Title:
Hinged picture frame member
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hinged member consists of two parts joined by a first living hinge. An upstanding nib on one of the parts is in turn joined to the other part via a strip-like rigid panel. The panel is in turn joined along its side edges by second and third living hinges. Elasticity of the living hinges provides a biassing force for urging the parts towards a closed position. The member may be arranged to form a picture hanger or a picture frame element or a hinge for joining two substrates.



Inventors:
Ostrovsky, John (Richmond Hill, CA)
Application Number:
09/860368
Publication Date:
11/22/2001
Filing Date:
05/18/2001
Assignee:
TANGIBLES LTD.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G1/06; G09F1/12; G09F15/00; (IPC1-7): A47G1/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BELLINGER, JASON R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William H. Logsdon (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Claims:
1. An elongate extruded hinge member comprising: first and second hinge components joined by a first living hinge; an elongate fin extending from said first hinge component parallel to and displaced from said first living hinge; a rigid strip-like panel joining said fin and said second hinge component thereby forming an interior space defined by said first and second hinge components and said fin, said panel and fin meeting when said hinged member is closed at an acute angle; said first and second hinge components and said panel arranged to co-operate to create a biassing force exerted by the flex of said second hinge component and the resiliency and elasticity of at least one of first, second and third living hinges, to urge the first and second hinge components together.

2. A hinge member as defined in claim 1, wherein said fin and said panel are arranged for rotating through a common plane, wherein an over-center mode of operation may be attained for maintaining said first and second hinge components in either of a fully open or fully closed position.

3. A hinged member as defined in claim 1, further comprising anchoring means on said first and second hinged components, for fastening a substrate to each of said first and second hinge components.

4. An elongate hinge member as defined in claim 1, comprising a picture frame member for assembly into either a polygonal picture frame or for use as a strip-like banner hanger, said first hinge component comprising flat base for supportive engagement against a picture and said second hinge component comprising an openable cover member for gripping a picture between said base and cover member.

5. A hinge member as defined in claim 4, wherein said fin comprises a wall-like stop for engaging and positioning a picture within said hinged member.

6. A hinge member as defined in claim 1, wherein said second hinge component includes a leg portion for contacting said first hinge component which joins with said panel at an acute upward angle when said hinge components converge.

7. A hinge member as defined in claim 1, comprising a single extrusion or a single co-extrusion.

8. A hinge member as defined in claim 1, wherein said first, second and third living hinge means are resilient and elastic to absorb compressive forces exerted by said panel by stretching or compression.

9. A hinge member as defined in claim 4, further comprising a backing board gripper channel, comprising of pair of channel walls spaced apart by a bridging member, said channel opening towards an elongate side of said base.

10. A hinge member as defined in claim 9, wherein a first of said walls is formed by said base.

11. A hinge member as defined in claim 4, further comprising a second cover member, wall member and panel all as defined in claim 4, disposed on a second, opposed side of said base for gripping a second poster to form a two-sided picture frame member.

12. A hinge member as defined in claim 11, further comprised of a second elongate generally flat base, said base and said second base being spaced apart by a bridging member, said bases defining a channel therebetween for gripping a backing board, said front piece and said second front piece being associated with said base and second base respectively.

13. A picture frame comprised of a plurality of elongate frame members as defined in claim 4, arranged in a polygon.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to the field of picture and poster displays. In particular, the invention relates to picture frames in which the decorative peripheral flange opens to the front to permit replacement of the picture from the front of the frame. The invention also relates to banner or poster hangers, which use a single member of a frame element to hold only the upper edge of a poster. The invention also relates to picture frames and frame elements which may be easily fabricated from extruded materials such as plastics. The invention further relates to hinges for other uses.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] For many applications such as commercial displays, it is desirable to provide a picture frame which permits the user to easily replace the picture or poster. This may be accomplished by providing a frame in which a front panel or flange may be flipped or snapped open to permit replacement of the picture, and then flipped shut to firmly grip the picture within the frame. In a similar application, a banner hanger comprises a single elongate member having a similar flip-open panel, which grips only the upper edge of a poster. Typically, a banner hanger comprises a pair of opposed gripping members having a slot or channel therebetween within which the poster is retained when the opposed members are shut. A similar elongate gripping strip may be provided to grip the lower edge of a poster, for a gravity-assisted hanging poster display. This arrangement differs from a conventional frame only in that the frame elements do not extend fully around the periphery of the picture, but only on one or possibly two edges.

[0003] Picture frame elements and banner hangers of this general type of snap-open operation have been proposed, and several of these have achieved commercial success in the market. In particular, regard may be had to the present applicant's previous U.S. Pat. No. 5,396,722. This disclosures a picture frame, composed of discrete extruded frame elements joined by mitred corners. The elements each comprise a generally channel-shaped member, one leg of which forms a flat base for supporting the underside of a poster, and the opposed leg of which forms a front panel covering a peripheral portion of the front of the poster. The two legs serve as opposed gripping members. The front panel is articulated, and is formed from a first, peripheral portion and an inner portion hinged to the peripheral portion by a living hinge extending the length of the panel. The inner portion is biassed against the base, and is provided with a pair of downwardly-depending legs to grip a picture or poster against the base.

[0004] In a similar fashion, U.S. Pat. No. 4,512,095 (Seely) discloses a poster frame member, comprised of an elongate flat base and an opposed gripping member hinged to the base, to form an openable channel. The front gripping member is biassed towards the base for gripping a poster. The front gripping member is essentially box-like in section, having an outer exposed panel which is relatively rigid, and an inner panel which is relatively flexible and which when flexed serves to bias the flange against the base. Dual spaced apart “living hinges” fasten the front gripping member to the base. The dual, parallel hinges act to flex the inner panel as the front piece is swung open or shut, thereby biassing the gripping member towards the base. In order to achieve a gripping action, it is required that the inner panel be substantially more flexible than the other frame elements. Indeed, Seely states that the inner panel is formed from a different material from the other frame elements. This complexity may increase manufacturing costs and potentially shorten the life of the resulting product. As well, the gripping force that is applied via this arrangement may not be sufficiently powerful to permit use of a single frame member to serve as a suitable banner hanger.

[0005] Hoffman et al. discloses an extruded poster gripping member, in U.S. Pat No. 5,718,402, which comprises a channel-shaped frame element which operates according to essentially the same principle as the earlier Ostrovsky patent. A similar principle of operation is also disclosed in U.K. published application no. GB 2 222 523 A (Davis).

[0006] Increased assembly complexity and costs are a drawback inherent in frame elements of the type which operate according to an over-center principle achieved through the use of a hinged front piece having two downwardly-facing legs which separately contact the base, of the type shown in Hoffman and Davis. When a frame member having this arrangement is cut at a 45 degree angle, to fabricate a mitre-cornered frame, the inner leg must be trimmed manually to prevent contact with a neighbouring frame element when the hinged front piece is flipped open. This adds to the manufacturing complexity and resulting cost of the frame.

[0007] It is desirable to provide a picture frame which is relatively simple to manufacture and assemble, easy to use and provides a low failure rate in operation. It is also desirable for aesthetic reasons to provide a picture frame in which the decorative exposed front portion may be composed of a single panel. This is not achieved in the prior Ostrovsky frame and other similar arrangements, in which the hinged panel forms a separate and visibly discrete element from the peripheral portion of the exposed flange.

[0008] It has been further recognized that an elongate extruded component of the general type described above may also be suitable for use as a hinge for the uses. For this purpose, the component may be modified to permit a substrate to be joined to each of the first and second hinge components. For example, a cabinet base and cabinet door may be thus joined. For this purpose, the hinge may be arranged to provide an over-center mode of operation to stably urge the hinge components into either of a fully open or fully closed position. Alternatively, an over-center mode of operation may not be necessary, in which case the hinge is arranged only to consistently urge the components into only one of a fully closed or fully open position.

[0009] The terms “picture” and “poster” are used interchangeably to refer to any flat weblike element such as a poster, painting, banner, paper, fabric or plastic sheet or the like.

[0010] It will be further noted that directional references throughout this specification, including the detailed description and claims, are for convenience presented by references to the hinge or frame element being in a horizontal position with the second hinge component or frame cover part facing upwardly such that a poster mounted therein lies horizontally and faces upwardly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved picture frame element or banner hanger formed from extruded material such as plastic, and which may be formed in a single extrusion process. It is a further object to provide a frame element which is relatively simple to assemble into a complete picture frame or a banner-hanger, and which firmly grips a poster or picture in a reliable and trouble-free manner. It is a further object to provide a picture frame member and picture frame assembled therefrom, which is visually attractive.

[0012] It is a further object of the invention to provide a hinge formed from a single extrusion, which is simple and inexpensive to manufacture, and permits for either of an over-center mode of operation, or a non-over-center mode in which a biassing force is exerted toward the closed position of the hinge.

[0013] According to one aspect, the invention is an elongate extruded hinged member comprising first and second hinge components joined by a first living hinge, a fin extending from the first hinge component parallel to and displaced from the first living hinge; a rigid strip-like panel joining the fin and second hinge component thereby forming an interior space defined by the first and second hinge components and the fin. The strip-like member is joined along its lateral side edges to the fin and second hinge components by second and third living hinges respectively. The first and second hinge components and the panel are arranged to co-operate to create a biassing force exerted primarily by the resiliency and elasticity of the living hinges and the flex of the second hinge component.

[0014] Preferably, the components are arranged to provide an over-center mode of operation, wherein the first and second hinge components are urged towards either of a fully open or fully closed position. For this purpose, the fin and strip-like panel are arranged to rotate through a common plane, with the respective fully open and closed positions lying on either side of the common plane. The first and second hinge components conveniently include means to fasten external components or substrates thereto.

[0015] In a further aspect, the invention comprises a picture frame member. In this aspect, one of the hinged components consists of a base, and the second hinge component consists of a decorative cover, with the closed position of the member being for gripping a picture or poster between the components.

[0016] In this second aspect, the first hinge component is a flat base for supportive engagement against a picture, and the second component is an openable cover member rotatably mounted to the base for gripping a picture between said base and cover member. The strip-like panel is disposed within an interior space between said base and said cover member. The fin comprises a wall member extending upwardly from said base into the interior space and serves as a picture guide member to properly position a picture within the frame member.

[0017] A powerful gripping force between the hinge components is achieved by virtue of the compressive force of the panel being absorbed substantially entirely by compression and flex of one or both of the reasonably rigid hinge members and elasticity of the living hinges rather than by flex of the panel. Since the panel is not itself required to flex to absorb compression, it can comprise a relatively rigid member and thus assist in exerting a particularly powerful gripping action between the hinge components.

[0018] Preferably, the second hinge component includes a supporting leg, having a generally cross-sectional dogleg profile, which joins with the panel and forms an acute angle therewith when the hinge is closed. The angle thus formed between these elements converts compressive forces exerted by the rotation of the panel into a force acting to urge the two hinge components together.

[0019] Preferably, the hinge member is formed from a one piece extrusion wherein the living hinge members are co-extruded with the other hinge components.

[0020] In a preferred aspect, the second hinge member is a picture frame cover with a hollow generally channel-shaped configuration when seen in section, defined by spaced apart legs with a panel or web portion therebetween, the interior of said channel opening towards the first hinge component which forms a picture-supporting base. The two legs contact the base when the frame is closed. The third living hinge means in this version joins a first of said legs to said base and said second living hinge means joins a second of said legs to said biassing means, a lower edge of said second leg comprising a contact surface between the base and cover member. The contact surface conveniently comprises a soft, resilient bead.

[0021] In a different embodiment, an additional channel member is disposed on the lower face of the base to receive a rigid picture backing board. One wall of the channel may comprise the lower face of the base.

[0022] In a still further embodiment of a picture-gripping member, two independently openable cover members as characterized above are provided on the upper and lower faces of the base. A separate biassing means as described above is enclosed within the interior space of each opposed cover member. This arrangement permits two posters to be separately gripped, to provide a double-sided display structure.

[0023] In a further aspect, any of the above picture-gripping members may be provided with one or more apertures for suspending the member from a hang hook or a track for suspending the frame from a mating hook or other member.

[0024] In a still further aspect, the invention is a picture frame formed by a plurality of frame members which all have the characteristics of a selected one of the embodiments described above. In another aspect, a single frame member as characterized herein comprises a banner hanger.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a picture frame member according to the present invention, in the closed position;

[0026] FIG. 2 is a further sectional view showing the frame member in a fully open position;

[0027] FIG. 3 is a perspective view, partially in section, of a second embodiment of a frame member;

[0028] FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the second embodiment in the closed position;

[0029] FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a second embodiment, in a partly open position;

[0030] FIG. 6 is a further sectional view, showing the fully open position;

[0031] FIG. 7 illustrates a complete picture frame, assembled from frame members of the first embodiment herein;

[0032] FIG. 8 is a sectional view of a third embodiment;

[0033] FIG. 9 is a sectional view of a fourth embodiment of the invention;

[0034] FIG. 10 is a sectional view of a fifth embodiment of the invention, comprising an extruded hinge member, shown in the closed position; and

[0035] FIG. 11 is a sectional view of the fifth embodiment, shown in the open position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0036] A first embodiment of the invention is illustrated at FIGS. 1 and 2. In this version, a picture frame element is composed of a generally elongate plastic extrusion 10, having a recess 5 to receive a poster, picture or the like. The frame element has an elongate, strip-like flat base 12, which when the frame is placed horizontally, supports the underside of a poster or picture (not shown). A poster cover member 14 having a general shape, in cross-section, of an inverted U, is hinged to the base along the peripheral edge of the frame element, via a first hinge 13. The cover member 14, when closed, covers an edge region of a poster (not shown) and grips the poster tightly between the cover and the base. The hinge 13 comprises a flexible bead or co-extrusion which extends the length of the frame member. The front cover of the frame element is comprised of an exposed panel 15, which is generally parallel to the base and spaced apart therefrom by a bridging portion 16 which forms the peripheral edge of the frame. The cover and base thus define a hollow interior space when these elements are closed together. The bridging portion itself has the configuration of a channel or track which opens outwardly to the periphery of the frame. The bridging portion 16 is formed from a channel floor 18 which spans the base 12 and panel 14, with the elongate sides of the floor 18 bordered by opposed channels 21 facing towards each other. Together, the channels 21 and floor 18 form a track which permits the frame element to slide onto and attach to an external support such as an appropriately-shaped hang hook (not shown). This permits the picture frame element to be conveniently suspended or otherwise supported in a readily removable fashion. Alternatively, if the picture frame element is used individually a banner hanger, it may be suspended from an overhead cable or the like. An alternative suspension is to suspend the element from hooks inverted into apertures 23 within the member (see FIG. 3).

[0037] The panel 15 is spaced apart from the base 12 along the inner edge of the panel (i.e. the edge opposed to the bridge 16) by an elongate strip-like leg 20 extending the length of the frame element. The leg 20 is disposed at an angle relative to the base, when the cover is closed, such that the leg angles upwardly and inwardly towards the interior of the assembled frame. The leg thus has a dogleg cross-sectional profile.

[0038] The lower edge of the leg 20 has a soft bead 22 along its lower edge, to provide a soft and resilient contact member to engage a poster between the leg 20 and base 12. The panel 15 overhangs the leg 20 along the inner edge of the panel 15 to provide a convenient gripping surface to permit a user to open the cover 14.

[0039] The cover member 14 may be selectively maintained in either of an opened and closed position by means of an over-center principle of operation which will be described below. When in the closed position (FIG. 1), the cover member is biassed firmly against the base 12 in order to grip a poster or picture between the base 12 and cover member 14. The gripping force of the cover member 14 is generated in part by flexing of the various components as the cover is rotated, the flexure being created by the rotation of a rigid panel-shaped biassing member 24, the structure and principle of operation of which will now be described. The biassing member 24 comprises an elongate striplike panel which is disposed within the interior of the space between the base 12 and cover member 14. The biassing member 24 is hinged to an upstanding fin or wall 28 which extends upwardly from the base 12, at a position which is generally adjacent to and spaced apart from the bridge 16. The member 24 is joined to the wall 28 by means of a second flexible hinge 30 along a first elongate edge 32 of the member 24. The second opposed edge 34 of the member 24 is hinged via a third flexible hinge 36, to the interior face of the leg 20. The biassing member 24 thus links the wall 28 to the leg 20. It will thus be seen that the biassing member 24 is fully enclosed within the interior of the structure 10 at all times. Thus, it is not visible to the user except when the frame is opened to replace a picture. The second and third flexible hinges are soft, elastic and resilient to absorb compressive forces exerted by the member 24 between the wall 28 and leg 20, as will be described more fully below.

[0040] The wall 28 also serves as a picture guide member to permit proper positioning of a picture within the frame member. This is particularly important when the frame member is used as a single strip-like member to serve as a banner hanger, i.e., only a single edge of a picture is gripped.

[0041] When seen in section, the edge region of the biassing member 24 which faces the third hinge 36 curves downwardly. Thus, the upper portion of the leg 20 and the biassing member 24 meet at an acute angle when the cover is closed against the base. The biassing member 24 is rigid and resists flex along its transverse axis.

[0042] Operation of the frame member will now be described by reference to FIGS. 4-6, commencing in the open position as seen in FIG. 6. FIGS. 3-6 illustrate a slight variation, wherein no peripheral hang track is provided. The remaining elements are the same as in FIGS. 1 and 2. The open position is maintained by the compressive force exerted by the biassing member 24, between the wall 28 and leg 20. When the biassing member is in an over-center position relative to the wall 28, as seen in FIG. 6, the compressive force exerted by the biassing member 24 will tend to maintain the cover in a fully open position. As the cover member 14 is rotated towards the closed position, the biassing member initially resists rotation as it approaches coplanarity with the wall member as a result of the compressive forces exerted between the wall 28 and leg 20. Initially, this has the effect of forcing the cover member and base apart, thereby tending to bias the cover member towards the fully opened position. Continued rotation of the cover member 14 past the over-center position reverses this effect and urges the cover member and base together. This effect is again achieved at least in part by the resiliency of the second and third hinges, in cooperation with the increasingly acute angle formed between the leg 20 and biassing member 24. As the cover member is closed, the third hinge 36 flexes and stretches, absorbing at least some of the compressive force of the biassing member 24. Further, as the cover member 14 rotates towards the closed position, the increasingly acute angle between leg 20 and the biassing member, results in the compressive forces tending to drive the cover member and plate together. Since the biassing member 24 is relatively rigid, i.e. it resists flex along its transverse axis, the compressive force exerted thereby increases as the cover member closes. This compressive force is absorbed in large measure by a stretching of the third hinge 36. Thus, the resiliency of the hinge 36 may be selected to achieve a suitable degree of gripping between the cover member and the base. The second hinge 30 also contributed to the biassing action by appropriate compression as the cover is closed.

[0043] The compressive force is exerted by the biassing member 24 is also absorbed to some extent by a limited flex of the cover member and wall.

[0044] Conveniently, the frame member 10 is formed in a single extrusion. The hinges 13, 30 and 36 may be co-extruded with the rigid frame elements. Preferably, the extrusion is formed from a relatively rigid plastic material.

[0045] FIG. 7 illustrates a rectangular picture frame, formed from four frame elements 10 of the type generally characterized above. The frame has mitred corners which are formed by cutting or slicing the frame members at 45 degree angles, and fastening the elements together by glueing or other convenient means.

[0046] FIG. 8 illustrates a further embodiment particularly adapted for holding a rigid backing board independently of a poster or picture. This version comprises a flat, elongate base 50, and an openable cover member 52, of the type characterized in respect of the first or second embodiments described above. A poster backing board-receiving channel 54 is disposed on the underside of the base 50. The base itself forms the upper wall of the channel 54, with the lower wall of the channel 54 comprising an elongate platelike member 56 spaced apart from the base. A bridging portion 58 connects the upper and lower walls. The channel opens to one side of the frame member. In operation, a backing board (not shown) is slipped into the channel, and is retained therein by the resiliency of the channel members, which grip the backing board. The backing board must have a suitable thickness to be gripped within the channel 54, i.e. the back board must be thicker than the width of the channel when the channel is in a relaxed position as shown in FIG. 8.

[0047] FIG. 9 illustrates a fourth embodiment which is intended to provide a banner hanger or frame member 68 which is double sided for holding two posters viewable from either side. In this version, two base members 70(a) and 70(b) are provided, each being generally strip like as characterized above. Two cover members 72(a) and 72(b) as described above are each hinged to a corresponding base member, such that the two cover members are opposed to each other, with one facing upwardly and one facing downwardly when the bases are disposed horizontally. The two bases are spaced apart from each other by a bridging member 74 along the outer edge of the bases. The space defined between the two bases forms a channel 76 opening towards the interior of the frame member 68. The channel 76 grippingly retains a backing board in the manner described above in respect of the third embodiment. The cover members 72(a) and 70(b) are mirror images of each other, and may comprise either type of the first or second embodiments described above, or any variant thereof. In operation, a backing board is provided which has a thickness which is preferably greater than the channel width when the channel is in a relaxed position, thereby permitting the channel to grip the backing board as a result of the resiliency of the bridging member. A poster may be placed against each side of the backing board, with each poster being independently gripped by a corresponding cover member.

[0048] A further embodiment of the invention is shown at FIGS. 10 and 11. In this aspect, the invention comprises a hinge member, for joining two components such as a cabinet base and cabinet door. In this aspect, the invention comprises first and second hinge components 100 and 102, joined by a first living hinge 104. An upstanding fin 106 extends from the first hinge component 100, parallel to and displaced from the first living hinge 104. The second hinge component has a generally C-shaped sectional configuration. A substantially rigid strip-like panel 108, having two parallel elongate edges 110 is disposed between the upper, free edge of the fin 106, and the free edge of the second hinge component 102. The panel 108 is joined along its side edges 110 to the hinge 106 and second hinge component 102 by way of second and third living hinges 112 and 114. An interior space 116 is thus defined by the three components, namely the first and second hinge components and the panel 108. Conveniently, the entire hinge structure comprising components 100, 102, 108 and the three living hinges 104, 112 and 114 are all formed from a single co-extrusion.

[0049] Extending from the first and second hinge components 100 and 102, and formed from the same extrusion therewith, are anchoring members 120 and 122. The anchoring members permit the hinge to be fastened to first and second substrates such as a cabinet base and door. The anchoring members may comprise any convenient mode of fastening the hinge to a substrate such as an elongate strip having holes for receiving screws, or alternatively each anchor comprising a component shaped to fit into a specifically adapted slot.

[0050] Operation of the hinge is substantially the same as the frame member of FIGS. 1 through 9. In the open position shown in FIG. 10, the hinge is maintained in this position and resists closure by the compressive forces which would act on the strip-like member 108 if the hinge were to be rotated towards a closed position. However, continued rotation of the hinge towards the closed position rotates the member 108 through a common plane formed with the fin 106 and past an over-center position, to the closed position shown in FIG. 11. Once past the over-center position, the hinge is biassed towards the closed position and resists opening. As with previous embodiments described above, rotation is permitted by a combination of a small amount of flexure of the first and second hinge components 100 and 102, in particular the second component 102, in combination with resiliency and stretching of the three living hinges 104, 110 and 112. It will be further seen that the terms “open” and “closed” when used in connection with the hinge, are in essence a reversal of these terms when used to describe the frame member.

[0051] It will be seen that in the above arrangement, the hinge is arranged to swing the anchors 120 and 122 through a 90 degree angle. It will be further seen that the above arrangement is designed to provide an over-center mode of operation for maintaining the two hinge components in either of a fully open or fully closed position. However, it will be further seen that the various components may be rearranged, such that they operate in a non-over-center mode. For this purpose, the fin 100 and panel 108 would not be arranged to rotate past an over-center point, such that the hinge components 100 and 102 are consistently urged at all times towards the fully closed position.

[0052] The present invention has been described by way of detailed descriptions of various preferred embodiments of the invention. However, it is clear that variations and/or alterations may be made to the hinged member of the present invention without going beyond the range of protection provided for the invention itself by the claims of this patent specification.