Title:
CONNECTIONS FOR SUSPENDED CEILING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A longitudinal connection for abutting ends of main grid members of a suspended ceiling system is provided where each, of the main grid members have a vertical web portion and a horizontal flange extending across a bottom of the web portion. The longitudinal connection comprising retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends providing an upper and a lower channel. A plate member having opposite first and second sides is slidable within the upper and lower channels on the ends of each of said main grid members. Moveable pin members are provided on the plate member where the pin members are biased to the web portion of the main grid members. Holes on the retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends providing an upper and a lower channel are positioned to receive the pin members when the abutting ends of main grid members are aligned. This results in the plate member pulling the main grid members together at the abutting ends.



Inventors:
Cedrone, Maurizio (Toronto, CA)
Leung, Shiu Ming (Guangdong, CN)
Application Number:
12/300895
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
05/15/2007
Assignee:
Filoma Construction Ltd. (Toronto, ON, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.21
International Classes:
E04B9/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
TRIGGS, ANDREW J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Volpe And, Koenig P. C. (UNITED PLAZA, SUITE 1600, 30 SOUTH 17TH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 19103, US)
Claims:
1. A longitudinal connection for abutting ends of main grid members of a suspended ceiling system, wherein the main grid members have a vertical web portion and a horizontal flange extending across a bottom of said web portion, the longitudinal connection comprising (a) retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends providing an upper and a lower channel (b) a connecting plate member having opposite first and second sides slidable within the upper and lower channels on the retaining means on the ends of each of said main grid members (c) moveable pin members on said connecting plate member said pin members biased to said web portion of the main grid members (d) holes on the retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members positioned to receive said pin members when the abutting ends of main grid members are aligned whereby said connecting plate member pulls the main grid members together at said abutting ends.

2. A longitudinal connection for abutting ends of main grid members of a suspended ceiling system according to claim 1 wherein the retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends providing an upper and a lower channel comprises a connecting block attached to a face of the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends.

3. A longitudinal connection according to claim 2 wherein each connecting block has a generally flat rectangular base portion with opposite sides, each of said opposite sides of the base portion has a series of right angle flanges that together form the upper and lower channels.

4. A longitudinal connection according to claim 3 wherein the holes to receive said pin members are located on said connecting blocks.

5. A longitudinal connection according to claim 4 wherein the connecting plate member is a connecting plate shaped and sized to slide within the upper and lower channels on each of connecting blocks when the abutting ends of the main grid members are aligned longitudinally.

6. A longitudinal connection according to claim 5 wherein the pin members are biased to the web portion by a pair of spring arms.

7. A method of forming a longitudinal connection for abutting ends of main grid members of a suspended ceiling system, wherein the main grid members have a vertical web portion and a horizontal flange extending across a bottom of said web portion, the method comprising (a) providing retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends to form an upper and a lower channel (b) providing a connecting plate member having opposite first and second sides slidable within the upper and lower channels on the retaining means on the ends of each of said main grid members (c) aligning the abutting ends of main grid members (d) sliding the connecting plate member in the upper and lower channels of each grid member until moveable pin members on said plate member, biased to said web portion of the main grid members, align with and are received in holes on the retaining means on each of the main grid members whereby said connecting plate member pulls the main grid members together at said abutting ends.

8. A linear connection for detachably connecting cross members to the main grid members of a suspended ceiling system, each of said main grid members and the cross members having a web portion, the linear connection comprising: (a) block means on the web portion of each of the cross members adjacent their ends providing an upper and a lower channel (b) a clip having a head provided with a resilient tab adapted to pass through and lock the head of the clip in a slot on the web of the main grid member, a second end remote from said head and opposite first and second sides slidable within the upper and lower channels of said block means on the ends of each of said cross members to permit a linear connection of the cross members to the main grid members by sliding the clip within the upper and lower channels of said block means until the resilient tab is locked in said slot, stop means on the second end to prevent the clip from being pulled towards the main grid member and out of the block means, whereby said linear connection is detachable by depression of said resilient tab to unlock said resilient tab within said slot and sliding the clip back from said main grid member within the upper and lower channels of said block means to retract the head of the clip from said slot in the main grid member.

9. (canceled)

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to suspended ceiling systems and in particular improved connections for end to end connection of the main grid members of such systems and for connection of cross members to the main grid members.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Suspended ceiling systems are well known and are commonly used to conceal piping, wiring or ductwork beneath the overhead structure. The suspended ceiling grid system comprises wall angle mouldings, main grid members (main tees) running in one direction of the ceiling with cross members (cross tees) connected to adjacent grid members to form the grid pattern. The most common grid patterns are rectilinear or square grids although non-rectilinear patterns can be used. Each grid defined by the main grid members and cross members is typically filled with a lightweight acoustic ceiling tile or panel which is suspended within the grid.

The main grid members or tees are suspended from the floor above by wire or plastic fasteners and span the length of the room. If a single strip of the main grid member is not long enough to span the entire room two or more main tees are connected end to end.

Different methods of connection of the main grid members are known. For example U.S. Pat. No. 6,523,313 shows a an end-to-end connection of main grid members in a ceiling grid. A pocket is formed about an opening in the web of a first main grid member. A clip is secured to one side of the end of the first main grid member. A forward end of the clip is clamped within a pocket formed on the second main grid member. A corresponding clip on the opposite side of the end of the second grid member is clamped within the pocket formed on the first grid member. While the connection is intended to be disengaged when required the pockets must be opened first which is not easy to do.

Another example of a method of connection is illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,729,100. In this patent purports to provide a connector for a main tee of a suspended ceiling grid that has improved self-aligning and connection force properties. The connector has an end tab with a forward portion bent at a lead angle and a receiving pocket with an outwardly flared entrance that, with an opposed identical connector, cooperate to provide smooth horizontal alignment. The end portion, additionally, includes an edge profile that vertically aligns itself with the receiving pocket of the opposed connector. The receiving pocket includes a spring-like resilient wall that limits the assembly force to overcome interference with projecting lock lances even when the connectors are nearly out of dimensional tolerance. The spring-like pocket wall, shape of the lock lance, and reinforcing beads contribute to an improved audible click signalling that a connection has been completed. The lock lance works with a relief groove to augment self-alignment of the connectors.

There remains a need for a simple, fast and secure method of making longitudinal connections between the abutting ends of the main grid members.

One method of connection between the cross members and main grid members is to attach a clip by riveting or other suitable means to the end of the cross member so that it extends beyond the end of the cross member. The clip includes a tab which is adapted to pass through a slot provided in the web or vertical portion of the main grid member to secure the cross member in place as shown for example in U.S. Pat. No. 4,161,856; 4,389,828; 4,499,697 and 5,154,031. There is an ongoing need to provide a simple, fast and secure method of making linear connections between the cross members and main grid members without tilting or twisting the cross members.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a suspended ceiling grid system that can be easily assembled or disassembled without damaging the main grid members and cross members permitting them to be reused.

Accordingly in one embodiment the present invention provides a longitudinal connection for abutting ends of main grid members of a suspended ceiling system. Each of the main grid members have a vertical web portion and a horizontal flange extending across a bottom of the web portion. The longitudinal connection comprises retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends providing an upper and a lower channel. A connecting plate member having opposite first and second sides is slidable within the upper and lower channels on the retaining means on the ends of each of said main grid members. Moveable pin members are provided on the plate member where the pin members are biased to the web portion of the main grid members. Holes on the retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members are positioned to receive the pin members when the abutting ends of the main grid members are aligned. This results in the connecting plate member pulling the main grid members together at the abutting ends.

In another embodiment the invention provides a method of forming a longitudinal connection for abutting ends of main grid members of a suspended ceiling system, wherein the main grid members have a vertical web portion and a horizontal flange extending across a bottom of said web portion. The method comprises (a) providing retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members adjacent the abutting ends to form an upper and a lower channel (b) providing a connecting plate member having opposite first and second sides slidable within the upper and lower channels on the retaining means on the ends of each of said main grid members (c) aligning the abutting ends of main grid members (d) sliding the plate member in the upper and lower channels of the retaining means on each grid member until moveable pin members on said connecting plate member are aligned with and are received in holes on the retaining means on the web portion of each of the main grid members whereby said connecting plate member pulls the main grid members together at said abutting ends.

In another aspect the present invention provides a linear connection for connecting cross members to the main grid members of a suspended ceiling system, each of said main grid members and the cross members having a web portion, the linear connection comprising: (a) means on the web portion of each of the cross members adjacent their ends providing an upper and a lower channel (b) a clip having opposite first and second sides slidable within the upper and lower channels on the ends of each of said cross members to permit a linear connection of the cross members to the main grid members.

Further features of the invention will be described or will become apparent in the course of the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In drawings which illustrate by way of example only one embodiment of the invention,

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the longitudinal connection of two main grid members utilizing connecting blocks attached to the ends of the main grid members and a connecting plate in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the linear connection of two cross members with a main grid member utilizing a block on the ends of each cross member and a slidable clip in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a section of the connecting block attached to the abutting ends of the main grid members of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the connecting plate of FIG. 1 with spring arms.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the slideable clip of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the block of FIG. 2.

FIG. 7 is a partially exploded view of the cross member of FIG. 2.

FIG. 8 is cross section view of another embodiment of the main grid member and connecting block according to the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a plan view of another embodiment of the spring member attached to the connecting plate shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the clip shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 11 is a cross section of the clip of FIG. 10 through B-B.

FIG. 12 is a side view in cross section of the clip of FIGS. 10 and 11.

Similar references are used in different figures to denote similar components.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the figures in detail, FIG. 1 illustrates a longitudinal connection according to the present invention between the abutting ends of one main grid member, generally indicated at 11 and a second main grid member, generally indicated at 12. In the embodiment illustrated both main grid members 11, 12 each have an inverted T cross section having a web portion 13, 14 with a horizontal flange 15, 16 extending perpendicular from the base of the web portion 13, 14. While the embodiment illustrated in the Figures shows the present invention used in association with main grid members having an inverted T cross-section, it should be appreciated that the present invention is applicable to other shapes of main grid members. The grid members 11, 12 may be made of conventional materials and formed by conventional techniques or may be made by extrusion molding aluminum or zinc or other suitable material.

In order to form a longitudinal connection according to the present invention between the abutting ends of the main grid members 11, 12 retaining means comprising in this embodiment a connecting block 21, 22 is attached to a face 15, 16 of the web portion 13, 14 adjacent the abutting ends 17, 18 of each of the main grid members 11, 12. The connecting blocks 21, 22 can be attached by a riveting or welding means not shown in FIG. 1. As best shown in FIG. 3, each connecting block 21, 22 has a generally flat rectangular base portion 23 with opposite sides 24, 25. The opposite side 24 of the base portion 23 has a series of right angle flanges 26, 27, 28, 29 that together form a channel 211. A similar series of flanges 26′, 27′, 28′, 29′ on the opposite side 25 form another channel 212. On the base portion 23 of connecting blocks 21, 22 are holes 210 and 220. The abutting ends 17A, 18B of connecting blocks 21, 22 are preferably beveled at 200, 201 as shown in FIG. 1. It is possibly to indent the face of the web portion to which the connecting blocks 21, 22 are connected so that when connected as described below the longitudinal axis of the connection is aligned as close as possible with the longitudinal axis of main grid members 11, 12. (see FIG. 8)

As seen in FIG. 1 and FIG. 4, a connecting plate member 31 shaped and sized to fit in the channels 211, 212 on each of connecting blocks 21, 22 when the abutting ends 17, 18 of main grid members 11, 12 are aligned longitudinally. Connecting plate 31 in the embodiment illustrated is generally rectangular with opposite ends 33, 34 and opposite sides 35, 36 and having slight octagonal characteristics at its opposite ends 33, 34 to be aligned with channels 211, 212 on connecting blocks 23, 24. The opposite sides 35, 36 of connecting plate 31 slide in channels 211, 212. An outwardly extending flange 300 at each opposite end 33, 34 of the connecting plate 31 act as handles to enable the user to slide the connecting plate 31 through the channels 211, 212 in both connecting blocks 21, 22. Connecting plate 31 is provide with pin members that cooperate with features provided on connecting blocks 23, 24 to retain the main grid members in abutting connection. In the embodiment illustrated the pin members on connecting plate 31 comprises a pair of pins 321, 322 that project from the back side 37 of connecting plate 31. The pins 321, 322 are positioned to fit within holes 210, 221 on connecting blocks 21, 22 when the main grid members 11, 12 are abutting. In order to permit connecting plate 31 to slide within channels 211, 212, pins 321, 322 project through holes 38, 39 in the connecting plate 31. The ends of pins 321, 322 that extend to the front side 40 of connecting plate 31 are connected to the ends of spring member 32. In the embodiment illustrated pins 321, 322 and spring member 32 are a single integral piece of resilient material. The mid point of spring member 32 is affixed to the front side 40 of connecting plate 31. This results in spring member 32 and pins 321, 322 having an “M-shaped” form (see FIGS. 4 and 9), wherein the two ends 321, 322 of the spring are biased to extend through the holes 38, 39 in the connecting plate 31 and into locking engagement with holes 210, 220 on connecting blocks 21, 22. In the embodiment shown the mid point 41 of the spring member 32 is fixed within a middle hole 42 located in connecting plate 31. Spring member 32, is preferably made out of a resilient metallic material.

In the embodiment shown in the Figs. the spring member 32 has two spring arms 32A, 32B. As noted above the spring arms bias pins 321, 322 within holes 210, 220 in connecting blocks 21, 22. With pins 321, 322 engaged within holes 210, 220 on connecting blocks 21, 22 the main grid members are retained in longitudinal abutment.

The present invention provides a simple, fast and secure connection between the abutting ends of the main grid members. One end 34 of connecting plate 31 is slid into position within channels 211, 212 on connecting block 21 on main grid member 11. The bevel 200 at the end 17 of connecting block 21 pushes pin 321 away from the back side of connecting plate 31 so that connecting plate 31 can be slid within channels 211, 212. Connecting plate 31 can be slid until pin 321 aligns with and is pushed into hole 210. The other main grid member 12 can then be aligned so the other end 33 of connecting plate 31 slides into position within channels 211, 212 on connecting block 22 on main grid member 12. The bevel 201 at the end 18 of connecting block 22 pushes pin 322 away from the back side of connecting plate 31 so that connecting plate 31 can slide within channels 211, 212. Connecting plate 31 can be slid until pin 322 aligns with and is pushed into hole 220. Alternatively the ends 17, 18 of main grid members 11, 12 can be aligned, then connecting plate 31 slid into the channels 211, 212 on either connecting block 21 or 22 then slid along until it slides into the channels on the other connecting block. Although the Figures show the longitudinal connection of two main grid members, a section of desired length can be formed by connecting the abutting ends of numerous grid members using a multiplicity of connecting plates 31. To provide greater rigidity where there are two or more connections, the connecting blocks are attached to opposite faces of the main grid member at opposite ends of the main grid member.

To disassemble the longitudinal connection, simply pull spring arms 32A, 32B so pins 321, 322 move toward the face side of connecting plate 31 to disengage pins 321, 322 from holes 211, 220 respectively. Once disengaged, connecting plate 31 can be slid out of engagement with channels 211, 212 on either one of connecting block 21, 22 so that main grid members can be separated.

In another embodiment the present invention provides for a method of connection of the cross members to the main grid members. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 5-7 cross members 41, 42 are shown connected to a main grid member 1 in accordance with the present invention. The cross members 41, 42 each have an inverted T cross section having a web portion 43, 44 with a horizontal flange 45, 46 extending perpendicular from the base of the web portion 43, 44. The connection is formed by inserting a clip 51 with a tab 510 through a slot 70 provided in the web portion 2 of main grid member 1 not unlike conventional methods. However the design of the clip 51 of the present invention permits an improved linear connection that is simple, fast and secure.

In order to form a connection according to the present invention between the ends of the cross members 41, 42 to main grid member 1 a block 52 is attached to a face of the web portion 43, 44 adjacent the ends 47, 48 of each of the cross member 41, 42. The blocks 52 can be attached by a riveting or welding means not shown. As best shown in FIG. 6, each connecting block 52 has a generally flat rectangular base portion 53 with opposing sides 54, 55 having a C-shaped cross section to form grooves 56, 57. While the embodiment illustrated in the Figures shows the present invention used in association with main grid members and cross members having an inverted T cross-section, it should be appreciated that the present invention is applicable to other shapes of main grid members and cross members. The end 47 of left cross member 41 and the end 48 of right cross member 42 are connected through a slidable locking interaction between clip 51 on the proximal side of block 52 mounted on right cross member 42 and a corresponding block 52 mounted on the distal side of left cross member 41.

As shown in FIG. 7, clip 51 is formed from a sheet material with upturned edges 65, 66 and end 67. The head 68 of clip 51 is tapered with a tab or barb 510. Tab 510 has spring-like properties, being able to be pushed from a clearance position to a locking position. Clip 51 is sized and shaped to slide within grooves 56, 57 on block 52.

To connect the cross member 41, 42, the clip 51 is inserted into the grooves 56, 57 of block 52 with the tab or barb 510 projecting away from block 52. When the tab or barb 510 is pushed through the aperture in main grid member 1, the tab 510 is depressed and once tab 510 passes through the aperture it returns to the extended or locking position with the edge of the aperture. The upturned end 67 of clip 51 acts as a limit block and, together with the tab 510 in locking position, prevents clip 51 from moving past block 52. As a result, left cross bar 41 and right cross bar 42 become perpendicularly contiguous with section bar 1. To disassemble the perpendicular connection, the user should manually push down on barb 510 thereby allowing clip 51 to slide back out of the aperture in section bar 1.

On the opposite end 63 of cross member 42 another block 62 and clip 61 are mounted to the opposite face of the web of the cross member from block 52. Similarly as noted above block 52 on cross member 41 adjacent the end connecting to main grid member 1 is on the opposite face of the web portion of cross member 41 than the block 52 on the face of the web portion of cross member 42.

Referring to FIG. 5. projections 511 on the back side of block 52 may be provided to match with the positioning holes 521 on block 52 in FIG. 6, so as to facilitate the operation as the clip 51 is inserted into position.

FIG. 8 shows another embodiment of the main grid member 80 with retaining means, in the form of a connecting block 81 riveted to the web portion 82 of grid member. The connecting block 81 provides channels 83, 84 for the connecting plate (not shown).

FIG. 9 shows the spring member 32 with ends that form pins 321, 322.

FIGS. 10, 11 and 12 show another embodiment of a clip 100 for making a linear connection between the cross members and main grid members of a suspended ceiling system. The clip slides within the block 52 on the cross members.

Numerous modifications, variations, and adaptations may be made to the particular embodiments of the invention described above without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined in the claims.