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This invention relates to shelving and more particularly to convertible shelving offering a variety of shelf configurations.
It is desirable to provide a shelving unit offering a variety of display or support configurations. For example, if a single shelving structure could be configured in such a way as to present horizontal, inclined, flush-edged and edge-walled shelf configurations, all from the same structure, a purchaser or user could avail himself with the capacity to buy one shelving unit and configure it to his own use or need.
Accordingly, this invention provides an improved shelving unit which provides flat, inclined and flush or edge-walled shelves, all configurable from a single shelf structure.
These objects and advantages will be appreciated from the following written description and from the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a shelving unit according to one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of one shelf of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the shelf of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a front view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 54 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 5 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is an end view taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of the encircled area of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 8-8 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 9-9 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 10 of FIG. 8;
FIG. 11 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 11 of FIG. 9;
FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 12-12- of FIG. 1;
FIG. 13 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 13 of FIG. 12;
FIG. 14 is an enlarged view of the encircled area 14 of FIG. 12;
FIG. 15 is an enlarged isometric view of the encircled area 15 of a front corner of the middle of the shelving unit of FIG. 1;
FIG. 16 is an isometric view or an alternative shelving unit having three independent shelf elements in each shelving level;
FIG. 16A is an end view of the alternate shelving unit of FIG. 16;
FIG. 16B is a front view of the shelving unit of FIG. 16;
FIG. 16C is a perspective view of a shelving unit, but having both inclined and horizontal shelf surfaces or elements in a single shelving level;
FIG. 17 is an isometric view of an alternative shelving unit wherein each shelf level comprises four independent shelf elements;
FIG. 17A is an end view of FIG. 17;
FIG. 17B is a front view of the embodiments of FIGS. 17 and 17A;
FIG. 18 is an isometric view of a shelving unit as in FIG. 16, but showing the inclusion of optional accessory bins and louvered screen panels;
FIG. 18A is an end view of FIG. 18;
FIG. 18B is a front view of FIG. 18;
FIG. 18C is an enlarged detail of the encircled area 18C of FIG. 18A; and
FIG. 18D is an illustrative view of a screen as in FIG. 18.
Turning now to the drawings, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a shelving apparatus or unit 10 according to the invention. Unit 10 has four vertical support columns 12, 14 (FIG. 9), 16, 18, each preferably formed as disclosed in FIGS. 9 and 10 of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/044,689, filed Apr. 30, 2008 and which application is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
Unit 10 includes in one embodiment five single component shelves 20, 22, 24, 26 and 28. Shelves 20, 24 and 28 are illustrated in a flat or horizontal orientation while shelves 22 and 26 are illustrated in an inclined orientation. Horizontal shelf 28 is located at the top of unit 10. Each shelf 20-28 is of identical construction, so only one will be described in detail although reference to their various possible orientations will be explained independently.
Details of the shelves 20, 22, 24, 26 and 28 are seen in FIGS. 2-7.
A single shelf 24, identical to all shelves 20-28 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 2-7. All shelves 20-28 are preferably identical; but their use in different orientations in a shelf unit such as unit 10 provides convertibility and multiple functions of shelving units according to the invention.
A shelf such as a shelf 24, like all shelves 20-28, comprises a shelf preferably of sheet metal material of sufficient gauge to provide the support desired in a shelf of the configuration shown. The shelf such as shelf 24 comprises a plurality of formed edge flanges 54 having a doubled over fold edge 56 (FIG. 5) and bent at 90 degrees from flat shelf member 58 along side edges 60.
Each shelf has elongated edges 62, 64 comprising inclined intermediate member 66 and inclined edge member 68; members 66, 68 defining a preferably acute angle A therebetween. Angle A is preferably 45 degrees.
Members 66 form included angle B with the flat shelf surface 58 along edges 62, 64. Angle B is preferably obtuse, that is greater than 90 degrees and preferably about 120 degrees.
Details of the front and rear braces or beams 30a, 30b are best seen in FIGS. 8-15. Front and rear braces 30a, 30b are elongated, convoluted or formed members for strength as shown in the FIGS. In use, they have a cross-section as in FIGS. 8-11, 13 and 14, including having vertical flanges 33, 34, a horizontal web member 36 and an inclined web member 38 extending from edge 40 of web 36 to the top edge 42 of web 34. Holes as shown in the FIGS. receive flathead studs “S” for securing ends of braces in key-hole shaped apertures 50 of columns 12, 14, 16 and 18 when the unit 10 is erected.
Side braces 32 are identical in cross-section to front and rear braces 30a, 30b, just shorter. And braces 30a, 30b, 32 are each preferably formed from a single web of material. These brace shapes are also shown in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/318,168, filed May 15, 2008 and expressly incorporated herein by reference.
As appreciated, shelf unit 10 includes a plurality of elongated, horizontal, shelf-supporting cross braces, such as at 30a, 30b, 32. These differ only in length as illustrated in the FIGS. Braces 30a, 30b extend across the front and rear from side-to-side of unit 10. Where a shelf is oriented in flat or horizontal orientation, respective front and rear braces 30a, 30b are supported by respective front columns 12, 18 and 14, 16 in a common horizontal plane. When a shelf such as 22, 26 is inclined, rear brace 30b is disposed between rear columns 14, 16 at a higher level than associated front brace 30, between columns 12, 18. Otherwise, braces 30a, 30b are identical; they differ only in their mounted positions on the respective upright columns 12-18.
Shelves 20-28 can be oriented in the shelving unit 10 and specifically supported by elongated braces 30a, 30b in a variety of differed positions.
First, and with respect to FIG. 1, a shelf 24 is oriented between the columns 12, 14, 16, 18 in a flat or horizontal configuration. The shelf 24 is supported by an elongated front brace 30a extending between columns 12 and 18 (FIG. 1). In this configuration, the shelf rests on top of flange 33 of front brace 30a and on top of flange 33 of rear brace 30b extending between columns 14, 16 at the same vertical disposition as brace 30a. Moreover, the shelf 24 near opposed edges 60 has resting on the fold edge 56 flanges 36 of side braces 32 extending between columns 12, 14 and 16, 18 respectively. Since the braces 30, 32 are horizontal and lie in essentially the same plane, shelf 24 is horizontally disposed, comprising flat shelving. FIGS. 8-11 illustrate this construction.
Alternately, one of the shelves such as shelf 22 (FIG. 1) is inverted and inclined. In particular, in this orientation, the flange member 68 along edge 64 of the shelf is disposed over the top of flange 33 of the front brace 30a (FIG. 1) and the opposed member 68 of the opposite elongated shelf edge 62 fits over the top of flange 33 of a rearward elongated brace 30b placed at a higher level than brace 30a.
It will be appreciated that the distance between the apex formed at angle A between members 66, 68 along one edge 64 to the similar opposed apex along edge 62 is greater than the distance between opposed edges 62, 64 of shelf 22. That additional distance accommodates the increased distance between the parallel but elevationally spaced braces 30a, 30b, thereby defining an inclined shelf such as shelves 22, 26 in FIG. 1.
It will also be appreciated that the formed edge flanges 54 of the shelves 22, 26 in this preferred, inclined orientation are directed upwardly, providing or serving as an edge guard or shelf wall to retain items on the shelf.
It will also be noted from FIGS. 2 and 3, for example, that each shelf 22-28 has a relieved portion cut out 70 at each corner to accommodate a flange 72 of each column 12-18. In other words, this cut-off is generated by the extension of members 66, 68 beyond the edges 62, 64 of the shelves. It is that extension which serves to effectively widen the shelf when it is supported by the vertically offset braces 30a, 30b when the shelf is inclined.
It will also be noted that the flanges 54 of the shelves are directed downwardly in FIGS. 10, 11 and interface with the short side braces 32 as shown.
Finally, it will be noted the shelves 20-28 can be oriented to alternately constitute flat or horizontal shelving with side walls 54, 56 turned upwardly (FIG. 8) and forward and rearward walls formed by members 66 (FIG. 2) also turned upwardly where that is desired. In this configuration, the flat surface of the shelf is carried on either the top edge of flanges 33 of the braces 301, 30b or on surface 36 thereof (for side braces 32).
When in a flat configuration (see FIG. 7), the members 68 define a lip on which can be mounted a storage or parts bin 80, (FIGS. 18-18D). Bins 80 have a hook edge 82 folding over member 68. Screens, partitions or panels 142 with fold over member 148 can be so supported as well (FIG. 18C).
Components of shelves 20-28 are preferably perforated in suitable patterns as represented in FIGS. 1-3, for example. This provides a weight reduction but without significantly diminishing shelf strength.
FIGS. 16-18D illustrate alternative embodiments of the invention.
FIG. 16 is similar to FIG. 1 except it illustrates a plurality of shelf components 100, each of which in all respects is identical to shelves in FIGS. 1-15 except width of a shelf component 100 from side 101 to side 102 is shorter than the width of the shelf 24 in FIG. 1. Such a shelf 100 is useful in the alternative shelving unit 110 of FIG. 16. It will be appreciated that shelving unit 110 comprises five shelf levels, each level having a plurality of shelf components 100 thereon; in this embodiment three shelf components 100 in each shelf level 111, 112, 113, 114 and 115. Accordingly, unit 110 is similar to unit 10 of FIG. 1 excepting each shelf level is defined not by one shelf member, but by three shelf components 100, supported on columns 12, 14, 16, 18 (as in FIG. 1 excepting column 14 is not seen in FIG. 16) by horizontal braces or beams 30a, 30b, 32 as in the prior embodiment FIG. 12; their ends mounted on respective columns 12, 14, 16, 18.
It will be appreciated that shelving levels 111, 112, 114 and 115 are all selectively inclined, as shown in FIG. 16, while shelf level 113 is horizontal. Also, any shelf level 111-115 can be selectively inclined or horizontal as a whole, depending on the relative height at which a rear beam or brace 30b is mounted to rear columns 14, 16 relative to the height of a front beam or brace 30a is mounted to respective front columns 12, 18. Alternately, each component can be oriented in an inclined or horizontal position by the use of two rear beams 30b, one at the same vertical height of a front beam 30, and one higher.
Shelf components 100 are mounted on braces 30, 32 in the same way as shelves 20, 22, 24, 26 and 28 in FIGS. 1-15 excepting that instead of one shelf component per shelf level, there are three shelves 100 per shelf level. Thus, levels 111-115 define either inclined or horizontal shelves as illustrated in FIG. 13.
However, and as noted above, it will be appreciated that the shorter width shelves 100 in each level could also vary in inclination with the addition of two rear braces 30b, one level with front brace 30a and another elevated above brace 30a. In this way, a single shelf level can define both horizontal and inclined shelf areas as desired.
For example, FIG. 16C illustrates an alternate shelving unit 110A wherein shelving level 111 has an inclined shelf 100a and two horizontal shelves 100b and 100c. Other shelving levels have multiple shelf components 100 in each level with all shelves 100 oriented selectively as desired to present inclined or horizontal shelf portions defined by each shelf 100, and all inclined, horizontal, or in alternate orientations as desired. Also, when inverted, it will be appreciated that the side lips and front and rear edge components of the shelf project upwardly to form shelf lips to provide edge security for items thereon.
FIG. 17 illustrates a further alternate shelf unit 110B wherein each shelf level is comprised of not one or three, but of four independent shelf members 120, the remainder of unit 100B being like that of unit 110A and numbered accordingly.
FIG. 17A illustrates an end view of FIG. 17 wherein the upper two shelf levels 111, 112 are selectively inclined, level 113 is horizontal and levels 114 and 115 are inclined. As in prior embodiments, any of the levels 111-115 can be uniformly horizontal or inclined, or the independent shelves 120 in each level can be independently inclined or horizontal in the same way as in prior embodiments.
Further embodiments are illustrated in FIGS. 18-18D. Shown therein is a shelving unit as in FIG. 16 but provided with optional accessory bins 130, 132, 134, 136, 138 and 140 and a perforated panel screen or partition 142. Additional bins and/or screens can be provided.
Each bin 130-140 includes a bin body 144 having a rear wall 146 (FIG. 18C) with a turned-over upper end 148 and a depending flange 150. Flange 150 rests in the trough defined by inclined edge member 68 and inclined intermediate member 66 (FIG. 7) of the shelf adjacent the respective bin and supports the bin as shown. One or more bins can be provided along any appropriate shelf edge in any of the foregoing embodiments.
Perforated screen 142 (FIG. 18D) has a front screen portion 154 with turned over flanges 156 along a top edge thereof (FIG. 18D) and similar to flange 150 of the bins. Thus, a screen 142 can be hung along any appropriate adjacent shelf edge, such as illustrated in FIGS. 18-18D.
It will be appreciated that other shelves of different lengths can be provided consistent with the selected depth of a shelving unit, and one or multiple shelves can be provided for each shelf level as desired.
Accordingly, the invention provides a highly convertible, multiple function shelf providing a variety of inclined or horizontal shelf areas with flush edge shelves or with raised edge shelves.
These and other modifications and variations of the invention will be readily appreciated by the foregoing to those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention and applicant intends to be bound only by the claims appended hereto.