Title:
Adaptable ceiling tile system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adaptable ceiling tile structure and a suspended ceiling system utilizing such ceiling tiles is disclosed. The basic ceiling tiles include a peripheral frame surrounding a single primary opening. A cover layer, such as a fabric or scrim may be stretched across the opening and attached to the frame with a support surface defining the primary plane of the cover layer and an offset portion defining a peripheral recess. The ceiling tile may be customized with premanufactured trim pieces that include end portions configured for insertion into the peripheral recess and an intermediate portion that can be attached to the cover layer. Once the trim piece is in place, a portion of the peripheral frame and the cover layer can be removed, typically by cutting, to complete the customized ceiling tile.



Inventors:
Howard, Meghan L. (Gahanna, OH, US)
Hilfiker, Daniel J. (Baraboo, WI, US)
Mears, Ronald R. (Baraboo, WI, US)
Wegner, Brian K. (Sun Prairie, WI, US)
Steffen, Wayne L. (Lavalle, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/047313
Publication Date:
08/17/2006
Filing Date:
01/31/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B9/00; E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GLESSNER, BRIAN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OWENS CORNING (GRANVILLE, OH, US)
Claims:
1. An adaptable ceiling tile system comprising: a ceiling tile comprising a peripheral frame defining a single primary opening, the peripheral frame configured to provide a support surface and an offset surface; and a cover layer extending across the opening and onto the support surface, the cover layer cooperating with the offset surface to form a recess.

2. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, wherein: the cover layer is attached to the peripheral frame by one or more fastening methods selected from a group consisting of adhering, stapling, welding, crimping, pressing, retaining and stitching.

3. (canceled)

4. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, wherein: the peripheral frame is configured to allow deflection of the offset surface in a direction away from the cover layer.

5. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, wherein: the cover layer is a scrim (veil); and the peripheral frame is a polymeric composition.

6. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 5, wherein: the polymeric composition includes a reinforcing structure.

7. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, wherein: the peripheral frame includes a mounting surface, the mounting surface being offset from the supporting surface.

8. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, wherein: the peripheral frame includes a recess adjacent the supporting surface, the recess configured for receiving a retainer element for fixing the cover layer to the peripheral frame.

9. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, further comprising: a retaining structure extending in a direction substantially perpendicular to that of the cover layer; and an access opening provided in the peripheral frame for deflecting the retaining structure.

10. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 1, further comprising: a retaining structure extending in a direction substantially perpendicular to that of the cover layer; and a deflection element configured whereby movement of the deflection element will deflect the retaining structure.

11. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 7, further comprising: an extended portion of the peripheral frame for reducing the apparent separation between adjacent ceiling tiles.

12. (canceled)

13. A method of preparing a custom ceiling tile having a reduced opening comprising: obtaining a base ceiling tile, the base ceiling tile comprising a peripheral frame defining a single primary opening, the peripheral frame configured to provide a support surface and an offset surface, a cover layer extending across the opening and onto the support surface, the cover layer cooperating with the offset surface to form a recess; determining the necessary modifications to the primary opening required to produce the reduced opening; configuring a trim element for producing the reduced opening; inserting a portion of the trim element into the recess and attaching a contact surface to the cover layer to define a reduced periphery; and removing portions of the peripheral frame and cover layer that extend beyond the reduced periphery.

14. A method of preparing a custom ceiling tile having a reduced opening according to claim 13, wherein: the trim element is selected from standard configurations selected from a group consisting of straight, angled and curved trim elements.

15. A method of preparing a custom ceiling tile having a reduced opening according to claim 13, wherein: the trim element is selected from standard configurations selected from a group consisting of straight, right angle and arcuate trim elements.

16. A ceiling tile installation system comprising: a suspended grid configured for supporting a plurality of base ceiling tiles and a custom ceiling tile; base ceiling tiles having a regular polygonal shape periphery defined by a peripheral frame defining a single primary opening, the peripheral frame configured to provide a support surface and an offset surface, a cover layer extending across the opening and onto the support surface, the cover layer cooperating with the off-set surface to form a recess; and the custom ceiling tile having an irregular periphery formed by modifying a base ceiling tile by configuring a trim element and inserting a portion of the trim element into the recess and attaching a contact surface of the trim element to the cover layer to define the irregular periphery and removing portions of the peripheral frame and cover layer that extend beyond the irregular periphery to form the custom ceiling tile.

17. A ceiling tile installation system according to claim 16, further comprising: retaining structures provided on the ceiling tiles, the retaining structures cooperating with the suspended grid to maintain the position of installed ceiling tiles.

18. A ceiling tile installation system according to claim 17, wherein: openings are provided in the peripheral frames of the ceiling tiles for accessing and releasing the retaining structures to allow for ceiling tile removal.

19. A ceiling tile installation system according to claim 16, wherein: the peripheral frame have an extended portion configured for concealing a portion of the suspended grid and reducing an observed spacing between adjacent tiles.

20. An adaptable ceiling tile system comprising: a ceiling tile comprising a peripheral frame defining a single primary opening, the peripheral frame configured to provide a support surface and an offset surface; and a cover layer extending across the opening and onto the support surface, the cover layer cooperating with the offset surface to form a recess; and a trim element having a portion configured for insertion into the recess to define a reduced opening and a contact surface that can be attached to the cover layer.

21. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 20, wherein: the offset surface includes projecting structures for retaining the inserted portion of the trim element.

22. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 20, further comprising: a stop element extending from the offset surface toward the cover layer for limiting the movement of the portion of the trim element into the recess.

23. An adaptable ceiling tile system according to claim 20, wherein: the cover layer is a scrim (veil); and the peripheral frame is a polymeric composition.

Description:

Related patent application Ser. No. 10/749,085, filed Dec. 30, 2003, entitled “Ceiling Tile” is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirerity.

TECHNICAL FIELD AND INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The present invention generally relates to suspended ceilings having a plurality of ceiling tiles supported by a structural grid and, more specifically, to an improved suspended ceiling system incorporating improved ceiling tiles that may be more easily adapted for fitting around other structures and obstructions during the installation of a suspended ceiling.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A number of different systems and structures have been developed for providing a drop or suspended ceiling in a room. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, suspended ceilings are spaced from a primary overhead structure such as ceiling joists or the underside of a reinforced concrete structure for establishing a substantially level and more aesthetically-pleasing ceiling for a finished space. Suspended ceiling provide improved flexibility for finishing a space over ceiling systems that are mounted directly to the primary overhead structure or furring strips or other attachment regions provided on the primary overhead structure. Suspended ceilings generally comprise a plurality of individual ceiling tiles with the individual tiles typically having a rectangular or square shape.

The composition of the individual ceiling tiles utilized in such systems have also been manufactured from many different materials such as pressed fibrous materials or synthetic polymers and synthetic resins that may be cast to form the tile body. The ceiling tiles may also be produced with at least one embossed or textured surface for improving the aesthetic appearance and/or improved sound absorption. An alternative type of ceiling tiles may be manufactured using a combination of a frame and a cover layer provided on and supported by the frame. One conventional construction of a ceiling tile incorporating a frame and a cover layer is illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2A and 2B.

Conventional suspending ceiling systems typically use a track system or grid assembly for supporting the individual tiles. It will be appreciated that proper installation of the ceiling tiles, the grid assembly and tiles will typically be configured to within a relatively narrow range of geometrical requirements. A conventional assembly will be configured so that the exposed faces of the ceiling tiles generally lie in a single plane and will be arranged in orderly arrays of rows and columns with some configurations providing for alternating rows or columns that may be offset from the adjacent columns by a predetermined uniform distance. In any event, the ceiling tiles are generally arranged such that a uniform pattern is created.

In addition, suspending ceiling systems must provide one or more methods for adapting the grid assembly and the ceiling tiles to accommodate obstructions or other alterations in the profile of the ceiling space at, for example, corners, pipes, ducts, pillars and the like, as well as around the perimeter of the ceiling space. In one conventional suspended ceiling system, a wall angle molding is attached around the inside perimeter of the walls at the height determined for the grid assembly. The grid assembly is then constructed using inverted “T-shaped” elements that are aligned with and attached to the wall angle molding. In most instances the grid elements are fabricated of metal and must be cut with tin snips, nibblers, metal saws or other suitable cutting instruments with any residual burrs and sharp edges being filed off before installation.

Conventional suspended ceiling construction systems utilizing suspended “T-bar” and/or “Z-bar” elements to form the grid for supporting the ceiling tiles have certain drawbacks including the exposed portions of the supporting grid element flanges that can tend to decrease the aesthetic qualities of the installed ceiling. Although this drawback may be addressed, at least in part, by using finished metal surfaces, there is an associated increase in the manufacturing costs. Various concealed grid assembly T-bar structures have developed for addressing this issue, but many of these solutions introduce other complications including ceiling tiles that are not easily removable and may require that one or more ceiling tiles be broken to gain access to the space above the suspending ceiling. Other designs incorporate additional latching and/or pivoting structures that allow one or more key tiles to be shifted or rotated from an installed position to an “open” position to provide access to the space above the ceiling.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Described herein is an adaptable ceiling tile utilizing that may be incorporated in a ceiling tile system. The basic ceiling tiles include a peripheral frame surrounding a single primary opening with the peripheral frame configured to provide a main portion providing a support surface and an offset portion providing an offset surface. A cover layer, such as a woven or non-woven fabric or a scrim may be stretched across the opening and attached to the frame with the support surface generally defining the plane of the portion of the cover layer that extends over the opening.

A peripheral recess will be formed between the cover layer and the offset surface of the frame. The ceiling tile may then be customized or adapted using one or more premanufactured trim pieces that include end portions configured for insertion into the peripheral recess and an intermediate portion that can be attached to and provide support for an underlying portion of the cover layer. Once the trim piece is in place, a portion of the peripheral frame and the cover layer can be removed, typically by cutting, to complete the customized ceiling tile which incorporates the trim piece as a portion of the modified tile periphery.

The trim pieces may be provided in a range of standard configurations including straight, curved or angled configurations so that the ceiling tiles can be easily adapted by installers to accommodate a wide range of obstructions such as pipes, columns, etc., that may interrupt the profile of the suspended ceiling.

As will be described in more detail below, the peripheral frame utilized in the ceiling tiles may be provided in a wide range of configurations. In one exemplary embodiment, the peripheral frame may include an extended portion for concealing at least a portion of the lower surface of the supporting grid and reducing the apparent spacing between adjacent ceiling tiles. The peripheral frame may also incorporate one or more of a variety of releasable retaining structures or elements that provide temporary attachment of the ceiling tile to the supporting grid.

The features and advantages of the present suspended ceiling system and adaptable ceiling tiles generally described above will become more apparent from the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments of the invention and the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent by describing in detail exemplary embodiments thereof with reference to the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a conventional ceiling tile construction;

FIGS. 2A and 2B are cross-sectional views of conventional ceiling tile construction taken along line A-A′ of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 3A and 3B are a plan view and cross-sectional view along line A-A′ of an exemplary ceiling tile construction according to the present invention;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are a plan view and cross-sectional view along line A-A′ of an exemplary ceiling tile construction generally corresponding to FIGS. 3A and 3B to which a trim piece has been added;

FIGS. 5A and 5B are a plan view and cross-sectional view along line A-A′ of an exemplary ceiling tile construction generally corresponding to FIGS. 4A and 4B on which a portion of the original tile has been removed to prepare a customized ceiling tile;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are plan views of other exemplary customized ceiling tile configurations in which a portion of the original tile has been removed to prepare a customized ceiling tile;

FIGS. 7A and 7B are cross-sectional views of other exemplary ceiling tile configurations illustrating exemplary configurations for supporting the ceiling tiles from a supporting frame or grid;

FIGS. 8A-8F are cross-sectional views of other exemplary ceiling tile configurations; and

FIGS. 9A-9C are cross-sectional views of other exemplary ceiling tile configurations illustrating exemplary configurations for accommodating the insertion of a trim piece for preparing a customized ceiling tile.

These drawings have been provided to assist in the understanding of the exemplary embodiments of the invention as described in more detail below and should not be construed as unduly limiting the invention. In particular, the relative spacing, positioning, sizing and dimensions of the various elements illustrated in the drawings are not drawn to scale and may have been exaggerated, reduced or otherwise modified for the purpose of improved clarity.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will also appreciate that a range of alternative configurations have been omitted simply to improve the clarity and reduce the number of drawings. Similarly, those of ordinary skill will appreciate that certain of the various structural elements illustrated in the exemplary embodiments shown in FIGS. 2A-9C may be selectively and independently combined to form other configurations for preparing a ceiling tile configuration tailored specifically for an intended application.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

As illustrated in FIG. 1, a conventional ceiling tile construction 10 may include a peripheral frame 12a with a plurality of spokes or cross-members 12b that extend between sections of the peripheral frame. The cross-members 12b tend to divide the cover layer 14 into a series of openings and when cut along, for example, line A-A′, will leave unsupported portions of the cover layer along the periphery of the customized ceiling tile. As illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the cross-members may have a generally uniform cross-section, FIG. 2A or may have a hollow (not shown), “T”-shaped (not shown) or a channel, FIG. 2B, configuration.

An exemplary ceiling tile 100 according to the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 3A and includes a peripheral frame 102 surrounding a single opening and a cover layer 104 extending across the opening and attached to the peripheral frame. As illustrated in FIG. 3B, a cross-sectional view along line A-A′ of FIG. 3A, the peripheral frame 102 may be attached to the cover layer 104 using an adhesive layer 106 or other suitable attachment means such as stitching, welding, stapling, crimping, pressing, retaining, clipping or other mechanical and/or frictional attachments (not shown). The cross-sectional configuration of the frame may have an “S” or “Z” configuration, or may utilize a more complex configuration, that includes an inwardly extending offset portion of the peripheral frame 102 that, in combination with the cover layer 104 or another protruding portion of the frame (not shown), forms a peripheral recess 103.

As illustrated in FIG. 4A, an exemplary ceiling tile 100 may be modified using a trim element or piece 108 that extends from one portion of the peripheral frame 102 to another portion of the peripheral frame and extends at least partially into the recess 103 at both ends. As illustrated in FIG. 4B, the trim element 108 will typically be attached to the portion of the cover layer 104 that is covered by the trim element with an adhesive layer 110. Premanufactured trim elements 108 may include a double-sided adhesive tape with a cover layer that is removed before application to expose an adhesive surface. The adhesive layer 110 may also be field-applied and may or may not be continuous, but the adhesive means utilized will preferably be one that will not degrade the appearance of the exposed surface of the cover layer 104, i.e., will not discolor, seep or be extruded through the cover layer during application or during the anticipated useful life of the customized ceiling tile.

As illustrated in FIG. 5A, once the trim element 108 is in place and attached to at least a portion of the underlying region of the cover layer 104, a portion of the peripheral frame 102 and the cover layer can be removed with the remaining portion of the peripheral frame 102a and the trim element defining the periphery of the modified or customized ceiling tile 100a. As illustrated in FIG. 5B, the trim element 108 and the adhesive layer 110 can provide substantially continuous support for the cut edge of the remaining portion of the cover layer 104a, thus reducing sagging or wrinkling that would tend to degrade the appearance of the remaining portion of the ceiling tile 100a.

As illustrated in FIG. 6A, the trim element 108 may be configured for customizing a ceiling tile 100a for placement around a generally rectangular obstruction. The trim element 108 may be formed by attaching two straight trim elements, as illustrated in FIG. 5A, with mitered (shown), butt, overlapping or other attachment at the intersection of the two trim elements. Similarly, premanufactured trim elements defining one or more common angles, such as 30°, 45°, 60° or 90°, to reduce the need for and/or to simplify the field assembly of more complex trim elements for customizing the ceiling tiles. As illustrated in FIG. 6B, premanufactured trim elements 108 may be provided in curved, circular or arcuate configurations having an assortment of radii to reduce the need for and/or to simplify the field assembly of customized ceiling tiles for accommodating pipes, columns or other obstructions having a generally cylindrical or rounded surface.

As illustrated in FIG. 7A, exemplary ceiling tiles 100 according to the invention may be laid in a supporting structure or grid formed from a plurality of supporting members 200 that provide a supporting flange 202 on which an edge of the ceiling tile can rest. In the configuration illustrated in FIG. 7A, the supporting flange 202 has a surface 202a that is completely exposed when the ceiling tiles 100 are in place. As also illustrated in FIG. 7A, the end portion of trim element 108 may also be provided with a recess 109 that allows it to engage the offset portion of the peripheral frame 102 and thereby reinforce the attachment. FIG. 7A also illustrates both the optional use of a lower inwardly protruding portion of the peripheral frame 102 to form at least portion of the recess, thereby providing additional mechanical support for the end portion of the trim element 108, and the use of reinforced regions 108a provided on appropriate surfaces of the trim element that may, for example, improve the strength, durability and/or dimensional control of the ends of the trim elements.

As illustrated in FIG. 7B, the peripheral frame 102 can be provided with extended portions 102c that extend across and below a portion of the exposed surface of the supporting flange 202. The peripheral frame can also be provided with resilient or otherwise biased retaining elements or members 112 that project generally upwardly from the peripheral frame and are configured for removably attaching the ceiling tile to the supporting grid. The retaining elements 112 may be configured to allow deflection or rotation, about either a horizontal or a vertical axis, between an attached position and a released position 112a to allow insertion and removal of the ceiling tile from the supporting grid.

Openings may be provided in the peripheral frame 102 for inserting a tool or a finger through the frame to contact and deflect the retaining element 112. The openings may, in turn, be concealed using a plug or an insert 102d for concealing the openings until needed. As an alternative to the openings, the peripheral frame 102 may incorporate a simple mechanism 116 for deflecting the retaining element 112 through actuation of an exposed button, slide, tab, fastener or other structure. As also illustrated in FIG. 7B, the peripheral frame may incorporate projections 102b, which may extend from the extended portion 102c of the peripheral frame and may be positioned below and/or spaced inwardly from the supporting flange 202. As with the openings, a plug or cover element may be provided for concealing the exposed portion of the mechanism until access is needed for actuation.

As illustrated in FIG. 8A, an exemplary ceiling tile according to the invention will tend to include certain structural elements and dimensions that may be adapted as necessary to provide the strength and sizing appropriate for an intended application. As indicated in FIG. 8A, the offset portion of the frame may have a characteristic length F and thickness TO and be separated from the cover layer 104 by a recess height D. The supporting portion of the frame may have a characteristic length B and thickness TS with the supporting portion of the frame and the offset portion of the frame being separated by a transitional or intermediate portion of length I.

As illustrated in FIG. 8B, the peripheral frame 102 may be provided with one or more recesses 118 into which a corresponding attachment element 120 may be inserted or snapped to secure the cover layer 104 to the frame and/or improve the aesthetic appearance of the ceiling tile.

As illustrated in FIG. 8C, the peripheral frame 102 may be provided with one or more reinforcing members 122 for increasing the strength and/or rigidity of the peripheral frame, thereby decreasing the quantity of material, typically a polymeric material, needed to obtain the desired strength and/or dimensions. Further, although, as illustrated in FIG. 7A, the support surface, with or without a portion of the cover layer 104 can rest on the supporting flange 202, as illustrated in FIGS. 8C-8E, the peripheral frame 102 may be provided with an extended portion to provide a mounting surface 124 that is offset from the supporting surface, allowing the cover layer 104 to be positioned at different levels, i.e., above or below, relative to the supporting flange.

As illustrated in FIGS. 8E and 8F, although the primary plane of the cover layer 104 will typically be defined by the supporting surface(s) of the peripheral frame 102, or a modified peripheral frame 102a and one or more trim elements 108, the cover layer 104 may include an additional peripheral portion 104b that extends beyond the support surface and can be attached to the peripheral frame along one or more remote surfaces 102e that are offset from the support surface. These configurations allow the cover layer to conceal more of the peripheral frame and may be used to improve the appearance of the ceiling panel.

As illustrated in FIG. 9A, an exemplary embodiment of a customized ceiling panel will include an end portion of a trim element 108 that extends into the recess defined between the offset portion of the peripheral frame 102 and the cover layer 104 and may be attached to the cover layer using an adhesive layer 110. As illustrated in FIG. 9B, the basic embodiment of FIG. 9A may be modified to incorporate stopping structures 126 for controlling the depth of the insertion of the trim element into the recess 103 and projecting structures such as teeth or ridges 128 for improving the retention of the trim element within the recess. As illustrated in FIG. 9C, the basic embodiment of FIG. 9A may also be modified to include a weakened or more resilient portion 130 that will allow the projecting portion of the offset portion of the peripheral frame 102 to be deflected to increase the sizing of the recess to simplify insertion of the end portion of the trim element 108 after which the offset portion can return to its original position.

Although the invention has been described in connection with certain exemplary embodiments, it will be evident to those of ordinary skill in the art that many alternatives, modifications, and variations may be made to the disclosed structures and methods in a manner consistent with the detailed description provided above. In particular, it will be appreciated that although the cover layer has generally been described as a single element, the invention may be adapted to incorporate a plurality of cover layers, that may be the same or different, to allow the designer, engineer or user to adapt one or more properties of the ceiling tile, such as appearance, strength, opacity and/or acoustical performance. When more than one cover layer is included, one or more of the layers may be attached, adjacent or separated configurations relative to any adjacent layer(s). When more than one cover layer is included, the cover layers may be in a generally parallel orientation or one or more of the cover layers may have a more complex configurations, such as corrugations or catenary portions suspended between supporting elements. Also, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that certain aspects of the various disclosed exemplary embodiments could be used in combination with aspects of any of the other disclosed embodiments or their alternatives to produce additional, but not herein illustrated, embodiments incorporating the claimed invention but more closely adapted for an intended use or performance requirements. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.