Title:
Inflatable structure for protecting an elevator interior
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An inflatable structure for protecting an elevator interior includes an inflatable wall configured to be positioned adjacent the walls of an elevator cab. The inflatable wall may be inflated in position within the elevator cab and deflated to a storage position. The inflatable wall protects the walls of the elevator cab and prevents equipment from contacting or damaging the walls of the cab during a moving process.



Inventors:
Millar, James E. (McLean, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/888515
Publication Date:
01/12/2006
Filing Date:
07/12/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/506.01
International Classes:
E04H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CAJILIG, CHRISTINE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for protecting an elevator cab from damage comprising: a protective barrier positioned adjacent the walls of the cab to thereby prevent direct contact with the walls; and wherein the barrier includes inflatable panels configured to be transported to the cab in an uninflated condition and inflated in place.

2. A structure for protecting an elevator cab comprising: an inflatable wall configured to be positioned adjacent a wall of the cab.

3. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall includes a plurality of panels.

4. The structure of claim 3, wherein the plurality of panels are connected together; and wherein the plurality of panels are configured to prevent flow of air between a first and second panel.

5. The structure of claim 3, wherein the plurality of panels are integrally formed.

6. The structure of claim 2, further including an inflatable ceiling panel configured to be positioned adjacent the ceiling of the elevator cab.

7. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall includes a non-inflated region configured to permit access to a control panel of the elevator cab.

8. The structure of claim 7, wherein the non-inflated region comprises an opening.

9. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall is comprised of a heavy duty resilient rubber.

10. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall is configured to be folded in a portable storage condition when not inflated.

11. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall includes two panels connected along a portion configured to be positioned in a corner of the cab.

12. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall includes a first inflatable panel attached to a second inflatable panel by a connecting piece; wherein the connecting piece is configured to extend vertically in a corner of the cab; wherein a first side of the connecting piece is attached to the first panel; and wherein a second side of the connecting piece is attached the second panel.

13. The structure of claim 12, wherein the connecting piece is integrally formed with the first and second inflatable panels.

14. The structure of claim 12, wherein the connecting piece is removably attached to the first and second inflatable panels.

15. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall is configured to be removably attached to a wall of the elevator cab.

16. The structure of claim 2, wherein the inflatable wall is a free-standing structure.

17. The structure of claim 6, wherein the inflatable ceiling panel includes a porous section configured to allow ventilation of the elevator cab.

18. The structure of claim 12, wherein the connecting piece is non-inflatable.

19. A structure for protecting an elevator interior comprising: an inflatable shield configured to be positioned adjacent interior walls of the elevator and cover the interior walls of an elevator; and wherein the shield is configured to collapse into a storage position.

20. The structure of claim 19, wherein the shield includes an extension piece configured to protect an edge of an elevator door adjacent to the door frame.

21. The structure of claim 19, wherein the shield comprises a plurality of inflatable cells.

22. The structure of claim 19, wherein the shield further comprises a support base attached at a bottom edge of the shield adjacent an elevator floor.

23. The structure of claim 19, wherein the shield includes a sealable opening configured to receive air to inflate the shield.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to an inflatable structure for protecting an elevator interior.

Generally elevators are susceptible to damage when used during construction or for movement of furniture or equipment. Typically, one elevator in a bank of elevators is designated as a freight elevator. The freight elevator is normally sparsely finished in order to avoid any chance of damage to high quality finish materials. In certain circumstances more than one elevator may be required for movement of construction personnel equipment. In these circumstances, one of the non-freight elevators is employed. Currently, the interior of the non freight elevator cab is typically protected by preparing a protective framework or shell. The protective shell is formed from plywood and other wooden support members.

The construction of the protective framework is time consuming and expensive. The protective wooden framework must be painstakingly constructed to match the specific dimensions of the elevator cab for each project and then is discarded upon completion of the project. Thus, there is no efficiency cost savings achieved through multiple uses of the protective framework.

In other instances, elevators are covered or protected by pads that are hung in the interior of the elevator cab or room. These conventional pads typically require permanent connecting devices which are unsightly and, therefore, normally present only in freight elevators.

Another drawback to conventional hanging mats used to protect the interior of an elevator is that the conventional mats require pre-existing hooks or attachments. These preexisting attachments detract from the aesthetic nature of the elevator, especially in the use of office buildings where the architecture and the design of the elevator is important. Such conventional hanging pads detracts from the aesthetic nature of a building's design.

Other conventional elevator protection devices only protect the entryway or the doorjamb. These devices only protect the interior edge of an elevator door that is adjacent to the doorjamb or door frame of the elevator. These conventional protection devices, however, do not protect the elevator interior.

Another drawback to conventional elevator protecting devices is that they are not specifically dimensioned or configured for a particular elevator. An external company will bring in protecting pads or a protection framework that is not sized specifically for the elevator in use. Thus, the elevator protection that is used in such conventional devices may not completely cover and protect the elevator cab. Thus dents and scratches and other more serious damage may occur during use of the elevator for construction or moving.

SUMMARY

According to an embodiment of the invention a device for protecting an elevator cab from damage is described. The device for protecting an elevator cab includes a protective barrier positioned adjacent the walls of the cab to prevent equipment from contacting the walls of the cab directly. The barrier includes inflatable panels configured to be transported to the cab in an un-inflated condition and inflated in place.

According to another embodiment of the present invention a structure for protecting an elevator cab includes an inflatable wall configured to be positioned adjacent a wall of the cab.

According to another embodiment of the present invention a structure for protecting an elevator interior includes an inflatable shield configured to be positioned adjacent interior walls of the elevator and cover the interior walls of an elevator. The shield is configured to collapse into a storage position.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only, and are not restrictive of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description, appended claims, and the accompanying exemplary embodiments shown in the drawings, which are briefly described below.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an inflatable wall for protecting an elevator according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a sectional view of an inflatable wall according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a view of an inflatable wall according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a top sectional view of an inflatable wall according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of an inflatable wall and cover according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a top sectional view of an inflatable wall and cover according to FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the inflatable wall and cover according to FIG. 5.

FIG. 8 shows an embodiment of the present invention of a corner connection of an inflatable wall.

FIG. 9 shows the corner connection of an inflatable wall according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a view of an inflatable room shield in an elevator room according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 shows the inflation steps of the inflatable wall.

FIG. 12 shows a view of an inflatable wall and attachment mechanism according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Hereinafter, embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the attached drawings. Referring now in detail to the drawing figures wherein like reference numerals represent like parts throughout the several views.

FIG. 1 shows a structure 100 for protecting an elevator cab including an inflatable wall 110, according to an embodiment of the present invention. This inflatable wall 110 is configured to be positioned adjacent a wall 50 of an elevator cab.

The wall 110 may be configured to be free-standing or may be configured to attach by hook and pile or other attachment means to the elevator wall 50 in order to support the inflatable structure within the elevator cab. The inflatable wall 110, as shown in FIG. 12, may also comprise suction cups 180 on a side adjacent to or proximate an elevator wall 50 in order to attach the inflatable wall 110 to the elevator wall. The suction cups would allow a non-damaging attachment of the inflatable wall 110 to the elevator wall.

The inflatable wall 110 may also include a plurality of panels 112. These panels 112 may be connected together separately. The panels 112 may be seamed together along the vertical or horizontal direction of the panels 112. The panels 112 may be seamed together to prevent any airflow between the panels 112.

According to another embodiment of the invention the plurality of panels 112 may be integrally formed. The panels 112 may also be formed together, by sewn seams or any other suitable method, in a manner that permits the inflatable wall 110 to be inflated through one inflation opening. The plurality of panels 112 that comprise the inflatable wall 110 may be formed of separate sections and then molded or joined together by other known means. The plurality of panels 112 may also be welded together to form an inflatable wall 110.

The inflatable wall 110 may be comprised of heavy duty resilient plastic or rubber. The inflatable wall 110 may also be comprised of any other material capable of being sufficiently abrasion and puncture resistant. Some examples of suitable materials include rubber or vinyl.

Furthermore the inflatable wall 110, according to another embodiment, may comprise several inflatable panels attached together to form the three walls within an elevator cab and/or a fourth wall to create the room of the elevator cab. The panels may attach together at the corners of the cab. The first panel 112 and second panel 114 may be integrally formed, or, alternatively, may be connected by a snap connection, by an adhesive or any other suitable connecting method.

According to another embodiment of the invention as shown in FIG. 9, two panels 112, 114 may be joined together in a corner by a separate connecting piece 116. The connecting piece 116 is positioned in the vertical direction in a corner of the elevator. One side of the connecting piece 116 is attached to the first panel 112. The second panel 114 is attached on a second side of the vertical connecting piece 116. This connecting piece 116 may be integrally formed with the first and second panels or it may be removably attached to the panels. The connecting piece 116 may be attached with a loop and pile structure, adhesive, snaps or any other suitable fastener. The connecting piece may be inflatable or non-inflatable

According to another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2, an inflatable wall 110 may include a support base 150. The support base 150 may be attached at a bottom edge of the inflatable wall 110 adjacent an elevator floor. The support base 150 helps balance the room shield 200 and creates a more durable protecting device along the floor. The support base 150 may increase the longevity of the elevator protection device. The support base 150 may also include an upper extending edge 152 to further support and protect the inflatable wall 110.

An inflatable wall 110 may also be used to protect the ceiling of an elevator room.

The inflatable wall 110 may also include an opening on a fourth wall adjacent to the elevator door. The opening 120 in the inflatable wall 110 is configured to allow use of the control panel of an elevator. The inflatable wall 110 may also include a cover 122 to protect the control panel and still allow an elevator operate to adequately use any of the control buttons such as the floor level, the stop button, and the elevator emergency button. The cover 122 still protects the elevator control panel from dust, scratches, or from other damage due to the moving of equipment within an elevator. The cover 122 may be removably attached to the inflatable wall 110 by loop and pile configuration, as shown in FIG. 7, or any other suitable adhesive or mechanical fastener. The cover 122 may be a clear plastic or any other suitable material to allow visual indication of the control panel as well as for the user to adequately choose and select any buttons or controls that are needed or required.

Similarly, the inflatable wall 110 can include an opening for ventilation devices, such as for the ceiling, similar to that shown in FIG. 10. Additionally, the opening in the inflatable wall 110 for the ceiling may include a cover that is perforated to allow airflow and yet to still protect the elevator ceiling. Further, the inflatable wall 110 may include an opening for the floor level/directional indication that is generally positioned above an elevator door.

As shown in FIGS. 11a-11e, the inflatable wall 110 is inflatable from a closed storage position, displayed in FIG. 11A. The inflatable wall 110 may then be unfolded and inflated to an in-use position as shown in FIG. 11E.

Another embodiment is shown in FIG. 10. This embodiment is similar in many respects to the previous embodiments, except the structure protecting an elevator interior may comprise an inflatable room shield 200 comprising a single structure configured to protect the interior of an elevator, as opposed to individual walls that may be attached together. The modifications of each embodiment could be incorporated separately or in combination into a different embodiment.

This inflatable shield 200 may comprise an upright inflatable structure that covers the interior walls of an elevator. The inflatable room shield 200 may be comprised of a plurality of panels 202, similar to the panels 112. The inflatable shield 200 may be configured for a particular elevator. When the elevator is designed and built the inflatable protecting device 200 may be designed to fit the specific dimensions of the elevator, so that the elevator will be protected adequately.

According to the embodiment as shown in FIG. 10 an inflatable room shield 200 is provided for protecting an elevator. The inflatable room shield 200 includes three walls. The room shield 200, according to other embodiments of the invention, may also include a ceiling wall, and/or a fourth wall.

The ceiling wall 220 may be removably attached to the room shield 200 or integrally formed. The ceiling shield 220 may also include a gap or an opening 222 for ventilation devices in order to adequately ventilate the elevator while in use. Additionally the opening 222 in the ceiling wall 222 may include a cover 223 that is perforated to allow airflow and yet to still protect the elevator ceiling.

The inflatable room shield 200 may also include a gap or opening 217 on a fourth wall 216 adjacent to the elevator door. The gap 217 in the fourth wall 216 is configured to allow use of the control panel of the elevator. The protecting device 200 may also include a cover 218 to protect the control panel, similar to that shown in FIGS. 5-7. The cover 218 still protects the elevator control panel from dust, scratches, or from other damage due to the moving of equipment within an elevator. The protecting structure or room shield 200, as shown in FIG. 10, may also include an opening 219 to allow users to identify the floor level as shown above the doors. In several elevators the floor level or up or down arrows are indicated in lights above the door of an elevator. The elevator wall protecting device 200 may include a clear plastic or other suitable cover. The room shield 200 may also just include an opening 219 to allow users to visually identify which floor the elevator is on at that moment, without a cover.

In addition, the protecting structure may include a protrusion 240 that extends from a door opening. The protrusion 240 is configured to protect the interior edge of an elevator door adjacent to the door frame when the elevator door is open. This protrusion 240 is integrally formed with a room shield 200 or may be removably attached. This protrusion 240 protects the doorjamb when furniture or other items are being moved in or out of an elevator. This protrusion 240 may move from an extended position to a retracted position in order to allow the elevator doors to close. The protrusion 240 may extend when the elevator doors are open to allow occupants or furniture or other items to move in or out of the elevator.

The inflatable wall 110 or the inflatable room shield 200 may include a sealable opening 170 configured to receive air to inflate the room shield 200 and/or inflatable wall 110. The inflatable wall 110 or room shield 200 may include several sealable openings depending upon the connecting nature of the panels 112 forming the inflatable wall 110.

The placement of a sealable opening depends on the configuration of the panels 112. Any suitable amount of openings may be used. An advantage of having a plurality of panels 112 that are attached in such a manner to prevent airflow between individual panels 112 is that if one panel should tear or rupture, the remaining panels 112 would still be usable. The inflatable wall 110 may comprise an inner valve such as the conventional spring or check valve or any other type used in inner tubes or vehicle tires or air mattresses or any other type of air valve suitable.

The inflatable room shield 200 is configured to fit inside an elevator when in the in-use, inflated position and fit adjacent to interior walls of the elevator. The structure protecting an elevator 200 is configured to be portable so that after use, the inflatable room shield 200 may be deflated and folded up into a storage position allowing the user to store. The inflatable shield 200 is configured so that it may be inflated when inside of an elevator room and to adequately cover and protect the walls of an elevator interior room.

The shape of the inflated structure is determined primarily by the shape of the elevator wall that the inflatable wall 110 is adjacent to. The bottom section of an inflatable wall 110 may be of equal, or preferably greater than, the width of the upper portion of the inflatable wall 110 in order to more accurately balance the inflatable wall 110 when in the inflated position.

Given the disclosure of the present invention, one versed in the art would appreciate that there may be other embodiments and modifications within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, all modifications attainable by one versed in the art from the present disclosure within the scope and spirit of the present invention are to be included as further embodiments of the present invention. The scope of the present invention is to be defined as set forth in the following claims.





 
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