US20080277987A1 - Composite seat back frame - Google Patents

Composite seat back frame Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080277987A1
US20080277987A1 US12/152,043 US15204308A US2008277987A1 US 20080277987 A1 US20080277987 A1 US 20080277987A1 US 15204308 A US15204308 A US 15204308A US 2008277987 A1 US2008277987 A1 US 2008277987A1
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end
seat back
back assembly
member
leg
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Abandoned
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US12/152,043
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Mark Deadrick
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Cutting Dynamics Inc
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Cutting Dynamics Inc
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Priority to US92888707P priority Critical
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Priority to US12/152,043 priority patent/US20080277987A1/en
Publication of US20080277987A1 publication Critical patent/US20080277987A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60NSEATS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR VEHICLES; VEHICLE PASSENGER ACCOMMODATION NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60N2/00Seats specially adapted for vehicles; Arrangement or mounting of seats in vehicles
    • B60N2/68Seat frames
    • B60N2/686Panel like structures

Abstract

A seat back is provided having a composite body having a first end, a center section, and a second end that is thicker than the center section. The first end, the center section, and the second end comprise a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix. The seat back also is provided with a member extending outwardly from the second end and a leg secured along at least a portion of the second end. The leg is positioned along the member to form a cavity defined by the second end, the member, and the leg, the cavity capable of receiving a connecting rod for connecting the seat back assembly to a seat.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims benefit to Provisional Application No. 60/928,887 filed on May 11, 2007, which is hereby incorporated in its entirety by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention is generally related to modular composite seat back frames for use in passenger seat assemblies.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • In the airline industry, conventional seats and seat back frames have been formed from metals such as aluminum. Such conventional frames have a number of drawbacks. For example, they have numerous and costly components that contribute to excessive assembly time and increased cost. Also, they are often difficult to form the complex geometry required by to accommodate both the contours of the passenger as well as any devices such as trays, phones, monitors, and the like. Furthermore, the overall weight of each conventional frame increases the overall weight of an airplane, thereby decreasing fuel efficiency.
  • While there have been attempts to replace aluminum with composite materials, those materials have not achieved the desired properties possessed by aluminum. For example, such composite materials exhibit limited stiffness properties in comparison to aluminum and do not satisfy necessary safety standards. While material stiffness can be compensated to some degree by shaping the components to enhance structural stability, the composite materials still lack the appropriate stiffness and therefore do not offer the potential for necessary improvements in structural performance. Furthermore, such composite materials are typically thermosets that could pose potential safety issues regarding use on airplanes.
  • For composites to be correctly utilized in airplane seats and seat backs, the composite structure as well as the design and configuration of the composite parts comprising the seat or seat back must be combined in a way that takes advantage of their physical properties.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention is particularly directed to a seat back for use in airplanes and airplane applications made from a composition including carbon fiber and a thermoplastic. In one aspect, a seat back is provided having a composite body having a first end, a center section, and a second end that is thicker than the center section. The first end, the center section, and the second end comprise a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix. The seat back also is provided with a member extending outwardly from the second end and a leg secured along at least a portion of the second end. The leg is positioned along the member to form a cavity defined by the second end, the member, and the leg, the cavity capable of receiving a connecting rod for connecting the seat back assembly to a seat.
  • In another aspect, a seat back is provided having a body comprising a first end, a second end, a center section between the first end and the second end, a top section adjacent the center section and between the first end and the second end, and a bottom section adjacent the center section, opposite the top section and between the first end and the second end. The seat back is also provided with a first member extending outwardly from the first end, a second member extending outwardly from the second end, a first leg secured to said first end and positioned along the first member, and a second leg secured to the second end and positioned along the second member to define a cavity capable of receiving a connecting rod for connecting the seat back to a seat. Each of the body, the first member, the second member, the first leg, and the second leg comprise a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix, and at least one layer having said highly aligned fibers oriented at a different angle than the highly aligned fibers of another layer.
  • Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description that follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is an exploded view of an unassembled seat back assembly in an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 depicts a front view of the seat back assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the seat back assembly taken from A-A as depicted in FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the seat back assembly taken from B-B as depicted in FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 5 depicts a side view of the seat back assembly of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 6 depicts a preferred orientation layout of a composite blank in an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 7 depicts a front view of a second composite blank in an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • While the present invention is described with reference to embodiments described herein, it should be clear that the present invention is not limited to such embodiments. Therefore, the description of the embodiments herein is merely illustrative of the present invention and will not limit the scope of the invention as claimed.
  • As generally described herein, FIGS. 1-7 illustrate embodiments of a composite seat back assembly 10 (hereinafter referred to as “the seat back 10”). In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, the seat back 10 generally comprises a body 20 and one or more legs 30 secured thereto. The configuration of the body 20 and the leg 30 and the composite structure of one or both provides improved structural stability while decreasing the number of parts and overall weight of the seat back 10. Accordingly, the seat back 10 is capable of being utilized in airplanes. In a preferred embodiment, the body 20 and the leg 30 may be formed from composite blanks, as described in greater detail below.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2-3, the body 20 may have a substantially rectangular shape with an anterior surface 40 and a posterior surface 50 opposite the anterior surface 40. The body 20 may have a first section 60, a second section 70, a center section 75, a top section 80, and a bottom section 90. The body 20 may be shaped, for example, to accommodate the contour of a passenger's body. The body 20 may be may be stamped, molded, or otherwise shaped to form a protuberence 100 on at least a portion of the anterior surface 40. It is to be understood, however, that a variety of contours may be formed in the body 20. In one embodiment, the protuberance 100 may also provide a depression on the posterior surface 50 to accommodate wiring or other mechanisms, including, but not limited to, a stowable tray, storage areas, phones, and video screens. While additional layers, such as foam, cloth or leather layers are not shown in the figures for the purpose of clarity, it is understood that the seat back 10 can include one or more such layers.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, a head portion 110 of the body 20 adjacent to the top section 80 may be configured as a headrest. As shown in FIGS. 4-5, a head portion 110 (and top section 80) may extend at an angle from the longitudinal axis of the body 20. Although shown as integral with the body 20, it is to be understood that the head portion 110 may be fabricated as a separate piece and secured to the body 20, for example, by vibration welding. In a non-limiting example (not shown), head portion 110 may be selectively positionable to allow a passenger to adjust the head portion 110 to a desired position.
  • One or more walls are provided that extend outward from the anterior surface 40 of the body 20.
  • In an illustrative example, as best shown in FIG. 1, a first wall 115 is positioned along the perimeter of the first section 60, a second wall 120 is positioned along the perimeter of the second section 70, a top wall 125 is positioned along the perimeter of the top section 80, and a bottom wall 130 is positioned along the perimeter of the bottom section 90. It is to be understood that the walls may be individually secured to the body 20, or integral therewith. It is also to be understood that the walls 115, 120, 125, and 130 may be connected to one another. Although not shown, one or more walls may also be positioned along the posterior surface 50. It is also to be understood that the location of the walls 115, 120, 125, and 130 is not limited to the perimeter of the anterior or posterior surface 50. In addition, although the walls 115, 120, 125, and 130 are shown as extending substantially perpendicularly from the anterior surface 40, it is to be understood that the walls 115, 120, 125, and 130 may extend therefrom in a variety of angles.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, one or more legs 30 is secured to the body 20 and/or one or more walls, such as first and/or second walls 115, 120, to provide additional strength to the seat back 10. In an embodiment, the leg 30 is substantially U-shaped and has a substantially planar first member 150 secured to a substantially planar second member 160. A lip 170 projects from the second member 160 to provide additional surface area for securing the leg 30 to the body 20.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the leg 30 is positioned on the anterior side 40 so that the first member 150 abuts at least a portion of the second wall 120 and the lip 170 abuts at least a portion of the second section 70. It is to be understood that the leg 30 may be secured to the body 20 and second wall 120 with adhesives, vibration welding, clips, and the like. Although shown as having a substantially U-shape, the leg 30 may have a variety of shapes. Non-limiting examples include rectangular, circular, and square shapes.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the shape of the leg 30 may also provide a cavity 180 defined by the first member 150, the second member 160, and the body 20 so that a connecting rod (not shown) for connecting to a seat assembly (not shown) may be secured therein. In such an embodiment, the leg 30 may be referred to as a “lock-side” leg. It is to be understood that the rod may be secured by a variety of fasteners including, but not limited to, bolts, screws, adhesives, welds, and combinations thereof. Accordingly, the leg 30 strengthens the seat back 10, minimizes the number of parts, and decreases overall weight of the seat back 10.
  • The seat back 10 may also vary in thickness to provide greater strength and stiffness where needed, while minimizing the overall weight. In an embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the first section 60 and the second section 70 are thicker than the central section 75. Further, the second section 70 may be thicker than the first section 60 to provide the strength necessary to connect the second section 70 to a seat assembly (not shown). In such an embodiment, the second section 70 may be referred to as a “lock-side” section. Such thickness variation may be achieved through the layering of composite plies, as described in greater detail below.
  • In a non-limiting example as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the center section 75 may have a thickness of about 0.023″ to about 0.033″, and preferably about 0.027″. The second section 70 may have a thickness of about 0.06″ to about 0.075″, and preferably about 0.067″. The first section 60 may have a thickness of about 0.045″ to about 0.057″, and preferably about 0.051″. The top section 80 may have a thickness of about 0.06″ to about 0.075″, and preferably about 0.067″. The bottom section 90 may have a thickness of about 0.023″ to about 0.033″, and preferably about 0.027″.
  • One or more legs 30 may also be provided with different thicknesses. For example, a lock-side leg 30 may have a thickness of about 0.08″ to about 0.10″, and preferably about 0.09″. A non-lockside leg 30 may have a thickness of about 0.05″ to about 0.065″, and preferably about 0.055″. Accordingly, the lock-side leg 30 provides the strength necessary to secure the seat back 10 to a seat assembly (not shown) and minimizes the overall weight of the assembly. In a non-limiting example (not shown), the first member 150, the second member 160, and the lip 170 of the leg 30 may also vary in thickness.
  • It is also to be understood that the walls 115, 120, 125, and 130 may also vary in thickness. In one illustrative example, the walls 115, 120, 125, and 130 may have the same thickness as the section 60, 70, 80, 90, to which they are positioned on or adjacent to. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, the first wall 115 may have a thickness of about 0.045″ to about 0.057″, and preferably about 0.051″. The second wall 120 may have a thickness of about 0.06″ to about 0.075″, and preferably about 0.067″.
  • In addition, the seat back 10 may include one or more members 185 to provide additional strength or stiffness properties to the seat back 10. The members 185 can be of any geometric shape and may be secured to, stamped, molded, or otherwise formed on the anterior surface 40 and/or posterior surface 50. While FIG. 2 depicts members 185 on the head portion 110, it is understood that the members 185 may be located anywhere on the seat back 10 to provide additional strength or stiffness properties.
  • The seat back assembly 10 is formed from a composite material. As used herein, the term “composite” is defined as highly-aligned reinforcements of carbon, glass, aramid fibers, and the like in a suitable polymer matrix of a thermoplastic resin. The composite material preferably includes one or more ply layers, each ply having substantially unidirectionally aligned continuous fibers of carbon, glass, or aramid fibers in a polymer matrix of thermoplastic resins. Thermoplastic resins include, but are not limited to, polybutyleneterephthalate (PBT), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), polysulfone (PS), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), ABS resin, thermoplastic elastomer, or composite materials of these thermoplastic resins.
  • Thermoplastic composites are reinforced with high-strength, high-modulus fibers that provide dramatic increases in strength and stiffness, toughness, and dimensional stability. Advantages of using thermoplastic composites as opposed to thermoset composites are their superior impact and damage resistance properties, high toughness and ease of recycling, which is increasingly important in the airline industry.
  • In contrast, thermoset composites are inherently brittle and cannot be usefully recycled. For instance, an advanced thermoplastic composite component can be chopped to pellet-size and injection-molded to yield long-fiber reinforced moldings, which can in turn be recycled at the end of their life. Thermoset composite materials, in contrast, can only be ground and used as filler, a process that decreases the value of the composite enormously. There are also environmental issues associated with thermoset processing, as a chemical reaction is necessary to form the solid structure of the polymer (e.g., impregnation of the fibers is followed by chemical curing to give a solid structure, which is usually carried out isothermally). In contrast, with thermoplastics, the molding can be carried out non-isothermally (e.g., a hot melt into a cold mold) in order to achieve fast cycle times.
  • To prepare the composite material, the thermoplastic resins are compounded with composite or reinforcement materials, such as carbon fibers, glass fibers, or metal, so as to improve heat resistance, dimensional stability and rigidity. Glass fiber reinforced composites improve both short-term and long-term mechanical properties of a resin, including tensile modulus, dimensional stability, hydrolytic stability, and fatigue endurance. Deformation under load of these stiffer materials is also reduced significantly. Aramid fiber reinforced composites have low warpage, excellent wear and abrasion resistance, low coefficient of friction, and low thermal expansion. In addition, the mechanical properties of the aramid composites are relatively uniform in all directions. Although, aramid fibers are stronger on a weight basis than steel or aluminum, they are not as easy to work with as compared to glass and carbon.
  • Carbon fiber composites have superior fatigue properties to known metallic structures, and when coupled with the proper resins, carbon fiber composites are one of the most corrosion resistant materials available. Carbon fiber is used to create materials that can withstand extremely high temperatures along with significant abrasive wear. Carbon fiber composites are stronger than steel, yet lighter. In comparison to aluminum, carbon fiber composites are stronger, stiffer and lighter. Carbon fiber reinforced materials, at two to four times the cost of comparable glass-reinforced thermoplastics, offer the ultimate in tensile strength, stiffness, and other mechanical properties. Compared to the glass-reinforced materials discussed above, these compounds have a lower coefficient of expansion and mold shrinkage, improved resistance to creep and wear, and higher strength-to-weight ratios.
  • Accordingly, the seat back 10 preferably includes carbon fibers added to thermoplastic resins to provide the highest strength, modulus, heat-deflection temperature, creep, and fatigue-endurance values available in composites. These mechanical property improvements, coupled with increased thermal conductivity and low friction coefficients, make carbon fibers ideal for wear and frictional applications. In applications where the abrasive nature of glass fibers wears the mating surface, the softer carbon fibers can be substituted to reduce the wear rate. In general, carbon fibers have a length of at least 50 meters, and may be as long as a kilometer or more. Typically, continuous carbon fibers have an average fiber diameter ranging from approximately 4 micrometers to 12 micrometers. Carbon fibers are marketed under various trade names. For example, one suitable carbon fiber is from Zoltek Corporation of St. Louis, Mo., and has the trade name “Panex 35.” In an illustrative example, the fiber volume fraction is about 0.5 to about 0.7, and preferably about 0.58.
  • In an embodiment, the body 20 and walls 115, 120, 125, 130 may be integrally formed from a composite blank. The composite blank includes several layered plies with substantially unidirectionally aligned continuous length carbon fiber. The plies are configured so that the carbon fibers of at least one ply are oriented at a different angle than the carbon fibers of at least one other ply. The blanks may also be configured so that different portions have different numbers of ply layers, thereby allowing for thickness variations thereacross. In an illustrative example, the thickness per ply may be about 0.0075″ to about 0.0095″, and preferably about 0.008″.
  • In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 6, a blank 200 may be provided for forming the body 20 and walls 115, 120, 125, 130 of the seat back 10. The blank 200 may have a first portion 205 for forming the central section 75, bottom section 90, and bottom wall 130; a second portion 210 for forming the first section 60 and first wall 115; a third portion 215 for forming the second section 70 and second wall 120; and a fourth portion 220 for forming the top section 80 and top wall 125.
  • It is to be understood that each portion 205, 210, 215, 220 of the blank 200 may have a different number of ply layers. In a non-limiting example, the first portion 205 includes three ply layers, the second portion 210 includes six ply layers, the third portion 215 includes eight ply layers, and the fourth portion 220 includes eight ply layers.
  • It is also understood that the carbon fibers of a ply may be aligned in a variety of orientations with respect to the carbon fibers of one or more other plies. As defined herein, 0° is taken along the centerline of the longitudinal axis of the blank 200 toward the top portion 220; −90° is defined as perpendicular to the 0° axis, from the central axis toward the second portion 210; 90° is defined as perpendicular to the 0° axis, from the central axis toward the third portion 215.
  • In a non-limiting example using the above referenced number of ply layers for each portion 205, 210, 215, 220, the first portion 205 includes a first ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 40° to about 60°, and preferably at about 50°; a second ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; and a third ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −40° to about −60°, and preferably at about −50°.
  • The second portion 210, which may be the non-lock side in the present example, includes a first ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10°to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a second ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 40° to about 60°, and preferably at about 50°; a third ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −40° to about −60°, and preferably at about −50°; a fourth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −40° to about −60°, and preferably at about −50°; a fifth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 40° to about 60°, and preferably at about 50°; and a sixth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°.
  • The third portion, which may be the lock-side portion, includes a first ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a second ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 40° to about 60°, and preferably at about 50°; a third ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a fourth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −40° to about −60°, and preferably at about −50°; a fifth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −40° to about −60°, and preferably at about −50°; a sixth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a seventh ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 40° to about 60°, and preferably at about 50°; and an eight ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°.
  • The fourth portion 220 has a first ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a second ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 30° to about 50°, and preferably at about 40°; a third ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −30° to about −50°, and preferably at about −40°; a fourth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 90°, a fifth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 90°, a sixth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −30° to about −50°, and preferably at about −40°; a seventh ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 30° to about 50°, and preferably at about 40°; and an eighth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°.
  • In an illustrative example, the leg 30 may be formed from a second blank 230. For example, a lock-side leg blank 230 for connecting to the body 20 along a lock-side section, such as the second section 70, may have eleven ply layers. In such a non-limiting example, a first and a second ply have carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a third ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 47° to about 67°, and preferably at about 57°; a fourth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −47° to about −67°, and preferably at about −57°; a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; an eighth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −47° to about −67°, and preferably at about −57°; a ninth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 47° to about 67°, and preferably at about 57°; and a tenth ply and an eleventh ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°.
  • In an illustrative example, a non lock-side leg blank, similar to leg blank 230, may be provided for forming a non-lock side leg for connecting to the body 20 along a non lock-side section, such as the first section 60. Such a leg blank may have seven layers. A first ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a second ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 47° to about 67°, and preferably at about 57°; a third ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −47° to about −67°, and preferably at about −57°; a fourth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°; a fifth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about 47° to about 67°, and preferably at about 57°; a sixth ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −47° to about −67°, and preferably at about −57°; and a seventh ply having carbon fibers oriented at about −10° to about 10°, and preferably at about 0°.
  • In one illustrative example, the plies are formed from carbon fiber tape infused with a thermoplastic resin. However, it is to be understood that numerous processes may be used to prepare the blanks 200 and 230 for fabricating the seat back 10. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,939,423, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, describes a process for making composite blanks that may be used to form blanks 200 and 230 for fabricating the seat back 10. The blank making process generally includes a ply-layering step followed by a consolidation step. A brief, non-limiting summary of the process is provided below.
  • The layering step generally begins by selecting the materials to be used in making the composite part, as discussed above. At least one material placement station is provided for distributing the materials onto a conveyor into the desired layering and carbon fiber orientation. To accommodate such distribution, each material placement station can be moved in a direction that is different than the direction of motion of a conveyor. For example, the placement stations can move in a direction that is perpendicular to the motion of the conveyor. The stations may include a plurality of heads that are disposed in a direction similar to the direction of motion. Each of the heads includes a rotating portion that permits the head to dispense a material in a variety of directions relative to the head.
  • The material placement stations are able to dispense a plurality of materials. It is to be understood that the starting materials may be either dry fiber and resin or pre-impregnated tape. By selectively rotating heads and moving the placement station, the material can be dispensed in a variety of orientations and directions. It is to be understood that different placement stations may dispense material in directions different than one another. In addition, the material dispensed by the heads can be turned on or turned off when desired. Accordingly, the heads feed, heat, and position the materials to create a ply. A laminate is formed by layering plies on top of each other. The placement heads can also allow for the starting and stopping of the materials to allow for cutouts, thereby reducing scrap, which is a significant source of cost.
  • The number of stations required is determined by the desired production rate, the number of plies, angles, and special details, and the selected starting material form. Each head would lay down a single ply at a given angle. Once a given point on the belt has moved through all the activated placement stations, the result is a laminate of the desired combination of number of plies and respective angles, optionally including other special reinforcements.
  • The consolidation step generally comprises a series of heated consolidation rollers that compresses the laminate stack to a desired level of consolidation and thickness. A variation of this approach is to place binderized tows into a band of highly aligned dry fibers at the prescribed angle. Binderizing powders (a resin powder that is chemically compatible with the intended matrix resin) could be deposited between the plies as well, if required. After the final ply is laid down, a thermal compaction step could be applied to hold the fibers in their proper position prior to subsequent processing steps. The resultant sheet could then be cut and kitted if it is destined for a liquid infusion fabrication process. If the material is to be used in a stamping operation, an additional step of liquid infusion and consolidation, much like a pultrusion or extrusion process, could be applied to fully impregnate and consolidate the laminate prior to cut and kit. This kit could then be used in a solid state stamping fabrication process. Consolidation if required, would be performed at the end of the laminating operation using a series of heated and cooled rollers or heated and cooled platens. This step would be tailored to the intended final fabrication process.
  • Regardless of the end use (e.g., liquid infusion molding, solid state stamping, etc.), the laminated stack can be cut and kit into predefined bins for delivery to the final processing cell. Additional elements of the final component, such as adhesives sheets, colored decals, or fittings, etc., could be added to the bins prior to delivery to the final processing cell.
  • The component fabrication step includes a pre-processing and molding station. A pre-heat shuttle would be utilized to heat the laminate stack to the desired temperature and then rapidly shuttle the stack between the tools in the stamping press. The second station, a single stage heated stamping die, will clamp the perimeter of the laminated sheet and stamp the component. After stamping, the stamping tool is rapidly cooled from 220° Celsius to below the glass transition temperature and then demolded. Final trim operations can involve high speed routing in vacuum chucked jigs for high performance advanced composite structures.
  • The invention has been described above and, obviously, modifications and alternations will occur to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification. The claims as follows are intended to include all modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the claims or the equivalent thereof.

Claims (26)

1. A seat back assembly comprising:
a composite body comprising:
a first end;
a center section;
a second end, said second end thicker than said center section;
wherein said first end, said center section, and said second end comprise a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix;
a member extending outwardly from said second end; and
a leg secured along at least a portion of said second end, said leg positioned along said member to form a cavity defined by said second end, said member, and said leg, said cavity capable of receiving a connecting rod for connecting said seat back to a seat.
2. The seat back assembly of claim 1 wherein said plurality of layers includes at least one layer having highly aligned fibers oriented at a different angle than said highly aligned fibers of another layer.
3. The seat back assembly of claim 2 wherein said first end includes six ply layers, said central section includes three ply layers, and said second end includes eight ply layers.
4. The seat back assembly of claim 3 wherein said first end has a thickness of about 0.045″ to about 0.057″, said central section has a thickness of about 0.023″ to about 0.033″, and said second end has a thickness of about 0.06″ to about 0.075″.
5. The seat back assembly of claim 1 wherein said member comprises a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix, said highly aligned fibers of at least one said layer oriented at a different angle than said highly aligned fibers of another said layer.
6. The seat back assembly of claim 5 wherein said member has a thickness of about 0.06″ to about 0.075″.
7. The seat back assembly of claim 1 wherein said leg comprises:
a first portion, said first portion positionable along said member;
a second portion connected to said first portion; and
a foot extending from said second portion, said foot capable of being secured to said second end.
8. The seat back assembly of claim 7 wherein said first portion is connected to said second portion to form a substantially U-shape.
9. The seat back assembly of claim 7 wherein said leg is formed from a blank comprising a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix, said highly aligned fibers of at least one said layer oriented at a different angle than said highly aligned fibers of another said layer.
10. The seat back assembly of claim 9 wherein said leg has a thickness of about 0.08″ to about 0.10″.
11. The seat back assembly of claim 1 wherein said thermoplastic matrix includes a fiber volume fraction from about 0.5 to about 0.7.
12. The seat back assembly of claim 1 wherein said thermoplastic matrix includes polyphenylene sulfide.
13. The seat back assembly of claim 1 wherein said fibers have an average diameter from about 4 micrometers to about 12 micrometers.
14. A seat back assembly comprising:
a body comprising:
a first end;
a second end;
a center section between said first end and said second end;
a top section adjacent said center section and between said first end and said second end;
a bottom section adjacent to said center section, opposite said top section and between said first end and said second end;
a first member extending outwardly from said first end;
a second member extending outwardly from said second end; and
a first leg secured to said first end, said leg positioned along said first member; and
a second leg secured to said second end, said leg positioned along said second member to define a cavity capable of receiving a connecting rod for connecting said seat back to a seat;
wherein each of said body, said first member, said second member, said first leg, and said second leg comprise a plurality of layers of highly aligned fibers in a thermoplastic matrix, and at least one layer having said highly aligned fibers oriented at a different angle than said highly aligned fibers of another layer.
15. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said body, said first member, and said second member are formed from a substantially planar composite blank.
16. The seat back assembly of claim 15 wherein said composite blank comprises:
a first portion capable of forming said central section and said bottom section;
a second portion capable of forming said first end and said first member;
a third portion capable of forming said second end and said second member; and
a fourth section capable of forming said top section.
17. The seat back assembly of claim 14 further comprising:
a third member extending outwardly from said top section; and
a fourth member extending outwardly from said bottom section.
18. The seat back assembly of claim 17 wherein said third member is formed from said fourth portion of said blank, and said fourth member is formed from said first portion of said blank.
19. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said first leg is formed from a second substantially planar composite blank and said second leg is formed from a third substantially planar composite blank.
20. The seat back assembly of claim 19 wherein said first leg comprises:
a first portion, said first portion positionable along said first wall;
a second portion connected to said first portion; and
a foot extending from said second portion, said foot capable of being secured to said second end.
21. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said each of said plurality of layers comprise highly aligned carbon fiber tape infused with a thermoplastic resin.
22. The seat back assembly of claim 21 wherein said highly aligned carbon fibers are continuous carbon fibers.
23. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said thermoplastic matrix includes a fiber volume fraction from about 0.5 to about 0.7.
24. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said fibers have an average diameter from about 4 micrometers to about 12 micrometers.
25. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said thermoplastic matrix includes polyphenylene sulfide.
26. The seat back assembly of claim 14 wherein said first end and said first member have a thickness of about 0.045″ to about 0.057″, said second end, said second member, and said top section have a thickness of about 0.06″ to about 0.075″, and said central section and said bottom section have a thickness of about 0.023″ to about 0.033″.
US12/152,043 2007-05-11 2008-05-12 Composite seat back frame Abandoned US20080277987A1 (en)

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