Title:
Extruded protective railing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective railing system includes at least two extruded posts, two post-mounted extruded brackets, and at least one extruded rail. The rail can be selectively installed with infinite adjustability both vertically and rotationally. Each post includes an outer tube and an inner tube with reinforcing ribs extending between the two. To secure the post to a floor, a floor-mounted anchor extends up into the inner tube. The anchor and inner tube are preferably rectangular to restrict relative rotation between the post and the anchor. When two or more rails are installed between two posts, the two rails can be interlocked, or the rails can be spaced apart to support a spacer therebetween. In some cases, the spacer is a sign or a fabric mesh.



Inventors:
Maly, Paul (Mequon, WI, US)
Miller, Jason D. (Monmouth, IA, US)
Grant, Donald P. (Dubuque, IA, US)
Gallenberger, Mike (Thiensville, WI, US)
Anderson, Daniel M. (Oak Creek, WI, US)
Krueger, Scott (Mukwonago, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/141870
Publication Date:
12/07/2006
Filing Date:
06/01/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B21F27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AMIRI, NAHID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HANLEY, FLIGHT & ZIMMERMAN, LLC (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A protective railing system, comprising: a plurality of posts at least one of which is a plastic hollow post having a post height and a post cross-sectional area, wherein the post cross-sectional area is extrudably uniform along most of the post height; a first plastic hollow rail having a rail length and a rail cross-sectional area, wherein the rail cross-sectional area is extrudably uniform along most of the rail length; a bracket having a bracket height and a bracket cross-sectional area, wherein the bracket cross-sectional area is extrudably uniform along most of the bracket height; and a plurality of fasteners for maintaining the plastic hollow post, the first plastic hollow rail and the bracket in a substantially fixed relationship to each other such that the plastic hollow post and the bracket are substantially parallel to each other with respect to the post height and the bracket height, and the first plastic hollow rail is substantially perpendicular to the plastic hollow post with respect to the post height and the rail length, wherein the plurality of fasteners can be selectively installed to help support the first plastic hollow rail selectively at one of an infinite plurality of elevations along the plastic hollow post.

2. The protective railing system of claim 1, wherein the bracket extends along most of the post length when the bracket is attached to the plastic hollow post.

3. The protective railing system of claim 1, wherein the plastic hollow post is substantially cylindrical.

4. The protective railing system of claim 1, wherein the plastic hollow post comprises an outer tube, an inner tube, and a plurality of ribs extending therebetween.

5. The protective railing system of claim 4, further comprising a floor anchor extending up into the inner tube.

6. The protective railing system of claim 4, wherein the inner tube and the floor anchor each have a substantially rectangular cross-sectional area.

7. The protective railing system of claim 3, wherein the bracket comprises a channel for receiving the first plastic hollow rail and a concave surface for engaging the plastic hollow post.

8. The protective railing system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of fasteners is hidden between the first plastic hollow rail and the bracket when the protective railing system is assembled.

9. The protective railing system of claim 1, wherein the first plastic hollow rail defines an interlockable channel that extends completely along the rail length.

10. The protective railing system of claim 9, further comprising a rail coupler adapted to engage the interlockable channel to couple the first plastic hollow rail to a second plastic hollow rail.

11. The protective railing system of claim 10, wherein the rail coupler maintains the first plastic hollow rail and the second plastic hollow rail in a spaced-apart relationship to each other.

12. The protective railing system of claim 1, further comprising a second plastic hollow rail, wherein the plurality of fasteners when installed maintains the first plastic hollow rail and the second plastic hollow rail in a parallel, spaced-apart relationship to each other, whereby the first plastic hollow rail and the second plastic hollow rail define a gap therebetween.

13. The protective railing system of claim 12, further comprising a spacer that overlies the gap.

14. The protective railing system of claim 13, wherein the spacer is a sign.

15. The protective railing system of claim 13, wherein the spacer is pliable.

16. The protective railing system of claim 12, further comprising a third plastic hollow rail interposed between the first plastic hollow rail and the second plastic hollow rail.

17. The protective railing system of claim 1, further comprising a second plastic hollow rail that interlocks with the first plastic hollow rail and is substantially parallel therewith.

18. The protective railing system of claim 1, further comprising an elongate reinforcing member disposed inside the first plastic hollow rail.

19. The protective railing system of claim 1, further comprising an elongate electrical conductor disposed inside the first plastic hollow rail.

20. A protective railing system, comprising: a first floor anchor; a first plastic hollow post that includes a first outer tube, a first inner tube, and a first plurality of ribs extending therebetween, wherein the first floor anchor extends upward into the first inner tube; a second floor anchor; a second plastic hollow post at a spaced-apart distance from the first plastic hollow post, wherein the second plastic hollow post includes a second outer tube, a second inner tube, and a second plurality of ribs extending therebetween, wherein the second floor anchor extends upward into the second inner tube; and a first plastic hollow rail extending between the first plastic hollow post and the second plastic hollow post, wherein the first plastic hollow rail has a rail cross-sectional area that is substantially uniform along most of the spaced-apart distance.

21. The protective railing system of claim 20, wherein the first outer tube and the second outer tube are substantially cylindrical, and the first inner tube and the second inner tube are substantially rectangular.

22. The protective railing system of claim 20, further comprising an elongate bracket having an extrudable cross-sectional area and being attached vertically lengthwise to the first plastic hollow post, wherein the elongate bracket includes a channel for receiving the first plastic hollow rail.

23. A protective railing system, comprising: a first floor anchor; a first plastic hollow post that includes a first outer tube, a first inner tube, and a first plurality of ribs extending therebetween, wherein the first plastic hollow post has a first post height and the first floor anchor extends upward into the first inner tube; a second floor anchor; a second plastic hollow post that includes a second outer tube, a second inner tube, and a second plurality of ribs extending therebetween, wherein the second plastic hollow post has a second post height and the second floor anchor extends upward into the second inner tube; a first bracket fastened to the first plastic hollow post and extending along most of the first post height, wherein the first bracket includes a first channel; a second bracket fastened to the second plastic hollow post and extending along most of the second post height, wherein the second bracket includes a second channel; a first plastic hollow rail extending into the first channel and the second channel and having a rail length and a rail cross-sectional area, wherein the rail cross-sectional area is substantially uniform along most of the rail length; and a plurality of fasteners maintaining the first plastic rail in a substantially fixed relationship with the first plastic hollow post, the second plastic hollow post, the first bracket and the second bracket in a substantially fixed relationship to each other such that the first plastic hollow rail is substantially perpendicular to the first plastic hollow post and the second plastic hollow post, wherein the plurality of fasteners can be selectively installed to help support the first plastic hollow rail at one of an infinite plurality of elevations.

Description:

FIELD OF DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure generally relates to protective railings and, more specifically, to an assembly of extruded components that are infinitely configurable.

BACKGROUND

There are a wide variety of barriers, fences, guardrails and handrails currently available for industrial, commercial and residential applications. Although reconfigurable light-duty systems have been developed for directing and restricting pedestrian traffic, heavy-duty industrial systems are usually more permanently installed because their component parts tend to be heavier for impact resistance. Nonetheless, there is a need for a protective railing system having component parts that are sufficiently light to be reconfigured to meet a particular installation's various requirements. Such requirements may include impact resistance, floor layout, visibility, and rail height, all of which may change from one installation to another. Also, it may be desirable to have a protective railing that can be readily removed to temporarily clear a path that is otherwise obstructed by the railing.

SUMMARY

In some embodiments, a protective railing system includes an extruded post, an extruded bracket, and an extruded rail that can be selectively installed at an infinite number of elevations along the height of the post.

In some embodiments, the protective railing includes a post that is readily removable from a floor anchor without the need for tools.

In some embodiments, the position of a rail relative to a post is infinitely adjustable both vertically and circumferentially.

In some embodiments, an extruded rail-supporting bracket extends along most of the length of a port.

In some embodiments, the extruded post is cylindrical.

In some embodiments, the post includes an outer tube and an inner tube with ribs extending therebetween.

In some embodiments, a floor anchor extends up into the inner tube to support the post.

In some embodiments, the inner tube is substantially square.

In some embodiments, the extruded bracket has a curved surface for engaging the cylindrical post and a channel for engaging one or more rails.

In some embodiments, a fastener for attaching the bracket to the post is generally hidden between the rail and the bracket.

In some embodiments, two rails each have an interlockable channel for interconnecting the two rails or for supporting a panel, sign, or other type of spacer between two rails.

In some embodiments, two rails support a pliable sheet or screen therebetween.

In some embodiments, the protective railing system includes a set of rails that run horizontally to provide a barrier that can withstand greater impact than if the rails were to be installed in a vertical orientation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view a protective railing system.

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional top view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view similar to FIG. 1 but showing the rail's vertical adjustability.

FIG. 4 is a top view a protective railing system showing the system's layout configurability and rotational adjustability.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a rail/post/bracket assembly with a readily removable rail, wherein a front half of the bracket is cutaway to show detail that would otherwise be hidden.

FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 5 but showing another embodiment.

FIG. 7 is similar to FIGS. 5 and 6 but showing another embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a front view similar to FIG. 1 but showing two spaced-apart rails mounted between two posts.

FIG. 9 is a front view similar to FIG. 1 but showing two adjoining rails mounted between two posts.

FIG. 10 is a front view similar to FIG. 1 but showing three spaced-apart rails mounted between two posts.

FIG. 11 is a front view similar to FIG. 1 but showing six rails mounted between two posts.

FIG. 12 is an exploded end view of two rails about to be connected by a rail coupler.

FIG. 13 is an end view of two rails connected by a rail coupler.

FIG. 14 is an end view of two rails with a spacer inserted between the two.

FIG. 15 is a front view of the two rails of FIG. 14 supported between two posts.

FIG. 16 is a front view of a fabric mesh installed between two spaced-apart rails.

FIG. 17 is an exploded perspective view of a post assembly.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a post assembly mounted to a floor anchor.

FIG. 19 is an exploded top view of a post assembly.

FIG. 20 is a front view of FIG. 19.

FIG. 21 is a top view of an assembled post assembly.

FIG. 22 is a front view of FIG. 21

FIG. 23 is an exploded cross-sectional end view of a rail assembly.

FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional end view of an assembled rail assembly.

FIG. 25 is a front view of a protective railing system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A protective railing system 10, shown in FIGS. 1-4, includes at least one rail 12 whose installation position relative to at least one post 14 is infinitely adjustable both vertically (arrows 16 and 18 of FIG. 3) and rotationally (arrow 20 of FIG. 4). Moreover, post 14 and rail 12 can be cut to any desired length. Thus, protective railing system 10 can be customized and universally applied to a wide variety of installations.

To maximize the protective railing system's strength-to-weight ratio, post 14 and rail 12 are hollow with internal reinforcing ribs (e.g., ribs 24 of FIG. 2, and ribs 26 of FIG. 12). To minimize manufacturing costs, post 14, rail 12, and an interconnecting bracket 28 have an extrudably uniform cross-sectional area so that the part can be extruded of PVC or some other extrudable material. The term, “extrudably uniform” refers to a part that could be extruded even though the part may have been made by a process other than extrusion or may have a surface texture or some cross-drilled holes that could be added after the part was extruded. Extrudably uniform does not necessarily mean that the part has a perfectly uniform cross-sectional area or that it was even extruded.

Protective railing system 10 also includes a floor anchor 30 for securing post 14 to a floor 32. In some embodiments, floor anchor 30 comprises a standard-size 1-inch or 1.25-inch square steel tube 34 welded to a base plate 36 that can be bolted to the floor. Tube 34 can be ten inches long or some other appropriate length.

To connect post 14 to floor anchor 30, post 14 includes an inner tube 38 that can be integrally extruded along with the rest of post 14. Inner tube 38 preferably has a square interior surface that matingly engages the square exterior surface of the anchor's tube 34. Although the shape of tubes 34 and 36 may vary, a square or. rectangular shape helps prevent post 14 from rotating relative to floor anchor 30. The vertically sliding fit between tube 38 and anchor 30 allows post 14 to be readily removed to provide temporary access to an area that is otherwise fenced off by system 10. A series of posts 14 can be laid out along a floor in almost any desired pattern or spacing, as shown in FIG. 4.

Once the posts are installed, brackets 28 can be attached to the posts using a suitable fastener 40 such as lag bolts, sheet metal screws, or some other appropriate fastener. Each bracket 28 includes a concave surface 42 for solidly engaging the generally cylindrical surface of post 14 and also includes a channel 44 for receiving rail 12. Brackets 28 are installed such that channels 44 of adjacent posts 14 face each other. Rails 12 may then be cut to length, if necessary, so as to fit between two facing brackets 44.

Rail 12 can be installed at any desired elevation along bracket 28 and can be held there by various means. Fasteners 40, for example, can fasten rail 12 directly to bracket 28, or rail 12 can be held in place as shown in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7. In FIG. 5, fastener 40 attaches an angle support 46 to bracket 28 and post 14, and rail 12 rests upon support 46. FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 5; however, an additional fastener 40 connects rail 12 to angle support 46. FIG. 7 is also similar to FIG. 5; however, angle support 46 is inverted so that fastener 40 is hidden between rail 12 and bracket 28. With the setup shown in FIGS. 5 and 7, rail 12 can be readily removed without the use of tools by simply lifting rail 12 off of supporting bracket 46. FIG. 6, however, shows how an additional fastener 40 screwed into rail 12 can hold the rail in place more securely.

FIGS. 1, 8, 9, 10 and 11 illustrate how one or more rails 12 can be installed in various configurations. FIG. 1 shows a single rail 12 supported between two posts 14, FIG. 8 shows two spaced-apart rails 12, FIG. 9 shows two rails to that lie up against each other, FIG. 10 shows three spaced-apart rails 12, and FIG. 11 shows a full stack of rails 12 that provides a solid wall effect. Regardless of the number of rails, each rail can be held in place by any appropriate method including those described with reference to FIGS. 1, 5, 6 and 7.

When two or more rails are installed up against each other, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 11, a rail coupler 48 can be installed to help hold two adjoining rails together as shown in FIGS. 12 and 13. Each rail 12, for example, may define an interlocking channel 50 in which coupler 48 is inserted. Coupler 48 can be slid lengthwise into channel 50 prior to installing the two or more rails 12 between brackets 28.

When two or more rails are spaced apart to create a gap or opening between the two, an extra wide rail coupler (extra wide vertical dimension) or spacer can be installed between the two rails. In FIGS. 14 and 15, for example, a spacer 52 comprises a generally rigid panel that in some cases may also serve as a sign. In FIG. 16, a spacer 54 comprises a pliable sheet, such as a screen or fabric mesh.

FIGS. 17 and 18 show how a post 14′ can be created by press-fitting a post insert 14a into a pipe 14b, wherein pipe 14b is a standard-size shedule-40 or shedule-80 PVC pipe. Insert 14a is just a shorter and perhaps smaller diameter version of post 14. Post 14′ can then be installed in the same manner as post 14.

Instead of post 14, an alternate post 56 can be made by interlocking two post segments 58, as shown in FIGS. 19-22. Each segment 58 has a T-flange 60 and a mating T-groove 62. By axially sliding two identical segments 58 together, as shown in FIG. 20, flange 60 of one segment 58 interlocks with the mating T-groove 62 of an adjoining segment 58 to create post 56, which can then be installed and used like post 14.

FIGS. 23 and 24 show an alternate rail assembly 64 that comprises an assembled stack of interlocking rails, which in this example includes one upper rail 66 and two lower rails 68 (any number of other combinations is also possible). The rails interlock with a tongue-in-groove connection 70 similar to the connection between T-flange 60 and T-groove 62 just described. Upper rail 66 can be provided with a suitably shaped handrail 72. Other options include a reinforcing member 74 (e.g., steel square tubing, metal bar, etc.) that could make some areas of rail assembly 64 more rigid or stronger than other areas. In some cases, rail assembly 64 can be strengthened by inserting an elongate reinforcing member 76 through the length of one or more rails. Member 76 could extend from one post 14 to another and could connect any number of posts and rails together. In order for member 76 to extend through multiple rails, as shown in FIG. 25, holes may need to be drilled through posts 14 to allow member 76 to pass through the posts. Some examples of elongate member 76 include, but are not limited to, a cable, strap, chain, rope, etc.

Another option is to use hollow rail 66 (or other rails and/or posts) to serve as an electrical conduit for carrying an elongate electrical conductor 78, which has been schematically illustrated to represent any electrically conductive element. Examples of elongate electrical conductor 78 include, but are not limited to, a wire, cable, string of lights, rope light, antenna, sensor, etc. In order for member 78 to extend through multiple rails, as shown in FIG. 25, holes may need to be drilled through posts 14 to allow member 78 to pass through the posts. If conductor 78 includes lights, rail 66 is preferably able to pass the light through openings in the rail or via the rail material itself being transparent or translucent. If conductor 78 is an antenna or a sensor serving as a proximity sensor, for instance, the material of rail 66 may need to be non-metallic.

Although the invention is described with respect to a preferred embodiment, modifications thereto will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Therefore, the scope of the invention is to be determined by reference to the following claims: