Title:
Portable palette and workstation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable workstation for beadcrafting operations is provided. The workstation includes a base carrying a plurality of compartments surrounded by an upstanding rim having one or more recesses. Covers for each compartment contain dimples which are received in the recesses with a snap-fit retention. The base further includes a recessed work area surrounded by an upstanding rim. A design board fits over the rim of the work area and engages the rim with a snap-fit retention. The compartments include rounded surfaces and a cutout or recess in the rim surrounding the compartments functions as a funnel for dispensing the compartment contents.



Inventors:
Gupta, Nikhil (Schaumburg, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/158241
Publication Date:
12/22/2005
Filing Date:
06/21/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/00; D04D1/04; (IPC1-7): B65D25/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100013237WIND POWERED ENERGY AMPLIFICATION SYSTEM AND METHODJanuary, 2010Jones
20070095843Container with anti-slip capabilityMay, 2007Wu
20070114235FOOD SUPPORT DEVICEMay, 2007Neasham et al.
20070102438Closusre with tear stripMay, 2007Schwarz
20100012657BEVERAGE CONTAINER LID WITH RAISED SANITARY PLATFORMJanuary, 2010Levey
20090206090Multi-piece compartmented container with ventingAugust, 2009Hanson et al.
20080257898Dieter's water intake quantity tracking vesselOctober, 2008Pollio
20070205207Aperture plug with a removable paint maskSeptember, 2007Dornbach
20080140032Urine Receptacle HolderJune, 2008O'malley
20080135552Clousure System For Fuel Tank Filling PipeJune, 2008Baudoux et al.
20100086389Container transfer system for uploading and downloading mating container relative to a transport vehicleApril, 2010Johnson et al.



Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Olson & Cepuritis, LTD. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A portable workstation comprising: a base carrying a plurality of receptacles each defining a hollow interior cavity, and each having an open upper end surrounded by an upstanding rim; a plurality of covers engaging the rims of respective receptacles so as to enclose the hollow interior cavities thereof; and a design board associated with the base, adjacent the receptacles.

2. The portable workstation according claim 1 wherein the design board is integrally formed with the base.

3. The portable workstation according to claim 1 wherein the base further comprises a work compartment including a surrounding upstanding rim adjacent the receptacles, an upper open end and wherein the design board encloses the open upper end of the work compartment.

4. A portable workstation comprising: a base carrying a plurality of receptacles each defining a hollow interior cavity, and each having an open upper end surrounded by an upstanding rim; a plurality of covers engaging the rims of respective receptacles so as to enclose the hollow interior cavities thereof; and the rims of the receptacles each having an upper surface and defining a recess extending below the upper surface to form a funnel for discharging contents of the hollow interior cavity.

5. The portable workstation according claim 4 wherein the plurality of receptacles is arranged in a generally coplanar array.

6. The portable workstation according to claim 4 wherein the covers include stepped side walls.

7. The portable workstation according to claim 6 wherein the rims of the receptacles have upper surfaces and the stepped side walls include transverse side wall portions which engage the upper surfaces of the rims.

8. The portable workstation according to claim 7 wherein the covers include protruding dimples and the rim includes recesses receiving the dimples with a snap action engagement.

9. The portable workstation according to claim 4 wherein the base further comprises a work compartment adjacent the receptacles, including a surrounding upstanding rim and an upper open end.

10. The portable workstation according to claim 9 further comprising a design board enclosing the open upper end of the work compartment and having a downwardly extending sidewall engaging the rim of the work compartment.

11. The portable workstation according to claim 10 wherein the sidewall of the design board includes a transverse step wall engaging the upper end of the rim surrounding the work compartment.

12. The portable workstation according to claim 11 wherein the sidewall of the design board includes a locking protrusion and the rim surrounding the work compartment includes a recess receiving the locking protrusion with a snap action engagement.

13. The portable workstation according to claim 12 wherein the rim surrounding the work compartment and the design board have generally rectangular shapes with corners and the locking protrusions and recesses are located generally at the corners of the rim and the design board.

14. The workstation according to claim 4 wherein the base and the covers are formed from plastic sheet material.

15. The portable workstation according to claim 4 wherein the covers include sidewalls overlying the rims surrounding the receptacles and enclosing the funnels so as to retain contents of the hollow interior cavities defined by the receptacles.

16. A portable workstation comprising: a base having an outer periphery surrounding a generally coplanar array of receptacles extending above the outer periphery, the receptacles surrounded by upstanding rims and defining hollow interior cavities with open upper ends; a plurality of covers engaging the rims of respective receptacles so as to enclose the open upper ends thereof; the rims of the receptacles each having an upper surface and defining a recess extending below the upper surface to form a funnel for discharging contents of the hollow interior cavity; a work compartment adjacent the receptacles and including a surrounding upstanding rim and an upper open end; and a design board enclosing the open upper end of the work compartment and having a downwardly extending sidewall engaging the rim of the work compartment.

17. The portable workstation according to claim 16 further comprising an intermediate wall extending between adjacent receptacles and between the receptacles and the work compartment.

18. The portable workstation according to claim 17 wherein the intermediate wall extends above the outer periphery.

19. The portable workstation according to claim 16 wherein the rims surrounding the receptacles and the covers include interengaging dimples and recesses for snap-fit engagement of the covers to the receptacles.

20. The portable workstation according to claim 16 wherein the rim surrounding the work compartment and the design board include interengaging dimples and recesses for snap-fit engagement of the design board to the work compartment.

21. The portable workstation according to claim 16 wherein the covers include sidewalls overlying the rims surrounding the receptacles and enclosing the funnels so as to retain contents of the hollow interior cavities defined by the receptacles.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/582,256, filed Jun. 22, 2004 which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to portable workstations for lap-supported activities and is useful for practicing crafts and hobbies including bead stringing or bead weaving.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Although the arts of bead stringing and bead weaving have been well known for many years, a need still exists for dedicated or special purpose work areas for organizing raw materials and other components, as well as tools to be used with the activity. As those familiar with beadcrafting and other activities are aware, the raw materials are usually required in quantity in different colors, sizes and shapes. It has been found helpful to keep different materials segregated according to their type. Since, each raw material type is usually provided in sizeable quantities of individual pieces, it is important to maintain the different types of materials separate, one from the other. For example, bead weaving or bead stringing may require beads of different colors. It is helpful for work efficiency to keep the different colored beads separate from one another, while at the same time making these materials readily available to the user. Previously, such activities have been carried out at a fixed location with dedicated facilities such as the bead tray and bead holder described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,636,743 and 6,571,955.

Many enthusiasts have desired to practice their crafts while at a remote location, while traveling on a train or plane or when visiting friends and family, for example. It is important in such instances, that the different materials be secured against accidental spills arising in a transportation environment or due to incidental contact with pets or children. Precautions against such mishaps become all the more imperative when activities are carried out on a lap-supported work area. Many craft enthusiasts find it enjoyable to pursue their interest while seated in a comfortable chair or while waiting in a transportation terminal, or other public location, for example.

The need has thus arisen for a system for organizing different pluralities of small parts while providing a lap-supported work surface. In order to be useful, such systems should be lightweight and compact, so as to be readily adapted for portability and storage in luggage, for example. It would also be helpful if such systems provide an arrangement for storing the various materials, components and tools during transport, without requiring a user to disassemble the workstation into a number of different storage boxes or other separate storage media. Further, it would be helpful if such systems aided a user in organizing the various parts and components in a readily accessible manner so as to add not only to productivity but to also contribute to the ready selection of components while a spontaneous insight is still fresh.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a novel and improved adjustable portable workstation that minimizes the disadvantages associated with the prior art work aids, and provides advantages in the construction, mode of operation and use of such items. One embodiment of a portable workstation according to principles of the present invention comprises a portable workstation including a base carrying a plurality of receptacles, each defining a hollow interior cavity, and each having an open upper end surrounded by an upstanding rim. A plurality of covers engage the rims of respective receptacles so as to enclose the hollow interior cavities thereof. The rims of the receptacles each have an upper surface and define a recess extending below the upper surface to form a funnel for discharging contents of the hollow interior cavity.

In another example, a portable workstation comprises a base having an outer periphery surrounding a generally coplanar array of receptacles extending above the outer periphery, with the receptacles surrounded by upstanding rims and defining hollow interior cavities with open upper ends. A plurality of covers engage the rims of respective receptacles so as to enclose the open upper ends thereof. The rims of the receptacles each have an upper surface and define a recess extending below the upper surface to form a funnel for discharging contents of the hollow interior cavity. A work compartment adjacent the receptacles includes a surrounding upstanding rim and an upper open end. A design board encloses the open upper end of the work compartment and has a downwardly extending sidewall engaging the rim of the work compartment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a portable workstation shown partially disassembled;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view of the workstation shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is another fragmentary perspective view of the workstation shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a cover of the workstation shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view taken along the line 6-6 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 7-7 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary perspective showing a pouring operation of the portable workstation shown in FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention disclosed herein is, of course, susceptible of embodiment in many different forms. Shown in the drawings and described hereinbelow in detail is a preferred embodiment of the invention. It is understood, however, that the present disclosure is an exemplification of the principles of the invention and does not limit the invention to the illustrated embodiments. For ease of description, a portable workstation embodiment in the present invention is described below in its usual assembled position as shown in the accompanying drawings and terms such as upper, lower, horizontal, longitudinal, etc. may be used herein with reference to this usual position. However, the portable workstation may be manufactured, transported, sold or used in orientations other than that described and shown herein.

Referring now to the drawings and initially to FIG. 1, the portable workstation 10 can be used for a variety of purposes and is particularly suitable for activities involving relatively large numbers of small sized parts which must be assembled together, inspected or operated on in some other manner. The portable workstation according to principles of the present invention has found immediate commercial acceptance with beadcrafters engaged in activities such as bead weaving and bead stringing. As can be seen in FIG. 1, a monolithic base 11 includes a plurality of wells or compartments 12, along with a work location 14. Portable workstation base 11 can be made from virtually any material desired, but preferably is made from plastic material and most preferably from thermoformed or vacuum formed plastic material using sheets of PET or polystyrene plastic, for example, which may be flocked. Alternatively, construction materials such as sheet metal, paper and hybrid combinations of paper and other materials could also be used.

As can be seen in FIG. 1, workstation 10, compartments 12 and work location 14 have a generally rectangular shape, although other shapes may be used, as desired. Also, workstation 10 has a relatively small thickness or height compared to its surface dimensions, although the workstation could be made to other proportions. The plurality of compartments 12 and the working area 14 are provided as portions of a monolithic vacuum formed base 11. Certain features are employed to add to the rigidity of the base of the portable workstation 10. As will be seen herein, the base 11 of the workstation 10 is provided with a number of offset structures which extend in a direction generally perpendicular to the workstation surface. For example, each of the compartments 12 includes an outer surrounding rim 16 which extends upwardly above a lower level which forms an outer periphery or rim 20 surrounding the workstation. With additional reference to the cross-sectional view of FIG. 6, rim 16 surrounding compartment 12 also extends above an intermediate level 26 formed between the compartments 12 and between the compartments and the workstation 14. As can be seen for example in FIG. 1, the rims 16 have a substantial width so as to cooperate with intermediate level 26 to introduce rigidity to the overall structure of portable workstation 10.

As can be seen, for example, in FIGS. 2 and 3, compartments 12 further include a continuous interior wall 30 having side portions 32, a rear wall portion 34 (FIG. 2) and a front wall portion 36 (FIG. 3). Also included in interior wall 30 is a floor portion 38 having an optional upstanding rib 40. As can be seen for example in FIG. 3, front wall 36 includes a funnel or opening 44 formed in upstanding rim 16 and extending from the top of rim 16 to a point slightly above floor portion 38. In the preferred embodiment, the wall portions 32, 34, 36 and floor portion 38 all form portions of the continuous interior wall 30 and preferably blend one into the other without sharp radius corners, so as to aid in containing small parts such as small diameter beads which tend to roll freely within a compartment. Sharp radius corners of the interior compartment wall might make it difficult to easily extract small diameter beads and accordingly, interior wall 30 employs relatively large diameter curved transitions between the side walls and floor 38. Similarly, the opening 44 is continuously rounded throughout so as to aid in the flowing discharge of parts such as small beads contained in the hollow interior of the compartments 12. Openings 44 accordingly function as efficient funnels allowing free flowing objects such as small diameter beads to be readily poured from the compartment to an external receiver, as indicated in FIG. 8.

As mentioned above, the base of portable workstation 10 includes a work area 14 disposed adjacent the array of compartments 12. Work area 14 preferably takes the form of a recessed well formed by an outer rim 50 which extends upwardly from peripheral rim 20 as well as intermediate level 26, as can be seen in FIG. 6. In a preferred embodiment, the interior portion of rim 50 extends to a floor 52 cooperating with the rim 50 so as to form an open top working compartment indicated at 54. As indicated in FIG. 6, floor 52 of working compartment 54 preferably extends lower than floor 38 of compartment 12 and thus provides further rigidity to the overall structure of the portable workstation.

In one example, a foam pad 56 covers floor 52 and provides a convenient work surface for small diameter beads and other components. The structure of foam pad 56 is chosen such that the upper surface has open cells which conveniently cradle the lower portions of small diameter beads, preventing their uncontrolled rolling about the working compartment 54. A design board 58 covers working compartment 54 and interlocks with rim 50 in the manner indicated in FIG. 7. As can be seen in FIG. 7, the corners of rim 50 are provided with notches or recesses 60. Design board 58 has a stepped outer periphery 62 with inwardly extending ribs or shoulders 64 located at the corners of stepped rim 62. As indicated in FIG. 7, ribs 64 interlock with the recesses 60, thus providing a snap lock retention of design board 58 with the rim 50 of work area 54. Referring to FIG. 6, lateral wall portions 63 of step wall 62 engage the upper surface of surrounding rim 50 helping to quickly achieve the interlocking orientation illustrated in FIG. 7.

Referring again to FIG. 1, design board 58 includes a recess 68 for holding partially assembled bead work 70, allowing a bead crafter convenient access to the components being operated upon. As indicated in FIG. 1, design board 58 is provided with indicia for measuring the length wise dimension of the bead work contained in recess 68. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 7, a socket 72 can be provided in the rim 50 for receiving a removable spindle 74 (see FIG. 7) to hold a spool of thread (not shown). For example, the spindle 74 can include a lower base portion 74a for receipt in the socket 72 and a narrower upper portion 74b for receiving the spool. In the preferred embodiment, the upper surface of design board 58 is coated with a flocking material to add a texture to the underlying structure of the design board which preferably is also made of vacuum formed plastic material. If desired the design board 58 could be integrally formed with base 11, being added to or replacing workstation 14. Alternatively, the design board and/or the workstation 14 can be omitted altogether.

As thus far described, portable workstation 10 provides a number of significant advantages to beadcrafters and other users who need to display and control large numbers of small parts. Although the portable workstation 10 could, in the form described thus far, be used with great success, a user would have to secure the small parts at the end of a work session. For example, small diameter beads, chain links and other components would have to be stored in external receptacles if the workstation 10 is to be transported from place to place. Presumably, it is desirable to maintain different components in different storage containers to prevent intermixing. When a subsequent work session is initiated, the beads and other components need to be dispensed from their storage containers into the compartments 12. A cover device could be provided which spans the entire area of the array of compartments 12 and/or the work area 14. However, a large “overall” cover would lack sufficient rigidity in its central portions to prevent small diameter beads and other components from leaving the compartments 12. Alternatively, if snap fasteners or other fastener arrangements were provided within the interior portions of portable workstation 10, undoing of such snap fasteners with a large “overall” cover would undoubtedly vibrate the beads or other contents of the compartments, causing the contents to leave their compartments.

Accordingly, each compartment 12 is provided with a separate, undivided cover 76 shown for example in FIGS. 4 and 5. Cover 76 has stepped side walls 78 which include dimples 82 at opposed front and rear ends. Cover 76 can be made of virtually any material known today but is preferably made of vacuum formed plastic material. As can be seen in FIG. 5, dimples 82 extend inwardly of the cover 76. This allows for engagement with complementary recesses 86 formed in the front and rear portions of rim 16, on outer surfaces of the rim extending away from the compartment interior. As shown in the figures, dimples 82 and recesses 86 are preferably elongated in a generally horizontal direction to provide an increased retention engagement. Preferably, the dimples 82 and recesses 86 have rounded surfaces to provide an easy, low friction snap fit engagement which reduces disturbance of the compartment's contents. In the preferred embodiment, the stepped sides 78 of cover 76 extend below the funnel-shaped openings 44 of open top compartments 12, thus cooperating with the compartments 12 to completely contain the contents in the hollow interior cavities defined by the compartments. As mentioned, the side walls 78 of cover 76 are stepped, and with reference to FIG. 4, lateral step wall 90 contacts the upper surface of rim 16 (see for example FIGS. 2 and 3). The covers 76 thus provide an upraised or domed covering of the open top compartments. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the stepped side wall surfaces of covers 76 also contribute substantially to their rigidity.

With reference again to FIG. 4, outer surrounding flanges 92 provide a convenient engagement to allow finger pressure to be applied to the cover for lifting the cover free of its engagement with the compartment rim 16. Owing to the rounded features of dimples 82 and recesses 86, covers 76 can be quickly and easily removed from the compartment without disturbing the compartment contents. Since individual covers are provided for each compartment, the user can readily close off all compartments but one, as may be desired for pouring the contents of the selected compartment into a convenient receptacle (see FIG. 8).

As mentioned above, portable workstation 10 is comprised of a unitary base portion, a design board, and a plurality of covers all of which are formed from desired vacuum formable plastic materials. For example, it is generally desired that the base portion 11 be made from sheets of polystyrene plastic material having a thickness of about 1.5 mm, while the covers 76 are made from transparent or semitransparent PET plastic sheets about 0.9 mm thick. The design board is preferably made from polystyrene plastic sheet material having a thickness slightly less than that of the base 11. As mentioned, other materials can be used, as desired. While it is preferable to form the base, the design board and the covers using vacuum forming techniques, other techniques such as plastic molding can be used, as well. If desired, other materials could be employed to add to the features of portable workstation 10. For example, a polymer magnetic material in the form of a magnetic strip 94 can be adhesively secured to an interior wall of working compartment 54 as shown for example in FIG. 1. The magnetic strip can be used to securely and conveniently retain tools and other working implements such as sewing needles or pins, as may be desired.

Other and further configurations, modifications and embodiments of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the present teachings and disclosures. The present invention is not limited to the present illustrative embodiments. Changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.





 
Previous Patent: Connectable containers

Next Patent: Seal container