Title:
Plastic shelf cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shelf cover for use with open-wire shelving comprising: a substantially rigid extruded length of plastic including a continuous U-shaped edge dimensioned to clip on to an edge of the open-wire shelving. The continuous U-shaped edge can be present along a front edge or on a depending front lip dimensioned to coordinate with a depending front grating portion of the open-wire shelving. The shelf cover is formed from an extruded length of transparent, pigmented, or filled rigid plastic that is between about 1.0 and 5.0 mm in thickness.



Inventors:
Callis, Michael J. (Charlestown, IN, US)
Application Number:
09/859284
Publication Date:
11/21/2002
Filing Date:
05/17/2001
Assignee:
CALLIS J. MICHAEL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/183, 211/90.03
International Classes:
A47B96/02; (IPC1-7): A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100044328Over Wire Hook Latching Bin or TrayFebruary, 2010Barkdoll et al.
20090250417Tie rackOctober, 2009Mcniff et al.
20040112854Detachable clothes rackJune, 2004Lai
20050252869Apparatus for the storage of boots and shoesNovember, 2005Graham
20090001037COVER PANEL, TOOL THEREFOR, and METHODS THEREOFJanuary, 2009Wilcock
20070131633FOLDABLE SET OF SHELVESJune, 2007Ferm
20090095697VENTILATED RACK SYSTEMApril, 2009Gabriel et al.
20080173603Adjustable braceJuly, 2008Dion
20080169256Storage Rack DeckingJuly, 2008Shetler
20080135508Awning supportJune, 2008Fogolin et al.
20040129658Tool display panel for the automotive tool cartJuly, 2004Leclerc



Primary Examiner:
TRAN, KHOA H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
A. James Richardson (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A shelf cover for use with open-wire shelving comprising: a substantially rigid extruded length of plastic including a continuous U-shaped edge dimensioned to clip on to an edge of the open-wire shelving.

2. The shelf cover of claim 1 further comprising a depending front lip dimensioned to coordinate with a depending front grating portion of the open-wire shelving, the continuous U-shaped edge being situated along the depending front lip.

3. The shelf cover of claim 1 or 2 wherein the extruded length of plastic is between about 1.0 and 5.0 mm in thickness.

4. The shelf cover of claim 1 or 2 wherein the extruded length of plastic is about 2.4 mm in thickness.

5. The shelf cover of claim 1 or 2 wherein the extruded length of plastic is formed of polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethyene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS), and mixtures or blends thereof.

6. The shelf cover of claim 1 or 2 wherein the extruded length of plastic is unpigmented.

7. The shelf cover of claim 6 wherein the extruded length of plastic is substantially transparent.

8. The shelf cover of claim 1 or 2 wherein the extruded length of plastic is pigmented to exhibit desirable coordinating colors to the underlying open-wire shelving.

9. A shelf cover for use with open-wire shelving comprising: a substantially rigid extruded length of plastic between about 1.0 and 5.0 mm in thickness including a continuous U-shaped edge dimensioned to clip on to an edge of the open-wire shelving.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to shelf coverings for use with wire-frame shelves.

[0003] 2. Background of the Invention

[0004] Shelving used in storage compartments, bookcases, cupboards and medicine cabinets may be made from a variety of materials such as wood, glass, plastic, etc. One popular approach is to use a vinyl-coated wire-frame construction, which typically uses two or more members runing the length of the shelf with a number of closely spaced cross-members. This structure, which can include a front grating, is generally aesthetically pleasing, and both lightweight and inexpensive because it uses substantially less material than traditionally used to create the same amount of shelf space. A limitation of these shelves, however, is that any articles dimensioned smaller than the distance between any two adjacent cross-members will fall through the shelf. Similarly, any object not substantially larger than the distance between any two adjacent cross-members will tend to tilt to one side or another. These limitations tend to frustrate the purpose of shelving, that is, to permit the user to store items efficiently and neatly in a given storage area. Thus it would be desirable to provide a means for storing such smaller dimensioned items neatly stored on wire-frame shelves while preserving the advantages of such shelving.

[0005] Conventional flexible shelf coverings are commercially available that are made from paper, plastic, vinyl and other flexible materials. Because these materials are flexible, they can be conveniently marketed in rolls. Such coverings as are designed for solid shelves typically do not provide adequate support on a wire-frame shelf, and can be easily damaged, requiring frequent replacement. Also, because they are very lightweight, conventional coverings are easily displaced from their intended position, and thus require some form of adhesive layer to bond them to the surface to which they are applied.

[0006] A somewhat thicker flexible shelf covering is disclosed in Putnam, U.S. Pat. No. 5,697,302 that provides a shelf cover for wire-frame shelves constructed from a relatively thick but flexible material. The material is intended to be sufficiently thick to avoid deformation when placed on a wire-frame shelf yet be sufficiently flexible to be rolled up for storage or sale. The material may also have a lateral notch along the underside of the cover so that a portion of the cover may be folded down to cover the frontal grating of the shelf. Because the material is inherently heavy, it tends to add significantly to the weight load borne by the underlying shelf without contributing any load supporting capacity other than for very small articles. The lower side of the material is preferably coated with an adhesive or otherwise treated to prevent slippage of the shelf-covering material on the wire frame. However the adhesive or otherwise treated surface tends, over time, to attract and retain dust and dirt thereby detracting from the generally aesthetically pleasing quality for which such wire shelving is initially selected.

[0007] It is therefor desirable to provide a shelf covering that will facilitate the support of smaller dimensioned articles on open-wire shelving while contributing to the load-bearing capability of the shelf and while retaining the generally aesthetically pleasing quality for which such shelving is initially selected.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] Accordingly, the present invention provides a rigid shelf covering is formed generally of an extruded plastic such as virgin or reclaimed polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethyene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS), and mixtures or blends thereof. The plastics can be unpigmented and even substantially transparent so as to retain the overall appearance of the underlying open-wire shelving. Alternatively, the plastics can be pigmented to exhibit desirable coordinating colors to the underlying open-wire shelving. Generally, the material forming the rigid shelf covering in accordance with the present invention is between about 1.0 and 5.0 mm in thickness, and is preferably about 2.4 mm in thickness. One edge of the rigid shelf covering includes a substantially continuous U-shaped edge dimensioned to clip on to a front edge of the underlying open-wire shelving. The rigid shelf covering of the present invention can be cut to any convenient length.

[0009] One feature of the rigid shelf covering of the present invention is its rigidity, which is sufficient to avoid deformation between the cross members of the shelf, thereby being able to support footed articles that may have sufficient mass to substiantially deform the flexible shelf coverings of the prior art. The rigid character of the shelf covering of the present invention distributes any load placed on the covering over a wide area of the shelf, yet is itself very light thereby not detracting significantly from the load-supporting capability of the underlying open-wire shelving.

[0010] Another feature of the present invention is the substantially continuous U-shaped edge dimensioned to clip on to a the underlying open-wire shelving thereby providing a shelf covering that will not be accidently displaced from or slide off the underlying open-wire shelf. The U-shaped edge can be provided on a front edge of the shelf covering material or on a depending front lip of the shelf covering material to thereby facilitate use with open-wire shelving that includes a depending front grating portion.

[0011] Another feature of the present invention is the use of water impervious plastics that are easily cleaned and durable. The variety of materials that can be employed contributes to a suitable coordination of color and other visual effects so that the overall appearance of the underlying open-wire shelving is largely retained. The present invention also avoids the undesirable use of chemical treatments or adhesives that attract and retain dust and dirt, which can significantly detract from the desirable features of the open-wire shelving.

[0012] Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following discussion of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional wire-frame shelf.

[0014] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the shelf of FIG. 1 with a cover consistent with the present invention partly installed thereon.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of the shelf of FIG. 1 with a cover consistent with the invention installed thereon.

[0016] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a wire frame shelf with a frontal grate.

[0017] FIG. 5 is an end elevation view of a cover of the invention adapted to be used with the grate of FIG. 4.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the wire frame shelf of FIG. 4 with the cover of the invention being installed thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 shows a conventional wire-frame shelf 10. The shelf 10 is composed of at least two parallel longitudinal members 12 spanned by numerous cross members 14. The cross members 14 are separated by a distance s, which may vary depending on the size and intended use of the shelf. For instance, smaller shelves used in medicine cabinets may have a distance s of about 1 cm. Larger shelves used for storage closets may have a distance s of about 2 cm or more. The wire-frame shelf 10 has risen in popularity for a number of reasons, including aesthetic appearance, low weight and modest cost. Nonetheless, the wire-frame shelf does present significant drawbacks. Any items that have supporting structures that are not substantially larger than the distance s will tend to topple or even fall through the shelf. This frustrates the intended purpose of the shelf 10, which is to allow the orderly storage of various items, regardless of size.

[0020] FIG. 2 illustrates a shelf cover 20 that effectively eliminates the problem created by the wire-flame shelf 10. The shelf cover 20 comprises a thin, rigid extruded plastic member 22 including a U-shaped edge 24 dimensioned to clip on to a the underlying open-wire shelving 10, and particularly to a front edge 16 of the underlying open-wire shelving 10 when installed in direction A shown in FIG. 2. In particular, the size of the U-shaped edge 24 must be sufficiently large to permit engagement with the longitudinal members 12 and cross members 14 forming the front edge 16 as shown in FIG. 3. Preferably, the U-shaped edge 24 is small enough to resist separation of the shelf cover 20 from the shelf 10 resulting from an article being dragged toward the front edge16 of the shelf. This is achieved by having a mouth portion 26 of the U-shaped edge 24 be smaller than the bight portion 28.

[0021] Some typical wire-frame shelves 18, as shown in FIG. 4, include a frontal grating portion 30 for aesthetic purposes. Typically the bottom of the frontal grating portion 30 includes a longitudinal member 12, as shown in FIG. 4. It is desirable, in some circumstances, for the shelf cover 20 to cover the frontal grating portion 30. To achieve this, the shelf cover 20 can be configured to include a depending portion 32 as shown in FIG. 5, that is continuously present along a front edge 36 of the extruded sheet 22. A U-shaped edge 34 along the bottom of the depending portion 32 is provided to engage the longitudinal member 12 running along the lower edge of the frontal grating portion 30. The distance between the bight 28 of the edge 34 and the front edge 36 is at least equal to the vertical dimension of the frontal grating portion 30 of the wire-frame shelf 18 with which it is to be used.

[0022] The installation of the shelf cover 20 onto a wire-frame shelf 18 that includes a frontal grating portion 30 is achieved by an essentially pivotal action P as shown in FIG. 6. The open mouth 26 of the edge 34 is postioned under the lower-most longitudinal member 12 on the frontal grating portion. The shelf cover 20 is then pushed upward and rotated in the direction P, causing the shelf cover 20 to snap over the top of the wire-frame shelf 18. Once in place, the combination of the corner along the front edge 36 and the U-shaped edge 34 act to prevent the shelf cover 20 from becoming displaced from a contiguous placement on the top and front surface of the underlying wire-frame shelf 18.

[0023] Regardless of specific configuration, the shelf covering 20 should desirably be impervious to water and most household chemicals, making it durable and easy to clean. This can be achieved by forming the shelf cover 20 from an extruded plastic such as virgin or reclaimed polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethyene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS), and mixtures or blends thereof. The plastics can be unpigmented and even substantially transparent so as to retain the overall appearance of the underlying open-wire shelving 10. Alternatively, the plastics can be pigmented to exhibit desirable coordinating colors to the underlying open-wire shelving. Generally, the material forming the shelf covering 20 is sufficiently rigid as to not deform between the cross members 14 forming the wire shelf 10, yet is sufficiently elastic to permit the insertion of one of the longitudinal members 12 and contiguous lateral members 14 to be inserted into the bight 28 of a U-shaped edge 24 or 34. Generally, the material forming the shelf covering 20 and is between about 1.0 and 5.0 mm in thickness, and is preferably about 2.4 mm in thickness. Since the shelf covering 20 is extruded, it can be cut in convenient unit lengths of from 1 to 10 m, thus presenting the ultimate consumer with a length that can be easily trimmed to fit the specific installation. Similarly, the shelf covering 20 can be extruded to have a shelf depth d that is selected to be between about 20 cm and 50 cm to accommodate open-wire shelving 10 of various depths, and if necessary, can be trimmed by the consumer to fit the particular circumstance. When present, the height h of the depending portion 32 is between about 2 and 10 cm. The extrusion process for forming the shelf covering 20 can be performed through a die that includes a bight-forming portion to form the edges 24 and 34. Alternatively, the extrusion process can be merely the formation of a flat sheet followed by a deforming step for configuring the edges 24 and 34 as well as the corner along edge 36.

[0024] Although the foregoing is provided for purposes of illustrating, explaining and describing embodiments of the present invention, modifications and adaptations to these embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art and may be made without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention.





 
Previous Patent: Accessory organizer

Next Patent: Jib crane