Title:
Flexibly assembled three-dimensional dynamic structure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexibly assembled three-dimensional dynamic structure includes a plurality of rigid elongated elements, a plurality of flexible elongated elements, and at least one coupling device associated with at least two of the plurality of rigid elongated elements. The plurality of flexible elongated elements and the plurality of rigid elongated elements are assembled in an alternating manner. This Abstract is not intended to define the invention disclosed in the specification, nor intended to limit the scope of the invention in any way.



Inventors:
Gallix, Vincent (Villeneuve Les Avignon, FR)
Application Number:
10/502810
Publication Date:
03/10/2005
Filing Date:
02/07/2003
Assignee:
GALLIX VINCENT
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/344; E04B1/19; (IPC1-7): E04C3/02
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Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBLUM & BERNSTEIN, P.L.C. (RESTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. 1-12. (canceled).

13. A flexibly assembled three-dimensional dynamic structure comprising: a plurality of rigid elongated elements; a plurality of flexible elongated elements; and at least one coupling device associated with at least two of the plurality of rigid elongated elements, wherein the plurality of the flexible elongated elements and the plurality of rigid elongated elements are assembled in an alternating manner.

14. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements is coupled to two adjacent rigid elongated elements.

15. The structure of claim 13, wherein the structure is adapted to one of produce a decorative object, produce a functional object, provide a framework for a device, and provide a skeleton for a device.

16. The structure of claim 13, wherein the at least one coupling device is adapted to control a deformation of the structure.

17. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises a deformable material having a springy effect that tends to impart a rectilinear shape thereon when they are free of any constraint.

18. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises a steel cable.

19. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises a cable.

20. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises a tube.

21. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises an element having hollow ends.

22. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises a tube whose ends receive therein portions of two flexible elongated elements.

23. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises an element having hollow ends which receive therein portions of two flexible elongated elements.

24. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the rigid elongated elements is structured and arranged to rotate along a longitudinal axis thereof.

25. The structure of claim 13, wherein the plurality of flexible elongated elements comprise at least one continuous cable, whereby the plurality of rigid elongated elements are arranged on the at least one continuous cable.

26. The structure of claim 13, wherein the plurality of flexible elongated elements comprise at least one continuous cable, whereby the plurality of rigid elongated elements are one of fixed and fitted on the at least one continuous cable.

27. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises one of a tube section and a helical spring.

28. The structure of claim 27, wherein at least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises one of a tubular member and a non-tubular member.

29. The structure of claim 13, wherein the plurality of rigid elongated elements and the plurality of flexible elongated elements comprises a single unitary element formed of the same material, and wherein the single unitary element is treated by at least one of a physical treatment and a chemical treatment whereby alternating zones of the single unitary element have different characteristics, and whereby a deformable zone is adjacent a non-deformable zone.

30. The structure of claim 29, wherein the non-deformable zone comprises a zone that is one of coated with a rigid material and bath-treated in a metallic material.

31. The structure of claim 13, wherein each of the flexible elongated elements is arranged to connect two rigid elongated elements.

32. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements is arranged to connect more than two rigid elongated elements.

33. The structure of claim 13, wherein at least one of the flexible elongated elements is coated with one of a transparent sheath and a non-transparent sheath.

34. The structure of claim 13, wherein the at least one coupling device associated with at least two of the plurality of rigid elongated elements comprises one of a pivot connection, a looping flexible link, a device which is structured and arranged to stabilize the structure having the form of one of a spacer and a link.

35. A flexible three-dimensional dynamic structure comprising: a plurality of rigid elongated members comprising open ends; a plurality of flexible elongated members; and a plurality of coupling devices, wherein each coupling device connects two rigid elongated members, and wherein at least one of the flexible elongated members comprises ends which are received in the open ends of two adjacent rigid elongated members.

36. A flexible three-dimensional dynamic structure comprising: a plurality of rigid elongated tubular members comprising open ends; a plurality of cable sections; and a plurality of coupling devices, wherein each coupling device connects two rigid elongated members, and wherein each cable section comprises ends which are received in the open ends of two adjacent rigid elongated tubular members.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a National Stage Application of International Application No. PCT/FR03/00385, filed Feb. 7, 2003, which published as WO 03/066983 on Aug. 14, 2003. Further, the present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119 of French Patent Application No. 02/01469 filed on Feb. 7, 2002.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a flexibly assembled three-dimensional dynamic structure.

The present invention also relates to the industrial and commercial field of manufacture and distribution of articles adapted for producing decorative or functional objects as well as for providing the framework or skeleton of certain elements.

The invention also relates to a deformable structure, of the type constituted of articulated tubular elements connected to junction points, or knots, and generally configured so as to essentially constitute elements that fall within the composition of load-bearing structures.

2. Discussion of Background Information

Due to their flexibility, the known structures of this type are often unstable.

To remedy this drawback, metallic or magnetic profiles have been added, which take up the knots and provide the structure with stability and the right dimensions.

Unfortunately, the use of these profiles leads to an increase in the weight and the cost of the structures.

Moreover, the ends of the constituent tubes are made with attached pieces comprising portions, generally made of a plastic material, that lack stability in their assembly in the knots.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The device according to the present invention aims to remedy this situation. Indeed, the present invention makes it possible to manufacture structures that are simple or complex, lightweight, resistant, easy to manufacture, and relatively inexpensive compared to similar embodiments.

The invention provides for an assembly of alternating rigid and flexible elongated elements associated with an arrangement for controlling the deformation of this assembly. A flexible connection is arranged to connect two or several rigid elements.

The invention also provides for a flexibly assembled three-dimensional dynamic structure which comprises a plurality of rigid elongated elements, a plurality of flexible elongated elements, and at least one coupling device associated with at least two of the plurality of rigid elongated elements, wherein the plurality of the flexible elongated elements and the plurality of rigid elongated elements are assembled in an alternating manner.

At least one of the flexible elongated elements is coupled to two adjacent rigid elongated elements. The structure is adapted to one of produce a decorative object, produce a functional object, provide a framework for a device, and provide a skeleton for a device. The at least one coupling device is adapted to control a deformation of the structure. At least one of the flexible elongated elements may comprise a deformable material having a springy effect that tends to impart a rectilinear shape thereon when they are free of any constraint. At least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises a steel cable. At least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises a cable.

At least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises a tube. At least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises an element having hollow ends. At least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises a tube whose ends receive therein portions of two flexible elongated elements. At least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises an element having hollow ends which receive therein portions of two flexible elongated elements. At least one of the rigid elongated elements is structured and arranged to rotate along a longitudinal axis thereof.

The plurality of flexible elongated elements comprise at least one continuous cable, whereby the plurality of rigid elongated elements are arranged on the at least one continuous cable.

The plurality of flexible elongated elements comprise at least one continuous cable, whereby the plurality of rigid elongated elements are one of fixed and fitted on the at least one continuous cable.

At least one of the flexible elongated elements comprises one of a tube section and a helical spring. At least one of the rigid elongated elements comprises one of a tubular member and a non-tubular member.

The plurality of rigid elongated elements and the plurality of flexible elongated elements comprises a single unitary element formed of the same material, and wherein the single unitary element is treated by at least one of a physical treatment and a chemical treatment whereby alternating zones of the single unitary element have different characteristics, and whereby a deformable zone is adjacent a non-deformable zone. The non-deformable zone comprises a zone that is one of coated with a rigid material and bath-treated in a metallic material.

Each of the flexible elongated elements is arranged to connect two rigid elongated elements. At least one of the flexible elongated elements is arranged to connect more than two rigid elongated elements. At least one of the flexible elongated elements is coated with one of a transparent sheath and a non-transparent sheath.

The at least one coupling device associated with at least two of the plurality of rigid elongated elements comprises one of a pivot connection, a looping flexible link, a device which is structured and arranged to stabilize the structure having the form of one of a spacer and a link.

The invention also provides for a flexible three-dimensional dynamic structure comprising a plurality of rigid elongated members comprising open ends, a plurality of flexible elongated members, and a plurality of coupling devices, wherein each coupling device connects two rigid elongated members, and wherein at least one of the flexible elongated members comprises ends which are received in the open ends of two adjacent rigid elongated members.

The invention also provides for a flexible three-dimensional dynamic structure comprising a plurality of rigid elongated tubular members comprising open ends, a plurality of cable sections, and a plurality of coupling devices, wherein each coupling device connects two rigid elongated members, and wherein each cable section comprises ends which are received in the open ends of two adjacent rigid elongated tubular members.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the attached drawings, provided by way of non-limiting examples of embodiment according to the present application:

FIG. 1 shows a portion of the structure according to the invention;

FIG. 2 shows an enlargement of the detail D1 of FIG. 1, and illustrates an articulation in a partial axial cross-section;

FIG. 3 shows a deformable structure comprising rigid elements articulated with respect to one another; and

FIGS. 4 and 5 show portions of the structure whose flexible elements are connected to three and four rigid elements, respectively.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The device, which is shown in FIGS. 1-5, is formed of a series of rigid elements 1 constituted of tubes or elements having hollow ends. The elements 1 are articulated via flexible elements 2 connecting the ends of the tubes or elements 1 two by two.

The rigid elements 1 can be made from any usual materials, such as metals or synthetic materials reinforced with fibers or non-reinforced, or from natural materials, or yet from materials of the composite type. For certain applications, they can be constituted of wooden elements.

The flexible elements 2 are constituted of sections of steel cable having a diameter which is substantially equal to the internal diameter of the tubes or elements 1.

The assembly is made by inserting the ends 3 of each flexible element 2 in the canal and/or open ends of two rigid elements 1.

The cable constituting the flexible elements 2 is advantageously coated with a transparent or non-transparent sheath 4.

The three-dimensional structure is constituted by articulating or connecting certain tubes 1 with respect to one another, for example, by way of pivots 5, looping flexible links, or any other arrangements making it possible to stabilize the assembly, such as spacers or links connecting two or several rigid elements 1 (see FIG. 3).

The flexible elements 2 can also be arranged to connect more than two rigid elements 1.

In FIG. 4, there is shown the assembly of three rigid elements by way of two flexible elements 2. As can be seen in FIG. 4, one end of one of the rigid elements 1′ is designed to receive two flexible elements.

FIG. 5 shows four rigid elements assembled utilizing two flexible elements 2 affixed to one another in their center by a sleeve 6. The sleeve 6 can also be replaced by a ring.

The flexible elements 2, which are preferably made of steel cable inserted in the rigid elements 1, can nevertheless be constituted of any other deformable material having a similar springy effect that tends to impart a rectilinear shape to these elements when they are free of any constraint. These flexible elements 2 can also be formed of tube sections or of helical springs, which are fitted into the ends of tubular or non-tubular rigid elements 1 arranged for this purpose.

The assembly of the rigid elements 1 with the flexible elements 2 can be fixed or made so as to enable all or part of the rigid elements 1 to pivot along their longitudinal axis with respect to the flexible elements (see Arrow F1, FIG. 1).

According to a first alternative embodiment, the dynamic structure can be a continuous cable along which rigid tubular sections are fitted and fixed, or comprising zones coated with a rigid material (of the composite type, for example) or bath-treated in a metallic material.

According to a second alternative embodiment, the dynamic structure can be constituted of a single unitary element of a same material treated by physical and/or chemical arrangements so as to alternatively have different characteristics depending on the zones (deformable, non-deformable).

The design of the structure according to the invention enables one to envision a wide range of applications, for example:

    • Springs, jacks;
    • Self-deploying spatial structures for space and aeronautics;
    • Various tents, lurking places; greenhouses;
    • Structures for light constructions;
    • Telecommunication antennas for radars;
    • Diverse barriers and fences;
    • Upper works for boats, sailing or non-sailing;
    • Frames associated with textiles, for example, bags;
    • Retractors and the like;
    • Supports for various objects, such as a shell plate for traveling salespeople, florists;
    • Underframe for furniture, tables, chairs, lamps, etc., foldable or non-foldable;
    • Bracelets, jewelry, spectacle frames;
    • Table mats;
    • Reinforcement for tubes, sheaths, cases made of various materials, such as plastic and composite materials, concretes, etc.
    • Technical textile structures, filters;
    • Fixing elements requiring a controlled and limited deformation;
    • Etc.

The positioning of the various constituent elements provides the invention with a maximum of useful effects that had not, until now, been obtained by similar devices.