Title:
Wire rack shelf with liner
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shelf, basket and drawer liner for wire-frame constructions includes a flexible plastic panel which can be rolled for storage or sale and unrolled onto wire racks or shelves or into wire-framed baskets or drawers. It is easily trimmed with scissors or torn along score lines to fit any surface. The material is sufficiently thick enough to support object placed on top of the liner and to prevent deflection that results in objects tilting, tipping or falling through the spaces between the wires. It attaches to the wire frame in a unique manner, and is clear to allow objects to be viewed through the liner.



Inventors:
Young, Daniel L. (Escondido, CA, US)
Cassidy, Clarence (Escondido, CA, US)
Kopenhaver, Niki (Mt. Laguna, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/449877
Publication Date:
01/08/2004
Filing Date:
05/30/2003
Assignee:
YOUNG DANIEL L.
CASSIDY CLARENCE
KOPENHAVER NIKI
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/90.01
International Classes:
A47F5/01; (IPC1-7): A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GIBSON, ROBERT W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Eastman McCartney Dallmann LLP (San Diego, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An economic, lightweight, liner for wire rack shelving, comprising: a panel having a length and a width suitable for lining shelves; and a means for attaching said panel to said wire rack shelving.

2. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 1, wherein said panel is rigid, yet flexible.

3. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 2, wherein said panel is made from a polymer plastic.

4. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 2, wherein said panel is made from Poly Vinyl Chloride.

5. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 2, wherein said panel has a top surface, and is rigid enough that it will not form around underlying wires of said wire rack shelving and distort the flat expanse of the top surface.

6. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 2, wherein said panel is flexible enough to be rolled up for easy storage and sale without taking a curved memory set

7. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 2, wherein said panel has a non-porous or open cell surface.

8. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 2, wherein said panel is optically clear.

9. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 1, wherein said means for attaching said panel to said wire rack shelving further comprises: said panel formed with a pattern of slots having a length and a width punched through the entirety of the cross section of said panel; one or more straps having a width less than the length of said slot and a thickness less than the width of the slots, and a length long enough to engage two or more of said slots and at least one wire of said wire rack shelving in an interweaving pattern in order to positively lock said panel into place on the wire rack shelf.

10. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 9, wherein said straps have a thickness equal to or greater than said thickness of said panel.

11. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 9, wherein said straps are made from a polymer plastic.

12. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 11, wherein said straps are made from Poly Vinyl Chloride.

13. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 1, wherein said panel comprises colored tinting.

14. The liner for wire rack shelving of claim 1, wherein said panel has a length and is formed with one or more score lines running laterally across the length of said panel, said score lines passing at least partially through said panel to provide means of parting the length of the panel into discrete pieces.

15. A liner for wire rack drawers and baskets, comprising a panel formed with parallel and perpendicular score lines and foldable along said parallel and perpendicular score lines to form a box-like three dimensional liner positionable into a basket or drawer.

16. The liner for wire rack drawers and baskets of claim 15, further comprising: a first panel piece and a second panel piece, each said panel piece formed with a series of slots and positionable adjacent each other within said basket or drawer wherein at least two slots from said first panel piece are adjacent to at least two slots from said second panel piece; and at least one strap sized to be received within two or more pairs of adjacent slots and positioned to extend through said two or more pairs of adjacent slots to secure said first panel piece to said second panel piece.

17. The liner for wire rack drawers and baskets of claim 16, wherein said at least one strap captures at least one wire of said wire rack drawer or basket to secure said liner in said drawer or basket.

18. The liner for wire rack drawers and baskets of claim 16, wherein said first panel piece and said second panel piece overlap no more than half their length and no less than one inch.

19. The liner for wire rack drawers and baskets of claim 16 further comprising a means for adjusting said length of said liner.

20. The liner for wire rack drawers and baskets of claim 19, wherien said means for adjusting said length of said liner further comprises sliding said first panel piece and a second panel piece together or apart in an overlapping manner.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/384,671 filed May 31, 2002, currently copending.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to the overall improvement to storage shelving. The present invention is more particularly, though not exclusively, useful as liners for the purpose of covering the gaps between wires in shelves, baskets and drawers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Shelves, racks, bookcases, drawers, medicine cabinets and baskets can be constructed of wood, glass, composite materials and the like. An alternative means of manufacture is an open wire-frame construction that is low cost, lightweight see-through and aesthetically pleasing.

[0004] These products are essentially wire which is welded or otherwise bonded together in parallel form with two or more latitudinal cross braces to form flat or box-like surfaces designed to store or organize articles thereon or therein. Such wire-frame shelf and drawer constructions are used in a multitude of storage applications such as closets for clothing and shoe storage and organization. These wire-framed items are often used in pantries for food items, spices, bottles, cans, bags and other item storage. They are also used in kitchens for cutlery, dishes, cooking utensils, cook books and other kitchen articles as well as in children's rooms for storage of reading books and toys. Also, the laundry and utility room can have such shelving or related items and in the garage they are used to keep any household or automotive items organized and stored.

[0005] A serious drawback from this style of wire racking is that items which are smaller than the distance between any two of the parallel wires can fall through, and any object which is not sufficiently larger than the said distance between wires will be subject to tilting or tipping.

[0006] Another major problem is the marking of softer objects with the outline of the wires. Clothing, in particular sweaters, will take on the impressions of the wires if they are stacked on the wire for any length of time. Moreover, these impressions can permanently harm delicate and expensive objects such as cashmere sweaters and the like.

[0007] Individuals who are versed in the art will know that a solid shelf cover or liner can be used to ameliorate these problems. Glass, cardboard or paper constructs have been employed as well as wooden or rigid or foamed plastic panels, but then the advantages of a low cost, lightweight, see-through means of supporting and organizing objects such as wire shelving have been lost to the bulk and cost of add-on liners. An additional negative aspect of using the unattached coverings such as those listed above is that the bulky add-on liners will easily slip off the shelf and be displaced when objects that are stacked on them are pulled forward.

[0008] A shelf cover disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,697,302 consists of a flexible foamed plastic panel, which can be rolled and cut with scissors. This invention attempts to address the problems with tipping and toppling of items placed on wire shelves by spanning the gaps between wires with this flexible material. However, the nature of the materials employed, namely foamed PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride), is not rigid enough for all applications. Secondly, the porous nature of the material can trap dirt and allow mildew to grow—particularly in locations typically used for storage of household items such as pantries and closets.

[0009] Thirdly, foamed PVC is opaque to light and therefore objects placed on shelves cannot be seen through it, eliminating a major advantage of wire-based shelves and baskets.

[0010] The foamed plastic shelf liner claims a “series of corrugations for preventing movement relative to the shelf” and a compressible nature which adheres to the shelf through “indentations” which presumably grip the wires by deformation. There is no mechanical connection between the shelf cover and the wire shelf, and the cover fails to stay adhered to the wire shelf under all conditions.

[0011] Lastly, the shelf cover is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,697,302 as being “inherently heavy,” so that it will hang over the front of the shelf and not be found “flying up.” This, of course, does not help in the pursuit of a lightweight, economical shelf liner, and the shelf cover does not address the same problems inherent in wire formed baskets and drawers.

[0012] In light of the above, it is beneficial to provide a new and improved shelf liner and a new basket or drawer liner and the method for manufacturing such a device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] According to one aspect of the present invention, an economic, lightweight, plastic panel, or liner, for wire rack shelving is provided which comprises an expanse of optically clear, rigid, yet flexible plastic having a length and a width suitable for lining shelves. This material may be any polymer plastic that is considered rigid enough that it will not form around underlying wires and distort the flat expanse of the top surface. In a preferred embodiment, it has been found that a material known to the trade as “Clear Rigid PVC” works well and yet is flexible enough to be rolled up for easy storage and sale without taking a curved memory set. In other words, the liner will lie flat after being rolled for sale or storage.

[0014] The preferred material is resistant to mold, mildew, and has a slick non-porous surface which will not trap dirt or foreign particles and is easily cleaned with any mild household cleaner, or soap and water. It is scratch resistant and is optically clear allowing the user to see upwards through the liner and shelf or through multiples of liners and shelves to identify objects on a shelf above viewing height, or downward through a shelf and liner or multiple layers of shelves and liners to identify objects on a shelf below viewing height.

[0015] One variation of the preferred embodiment would be to use colored tints, in the clear plastic to allow aesthetically pleasing contrasts with household decor yet retain the visibility feature which is an improvement over the art.

[0016] In a preferred embodiment, the shelf liner has a repeating pattern of slots having a length and a width punched through the entirety of the cross section of the material. Said slots work in conjunction with a set of provided straps made from the same thickness or thicker Clear Rigid PVC material, the straps having a width less than the length of said slot and a thickness less than the width of the slots and a length long enough to engage two or more of said slots and at least one expanse of wire in an interweaving pattern in order to positively lock the liner into place on the shelf. The result is an effective means of locating and attaching the liner to the shelf without adhesives, special corrugations, or expensive mechanical hardware such as clamps, screws or fasteners, thereby eliminating any possibility of the shelf liner sliding off the shelf when stored objects are pulled forward. Said utilization of slots and straps allows the present invention to be pre-attached to the shelves before installation of the shelves themselves to walls or upright support systems, thereby providing another advantage over simple lay on shelf covers.

[0017] Another aspect of the present invention is a series of score lines running laterally across the length of said liner providing an easy means of parting the length of the liner into discrete pieces in order to fit differently length shelves without the use of tools or scissors. Said score lines are not deep enough to affect the performance of the liner as a stable surface but are deep enough to allow the user to easily fold and tear the liner into prescribed length. Users can also easily cut any oversized material with scissors when needed if appropriate widths or lengths are not available.

[0018] Yet another aspect of the present invention in an alternative embodiment is for use as a liner for wire baskets or wire framed drawers. In this configuration, the liner of the present invention is scored and folded along parallel and perpendicular lines to form a box-like three dimensional liner which is dropped into a basket or drawer. In this embodiment the liner is divided into two discreet pieces that overlap no more than half their length and no less than one inch. The series of slots are aligned and the straps are engaged through both liners and the underlying wires to lock down the basket liner as well as tie the two halves together.

[0019] An important feature of this embodiment of the present invention is that the two discrete pieces comprising one liner assembly can be adjusted for length by sliding the pieces together or apart in an overlapping manner. This allows the present invention to be extendable to fit a variety of basket or drawer widths, with the series of slots aligning in pre-established increments so that said engagement by said straps can be attained at any juncture of said slots. Use of the invention in baskets or drawers will provide the same improvements over the art that are previously listed such as its rigid yet flexible design, its light weight, easily rolled configuration, its clarity and cleanliness features, as well as its ability to be firmly and mechanically attached to prevent displacement.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] The present invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of some exemplary embodiments of the invention, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals refer to like parts and in which:

[0021] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a typical wire shelf;

[0022] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the shelf liner in the first embodiment of the invention;

[0023] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the present invention deployed on a typical wire shelf;

[0024] FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional perspective view taken on line A-A of FIG. 3;

[0025] FIG. 5 is a scaled sectional line drawing of view A-A of FIG. 3;

[0026] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a typical wire basket of wire framed drawer;

[0027] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the present invention in an alternative embodiment of the present invention depicting how two of the liners fit together to form a three dimensional box-like liner;

[0028] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the adjoined pieces forming a box-like shape;

[0029] FIG. 9 is a perspective view showing the basket liner deployed in a typical wire basket;

[0030] FIG. 10 is an enlarged sectional perspective view taken on line B-B of FIG. 9; and

[0031] FIG. 11 is a scaled sectional line drawing of view B-B of FIG. 9.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0032] FIG. 1 through 5 of the drawings illustrate a shelf liner according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

[0033] In FIG. 1 the shelf 1 is typical in construction having at least two wire horizontal support rods 2 running lengthwise having a welded intersection 3 to a repeating pattern of crosswise wire vertical support rods 4 in a parallel disposition. The distance 5 between cross members can vary depending on application with typical distances from center of one wire to the center of the adjoining wire being as little as three eights of an inch or less to as much as two inches or more. The shelf depicted in FIG. 1 is a popular product due its low cost to manufacture and corresponding low cost to the consumer, its esthetic value and its light weight. Nevertheless the wire shelf has significant drawbacks which the present invention addresses, adding functionality and value to the shelf. One inherent problem of the wire shelf unit is the propensity of items to fall through the shelf if the item has a width less than distance 5 and a length less than distance 6; a typical example of such an item would be an average sized book, an eating utensil or a writing instrument. Objects such as bottles, cans or containers having a base smaller than two times distance 5 will tend to tip over or be unstable when place on shelf 1. Another problem which results from using a wire shelf to store clothing or any impressionable object is that any soft item placed on the wire frame will take on the pattern of parallel lines to the detriment of the item.

[0034] FIG. 2 illustrates a liner 10 that solves the problems presented by wire shelving and the like. Liner 10 can be made from any plastic material having enough rigidity in a given thickness, in the preferred embodiment a range of 0.005 inches to 0.030 inches, to resist deflection from its original plane when placed on a typical embodiment, liner 10 has a length 6 and a width 7 consistent with the popular selection of shelving available on the market.

[0035] Liner 10 has a repeating pattern of cut-through slots 8 disposed within the material with the slot material either being removed entirely, or in the case of the preferred embodiment merely punched through but not removed, thereby leaving minimal distortion in the surface of the liner at the unused slots. Liner 10 can be made from, but is not limited to, a plastic polymer known to the trade as Ply Vinyl Chloride or Clear Rigid PVC.

[0036] In a preferred embodiment, Clear Rigid PVC is a plastic that has very good optical clarity, is resistant to staining, mold, mildew and the like, and has a rigid nature beneficial to spanning the distance 5 between parallel wire rods. The very thin structure of the preferred embodiment, as little as 10 mils or 0.01 inches, makes for a liner 10 that will not substantially deflect from its plane on the shelf but is very light weight, can be rolled for easy storage or sale and is very economical to manufacture.

[0037] Popular shelving comes in only a few widths, but many different lengths for different applications ranging from 2 feet long as utilized in kitchen racking to 8 feet long or longer in large closets. Shelving can be used in end-to-end form to construct very long shelves in garages and the like. An advantage of the present invention is that the PVC material is formed into rolls and can be die cut with the slot pattern 8 in very long sections.

[0038] A feature shown in FIG. 2 is a repeating score line 9, which is a cut placed in the material unlike slots 8 which are cut through one-hundred percent. These scores lines 9 are cut as little as twenty-five percent to as much as eight-five percent of the way through liner 10, and they provide a means of parting liner 10 into sub-sections in increments as little as six inches or any multiple thereof. The user can simply fold and pull on the liner 10 at score line 9 to subsequently tear or part liner 10 along score line 9, thereby rendering a shorter section of liner which corresponds to the length of shelving in need of a liner.

[0039] FIG. 3 shows a typical liner disposed on a typical wire shelf with liner edges 11, 12, 13, and 14 aligned with shelf edges 15, 16, 17, and 18. Section A-A is depicted in FIG. 4.

[0040] FIG. 4 illustrates the attachment mechanism for the liner. Slots 19 are dispose at intervals down the length of said liner. Strap 20 is provided so that the user can interlock strap 20 through a combination of slots 19 and vertical wires 4.

[0041] FIG. 5 is alternative view of section A-A again depicting liner 10 disposed on horizontal wires 2 and vertical wires 4. Strap 20 is interlocked with slots 19 and wires 4.

[0042] FIG. 6 illustrates a typical wire basket having a upper wire rim 22, horizontal wires 23, and vertical wires 24 intersecting at welded points 3. Typical wire baskets have a prescribed depth 25, a length 26, and a width 27.

[0043] FIG. 7 depicts a basket liner assembly made up of matching liners 30. FIG. 7 illustrates a liner 30 that solves the problems presented by wire baskets and the like. Liner 30 can be made from any plastic material having enough rigidity in a given thickness, in the preferred embodiment a range of 0.005 inches to 0.030 inches, to resist deflection from its original plane when placed on a typical wire shelf while under pressure from objects placed thereon. In its preferred embodiment, liner 30 has a length 28 and a width 29 consistent with the popular selection of baskets available on the market.

[0044] Liner 30 has a repeating pattern of cut-through slots 31 disposed within the material with the slot material either being removed entirely, or in the case of the preferred embodiment merely punched through but not removed, thereby leaving minimal distortion in the surface of the liner at the unused slots. Liner 30 can be made from, but is not limited to, a plastic polymer known to the trade as Poly Vinyl Chloride or Clear Rigid PVC. In the preferred embodiment, Clear Rigid PVC is a plastic that has very good optical clarity, is resistant to staining, mold, mildew and the like, and has a rigid nature beneficial to spanning the distance 32 between parallel wire rods.

[0045] The very thin structure of the preferred embodiment, as little as 10 mils or 0.01 inches, makes for a liner 10 that will not substantially deflect from its plane on the shelf but is very light weight, can be rolled for easy storage or sale and is very economical to manufacture. The corners of the liner are represented by score line 32 and cut line 31. This allows the flat expanse of the liner 30 to be folded into a box-like shape that matches the basket 21.

[0046] FIG. 8 shows the two matching liners 30 engaged in an overlapping manner, with slots 31 aligned.

[0047] FIG. 9 illustrates a basket liner 30 disposed into a basket 21.

[0048] FIG. 10 is an enlarged sectional perspective of the attachment mechanism. Strap 20 is interlocked through slots 31 and wires 23 to effectively lock liner into basket.

[0049] FIG. 11 is alternative view of section B-B again depicting liner 30 disposed on horizontal wire 23. Strap 20 is interlocked with slots 31 and wires 23.

[0050] While the particular method and apparatus for the liner for wire rack shelving as herein shown and disclosed in detail is fully capable of obtaining the objects and providing the advantages herein before stated, it is to be understood that it is merely illustrative of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention and that no limitations are intended to the details of construction or design herein shown other than as described in the appended claims.