Title:
User configurable stackable display
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A user-configurable display is provided. The display has shelves that can be variable in length with shelf ends that fit within corner pieces. The corner pieces can be arcuate-shaped, T-shaped, and cross-shaped. A locking mechanism such as a cam engages each shelf end such that the shelves are engaged to the corner pieces. A cover piece covers the corner pieces and hides the locking mechanism from view. Each shelf end will fit into the lips of the corner pieces and has one or more bores for receiving a cam bolt that engages the cams. A shelf end may include a raised section that fits within the lips of the corner pieces.



Inventors:
Chen, Jack (Rockford, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/373753
Publication Date:
09/21/2006
Filing Date:
03/10/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/183, 211/194
International Classes:
A47B47/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Reinhart, Boerner Van Deuren P. C. (483 NORTH MULFORD ROAD, SUITE 7, ROCKFORD, IL, 61107, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A user-configurable display comprising: a plurality of corner pieces having corner piece ends; a plurality of shelves having shelf ends, each shelf end inserted into one of the plurality of corner pieces; at least one locking mechanism engaging each shelf end to the one of the plurality of the corner pieces within the one of the plurality of corner pieces such that each shelf end is engaged to the one of the plurality of the corner pieces; and a plurality of covers covering the corner piece ends such that the at least one locking mechanism is hidden from view.

2. The user-configurable display of claim 1 wherein the plurality of corner pieces includes a plurality of curved corner pieces.

3. The user-configurable display of claim 2 wherein each curved corner piece comprises an arcuate shaped material having a plurality of bores along a length of the material, the arcuate shaped material having a plurality of slots, each of the plurality of slots connected to one of the plurality of bores, each slot having lips for receiving one of the shelf ends between the lips.

4. The user-configurable display of claim 3 wherein each of the plurality of slots have grooves for receiving shelf ends that have a tongue.

5. The user-configurable display of claim 1 wherein the plurality of corner pieces includes a plurality of T-shaped corner pieces.

6. The user-configurable display of claim 5 wherein each T-shaped corner piece comprises a T-shaped material having a plurality of bores along a length of the material, the T-shaped material having a plurality of slots, each of the plurality of slots connected to one of the plurality of bores, each slot having lips for receiving one of the shelf ends between the lips.

7. The user-configurable display of claim 6 wherein each of the plurality of slots have grooves for receiving shelf ends that have a tongue.

8. The user-configurable display of claim 1 wherein the plurality of corner pieces includes a plurality of cross-shaped corner pieces.

9. The user-configurable display of claim 8 wherein each cross corner piece comprises a cross shaped material having a plurality of bores along a length of the material, the cross shaped material having a plurality of slots, each of the plurality of slots connected to one of the plurality of bores, each slot having lips for receiving one of the shelf ends between the lips.

10. The user-configurable display of claim 9 wherein each of the plurality of slots have grooves for receiving shelf ends that have a tongue.

11. The user-configurable display of claim 1 wherein the plurality of shelves includes a first set of shelves having a first length and a second set of shelves having a second length.

12. The user-configurable display of claim 1 wherein the locking mechanism is a cam and wherein each shelf further comprises at least one cam bolt on each shelf end for engaging the cam.

13. The user-configurable display of claim 1 wherein each shelf end includes a raised section that fits within lips of the corner pieces.

14. The user-configurable display of claim 13 wherein each shelf end further includes at least one bore for receiving a cam bolt.

15. A user-configurable display comprising: a plurality of corner pieces having lips; a plurality of shelves having shelf ends, each shelf end inserted into one of the lips of the plurality of corner pieces; a plurality of cam locking mechanisms engaging each shelf end in the plurality of the corner pieces such that each shelf end is engaged to one of the plurality of the corner pieces; and a plurality of covers covering the corner piece ends such that the plurality of cam locking mechanisms is hidden from view.

16. The user-configurable display of claim 15 wherein the plurality of corner pieces are one of aluminum and plastic.

17. The user-configurable display of claim 15 wherein the plurality of corner pieces include an arcuate corner piece, a T-shaped corner piece, and a cross-shaped corner piece.

18. The user-configurable display of claim 15 wherein each of the plurality of corner pieces comprises a material having a plurality of bores along a length of the material, the material having a plurality of slots therein, each of the plurality of slots connected to one of the plurality of bores, each slot having the lips for receiving one of the shelf ends.

19. The user-configurable display of claim 15 wherein each shelf further comprises at least one cam bolt on each shelf end for engaging one of the cam locking mechanism.

20. The user-configurable display of claim 15 wherein each shelf end includes a raised section that fits within lips of the corner pieces.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/663,343, filed Mar. 18, 2005, the teachings and disclosure of which are hereby incorporated in their entireties by reference thereto.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to displays, and more generally to stackable display shelves.

BACKGROUND

Office and home users use display shelves for a variety of purposes. A wide variety of such products are available, including shelves, racks, baskets, and like arrangements, which facilitate convenient storage of articles where desired. Displays for storing and merchandising a multiplicity of products having shelves which are vertically stackably arranged in spaced relationship one above the other are known. Although the known constructions have attempted to provide a connection between the shelf members and the upright support members which is durable, less susceptible to wear, and more stable, such prior art constructions still suffer from certain disadvantages and shortcomings. For example, all of the features associated with the known prior art constructions have made such units overly complex, expensive to manufacture, require a large number of parts and/or components to assemble which is both inconvenient and time consuming. Additionally, known prior art is limited in that the display shelves are fixed in length and/or width.

There also exists a need and demand for an economical display unit which not only permits the spaced apart vertical stacking of one shelf member above the other, but also has modular capability in that it permits adjacent units to be arranged in side-by-side relationship in any desired modular configuration.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Provided is a user-configurable display which can be both vertically and horizontally arranged to achieve any desired arrangement. In one aspect, the invention provides a display that has shelves that can be variable in length with shelf ends that fit within corner pieces. The corner pieces can be curve-shaped, T-shaped, and cross-shaped. A locking mechanism such as a cam engages each shelf end such that the shelves are engaged to the corner pieces. A cover piece covers the corner pieces and hides the locking mechanism from view. Each shelf end includes a raised section that fits within lips of the corner pieces and one or more bores for receiving a cam bolt that engages the cams.

Each corner piece consists of a shaped material having a plurality of bores along a length of the material with a plurality of slots. Each of the plurality of slots is connected to one of the bores and has lips for receiving one of the shelf ends between the lips.

Each shelf end includes a raised section that fits within lips of the corner pieces. When the locking mechanism is a cam, each shelf further comprises at least one cam bolt on each shelf end for engaging the cam.

Other aspects and advantages will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIGS. 1a-1k are views of various displays that can be constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 2a is an isometric view of a single corner piece with a cover in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 2b is a cross-sectional view of the corner piece of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 3a is an isometric view of a T-shaped corner piece with a cover in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 3b is a cross-sectional view of the corner piece of FIG. 3a;

FIG. 4a is an isometric view of a +-shaped corner piece with a cover in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 4b is a cross-sectional view of the corner piece of FIG. 4a;

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a shelf piece in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of a different shelf piece in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a display in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 8a is a top view of a shelf piece in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 8b is a side view of the shelf piece of FIG. 8a along the width of the shelf piece;

FIG. 8c is a front view of the shelf piece of FIG. 8a along the length of the shelf piece;

FIG. 9 is an illustration of a corner piece being installed on a shelf piece in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is an illustration of the corner piece of FIG. 9 installed on the shelf piece of FIG. 9 in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is an illustration of the corner piece of FIG. 9 locked in place to the shelf piece of FIG. 9 with a cam in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 12a is an isometric view of the cam of FIG. 11 in accordance with the teachings of the present invention; and

FIG. 12b is a side view of the cam of FIG. 12a.

While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements, the user-configurable stackable display can be configured in a variety of heights, widths, and lengths. For example, FIGS. 1(a)-1(k) provide an example of the different shapes that can be made using various corner pieces 100, 104, 108 with end pieces 102, 106, 110 and various shelf pieces 112, 114. While two shelf pieces 110, 112 are shown, the shelf pieces can be configured to be any length. In the description that follows, shelf pieces 112, 114 shall be used to describe the user-configurable display shelf. The corner pieces 100, 104, 108 may be made of various materials, including plastic, aluminum, steel, etc. The shelf pieces 112, 114 can be of any material, including wood, plastic, metal, glass, fiberboard such as MDF (medium density fiberboard) with a wood skin, and the like.

The end pieces 102, 106, 112 are typically made of the same material as a corner piece, but could be made from other materials. For example, if the corner piece is aluminum, the end pieces can be aluminum, plastic, wood, etc. The shelves 112, 114, corner pieces 100, 104, 108, and end pieces 102, 106, 110 may be any color. For example, the color of the corner pieces and end pieces can be gold, silver, white, black, etc. Similarly, the sides may be clear or stained, painted, or varnished in any color.

Turning to FIGS. 2a-2b in conjunction with FIG. 7, one style of corner piece is a curved corner piece 100 that is covered by end cap(s) 102. The curved corner piece 100 is used for outside corners of the display. The curved corner piece 100 has slots 118 for receiving shelf 112, 114. The slots 118 have lips 120 for receiving shelves 112, 114. The slots 118 also have grooves 122 for receiving shelves that have a tongue and a bore 124 for receiving a cam 200 (see FIG. 12). The bore 124 has a series of ridges 126 for helping to hold the cam 200 in place as described hereinbelow. The curved corner piece 100 may have sections 128, 130 of material removed to cut down on weight and/or reduce cost.

Turning to FIGS. 3a-3b in conjunction with FIG. 7, another style of corner piece is a T-shaped corner piece 104 that is covered by end cap(s) 106. The T-shaped corner piece 104 is used for inner connections of shelves 112, 114 of the display. The T-shaped corner piece 104 also has slots 118 for receiving shelf 112, 114. The slots 118 have lips 120 for receiving shelves 112, 114. The slots 118 also have grooves 122 for receiving shelves that have a tongue and a bore 124 for receiving a cam 200. The bore 124 has a series of ridges 126 for helping to hold the cam 200 in place as described hereinbelow. The T-shaped corner piece 104 may have sections 132, 134, 136 of material removed to cut down on weight and/or reduce cost.

Turning now to FIGS. 4a-4b in conjunction with FIG. 7, another style of corner piece is a cross shaped corner piece 108 that is covered by end cap(s) 110. The cross shaped corner piece 108 is used for inner connections of shelves 112, 114 of the display where four shelves are joined. The cross shaped corner piece 108 also has slots 118 that have lips 120 for receiving shelves 112, 114. The slots 118 also have grooves 122 for receiving shelves that have a tongue and a bore 124 for receiving a cam 200. The bore 124 has a series of ridges 126 for helping to hold the cam 200 in place as described hereinbelow. The cross shaped corner piece 108 may have sections 138, 140 of material removed to cut down on weight and/or reduce cost.

Turning now to FIGS. 8a-8c, the shelves 112, 114 can have any length L or width W. The length of the corner pieces 100, 104, 108 match the width W dimension of the shelves 112, 114. In one embodiment, each end 150 of the shelves 112, 114 has a raised section 152 in the center that fits within the lips 120. The outer sections 154 of each shelf 112, 114 have a bore 156 that may have threads. The bore 156 receives cam bolt 158 that is used to help hold shelves 112, 114 in place.

Turning now to FIGS. 9-11, a display is made by connecting the corner pieces 100, 104, 108 to the ends of the shelves 112, 114 such that shelf end 150 or the raised sections 152 fit within the lips 120. A guide (not shown) may be used on the ends 150 (or the raised sections 152) and corner pieces 100, 104, 108 to center the corner pieces 100, 104, 108 in relation to the shelves 112, 114. Once the shelf 112, 114 is in place, a cam 200 is put over each cam bolt 158 and locked by turning the cam 200 with a screwdriver and the like. The series of ridges 126 in the bores 124 match the ridges on the cam 200 and help keep the cam 200 in place. Note that other locking mechanisms may be used such as a slide wedge, etc.

The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.





 
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