Title:
DECORATIVE STRUCTURE FOR FLARED FIBERS
United States Patent 3641335


Abstract:
A decorative structure in which tiers of flared optical fibers or the like extend vertically from a base therefor, and a backstop is secured adjacent the flared portions of the fibers.



Inventors:
WALL LAMAR J
Application Number:
04/854632
Publication Date:
02/08/1972
Filing Date:
09/02/1969
Assignee:
POLY-OPTICS INC.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
362/123
International Classes:
F21S4/00; F21S8/00; F21V8/00; H01J61/54; F21W121/04; F21Y111/00; (IPC1-7): A47G33/16; F21P1/02
Field of Search:
240/1T,1P 350
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3532874DECORATIVE STRUCTURE1970-10-06Rosenast
3431410ORNAMENTAL DISPLAY1969-03-04Dolan
3272174Remote level indication1966-09-13Pribonic
2227861Artificial christmas tree1941-01-07Petrone
1921614Illuminated artificial plant1933-08-08Frei
1577207Artificial christmas tree1926-03-16Dieperink-Langereis



Primary Examiner:
Prince, Louis R.
Assistant Examiner:
Corr, Denis E.
Claims:
What is claimed is

1. A decorative structure, comprising:

Description:
CROSS-REFERENCE TO OTHER APPLICATION

This application incorporates matters originally disclosed in an application by Robert S. Rosenast, Ser. No. 801,339, filed Feb. 24, 1969, entitled "DECORATIVE STRUCTURE," U.S. Pat. No. 3,532,874, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The fields of art to which the invention pertains include the fields of optics and radiant energy, particularly with respect to light-conducting rods, such as optical fibers, and decorative structures, particularly decorative lights.

2. Description of the Prior Art

The advent of modern manufacturing procedures for fabricating plastic as well as glass optical fibers has made such fibers available for decorative purposes. In such utility, the fibers are often bundled together at one end with the fibers at the other end flaring out to form a bouquet of light or branches of smaller bouquets. In order to achieve certain geometrical patterns, it may be desirable to have tiers or layers of optical fibers spilling or rolling out from a central stem at a plurality of levels. However, a problem arises with respect to maintaining integrity in the stem portion while permitting the individual fibers to spill or flare outwardly therefrom. In the Rosenast application cited above, a structure is described for maintaining the integrity of an elongate bundle of fibers wherein telescopically disposed coaxial tubular members encase a plurality of elongate fibers so that outer numbers of the fibers flare outwardly from the telescoping juncture of the tubular members to form a tier of flared fibers of decreasing extent.

The foregoing decorative structure provides an excellent solution to the problem of maintaining integrity of the fibers and provides the basis for a variety of very decorative displays. However, under certain lighting conditions the fibers tend to wash out and lose their appearance of fullness. Further, when subjected to heavy air currents, the fibers tend to interengage and the flared sprays tend to lose their fullness.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a means for enhancing the visual effect of flared fibers and for maintaining such effect even under adverse lighting conditions. The present invention also provides a means for maintaining the fullness and flared posture of the fibers although subjected to strong air currents. The structure herein includes a base, a plurality of fibers disposed to extend vertically from the base and to flare outwardly at a plurality of locations spaced vertically from the base and a backstop for the flared portions of the plurality of fibers. Means are provided for securing the backstop adjacent flared fiber portions at a plurality of the spaced locations. The backstop comprises one or more flat members secured upright from the base and, in particular embodiments, extending between otherwise adjacent flared fiber portions. Each backstop member is formed wide adjacent the base and narrow at its farthest point vertically from the base. The base is formed with at least one slot through a top portion thereof for receiving the bottom of the backstop so as to secure the backstop in its upright position. With two or more backstop members, means can be provided at the apex of the backstop for securing the backstop members to each other. In a particular structure, each backstop member is formed with a notch at the apex and a resilient member is provided slidable over the members at the apex into engagement at the notches. The fibers utilized herein are optical fibers having light-emitting flared ends and light-receiving faces at the base, and the structure includes a light source for the fibers at the base.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a decorative device constructed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective exploded view of a portion of the base and backstop at a coupling thereof;

FIG. 3 is a perspective, exploded view of the apex of the backstop and coupling thereat;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of an optical fiber utilized in this invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another decorative device constructed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective, exploded view of the apex of the backstop of FIG. 5, and coupling thereat;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of still another decorative device constructed in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the base utilized in the structure of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of still another decorative device constructed in accordance with this invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a decorative device 10 utilizing structural arrangements in accordance with this invention. The decorative structure shown is in a form simulating a Christmas tree wherein optical fibers 12 are flared to form five tiers 14, 16, 18, 19 and 20 of decreasing extent. A base 22 is provided from which extends four tubular members 24, 26, 28 and 30 which are coaxially and telescopically disposed to form an integral stem for the fibers 12. The central tubular member 30 extends entirely through the other tubular members 24, 26 and 28. The lower ends of the optical fibers 12 are bundled and received within a light source 32, shown in shadow in FIG. 1. The light source 32 is contained within the base 22 and provides a means for illuminating the optical fibers 12 so that light is emitted from the flared ends of the fibers 12. One or more sleeves 34 can be provided to slide along a tubular member, such as 30, to slide the point of flaring of some of the fibers up or down the stem as desired.

The tubular members 24, 26, 28 and 30 and sleeve 34 effect a tiered array of flared fiber sprays that provide a decorative "Christmas tree" structure. By utilizing optical fibers and illumination means therefor, a dramatic and unique illumination effect is obtained. This effect is greatly enhanced by the provision of a backdrop 36 which in FIG. 1 comprises oppositely disposed triangular flat members 38 and 40. The backstop members 38 and 40 can be opaque or can be formed from sheets of translucent or transparent material, such as glass or plastic, tinted as desired.

The base 22 is constituted of a hollow cylinder open at its top and, referring to FIG. 2, is provided along its top edge with slots 42. Matching slots 44 are defined along the bottom, wider portion of each backstop member 38 and 40 so as to engage the base slots 42 to thereby secure the backstop members 38 and 40 upright from the base 22. Each backstop member is formed narrower on top than on bottom and in the structure of FIG. 1, the triangular members 38 and 40 narrow to form an apex 46. Referring to FIG. 3, the upper edge of each backstop member 38 and 40 is notched, as at 48 and 50, and a coupling snap-clip 52 is provided to join the upper ends of the backstop members 38 and 40. The snap-clip 52 is formed of resilient plastic or metal so as to slide over the apex 46 of the backstop into engagement with the backstop members 38 and 40 at the notches 48 and 50.

By the foregoing, the backstop members 38 and 40 are disposed on opposite sides of the tubular members 24, 26, 28 and 30 and provide a backdrop to enhance the visual effect of the flared fibers. The backstop members 38 and 40 are disposed between otherwise adjacent flared fiber portions, that is, the flat sheetlike members 38 and 40 extend between the fibers constituting each flared spray. By such means, a buffer is provided against distortion and entanglement when heavy air currents are present.

Details of construction of the optical fibers utilized herein and means for their illumination are given in application Ser. No. 801,339, referred to above, and only certain aspects will be detailed herein. Referring to FIG. 4, each optical fiber 12 comprises a central light-conducting core 54 encased within a light-reflecting jacket 56. The optical fiber 12 is constructed of materials well known to the art wherein the light-conducting core 54 has a higher index of refraction than the jacket 56. For example, a core 54 can be formed of polystyrene having an index of refraction of 1.60 and the jacket 56 can be formed of a polymethylmethacrylate having an index of refraction of 1.49. Methods for forming such fibers are well known to the art. A balance must be struck between flexibility of the optical fibers 12 and light-emitting capability. The fibers must be sufficiently flexible to allow the formation of decorative spray shapes in a variety of forms and yet the fibers must emit sufficient light to be decoratively aesthetic. To obtain an aesthetically attractive display one should utilize optical fibers wherein each has a diameter of at least 7 mils.

Referring again to FIG. 1, each of the optical fibers 12 are of approximately the same length and a central core of the fibers forming the spray 20 extends through all of the tubular members 24, 26, 28 and 30. The tubular members 24, 26, 28 and 30 are of clear plastic, but may be opaque for specific design purposes. The central tubular member 30 provides stability for the overall stem. The lowermost ends of the fibers 12 are bundled about the lowermost end of the central tubular member 30 and are secured within an eyelet at 58 by crimping thereof. The outermost tubular member 24 is disposed with its lower end just above the eyelet 58. The optical fibers 12 constituting the lowermost flared spray 14 are disposed with their ends wedged between the eyelet 58 and the central tubular member 30 and other fibers 12 thereat to flare outwardly around the bottom of the outermost tubular member 24. The plurality of fibers 12 within the outermost tubular member 24, but exterior of the central tubular member 30 extend upwardly from the light source and the fibers are progressively separated by the successive tubular members 26, 28 and 30, each of decreasing diameter and telescopically received in tandom fashion one into the other. Thus, after some predetermined and variable distance of extension upwardly, an overlap is provided between the outermost tubular member 24 and the second tubular member 26, as indicated at 98. Those optical fibers 12 not continuing through the second tubular member 26 extend through the space between the inner surface of the outermost tubular member 24 and the outer surface of the second tubular member 26, thus resulting in a spillover of optical fibers to form the flared spray 16. The spillover occurs entirely around the circumference of the second tubular member 26, thus causing the appearance of a spray extending outwardly from a central column.

The fibers 12 extending through the second tubular member 26 but extending exteriorly of the third tubular member 28 similarly flare outwardly at the upper end of the second tubular member 26 resulting in a spillover of optical fibers to form the flared spray 18 thereat. The fibers 12 extending through the third tubular member 28 but extending exteriorly of the central tubular member 30 can flare outwardly at the upper end of the third tubular member 28 or can extend through the sleeve 34 to extend therefrom to form the spray 19. The remaining fibers 12 extending entirely through the central tubular member 30 flare outwardly from the top thereof to form the top spray 20. Any number of tubular members may be similarly utilized to provide structures of any desired height within the limits of the geometry dictated by the minimum size of the optical fibers of 7 mils. Furthermore, more than one band or sleeve 34 of tubing material can be slidably disposed on one or more of the tubular members. By such means, the extent of flaring and the point at which flaring occurs can be varied by appropriate sliding of the sleeves upwardly or downwardly on the tubular members.

Referring now to FIG. 5, another embodiment of this invention is illustrated wherein additional backstop members are provided. The structure herein is similar to the structure depicted in FIG. 1 in that a plurality of triangular backstop members are secured extending upright from a base 102. However, in this case, the backstop 104 comprises four triangular members 106, 108, 110 and 112 rather than the two members illustrated in FIG. 1. The triangular members 106, 108, 110 and 112 are disposed to form a pyramidal structure having a wide base 114 and narrow apex 116. Each backstop member is formed with a slot through its lower edge to engage a matching slot through the top edge of the base 102, as at 118, in the manner described above with respect to FIG. 2.

Referring to FIG. 6, each of the triangular members 106, 108, 110 and 112 is formed at its upper, narrow end with a notch 120, 122, 124 and 126 for respective engagement with recesses 128, 130, 132 and 134 formed in a resilient snap-clip which slides over the backstop apex 116 to secure the backstop members 106, 108, 110 and 112 together. The backstop members are thus disposed annularly about the tubular members constituting the stem 136 for the flared optical fibers, and they extend between otherwise adjacent flared fibers. A unique and dimensional, visually attractive "Christmas tree" effect is thus obtained.

Referring to FIG. 7, another embodiment of this invention is illustrated wherein two backstop members 138 and 140 are disposed on opposite sides of a vertically extending fiber stem 142. However, in this case, the backstop members 138 and 140 are not symmetrical and are not secured together. Referring additionally to FIG. 8, a base 144 is provided having a central aperture 146 through which extends the upper portion of the light fixture 148 which illuminates the optical fibers 150 contained in the stem 142. A pair of slots 152 and 154 are formed in the top surface of the base 144 from the central aperture 146 to opposite corners 156 and 158 of the base and are dimensioned to slidably secure the flat bottom portions 160 and 162, respectively, of the backstop members 138 and 142. Each of the backstop members 138 and 140 is formed to be generally wider at its lower end and narrow at its upper end and the entire wider lower end 160 and 162 is disposed within the base 144 through the slots 152 and 154. By such means, the backstop members 128 and 140 are secured upright from the base 144 on opposite sides of the stem 142 between otherwise adjacent flared fibers so as to form a backstop for the fibers.

Referring to FIG. 9, still another embodiment of this invention is illustrated wherein a single flat member of attractive design constitutes the backstop 164. The backstop 164 is generally wider at its lower end 166 than at its top 168 and is secured to a base 170 so as to extend upright therefrom. Although the backstop 164 in this case does not extend between the flared fibers, but is disposed entirely anteriorly thereof, it provides an attractive backdrop for the visual display of the fibers, as well as a buffer against movement of the fibers. The backstop 164 is secured to the upper edge of the base 170 via matching slots at 172 in a manner similar to that described above with respect to FIG. 2.

Details of construction of the illumination device 32 depicted in FIG. 1 are disclosed in an application Ser. No. 762,832, by J. P. Bruce and R. S. Rosenast, filed Sept. 26, 1968, and form no part of the present invention.