Title:
PROTECTIVE GUARD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective guard protects a surface and includes a guard body with a base portion having with a pad cavity on a first side. A pad is disposed in the pad cavity and is secured to the guard body. A first portion of the pad fills the pad cavity, and a second portion protrudes out of the cavity. Optionally, the guard body has a shank portion that extends from a second side opposite the pad cavity. A margin surrounds the shank to form a shoulder such that the shank may be inserted into a tubular member. The base portion may have a margin surrounding the pad cavity with a base outer surface. This surface may be arcuate, and the pad may have a surface of similar curvature. The pad may be bonded to the pad body, such as by a plug and hole arrangement, or by other techniques.



Inventors:
Payne, Greg (Centennial, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/160542
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
06/28/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B91/00; A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MARSH, STEVEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TIMOTHY J. MARTIN, P.C. (LAKEWOOD, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective guard adapted to be protect a surface from an object, comprising: (A) a guard body including a base portion having a pad cavity on a first side thereof; and (B) a pad disposed in the pad cavity and secured to said guard body such that a first portion of said pad fills the pad cavity and a second portion of said pad protrudes out of the pad cavity.

2. A protective guard according to claim 1 where said base portion includes a margin surrounding the pad cavity, said margin having a base outer surface.

3. A protective guard according to claim 2 wherein the base outer surface is formed along a first radius of curvature so that the base outer surface is arcuate in shape.

4. A protective guard according to claim 3 wherein said pad has a pad outer surface formed along a second radius of curvature that is generally the same as the first radius of curvature so that said pad outer surface is generally continuous with the base outer surface.

5. A protective guard according to claim 1 wherein said base portion includes a shank portion extending on a second side thereof oppositely of the pad cavity.

6. A protective guard according to claim 5 wherein said shank portion terminates at a chamfered upper edge.

7. A protective guard according to claim 5 wherein said shank portion is formed as a wall surrounding a shank cavity.

8. A protective guard according to claim 1 wherein said pad is secured to said guard body by at lease one of thermal/chemical bonding, mechanical bonding and adhesive bonding.

9. A protective guard according to claim 8 wherein said pad is secured to said guard body by mechanical bonding wherein said base portion has at least one hole therein, said pad including a securing structure that includes a plug extending through the hole and an enlarged securing portion that has a dimension larger than the hole.

10. A protective guard according to claim 9 wherein said base portion has a plurality of holes therein, said securing structure including a plug extending through each of the holes and wherein said enlarged securing portion is a pad backing that joins said plugs to one another.

11. A protective guard according to claim 9 wherein said enlarged securing portion is a disc-shaped button.

12. A protective guard according to claim 1 wherein said pad is constructed of a non-slip material selected from a group consisting of: polypropylene, thermoplastic elastomer, thermoplastic olefin elastomer and polyvinyl chloride.

13. A protective guard according to claim 1 wherein said pad is constructed of a deformable, resilient material.

14. A protective guard according to claim 1 including a mounting element disposed on a second side of said base portion opposite the first side thereof, said mounting element adapted to secure said guard body to the surface.

15. A protective guard according to claim 14 wherein said mounting element is selected from a group consisting of: double sided adhesive tape, and one member of a hook-and-loop fastener.

16. A protective guard according to claim 14 wherein the second side of said base portion has a mounting cavity formed therein, said mounting element received in the mounting cavity.

17. A protective guard adapted to be protect a surface from a tubular member that has a tubular side wall, comprising: (A) a guard body including a base portion having a pad cavity on a first side thereof and a shank portion extending on a second side thereof oppositely of the pad cavity, said base portion including a margin surrounding the pad cavity with said margin having a base outer surface and a lip surrounding said shank to form a shoulder, said shank adapted for a forced fit insertion into the tubular member such that an edge portion of the tubular side wall abuts said shoulder; and (B) a pad disposed in the pad cavity and secured to said guard body such that a first portion of said pad is located in the pad cavity and a second portion of said pad protrudes out of the pad cavity.

18. A protective guard according to claim 17 wherein the base outer surface is formed along a first radius of curvature so that the base outer surface is arcuate in shape.

19. A protective guard according to claim 17 wherein said shank portion is formed as a wall surrounding a shank cavity.

20. A protective guard according to claim 19 wherein said wall terminates in a chamfered upper edge.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The disclosed embodiments of the present invention concern a protective guard device for use with various types of structures in order to protect a surface from an object. For example, embodiments are described to protect a surface from a tubular leg of a piece of furniture. These embodiments may also stabilize the furniture and/or resist slippage of the legs with respect to the support surface. Another embodiment relates to protective guards which are adapted to secure to equipment, walls, doors, posts or other surfaces to protect them from the impact of or stress from objects or other equipment.

BACKGROUND

Furniture plays a significant role in everyday life. The various uses of furniture, whether in the home or workplace, include the need to store items, display items, or provide other types of work surfaces. Also, various types of commercial furniture, such as display racks and the like are widely used in stores, showrooms, etc.

Certain types of furniture, such as chairs, desks, tables, benches, equipment stands, stools and the like, include a plurality of legs or support members which normally engage a surface to support the furniture thereon. These legs are commonly rigid tubular members of round, oval, square-shaped and rectangular is cross-section. In addition, some designers create openings of other, non-standard shapes into which a protective cap may be installed.

The necessity of having these types of furniture has become commonplace and manufacturers have been able to appeal to consumers' desires by constructing them to have a variety of unique designs and shapes. Most furniture is inherently designed to be a durable commodity so that its owners may enjoy a significant lifetime of use from it.

Where an article of furniture is supported on a floor or other surface, there is the need to avoid damage or abrasion to support surfaces on which legged structures rest. For furniture used indoors, this support surface is typically either carpeting or wooden floors. For outdoor furniture, such as patio furniture, the support surface may be concrete, brick, tile, decking and the like. Regardless of the support surface encountered, one runs the risk that manufacturing imperfections may either scratch or tear the surface; similar damage may occur when the furniture shifts or slides across the surface. Even where no manufacturing defects are present, the presence of a sharp edge on the support leg may damage the support surface.

Another concern is the potential for furniture to slip, particularly when the supporting surface is wood, tile, or vinyl. This is most prevalent for tables, chairs, sofas and the like which experience lateral disturbances in normal use. Slippage can be annoying, causing drinks to spill when a table is bumped, and dangerous when someone's weight is put to bear on a piece furniture and it gives way.

A further concern regards the stability of legged furniture. Either a manufacturing defect has left the legs of unequal length or the furniture is placed on an uneven surface. This results in an undesirable unsteadiness. For furniture which is not normally moved, it is not uncommon for one to place a shim, or its equivalent under one or more of the support legs in order to balance the furniture on the support surface. For seated structures, inadequate leveling can also result in discomfort or injury to the user.

A related concern regards the protection of equipment, sliding door frames or wall surfaces from damage due to impact or vibration transmitted through contact with an object or surface. When zealously opening a sliding door the door frame can severely impact the casing or frame. Similarly, when opening a regular door, the door knob or door stop can impact the wall thus causing damage. Likewise, exercise machines, industrial equipment, etc. can create vibrations and impacts which can damage their support surfaces or the equipment.

In an effort to alleviate these problems, several types of protective devices have been developed, for example, end caps and bumpers. End caps are typically plastic, cup-like devices which are mounted over the foot portion of the leg or, in the case of tubular legs, into the end cavity of the foot. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,680,673 issued to Beshore on Oct. 28, 1997 teaches a protective glide device which is adapted to interface between the cupped foot portion of patio furniture and a support surface to prevent abrasion and stability. U.S. Pat. No. 6,669,153 issued to Allan on Dec. 30, 2003 teaches a furniture foot which is attached to the base of a leg and protects the underlying floor. The device is intended for attachment, via fasteners or adhesives, to furniture legs which are constructed of solid materials. U.S. Pat. No. 6,088,877 issued to Swy et al. on Jul. 18, 2000 teaches a glide attachment plate for furniture legs which provides stability and prevents abrasion but does not prevent slippage.

Bumpers, on the other hand, are typically pads of cushioning material that is of a type to absorb shock forces. Such materials can include felt, rubber (both natural and synthetic), plastic, foamed synthetics, paperboard and the like. In any case, the bumper material may be secured to a surface intended for protection or to the object that may come in contact with the surface. It is also known to mount the bumper material to a support body, such as a piece of plastic material that, in turn, provides a mounting structure for the material to the surface or object.

While all of these prior art devices are advantageous in their own right, there remains a need for an improved protective guard which can be interposed between a foot portion of a legged object and a support surface to provide stability to the legged structure while preventing slippage and unnecessary damage to either the structure or the support surface. There is also a need for a protective guard which can be interposed between two contacting or impacting bodies and act as a bumper or vibration damper to prevent damage from their impact with the contacting surface.

SUMMARY OF THE ASPECTS OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

One aspect of at least some of the exemplary embodiments is to provide a new and useful device for the protecting furniture legs and support surfaces from damaging one another.

It is another aspect of at least some of the exemplary embodiments to provide a device which resists slippage of furniture legs upon support surfaces.

A further aspect of at least some of the exemplary embodiments is to provide a device which aids in stabilizing furniture upon support surfaces.

Still a further aspect of at least some of the exemplary embodiments is to provide a protective guard to act as bumper or vibration damper and reduce the impact of one object against another or otherwise protect against damage between two surfaces.

The present invention broadly concerns protective guards adapted to protect a surface from an object, such as protecting a floor against damage by the leg of an article of furniture or to act as a bumper, for example, between a sliding door and a doorframe. According to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention, the protective guard includes a guard body that has a base portion with a pad cavity on a first side thereof. A pad is disposed in the pad cavity and is secured to the guard body such that a first portion of the pad fills the pad cavity and second portion of the pad protrudes out of the pad cavity.

In the exemplary embodiments, the base portion includes a margin that surrounds the pad cavity, and this margin has a base outer surface that is formed along a first radius of curvature so that the base outer surface is arcuate shape. In one embodiment, the pad has a pad outer surface formed along a second radius of curvature that is generally the same as the first radius of curvature so that the pad outer surface is generally continuous with the base outer surface.

In several of the embodiments, the margin of the base portion that surrounds the pad cavity includes a lip that forms a shoulder, and the base portion includes a shank portion extending on a second side thereof oppositely of the pad cavity. While this shank portion may be solid, in the disclosed embodiments, the shank portion is formed by a wall that surrounds a shank cavity. This shank portion terminates at a chamfered upper edge. The shank is adapted to be forced for a force fit insertion into a tubular member, such as a leg of an article of furniture. In this configuration, an edge portion of the tubular sidewall of the tubular member abuts the shoulder formed by the lip.

The pad may be constructed of a non-slip material, such as polypropylene, thermoplastic elastomere, thermoplastic olephin elastimere and polyvinyl chloride. To this end, also, the pad may be formed of a deformable, resilient material so as to help stabilize the object against a support surface. The pad may nest, in close-fitted relation, in the pad cavity and may be secured to the guard body, for example, by thermal/chemical bonding, mechanical bonding or adhesive bonding. One exemplary embodiment provides for mechanical bonding by forming at least one but preferably a plurality of holes in the base portion. The pad then includes a securing structure that includes a plug extending through the hole and an enlarged securing portion that has dimensions larger than the hole. Where a plurality of holes are provided, a plug extends through each hole. In this embodiment, the enlarged securing portion is a pad backing that joins the plugs to one another. In another embodiment, the enlarged securing portion is a disk-shaped button.

In one embodiment, the protective guard has a mounting element disposed on a second side of the base portion that is opposite the first side thereof. This mounting element is then adapted to secure the guard body to a surface to be protected. The mounting element, for example, may be double sided adhesive tape or one member of a hook and loop fastener. In this disclosed embodiment, the second side of the base portion has a mounting cavity formed therein, and the mounting element is received in the mounting cavity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the end portion of a furniture leg including a protective guard according to a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

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

FIG. 3 is a side view in elevation of the guard of FIG. 2 with an end portion of a furniture leg shown in phantom;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken about lines 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view as in FIG. 4 showing the guard body with the pad removed;

FIG. 6 is a side view in cross-section, similar to FIG. 4, showing a guard according to a second exemplary embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an according to a third exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the guard shown in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken about lines 9-9 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a side view in cross-section, similar to FIGS. 4 and 6, showing a guard according to a fourth exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 11 is a side view, similar to FIG. 3, showing a fifth exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

The present invention concerns protective guards. Some of the exemplary embodiments provide stability to a legged object while at the same time preventing damage to either the legged object or the supporting surface upon which it rests and providing resistance to slippage of the legged object with respect to the support surface. As is known, the guard also helps stabilize the article of furniture. Another embodiment relates to protective guards which are adapted to secure to equipment, walls, doors, posts or other surfaces to protect them from the impact of or stress from objects or other equipment.

A first embodiment of the present invention is therefore shown in FIGS. 1-5. FIG. 1 shows a lower end portion 11 of a leg 10 of a representative article of furniture that has a protective guard 20 mounted thereto. Lower end portion 11 with guard 20 is resting on a support surface 1 6. As shown here, the end portion 11 of the leg 10 is a square, hollow tube including a tubular leg side wall 12 forming a leg cavity 14, although other cross-sectional configurations are certainly possible. The leg wall 1 2 terminates in a leg end edge 13. The leg 10 may be that of a chair, a desk, table, sofa or any other structure which is intended to rest upon a support surface 16.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the guard 20 is shown here and includes a guard body 22 and a pad 24. FIG. 3 shows a side elevational view of the guard 20 and FIGS. 4 and 5 shows a sectional, side view of the guard 20. As can be seen in FIG. 4, the guard body 22 includes a shank 26, a base portion 28, a lip 32 and an outer surface 36.

Still referring to FIG. 4, the shank 26 is formed by a surrounding insert wall 27 that thus defines a shank cavity 30. The insert wall 27 is sized to force fit within the leg cavity 14 of the foot portion of the leg 10 and to ensure that the shank 26 remains inserted within the foot portion 10 during normal usage of the furniture. FIGS. 1, 3 and 4 show the guard 20 inserted into the foot portion of the leg 10. The proximal end of the insert wall 27 is affixed to the base portion 28 and a lip 32 extends outwardly from the base portion 28 to define a shoulder. The lip 32 is sized to cover the edge 13 of the leg end, as can be seen in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, and thus protects the leg end edge 13 from damaging the support surface 16 or vice versa. To facilitate the insertion of the shank 26 into the leg cavity 14, the distal end of the insert wall 27 terminates in an edge 29 which is formed as a chamfer 31. Referring to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4, 5, it can be realized that the protective guard 20 need not include the cavity 30 shown in this embodiment so that it would have a solid shank.

FIG. 5 shows the guard body 22 without the pad 24. Here it can be seen that the base portion 28 has a peripheral margin 31 that includes lip 32, and this margin 31 has a generally curved outer surface 36 which extends outwardly beyond the insert wall 27. The base portion 28 also includes a pad cavity 34 which is sized to receive the pad 24 so that a portion of the pad 24 completely fills pad cavity 34 with another portion protruding out of the pad cavity. In FIG. 2 the pad cavity 34 and pad 24 are shown to be of a shape geometrically similar to the shape of the cross-section of the foot portion 10. However, one skilled in the art can realize that other shapes can be employed. The guard body 22 is an integral one-piece molding using a rigid, impact-resistant material which can include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, high density polyethylene or polypropylene, among others.

As seen in FIG. 1, the pad 24 rests upon the support surface 16 and transfers the load of the end portion 10 through the guard body 22 to the support surface 16. The pad 24 is constructed of a soft, non-slip material which can include polypropylene, thermoplastic elastomer, thermoplastic olefin elastomer or polyvinyl chloride, among others. Some of these materials may be selected for their excellent resistance to wear. The pad 24 may be sized and constructed of a material soft enough and resilient enough to conform to uneven support surfaces 16 to provide stability and slip-resistance for the furniture. Thus the material could be a deformable, resilient material.

The pad 24 may be affixed to the guard body 22 in a variety of means. The first embodiment in FIGS. 1-5 shows the cap 24 affixed to the guard body 22 by a “two-shot” injection molding manufacturing process as is known in the art. Here, the two materials are bonded by a thermal/chemical process. This is by no means the only way in which to join the guard body 22 and pad 24. For example, they may be joined by adhesives or by mechanical bonding structures, such as, rivets, screws and bolts, or as described below.

With reference to FIG. 6, a second embodiment of the protective guard 120, shows the guard body 122 and pad 124 mechanically joined wherein the pad 124 is affixed to the guard body 122 by a securing structure that includes fingers in the form of plugs 142 and an enlarged securing portion in the form of a pad backing 140 that is integrally molded with plugs 142. Plugs 142, affixed to the pad 124 and backing 140 protrude through base portion holes 144 within the base portion 128. In this embodiment, the pad 124, plugs 142 and pad backing 140 are integrally formed by injection molding the selected pad material into the guard body 122 thus creating the defined geometry of the pad 124.

Another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 7-9. Here the protective guard 220 is configured to be received by a circular foot portion of a furniture leg. As in the previous embodiments, the guard 220 includes a guard body 222 and a pad 224. Also similar to the other embodiments, the insert wall 227 of the shank 226 is formed to force fit within the circular cavity of the foot portion. As seen in FIG. 8 the pad 224 is circular in shape and concentric with the guard body 222. Referring to FIG. 9, the pad 224 is affixed to the base portion 228 by a securing structure in the form of plugs 242 which extend through base portion holes 244 and which terminate in enlarged, disc-shaped buttons 246, sized to be larger than the base portion holes 244 to prevent the pad 224 from being removed from the guard body 222. Similar to the second embodiment, the pad 224, plugs 242 and buttons 246 may be formed by injection molding the material within the guard body 222. It should also be appreciated that the pad 224 can also be affixed to the guard body 222 by either of the means discussed in the first two embodiments.

As seen in FIG. 9, the pad 224 has an outer pad surface 250 which is curved at a selected radius to produce a surface generally continuous with the radius of curvature of the base portion outer surface 236. In this manner there is less likelihood of the pad 224 catching on any imperfections in or roughness of the support surface thus causing the pad 224 to mechanically peel from the guard body 222. One skilled in the art can appreciate that the pads 24 and 124 found in the previous two embodiments, respectively, can also be similarly curved to prevent the same mechanical peeling effect.

Yet another means of affixing the pad to the guard body is shown in FIG. 10. In this embodiment, the protective guard 320, guard body 322 and pad 324 are similar to those discussed in the first embodiment. Here, however, the pad 324 is affixed to the base portion 328 with an adhesive 360. The adhesive 360 can be of a number of commercially available types selected to adequately bond the pad 324 to the guard body 322.

A further embodiment of the present invention, shown in FIG. 11, involves the use of the protective guard 420 as an impact and vibration absorbing bumper. Here, and similar to the previous embodiments, the guard 420 includes a pad 424 and a base portion 426. In this embodiment, the base portion 426 is of a solid shape with a planar rear surface 442 and extends as a continuation of arcuate surface 436. Affixed to the rear surface 442 is a mounting element 440 which can be double-stick adhesive tape, one member of a cooperative hook-and-loop fastener, or other materials known within the art which can serve to adhere the rear surface 442 to a wall, door frame or other surface. A mounting cavity 444 may also be placed within the rear surface 442 for positioning and mounting of the mounting element 440. The pad 424 is constructed of a soft, flexible material of the types mentioned previously for pad 24 in the first embodiment.

The various features of the different embodiments may be incorporated into any of the embodiments. This includes, for example, the shape of the guard body, the means for attaching the pad and the curvature of the lip and pad. One skilled in the art also can realize that the guard body 20, 120, 220, 320 or 420 can be sized and shaped to attach to a variety of cross-sectional shapes of furniture legs and other mounting fixtures including, but not limited to: rectangular, triangular, polyhedral, and elliptical. It should also be appreciated that the shape of the pad 24, 124, 224, 324, and 424 can also be of a variety and is not limited to those shown herein.

Accordingly, the embodiments of present invention has been described with some degree of. It should be appreciated, though, that modifications or changes may be made to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention without departing from the inventive concepts contained herein.