Title:
SLOTWALL MOUNTING ASSEMBLY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An assembly for hanging items from a wall is provided having a plurality of parallel and equidistantly spaced rails, each having a first and a second opposing edge and one or more of which define a lip. One or more mounting brackets are provided for attaching to the rails. Each mounting bracket includes a base plate, and a mounting flange and a locking flange extending from the base plate. The mounting flange engages and is retained on the first edge of a rail and extends behind a lip of an adjacent rail. The locking flange is wedged over the lip of the mounting rail and held tightly in place by the snap-fit engagement of the locking flange over the lip.



Inventors:
Tallman, Randall E. (Zeeland, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/168956
Publication Date:
01/15/2009
Filing Date:
07/08/2008
Assignee:
WINDQUEST COMPANIES, INC. (Holland, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/08
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LE, TAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KANE & CO., PLC (29 PEARL ST. NW, 410 FEDERAL SQUARE BUILDING, GRAND RAPIDS, MI, 49503, US)
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. A wall mounting assembly, comprising: a slotwall assembly including at least two parallel rails spaced apart from one another by a predetermined distance to define a gap there between, each of said parallel rails having a first and second opposing edges, at lease one of which defines a lip; at least one mounting bracket assembly for attachment to one of said parallel rails, said at least one mounting bracket assembly including a generally planar body; an L-shaped mounting flange extending from an upper portion of said body, said L-shaped mounting flange including a first member extending from said body at an angle to said body, a second member extending from an end of said first member and away from said body in a direction generally parallel to said body, and a curved member extending from an end of said second member in a direction generally counter to that of said first member; and an S-shaped locking flange extending from said lower portion of said body, said S-shaped locking flange including a first portion extending from said body in a direction generally perpendicular to said body, a second portion extending upwardly from an end of said first portion, and third portion extending downwardly in an arcuate manner from an end of said second portion to form a ramp-surface leading edge for said locking flange.

2. The wall mounting assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein said body includes a first surface facing and a second surface opposite said first surface, said second surface including a plurality of protrusions extending outwardly from said second surface, the mounting bracket including an accessory mounting means for supporting a variety of accessories thereon, said accessory mounting means welded to at least one of said protrusions.

3. The wall mounting assembly as defined in claim 1, wherein said first portion of said S-shaped locking flange includes a cutout allowing said first portion of said S-shaped locking flange to flex relative to said body.

4. A wall hanger system, comprising: a slotwall panel assembly mounted to the wall including, a plurality of parallel rails spaced equidistantly from one another and forming slots there between, each of said parallel rails including a top edge and a bottom edge; and a mounting bracket assembly for suspending an article from said slotwall panel assembly, each said mounting bracket assembly including a generally planar body, a generally L-shaped mounting flange extending from one end of said body, and an S-shaped locking flange extending from an opposite end of said body, said L-shaped mounting flange adapted to be supported on said top edge of one of said plurality of rails, and said S-shaped locking configured to be wedged over said bottom edge of said one of said plurality of rails in snap-fit engagement.

5. The slotwall hanger system as defined in claim 4, wherein said S-shaped locking flange includes a first portion extending from said body and a second portion extending from an end of said first portion, said second portion extending upwardly from said first portion such that said S-shaped locking flange generally conforms to said bottom edge of each rail.

6. The slotwall hanger system as defined in claim 5, wherein said S-shaped locking flange includes a third portion curving downwardly from an end of said second portion to provide a ramped leading edge on said S-shaped locking flange to engage said bottom edge of said parallel rail and wedge said S-shaped locking flange over the bottom edge of said rail.

7. The slotwall hanger system as defined in claim 6, wherein said first portion of said S-shaped locking flange further includes a cutout for providing increased flexibility of said first portion of said S-shaped locking flange relative to said body and permitting said second portion and said third portion of said S-shaped locking flange to snap-fit over said lower bottom edge of said rail.

8. The slotwall hanger system as defined in claim 7, wherein said L-shaped mounting flange includes a first member extending generally perpendicular from said body and a second member extending upwardly from said first member, said second member extending behind said bottom edge of an adjacent rail.

9. The slotwall hanger system as defined in claim 8, wherein said body includes a rear surface and a front surface opposite said rear surface, said front surface including a plurality of protrusions, and an accessory mount welded to at least one of said protrusions.

10. The slotwall hanger system as defined in claim 9, wherein said protrusions include a plurality of ribs formed along said front surface of said body.

11. A slotwall panel assembly, comprising: a plurality of equidistantly spaced parallel rails separated from one another by a predetermined distance, each of said plurality of equidistantly spaced parallel rails including a first and a second opposing edge extending along each rail, at least one of said first and said second opposing edge including a lip: at least one mounting bracket for attachment to one of said plurality of equidistantly spaced parallel rails, said mounting bracket including a base plate having an L-shaped mounting flange extending from an edge of said base plate, and a S-shaped locking flange extending from an opposite edge of said base plate, said L-shaped mounting flange including a first portion adapted to be supported on said first opposing edge of said rail, and a second portion adapted to extend behind said lip of said second opposing edge of an spaced apart adjacent rail; said S-shaped locking flange including a first portion extending from said body, and a second portion extending from said first portion, said second portion extending upwardly from said first portion such that said second portion is adapted to extend around said lip of said second opposing edge in snap-fit engagement.

12. The slotwall panel assembly as defined in claim 11, wherein said S-shaped locking flange includes a third portion curving downwardly from said second portion to form a ramp configured to engage said lip of said second opposing edge and lever said S-shaped locking flange over said lip.

13. The slotwall panel assembly as defined in claim 12, wherein said S-shaped locking flange includes a cutout for providing flexibility to said S-shaped locking flange relative to said base plate.

14. The slotwall panel assembly as defined in claim 12, wherein said base plate includes a rear surface to be oriented toward an exposed face of one of said parallel rails, and a front surface opposite said rear surface, said front surface having a hanger accessory welded thereto.

15. A hanger assembly for a wall, comprising: a plurality of parallel and equidistantly spaced rails, each having a first and second opposing edges, at least one of said first and second opposing edges defining a lip; at least one mounting bracket assembly for attachment to one of said plurality of parallel and equidistantly spaced rails, said at least one mounting bracket assembly including a base plate, a mounting flange extending from said base plate and configured to be retained on said first opposing edge of one of said plurality of parallel and equidistantly spaced rails and extend behind said lip of an adjacent one of said plurality of parallel and equidistantly spaced rails, and a locking flange extending from said base plate and configured to wedge over said lip of said one of said plurality of parallel and equidistantly spaced rails tightly engage said lip in snap-fit engagement.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This is a continuation-in-part patent application pursuant to 37 C.F.R. 1.53(b) claiming priority to U.S. non-provisional patent application Ser. No. 11/135,942 filed May 24, 2005, now, abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to mounting fixtures and more particularly to a slotwall mounting assembly having a number of vertically spaced, elongated, horizontally extending rails that define slots or channels between the rails adapted to receive one or more mounting brackets. Walls made from such rails are generally known or referred to as “slotwalls.”

2. Description of the Related Art

Slotwalls are used in a wide variety of applications for storing and displaying products, tools, and accessories. Examples of the industries in which slotwalls are used include retail display, closet storage, garage storage, and office furniture. As is well known, a slotwall is a wall panel formed from metal, pressed board, plastic or other suitable material having a plurality of regularly spaced, horizontally extending rails. Each rail includes an upper surface and a lower surface, and a lip extending from one or both of the surfaces to form channels of L- shaped or T-shaped cross section between the rails. Various different accessories such as brackets, shelves, baskets, and the like are available which are specially designed for fitting into the grooves of the slotwall so that items can be conveniently hung or otherwise supported thereon.

A typical mounting bracket for a slotwall includes a flat body and some type of cantilever element for fitting into one of the grooves. The body generally lies flat against the slotwall, so that accessories such as hooks, racks, and shelves can be attached to its outer face. The cantilever element is generally an L-shaped mounting flange that extends perpendicularly from an upper portion of the body and then forms a corner that turns upwards. The L-shaped mounting flange fits into a slotwall channel such that a horizontal portion sits on the upper edge of a first horizontal rail, and a vertical portion is positioned behind a downwardly extending lip of the horizontal rail immediately above.

The major disadvantage of conventional slotwall mounting brackets is how easy they can be dislodged from the slotwall after installation. While the mounting brackets remain in position well under load, they are easily moved and can be dislodged from the slot when subjected to upward forces. The same rotation action that easily allows the mounting brackets to be easily installed in the slotwall also allows the mounting brackets to rotate away from the wall when an upward force is applied to the end of the mounting bracket.

U.S. Pat. No. 7,228,977 owned by the Whirlpool Corporation discloses a complicated form of a slotwall mounting bracket for solving the accidental dislodging of the mounting brackets. A hanger bracket is described which can be mounted on the panel and is shown with a hook device attached to the hanger bracket. The hanger bracket includes a central support portion, a generally “J” shaped hook extending from an upper edge of support portion, and a generally “J” shaped hook extending from a lower and opposite edge of the support portion. The generally “J” shaped hooks each include a first leg extending generally perpendicular from the edge of support portion and a second leg extending downwardly from the distal end of the first leg yet generally parallel to support portion. Thus, the hanger bracket has two downward opening “J” shaped hooks on opposite edges of the support portion. The hanger bracket also includes a spring arm extending from the upper edge of the support portion and splits the upper generally “J” shaped hook into two portions. The spring arm extends upwardly in direction opposite that of the legs.

The generally “J” shaped hooks are of a height to be received within the slots of the slotwall so that the downwardly extending legs are positioned into and deep behind the lips of the T-shaped slot formed in the wall. The hanger bracket is then translated downwardly so that the downwardly extending legs are positioned behind the lips of the T-slot and the first leg contacts the upper edge of a generally “T” shaped slat. The legs bear against the underside of the lower adjacent half slats in the undercuts and are biased against the slat by the spring arm. The spring arm is positioned behind the upper adjacent slat in the undercut and engages the back of the slat to leverage the lower “J” shaped hook toward the front of the slotwall. Thus, the hanger bracket transfers a load on a hanging device through the hanger bracket to the slotwall panel by the contact of legs on the edge of the slats, the contact of legs against the inside edge of the slats and the force of spring arm pushing the legs against the edges of the slats.

A substantial difference exists between the hanger bracket disclosed in the '977 patent and that of the invention described below. Most notably is the fact that the '977 patent utilizes two downwardly depending “J” shaped hooks that are received over the upper edges of the T-shaped slats substantially simultaneously, and sliding over the slat edges, to hold the bracket in position. The spring arm positioned behind the lower lip of the upper slat also requires the user to exert force and keep the lower “J” shaped hook within the T-shaped slot during installation. The bias applied by the spring then urges the lower “J” shaped hook into compression with the lower slotwall slat to stay in position.

Another solution to the inadvertent dislodgement of slotwall mounting brackets is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,507,753 assigned to Ready Metal Manufacturing. Described therein with reference to FIGS. 10, 14 and 15, a hanger is attached by welding to a pair of opposed grooves in the panel. The upper extremity of the plate is bent to provide an angular seating member engageable in an upper groove between adjacent slats 20. To the lower part of the plate is slideably attached a locking plate having an offset rectangular end portion that is received in a lower groove. The slideable plate has side flanges embracing side edges of plate and is slotted. The plate may be slotted to permit passage of a rivet or set screw to engage the sliding plate. To attach this hanger to the slotwall, a flange is disposed in an upper groove and the angular portion is slid down into position in the lower groove to secure the hanger in a selected position on the wall.

A slight variation of the '753 invention is described with reference to FIGS. 10 and 16-18. There the hanger is engageable in the upper and lower grooves adjacent a slat. The slideable plate which is slotted has no embracing side flanges as in the above described embodiment. The plate at its lower extremity has rearwardly bent flanges for seating in the lower groove. The hanger can be dislodged by simply sliding the lower extremity upward so that the rearwardly bent flanges are lifted up from the behind the slat flange.

A major disadvantage associated with both embodiments disclosed in the 753 patent is that multiple parts and assembly are required. Moreover, the operation of installing and removing the slotwall mounting brackets is necessarily a two-handed operation. The increase number of parts, the manual assembly of the components, and the two handed operation for installing and removing the brackets makes them more expensive to manufacture, more difficult to handle.

There has been a long felt vet unresolved need to a slotwall mounting bracket that can be easily attached to a slotwall rail using a single hand yet once attached is not easily dislodged by a casually applied upward force commonly associated with passers-by. In addition, the invention described below is easily removed from the slotwall rail with the application of a specific force to quickly and easily move the slotwall mounting bracket to a new location.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The aforementioned problems are overcome by the present invention, wherein a slotwall mounting bracket assembly is provided with a locking flange that snap-fits onto an edge of a slotwall rail to prevent the mounting bracket from rotating away from the slotwall and hold the mounting bracket in place on the slotwall.

In one embodiment, the slotwall mounting bracket includes a generally planar body, an upper L-shaped mounting flange, and a lower locking flange. The mounting flange extends from the body and hooks into a first slotwall groove, supporting the mounting bracket on the upper surface of a horizontal rail on the slotwall. The locking flange extends from the body and snap-fits over the lip extending downwardly at the bottom surface of the horizontal rail, preventing the mounting bracket from inadvertently rotating upward and off from the slotwall.

In a more specific embodiment, the locking flange includes a first portion, a second portion, and a third portion. The first portion extends generally perpendicularly from the body. The second portion extends at an angle upwardly from the first portion such that the second portion fits around the downwardly extending lip to hold the mounting bracket on the slotwall. The third portion extends from the second portion to provide a ramp at the leading edge of the locking flange to lever the locking flange over the lip and lock over the lip in snap-fit engagement. One or more of the portions may define one or more voids to increase the flexibility of the locking flange relative to the body and reduce the effort required to snap fit the locking flange about the lip. The cutout also provides a pry point to aid in removal of the mounting bracket from the slotwall.

In a further embodiment, the body of the mounting bracket includes a rear surface facing the slotwall and a front surface opposite the rear surface. The front surface includes one or more protrusions that provide a surface for welding an accessory mount to the mounting bracket. The accessory mount enables a variety of conventional accessories to be attached to and supported by the mounting bracket, avoiding the purchase or remanufacturing of modified slotwall accessories, making the present invention easily adaptable to existing slotwall accessories.

These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will be readily understood and appreciated by reference to the detailed description of the current embodiment and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the mounting bracket of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the mounting bracket;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the mounting bracket;

FIG. 4 is cross sectional view taken along line 4 of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a close up cross sectional view of the portion of the mounting bracket within line 5 in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a close up cross sectional view of the portion of the mounting bracket within line 6 in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a rear view of the mounting bracket;

FIG. 8 is a top view of the mounting bracket;

FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the mounting bracket;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the mounting bracket including mounting forks;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the mounting bracket including an accessory mount installed on the slotwall with a partially installed mounting bracket is shown in phantom lines; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the mounting bracket installed on the slotwall;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

For purposes of the following description, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal” and derivatives of such terms shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIG. 12. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and configuration, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the inventive concepts of this invention. Specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting unless expressly stated otherwise.

I. Overview

A slotwall mounting bracket in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 generally designated 10. The mounting bracket includes a generally planar body 12, a mounting flange 14, and a locking flange 16. In operation, the mounting flange 14 is inserted into a first slotwall groove 18 (shown in FIG. 11), and rotated in position so it hangs on the upper surface 22 of a horizontal rail 24 in the slotwall 20. The locking flange 16 is received over the lower edge 26 of the rail 24 in snap-fit engagement. The force exerted by the snap-fit engagement of the locking flange 16 over the lower edge 26 of the rail 24 is sufficient to prevent inadvertent dislodgment of the slotwall mounting bracket 10 from the slotwall groove 18.

II. Structure

As noted above, the slotwall mounting bracket 10 is mounted on the slotwall 20. Slotwall 20 is widely known and therefore will not be discussed in detail here. But in brief, the slotwall 20 is generally made from pressed board such as medium density fiberboard (MDF), or from plastic or extruded metal such as steel or aluminum. FIGS. 11 and 12 show the slotwall 20. In the illustrated embodiment, the slotwall 20 includes a plurality of vertically spaced horizontal rails 24. Each slotwall rail 24 generally includes an upper surface 22, a lower surface 28, and a lip 26 extending downwardly from the lower surface 28. The rails 24 each define a height 13 from the upper surface 22 to the lower surface 28. A plurality of slotwall grooves 18 having an L-shaped cross-section are formed between the horizontal rails 24. In an alternative embodiment (not shown), the rails 24 may include a lip extending from both the upper and lower surface, such that the grooves each have a T-shaped cross section. As illustrated, the downwardly extending lip 26 includes a rounded tip 30.

As shown in FIGS. 3-7, the mounting bracket includes a body 12, a mounting flange 14, and a locking flange 16. The body 12 is generally planar and includes a front surface 34, rear surface 36, top edge 38, and bottom edge 40. The body 12 includes a height 15 between the top 38 and bottom 40 edges that is approximately equal to the height 13 of a horizontal rail 24 on the slotwall 20. In the illustrated embodiment, the front surface 34 includes a plurality of protrusions in the form of ribs 44 that extend transversely across the body 12. The ribs 44 add strength to the body 12 and also provide a welding surface for attaching an accessory mount, such as mounting forks 50 (shown in FIG. 10) a hook, a bracket, or a variety of alternatives. An additional rib 45 may extend around the periphery of the front surface 34 for added strength. The mounting flange 14 extends from the top edge of the body 12 in a generally perpendicular direction. Mounting flanges are widely known, and are typically L-shaped for extending into a slotwall groove 18. As shown in FIG. 3, the mounting flange 14 includes a first member 52 that extends from the body 12. A second member 54 extends upwardly from the first member 52 approximately perpendicular to the first member 52. The second member 54 may include a curved end 56 that angles back toward the body 12.

As shown, the locking flange 16 extends in a generally perpendicular direction from the bottom edge 40 of the body 12; however, the flange may extend at a variety of different directions. The distance between the mounting flange 14 and the locking flange 16 is approximately the same as the height 13 of each of the horizontal rails 24 of the slotwall 20. As a result, in the case where the height 15 of the body is greater than the height of the rail 24, the locking flange 16 may extend from the body 12 at a location inward of the bottom edge 40. The locking flange 16 is generally shaped to correspond to the rounded tip 30 on the downwardly extending lip 26 of a horizontal rail 24, such that the locking flange 16 can snap fit about the rounded tip 30 when the mounting bracket 10 is rotated into place. As illustrated, the locking flange 16 includes a first portion 60 extending from the body 12, and a second portion 62 that angles upwardly from the first portion 60. A third portion 64 may extend from the second portion 62 and curve downwardly from the second portion 62 to form a ramp for the leading edge of the locking flange 16. In addition, as shown in FIG. 9, the locking flange 16 may define a cutout 66 to increase the flexibility of the locking flange 16 relative to the body 12. As illustrated, the cutout 66 is located in the first portion 60; however it may be located anywhere in the locking flange 16.

III. Operation

In operation, the present invention is mountable onto conventional slotwall 20 in a few simple steps, while accommodating a variety of accessories and preventing unwanted rotation and movement. Installation of the present invention requires first hanging the mounting flange 14 on the slotwall 20, and then snap-fitting the locking flange 16 to the slotwall.

The first step of installing a slotwall mounting bracket in accordance with the present invention is hanging the mounting flange 14 on the slotwall 20. To begin, a desired height and location on the slotwall 20 are chosen. The mounting bracket 10 is then held manually such that the body 12 is perpendicular to the slotwall 20, with the second member 54 of the mounting flange 14 aligned with the chosen horizontal slotwall groove 18. The mounting flange 14 is then inserted in to the groove 18 and is rotated until the second member 54 extends upwardly behind the downwardly extending lip 26 of a first slotwall rail 24 and the first member 52 is supported on the upper surface 22 of a second horizontal slotwall rail 24. FIG. 11 shows the mounting bracket 10 in a partially installed position in phantom lines. In the final position, shown in solid lines in FIG. 11 and in FIG. 12, the rear surface 36 of the body bears against the slotwall 20.

As the mounting bracket 10 is manually rotated into the final position, the locking flange 16 approaches the rounded tip 30 of the downwardly extending lip 26 of the second horizontal rail 24. The ramped leading edge 64 of the locking flange 16 engages the rounded tip 30 and slides along the rounded tip 30 to lever the second portion 62 of the locking flange on to a portion of the rounded tip 30 and lock the mounting bracket 10 in place on the slotwall 20. As the locking flange 16 engages the downwardly extending lip 26 and is slid over the rounded tip 30, the locking flange 16 is levered over the edge and flexes slightly outward, and then returns or “snaps” back into place securely around the rounded tip 30. With the mounting bracket 10 in place and the locking flange 16 in snap-fit engagement with the downwardly extending lip 26, the mounting bracket 10 is securely attached to the slotwall 20 and is not likely to be inadvertently dislodged by an inadvertent upward force. The locked position of the mounting bracket 20 also now permits an item to be suspended or hung from the mounting accessory or hanger extending from the front surface 34 of the mounting bracket body 12.

Removal of the slotwall mounting bracket 10 is essentially the opposite of installation. First, the front surface 34 is pulled away from rail 24 such that the downwardly extending lip 26 of the locking flange 16 is wedged over the lip 30 and become disengaged. To assist, the cutout 66 may receive a tool to assist in levering the locking flange off from the lip. With the locking flange 16 disengaged, the mounting bracket 10 may be rotated upwardly about the mounting flange 14 so that the mounting flange 14 may be removed from the slotwall 20. When removing the mounting bracket 10, the bottom 40 of the body 12 is pulled away from the slotwall 20 so that the mounting flange 14 rotates about the downwardly extending lip 26 of the first or upper horizontal rail 24. Rotation is complete when the body 12 is again perpendicular to the slotwall 20, and the mounting bracket 10 can then be removed from the groove 18.

In summary, once a desired height and location for placement of the mounting bracket 10 is determined, the mounting bracket 10 can be attached to the slotwall 20 to hang the mounting bracket 10 and any accessory such that they will not be knocked off of the slotwall 20.

The above description is that of a current embodiment of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined in the appended claims, which are to be interpreted in accordance with the principles of patent law including the doctrine of equivalents. Any reference to claim elements in the singular, for example, using the articles “a,” “an,” “the” or “said,” is not to be construed as limiting the element to the singular.