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The present invention relates to removable dividers in general and, more particularly, to space dividers that selectively attach to, and divide the space on top of, a shelf.
The manner in which a storage area, such as a closet, is organized is of great importance. A well-organized, efficient storage area facilitates access to articles, and permits a greater number of personal items to be stored for easy retrieval. More complicated approaches to closet organization have been employed that utilize shoe racks, shelves and dividers in addition to the conventional clothes rod. One approach to increasing the efficiency of the shelving in a closet involves the use of removable dividers.
Removable dividers enable the end-user, or builder, to selectively clip the shelf divider on top of a shelf without the need for tools. The removable dividers separate the shelf into multiple regions and enable the end user, or builder, to rearrange the manner in which the shelf space is divided without the need for tools.
Removable dividers currently on the market include a clip portion are made of two pieces. The two pieces are attached (e.g., glued) such that a seam exists between the two pieces. Therefore, the removable dividers currently available often break, or cannot support or withstand desired loads, because of the inherent weakness along the seam.
With the forgoing problems and concerns in mind, it is the general object of the present invention to provide a cost-effective removable shelf divider that overcomes the known shortcomings in the art.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a removable space provider.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a removable space provider, which is formed from a single piece of material.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a removable space provider having increased resistance to breaking and structural fatigue.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a removable space provider that may clip onto a shelf without the need for additional securing elements.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a removable space provider that may be used with shelves of varying thickness.
According to the present invention, a removable shelf divider includes a base having a first side and a first end, a wall and a clip. The wall extends from a first side of the base in a direction substantially perpendicular to the base, while the clip extends from the first end of the base and is operable to selectively attach the removable shelf divider to a shelf. The base, the wall and the clip are all formed from a single piece of material.
One advantage of the present invention is the fact that the removable shelf divider is made from a single piece of material and, therefore, can be inexpensively and efficiently manufactured without suffering from decreased strength at the connection lines between the base, the wall and the clip.
These and other objectives of the present invention, and their preferred embodiments, shall become clear by consideration of the specification, claims and drawings taken as a whole.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shelf divider, according to one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 1A is a perspective view of another embodiment of the shelf divider of the present invention, wherein an upwardly extending wall defines an arcuate profile.
FIG. 1B is a perspective view of another embodiment of the shelf divider of the present invention, wherein an upwardly extending wall defines an angled profile.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a shelf divider having a series of prongs, according to another embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a shelf divider having an opening formed in the wall section, according to another embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a side view of the shelf divider of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is a side view of the shelf divider of FIG. 1 clipped to a shelf.
Referring to FIG. 1, a removable shelf divider according to one embodiment of the present invention is generally indicated by the numeral 10. The removable shelf divider 10 is made of a single piece of material and includes a base 12, a wall 14 and a clip 16.
It is therefore an important initial aspect of the present invention that the shelf divider 10 is fabricated from a single piece of material such that there are no inherent joints, or the like, in the medium of the material from which the shelf divider is made. In contrast with known shelf dividers which are typically made from separate, yet integrally mated structural elements, it will be readily appreciated that as the single-piece construction of the present invention contains no weakened areas or joints, the present invention is uniquely capable of withstanding greater structural stress that has otherwise been heretofore known in the art.
Returning to FIG. 1, the base 12, along with the clip 14, is operable to stabilize the removable shelf divider 10 when clipped onto a shelf. Therefore, the base 12 may be of any suitable size and/or shape. The base 12 includes a first surface 18, a first side 20 and a first end 22. In some embodiments, the base 12 is generally rectangular, as shown, for example, in FIGS. 1 and 2. Therefore, in these embodiments, the first side 20 and the first end 22 are substantially perpendicular to one another.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2 in tandem, the wall 14 is operable to divide a shelf into two (2) regions. The wall 14 extends from the first side 20 of the base 12 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the first surface 18 of the base 12. The wall 14 may be of any suitable shape and/or size, including being arcuate, or semi-sphereical, as well as having an angled profile, as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, respectively; however, a generally rectangular wall 14 has been proven to have particular utility. The wall 14 may be solid, as shown in FIG. 1, or, alternatively, the wall 14 may be shaped to include open areas or apertures. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the wall 14 may include one or more prongs 24. In addition, the wall 14 may also include at least one opening 26, such as the opening shown in FIG. 3.
Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, the clip 16 is operable to selectively secure the removable shelf divider 10 to a shelf 28. In a preferred embodiment, the clip 16 includes a first segment 30 and a second segment 32. Typically, the first segment 30 extends substantially perpendicular from the first side 20 of the base 12. The length (“L”) of the first segment 30 may vary, but in each embodiment the first segment 30 is at least as long as the thickness of the shelf 28 to which the removable shelf divider is selectively attached, as shown in FIG. 5. The second segment 32 of the clip 16 extends from the first segment 30 in a manner such that a shelf region 34 is created between the clip 16 and the first surface 18 of the base 12. When clipped to a shelf 28, at least a portion of the shelf 28 is inserted within the shelf region 34.
Typically, the angle α between the first segment 30 and the second segment 32 is acute. Therefore, the second segment 32 of the clip 16 is operable to flex relative to the first segment 30 when placed on the shelf. The flexing of the second segment 32 of the clip 16 creates a frictional force between the first surface 18 of the base 12, the second segment 32 of the clip 16 and the shelf 28. The frictional forces maintain the position of the removable shelf divider 10 on the shelf 28 during use.
It will be readily appreciated that by having the acute angle α formed between the second segment 32 and the base 12, the shelf divider 10 is capable of accommodating shelves of differing thicknesses. That is, the second segment 32 is formed such that it may be elastically deformed to accommodate a shelf of any thickness, and to thereby be frictionally fixed therearound.
As discussed previously, the removable shelf divider 10 is manufactured from a single piece of material. Suitable materials must be both rigid enough to form a suitable wall 14 for dividing the area above or below a shelf 28 into separate regions, but flexible enough to enable the clip 16 to flex without breaking when clipped to a shelf 28, as described above. Any acceptable material may be used; however, Acrylic materials, Lexan materials, Polycarbonate materials, Polypropylene materials, Coextruded Thermoplastic materials, Acetal materials, Fluoroplastic materials, Nylon materials, Urethane materials, Polystyrene materials have been shown to have particular utility. In addition, Polyester Terephthalate Glycol Modified (PETG) materials, Polyvinyl/Chloride (PVC) materials, Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Styrene (ABS) materials, Polyetheretherketone (PEEK™) materials are also suitable choices for shelf dividers 10. A shelf divider 10 being formed from an elastically active metal sheet, or the like, is also contemplated by the present invention.
The present invention encompasses a shelf divider 10 that may be selectively customized in a manner most useful to the end user, such as by fashioning the shelf divider 10 from a material that may be clear, translucent or opaque, and of any coloration, depending on the needs and wants of the end user.
In operation, a suitable removable shelf divider 10 is selected based on, inter alia, the dimensions of the shelf 28 on which the removable shelf divider 10 is to be clipped and the desired size of the shelf divider wall 14. The user determines the position at which a removable shelf divider 10 is to be positioned and selectively attaches the removable shelf divider 10 onto the shelf 28 by sliding the clip 16 onto the shelf 28. When placed onto the shelf 28, the second segment 32 of the clip 16 flexes relative to the first segment 30 in order to maintain the shelf 28 in the shelf region 34. If desired, the user may selectively move the shelf divider 10 by removing the clip 16 from the shelf 28.
While the invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various obvious changes may be made, and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof, without departing from the essential scope of the present invention. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but that the invention includes all equivalent embodiments.