 such that all of the mounting portions 102, and more specifically all of the rivets 126, lie in a substantially horizontal plane Ph (see FIG. 5) This is achieved by designing the chain assemblies 26 such that the chain segments 30 have the appropriate lengths (i.e., the appropriate numbers of chain links). With the mounting portions 102 lying generally in the horizontal plane Ph, the swing seat 42 hangs and swings in the position illustrated in FIG. 5, wherein the back wall portion 58 is reclined to an angle ranging from about twenty-five degrees to about forty-five degrees with respect to a vertical plane PV passing through the bottom wall portion 66. This reclined orientation of the back wall portion 58 with respect to vertical provides good support for even the youngest users 54, who may not otherwise be able to fully support their heads and upper bodies in a more upright position while sitting or swinging.
  • Additionally, this four-point mounting arrangement provides stability to the swing seat 42, especially during swinging. The location of the rivets 126 with respect to the back wall portion 58 and the bottom wall portion 66 has been determined using anthropometric center-of-gravity data available for users of typical size and weight ranges.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 3-5, the swing seat 42 further includes apertures in the form of slots 130 in the bottom wall portion 66. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the slots 130 are located substantially at the lowest portion of the bottom wall portion 66 such that any water accumulating in the swing seat 42 will drain through the slots 130. The slots 130 can also receive a strap set 134 (see FIG. 3) for securing the user 54 in the swing seat 42. In the illustrated embodiment, the strap set includes a first strap 138 with a first connector portion 140, and a second strap 142 with a second connector portion 144. The connector portions 140 and 144 mate in a conventional manner to secure the straps 138 and 142 around the user 54. Other suitable securing devices similar to the illustrated strap set 134 can also be substituted.
  • Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A swing comprising:
    a swing seat having
    a front wall portion containing apertures for receiving the legs of a user;
    a back wall portion;
    side wall portions extending between and integrally connecting the front and back wall portions; and
    a bottom wall portion extending between and integrally connecting the front, back, and side wall portions;
    wherein the swing seat is made of plastic that is injection molded into a final swing seat shape suitable for receiving a user for swinging; and
    wherein at least a portion of the swing seat is pliable after being molded into the final swing seat shape.
  2. 2. The swing of claim 1, wherein at least one of the wall portions is capable of conforming substantially to the shape of a portion of a user's body.
  3. 3. The swing of claim 1, wherein the wall portions of the swing seat have a substantially uniform thickness.
  4. 4. The swing seat of claim 3, wherein the wall portions of the swing seat have a thickness ranging from about 5 mm to about 9 mm.
  5. 5. The swing of claim 1, wherein the front wall portion includes an upper edge where the plastic is molded into a rolled-over lip to stiffen the front wall portion.
  6. 6. The swing of claim 1, wherein each side wall portion includes an upper edge where the plastic is molded into a rolled-over lip to stiffen the side wall portion.
  7. 7. The swing of claim 1, wherein each of the front wall portion, the back wall portion, and the bottom wall portion is free of any reinforcing inserts made from material different from the plastic.
  8. 8. The swing of claim 1, wherein the side wall portions include mounting portions with reinforcing inserts molded into the plastic.
  9. 9. The swing of claim 1, wherein the side wall portions include mounting portions, and wherein the swing further comprises:
    hanging elements connected to the mounting portions and configured to be secured to a support structure such that each of the mounting portions on the side wall portions lie in a substantially horizontal plane.
  10. 10. The swing of claim 9, wherein the hanging elements are riveted to the mounting portions.
  11. 11. The swing of claim 1, wherein the plastic is thermoplastic olefin.
  12. 12. The swing of claim 1, wherein the bottom wall portion includes a pair of apertures, and wherein the swing further comprises:
    a strap set extending through the apertures, the strap set including connectors configured to secure the strap set around a user positioned in the swing seat.
  13. 13. The swing of claim 1, wherein the back wall portion is contoured to conform generally to the contour of a user's lower back.
  14. 14. The swing of claim 1, wherein the bottom wall portion is contoured to conform generally to the contour of a user's rear and legs.
  15. 15. The swing of claim 1, wherein the side wall portions are spaced apart by a first generally horizontal distance adjacent the bottom wall portion and are spaced apart by a second generally horizontal distance that is greater than the first distance at a point vertically spaced from the bottom wall portion.
  16. 16. The swing of claim 1, wherein the front wall portion and the back wall portion are spaced apart by a first generally horizontal distance adjacent the bottom wall portion and are spaced apart by a second generally horizontal distance that is greater than the first distance at a point vertically spaced from the bottom wall portion.
  17. 17. The swing of claim 1, wherein the swing seat is molded from a plastic having a durometer hardness ranging from about 40 to about 42 on the D scale.
  18. 18. The swing of claim 1, wherein the final swing seat shape is achieved without requiring fasteners to secure any portions of the swing seat together.
  19. 19. A swing comprising:
    a swing seat having
    a front wall portion containing apertures for receiving the legs of a user;
    a back wall portion contoured to conform generally to the contour of a user's lower back;
    side wall portions extending between and integrally connecting the front and back wall portions; and
    a bottom wall portion extending between and integrally connecting the front, back, and side wall portions, the bottom wall portion being contoured to conform generally to the contour of a user's rear and legs;
    wherein the swing seat is made of plastic that is injection molded into a final swing seat shape suitable for receiving a user for swinging;
    wherein each of the front wall portion, the back wall portion, and the bottom wall portion is free of any reinforcing inserts made from material different from the plastic; and
    wherein the swing seat is pliable after being molded into the final swing seat shape such that at least one of the wall portions is capable of conforming substantially to the shape of a portion of a user's body.
  20. 20. The swing of claim 19, wherein the side wall portions are spaced apart by a first generally horizontal distance adjacent the bottom wall portion and are spaced apart by a second generally horizontal distance that is greater than the first distance at a point vertically spaced from the bottom wall portion; and
    wherein the front wall portion and the back wall portion are spaced apart by a third generally horizontal distance adjacent the bottom wall portion and are spaced apart by a fourth generally horizontal distance that is greater than the third distance at a point vertically spaced from the bottom wall portion.
US10928903 2004-08-27 2004-08-27 Toddler swing Abandoned US20060061166A1 (en)

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US10928903 US20060061166A1 (en) 2004-08-27 2004-08-27 Toddler swing
CA 2488598 CA2488598A1 (en) 2004-08-27 2004-11-30 Toddler swing

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Owner name: PLAYSTAR, INC., WISCONSIN

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BOLLAND, MATTHEW T.;ZEILINGER, BRIAN K.;REEL/FRAME:015749/0653

Effective date: 20040826