Title:
Interlocking panels
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Interlocking panels include a frame configured as a perimeter of a panel, the frame including at least one engageable frame portion. The panel defines at least one side opening disposed adjacent the engageable frame portion(s) so that one panel may be attached to another panel by at least one connection means passing through the side opening(s) to capture the engageable frame portion(s).



Inventors:
Washburn, Phyllis R. (Forest City, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/165016
Publication Date:
01/11/2007
Filing Date:
06/23/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/579, 52/578
International Classes:
E04B2/00; E04C3/00; E04C3/30
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20020194808Lightweight high load capacity reinforced beam and method of making sameDecember, 2002Ratliff
20050066612Quick-set, full-moment-lock, column and beam building frame system and methodMarch, 2005Simmons
20020184846Insulated building panel and methodDecember, 2002Crowder
20100005735TELESCOPING SHORING POST WITH GROSS ADJUSTMENT CAPACITYJanuary, 2010Gillespie et al.
20090313918INCLINED SKYLIT LIGHT WELLDecember, 2009Levens
20080172955SOLAR PANEL AND FRAME AND RELATED METHODSJuly, 2008Mcclintock et al.
20060272251Composite floor system with fully-embedded studsDecember, 2006Hatzinikolas
20090126306Ring Furnaces with Improved Expansion Joints and Bricks Designed to Build ItMay, 2009Jonville et al.
20060080898Self cleaning gutter system and gutter bracketApril, 2006Brown
20090293382SIDE SEAL MEMBERS FOR A DOCK SEALDecember, 2009Digmann et al.
20080072528Support Beam and Attachment Clevis AssemblyMarch, 2008Wolfe



Primary Examiner:
A, PHI DIEU TRAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HIGH TECHNOLOGY PATENTS, INC. (3825 GREEN VALLEY DRIVE, PITTSBURGH, PA, 15235, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A panel, herein referred to as a first panel, said panel comprising: a frame configured as a perimeter of said first panel, said frame comprising at least one engageable frame portion; said first panel defining at least one side opening in said first panel, said at least one side opening disposed adjacent said at least one engageable frame portion; and whereby said first panel may be attached to a second panel by at least one connection means passing through said at least one side opening to capture said at least one engageable frame portion.

2. A first panel according to claim 1 wherein said frame of said first panel includes at least a ridge portion or a groove portion for mating with a groove portion or ridge portion, respectively, of a frame of said second panel.

3. A first panel according to claim 1 wherein at least one of said ridge portions of said first panel includes at least two ridges oriented at 90 degrees relatively to each other for mating in either of two orthogonal orientations with a groove portion of said second panel.

4. A panel according to claim 1 wherein said panel comprises a web portion disposed within said frame, said web portion comprising intersecting web elements defining web openings therebetween.

5. A panel according to claim 4 wherein said frame is rectangular.

6. A panel according to claim 5 wherein said web elements run obliquely relatively to said frame.

7. A panel according to claim 5 wherein said frame is square.

8. A panel according to claim 4 further comprising stakes for engaging said panel with the ground whereby said panel stands upright, said panel further comprising a solid sheet portion for blocking crawling creatures.

9. A panel according to claim 8 further comprising a deflector for deflecting crawling creatures, said deflector disposed along an upper edge of said solid sheet portion when said panel stands upright.

10. A connectable pair of panels, said connectable pair of panels comprising: a first panel wherein said first panel includes: a frame configured as a perimeter of said first panel, said frame comprising at least one engageable frame portion; at least one side opening in said first panel, said at least one side opening disposed adjacent said at least one engageable frame portion of said first panel; a second panel; and a connection means configured to pass through said opening in said first panel to capture said engageable frame portion of said first panel and hold said first panel firmly against said second panel.

11. A connectable pair of panels according to claim 10 wherein said connection means is attached to said second panel.

12. A connectable pair of panels according to claim 11 wherein said second panel includes a frame, said connection means being attached to said frame of said second panel.

13. A connectable pair of panels according to claim 12 wherein a first snap portion is disposed on said connection means and a second snap portion is disposed on said frame of said second panel whereby said connection means may be passed through said side opening in said first panel and attached to said second snap portion on said frame of said second panel.

14. A connectable pair of panels according to claim 13 wherein said second panel includes both said connection means, here referred to as a first connection means, and further includes a second connection means disposed on a second edge of said frame of said second panel, said second connection means for engagement with a third panel.

15. A connectable pair of panels according to claim 10 wherein said second panel includes a frame configured as a perimeter of said second panel, said frame comprising at least one engageable frame portion; at least one side opening in said second panel, said at least one side opening disposed adjacent said at least one engageable frame portion of said second panel; and said connection means configured to pass through both said side opening in said second panel and said side opening in said first panel to capture both said engageable frame portion of said second panel and said engageable frame portion of said first panel.

16. A connectable pair of panels according to claim 15 wherein said connection means includes a first snap portion and a second snap portion remote from said first snap portion whereby said connection means may be passed through said side opening in said first panel and through said side opening in said second panel, whereby said first snap portion may be attached to said second snap portion.

17. A panel, herein referred to as a first panel, said panel comprising: a frame configured as a perimeter of said first panel, said frame comprising at least three engageable frame portions; said panel defining a side opening disposed adjacent each of said at least three engageable frame portions; a ridge portion of said frame disposed on a first side of said engageable frame portion and a groove portion of said frame disposed on a second side of said engageable frame portion whereby a second panel identical to said first panel may be attached to said first panel, a groove portion of said frame of said second panel mating with one of said ridge portions of said frame of said first panel and a ridge portion of said frame of said second panel mating with one of said groove portions of said frame of said first panel; whereby said second panel may be tightly attached to said first panel by a connection means passing through said at least one side opening in said first panel and a like side opening in said second panel.

18. A panel according to claim 17 wherein said at least three engageable frame portions of said frame is four engageable frame portions and said panel is square.

19. A panel according to claim 18 further comprising a web portion disposed within said frame, said web portion comprising intersecting web elements defining web openings therebetween.

20. A panel according to claim 19 wherein said web elements are disposed obliquely relatively to said frame.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present invention is closely related to the copending patent application entitled “Self Contained Gardening Unit” which is being filed concurrently with the present application. The teachings of that application are herein incorporated by reference thereto.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to interlocking panels and, more particularly, it relates to interlocking web panels.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A search of the patent art for interlocking panels revealed a number of floor panels having interlocking features. Some of these had modifications of the familiar tongue and groove feature of hardwood floor boards. U.S. Pat. No. 6,862,857, U.S. Pat. No. 8,880,307, and U.S. Pat No. 6,804,926 all employed modified tongue and groove arrangements to attach adjacent panels to each other along their edges.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,174,116 teaches panels that can be oriented vertically to make fence-like structures. The panels can be interlocked orthogonally. They have slots cut half way across their width, the width of the slots being equal to the thickness of the panels. Panels oriented in one direction with the slots upward can receive panels oriented perpendicularly with their slots downward to define rectangular areas. These may be employed in the bed of a truck to provide fenced areas for cargo.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,061,987 teaches sheet panels for easy to assemble structures. One edge of the panels is bent at 90 degrees relatively to the panel. An opposite edge is hemmed to receive the bent edge of another panel.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,769,217 teaches floor panels which may be interconnected by clips which join adjacent panel edges and hold the panels at the same elevation.

Introduction to the Invention

The present invention is an interconnectable panel, preferably including a central web portion. The panels have interconnection features so they can be connected to each other along their edges. They are intended to be used with the versatility of the containers commonly known as “milk crates”. They may be used to protect flowers from animals. They also may be employed by children as construction toys. Another application is for room decoration and remodeling. Preferably, they can be joined either by an in plane connection, or by an orthogonal connection which joins panels at 90 degrees relatively to each other.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the present invention is a panel including a frame configured as a perimeter of the panel, the frame including at least one engageable frame portion. The panel defines at least one side opening disposed adjacent the engageable frame portion(s) so that one panel may be attached to another panel by at least one connection means passing through the side opening(s) to capture the engageable frame portion(s).

In another aspect, the present invention is a connectable pair of panels, the connectable pair of panels including a first panel including a frame configured as a perimeter of the first panel, the frame including at least one engageable frame portion. There are one or more side openings in the first panel, the side openings disposed adjacent the engageable frame portions of the first panel. The pair also includes a second panel and a connection means configured to pass through the opening in the first panel to capture the engageable frame portion of the first panel and hold the first panel firmly against the second panel.

In an additional aspect, the present invention is a panel including a frame configured as a perimeter of the first panel, the frame including at least three engageable frame portions, the panel defining a side opening disposed adjacent each of the engageable frame portions. A ridge portion of the frame is disposed on a first side of the engageable frame portion and a groove portion of the frame is disposed on a second side of the engageable frame portion so that a second panel identical to the first may be attached to the first panel, a groove portion of the frame of the second panel mating with one of the ridge portions of the frame of the first panel and a ridge portion of the frame of the second panel mating with one of the groove portions of the frame of the first panel; whereby the second panel may be tightly attached to the first panel by a connection means passing through one of the side openings in the first panel and a similar side opening in the second panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 presents an interlocking panel according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross section cut along section 2-2 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross section cut along section 3-3 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an alternative configuration for section 2-2 in FIG. 1 that enables attachment of perpendicular panels.

FIG. 5 is another alternative cross section for section 2-2 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is an alternative cross section for section 3-3 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is an illustration of two connected panels;

FIG. 8 is an alternative interlocking panel wherein any side of one panel may be connected to any side of a like panel;

FIG. 9 is a strap for use with the alternative interlocking panel illustrated in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is an illustration of two alternative panels connected by the strap illustrated in FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is an interlocking panel to be used by campers to provide a barrier against small animals and crawling creatures; and

FIG. 12 is section 12-12 shown in FIG. 11.

NOMENCLATURE

  • 10 Panel
  • 12 Frame of panel
  • 13 Web portion of panel
  • 14 Ridge portion of frame
  • 15 Engageable frame portion
  • 16 Groove portion of frame
  • 17 Side opening
  • 18 Web elements
  • 19 Web openings
  • 20 Connection means
  • 26 Snap portion on connection means
  • 28 Snap portion on frame
  • 32 Ridge portion with two ridges
  • 34 In plane ridge
  • 36 Perpendicular ridge
  • 38 Alternative ridge
  • 40 Alternative groove
  • 50 Panel with four openings
  • 52 Frame
  • 54 Ridge portion
  • 55 Engageable frame portion
  • 56 Groove portion
  • 57 Opening adjacent engageable frame portion
  • 60 Unattached connection means
  • 62 First snap portion
  • 64 Second snap portion
  • 70 Panel with stakes
  • 72 Stakes
  • 74 Solid sheet portion
  • 76 Deflector for crawling creatures

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED AND ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a panel according to one aspect of the present invention. Panel 10 includes a frame 12 configured as a perimeter of panel 10. Frame 12 includes at least one engageable frame portion 15. Panel 10 defines one or more side openings 17, each side opening 17 adjacent an engageable frame portion 15.

Preferably, panel 10 also includes at least one connection means 20 for passing through a side opening 17 of a second panel to capture an engageable frame portion 15 of frame 12 of the second panel. It is preferred that connection means 20 includes a first snap portion 26, and that a second snap portion 28 be attached to frame 12 of panel 10.

Preferably, frame 12 also includes a frame ridge portion 14 or a frame groove portion 16 for engagement with a frame groove portion 16 or frame ridge portion 14 of a second panel.

Preferably, panel 10 includes a web portion 13 disposed within frame 12. Web portion 13 includes web elements 18 defining web openings 19 therebetween.

It is preferred that ridge portion 14 of frame 12 have a cross section 2-2 as shown in FIG. 2. Likewise groove portion 16, preferably, has a cross section 3-3 as shown in FIG. 3.

In an alternative embodiment, shown in FIG. 4, a ridge portion 32 includes two ridges, 34 and 36, oriented at 90 degrees relatively to each other. Thus, a second panel having a groove portion 16 mating with ridge 36 is oriented at a 90 degree angle to the first panel.

FIG. 5 illustrates an alternative ridge portion 38, which is for mating with the alternative groove portion 40 illustrated in FIG. 6.

FIG. 7 illustrates a pair of panels 10 connected together. Preferably, the connection means 20 on the left panel 10 has been passed trough side opening 17 in the right panel 10. The first snap portion 26 is then engaged to the second snap portion 28 on frame 12 of the leftmost panel. The ridge portion 14 of the rightmost panel cannot be seen in this figure because it is received into the groove portion 16 of the leftmost panel.

FIG. 8 illustrates an alternative panel 50 having a frame 52 with an engageable frame portion 55 on each side thereof. Alternative panel 50 defines a side opening 57 adjacent each engageable frame portion 55. Flanking each engageable frame portion 55 is a ridge portion 54 of frame 52 and a groove portion 56 of frame 52. When two similar panels 50 are brought together, as shown in FIG. 10, the ridge portion 54 of each engages the groove portion 56 of the other.

FIG. 9 illustrates a connection means 60 which, preferably is a flexible strap having a first snap portion 64 at one end which is remote from a second snap portion 62 at the other end thereof. Connection means 60 is passed through side opening 57 of both of the panels 50 to capture both of the engageable frame portions 55 and hold the two panels 50 tightly together, after first snap portion 64 is engaged to second snap portion 62. FIG. 10 illustrates the two panels connected by connection means 60.

FIG. 11 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention that is intended for inexperienced campers who would like to try sleeping on the ground, but are concerned about small animals and creatures that crawl on the ground. Panel 70 includes frame 12 including an engageable frame portion 15 adjacent a side opening 17. It also includes a connection means 20 so a plurality of panels 70 can be disposed in a line to make a low fence. Preferably, corners in the fence are enabled by perpendicular ridges 36 shown in FIG. 4, that engage groove portions 16 of frame 12.

Panel 70 includes stakes 72 for engagement with the earth. Panel 70 further includes a solid sheet portion 74 having, at its upper edge, a deflector 76, which is for deflecting small crawling creatures. FIG. 12 shows a section cut along 12-12 in FIG. 11, and illustrates the preferred shape of deflector 76.

The presently preferred and alternative embodiments of the present invention having been described herein, it is to be understood that the invention may be otherwise embodied within the scope of the appended claims.





 
Previous Patent: Joint for panels

Next Patent: Hollow wall base