Title:
Connector strip for partition panel assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A partition panel assembly comprises first and second partition panels each having a first outer surface, an end surface, and a first flange extending outwardly from the end surface. The partition panel assembly also comprises an elongate connector strip including a body portion having an outer surface, first and second inner legs extending from the body portion, wherein the first and second inner legs couple the first flange of the first and second partition panels together, and first and second outer legs extending from the body portion of the connector strip that abut the end surfaces of the first and second partition panels, such that the outer surface of the connector strip is substantially planar with the outer surface of each of the first and second partition panels.



Inventors:
Macdonald, Douglas B. (Caledonia, MI, US)
Palermo, William H. (Spring Lake, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/448957
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
06/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
IHEZIE, JOSHUA K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A partition panel assembly, comprising: first and second partition panels each having a first outer surface, an end surface and a first flange extending outwardly from the end surface; and, an elongated first connector strip including a body portion having an outer surface, first and second inner legs extending from the body portion, wherein the first and second inner legs couple the first flange of each of the first and second partition panels together, and first and second outer legs extending from the body portion of the connector strip that abut the end surfaces of the first and second partition panels, such that the outer surface of the connector strip is substantially planar with the outer surface of each of the first and second partition panels.

2. The partition assembly of claim 1, wherein the end surface of each of the first and second partition panels includes a curved portion, and wherein each of the inner legs of the connector strip includes a curved groove that receives the curved portion of the respective end surface therein.

3. The partition panel assembly of claim 2, wherein the outer surface of the connector strip is planar.

4. The partition panel assembly of claim 3, wherein opposing ends of the body portion are outwardly-tapered.

5. The partition panel assembly of claim 1, wherein the first and second partition panels each include an end cap that comprises the respective end surface of the first and second partition panels.

6. The partition panel assembly of claim 5, wherein each end cap comprises a portion of the respective outer surface of the first and second partition panels.

7. The partition panel assembly of claim 1, wherein the flange of each of the first and second partition panels are affixed to the respective end surface of the first and second partition panels via a plurality of mechanical fasteners.

8. The partition panel assembly of claim 1, wherein the first and second inner legs and the first and second outer legs are flexibly resilient.

9. The partition panel assembly of claim 1, wherein the connector strip comprises a paintable resin material.

10. The partition panel of claim 1, wherein the first and second partition panels each include a second outer surface opposite the first outer surface, and a second flange extending outwardly from the respective end surface; and further comprising: a second connector strip including a body portion having an outer surface, first and second inner legs extending from the body portion, wherein the first and second inner legs of the second connector strip couple the second flange of each of the first and second partition panels together, and first and second outer legs extending from the body portion that abut the end surfaces of the first and second partition panels, such that the outer surface of the second connector strip is substantially planar with the second outer surface of each of the first and second partition panels.

11. A connector strip for coupling two adjacent partition panels, wherein each of the partition panels includes an end surface having a curved portion, an outwardly-extending flange and an outer surface, the connector strip comprising: a base portion having a substantially planar outer surface; a pair of inner legs that extend from the base portion and that are adapted to couple a flange of each of the partition panels together; and a pair of outer legs extending from the base portion and each having a curved portion, wherein the outer legs are adapted to receive a curved portion of an end surface of a respective partition panel, such that the outer surface of the connector strip is adapted to be substantially planar with the outer surface of each of the partition panels.

12. The connector strip of claim 1 1, wherein the outer surface of the connector strip is planar.

13. The connector strip of claim 12, wherein opposing ends of the body portion are outwardly-tapered.

14. The connector strip of claim 13, wherein the first and second inner legs and the first and second outer legs are flexibly resilient.

15. The connector strip of claim 14, wherein the connector strip comprises a paintable vinyl material.

16. The connector strip of claim 11, wherein opposing ends of the body portion are outwardly-tapered.

17. The connector strip of claim 11, wherein the first and second inner legs and the first and second outer legs are flexibly resilient

18. A corner strip member for a partition panel, comprising: a base portion having a substantially planar outer surface; a first leg extending from the base portion opposite the outer surface and having an inwardly-exposed groove adapted to retain a curved portion of a partition panel; a second leg extending from the base portion opposite the outer surface and adapted to engage an outwardly-extending flange of a partition panel; and a third leg extending substantially orthogonally from the base portion opposite the outer surface of the base portion, wherein the outer surface of the base portion is adapted to be substantially planer with an outer surface of a partition panel, and wherein the second and third legs are adapted to cooperate to couple a corner member with the flange of the partition panel.

19. The strip member of claim 18, wherein the first and second legs are flexibly resilient.

20. The strip member of claim 18, wherein the strip member comprises a paintable vinyl material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention relates to a connector strip for a partition panel assembly, and in particular to a connector strip operably coupling a pair of adjacent partition panels and providing an aesthetic covering therebetween to create the look of a single, uninterrupted panel.

Partition assemblies are generally comprised of multiple partition panels arrangeable to separate work stations in an office setting. These partition panels will frequently be of a reasonably maneuverable length, width and height and adapted to be connected to one another at the ends thereof. Each end of a given partition panel typically has a connection point capable of connecting with another partition via a mechanical-type fastener such as interlocking brackets, screws, bolts and the like. Covers extending between the coupled partition panels may be used to assist in connecting the partition panels as well as to hide the mechanical fasteners connecting the partition panels to one another. Heretofore, these covers are typically thick in nature and do not create a visually subtle transition from one panel to the next. Moreover, the fasteners coupling the partition panels together are complicated and relatively expensive as they are constructed separately from the cover members.

Thus, a connector that creates the appearance of continuous partition panel and has the mechanical properties to couple adjacent partition panels together is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is to provide a partition panel assembly that comprises a first and second partition panel each having a first outer surface, an end surface and a first flange extending outwardly from the end surface. The partition panel assembly further comprises an elongate first connector strip including a body portion having an outer surface, first and second inner legs extending from the body portion, wherein the first and second inner legs couple the first flange of each of the first and second partition panels together, and first and second outer legs extending from the body portion of the connector strip that abut the end surfaces of the first and second partition panels, such that the outer surface of the connector strip is substantially planar with the outer surface of each of the first and second partition panels.

Another aspect of the present invention is a connector strip for coupling two adjacent partition panels, wherein each of the partition panels includes an end surface having a curved portion, an outwardly-extending flange and an outer surface, the connector strip comprising a base portion having a substantially planar outer surface, and a pair of inner legs that extend from the base portion and that are adapted to couple a flange of each of the partition panels together. The connector strip further comprises a pair of outer legs extending from the base portion and each having a curved portion, wherein the outer legs are adapted to receive a curved portion of an end surface of a respective partition panel, such that the outer surface of the connector strip is adapted to be substantially planar with the outer surface of each of the partition panels.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is a strip member for a partition panel that comprises a base portion having a substantially planar outer surface; a first leg extending from the base portion opposite the outer surface and having an inwardly-exposed groove adapted to retain a curved portion of a partition panel, a second leg extending from the base portion opposite the outer surface and adapted to engage an outwardly-extending flange of a partition panel, and a third leg extending substantially orthogonal from the base portion opposite the outer surface of the base portion, wherein the outer surface of the base portion is adapted to be substantially planar with outer surfaces of a partition panel, and wherein the second and third legs are adapted to cooperate to couple a corner member and the flange of the partition panel.

The construction of a plastic vinyl connector strip that has an exterior face that is substantially flush with the sides of a partition panel creates a continuous and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Furthermore, the connector strip is coated or painted to conform aesthetically with the color of the partition panels thereby increasing the aesthetic quality of the partition panel assembly. Still further, the connector strip couples adjacent panels together eliminating additional mechanical couplers typically required, while simultaneously increasing the connector strip increases the connection strength between panels thereby decreasing the likelihood that the panels will become unattached. Moreover, the strip serves as an acoustical barrier between adjacent panels.

These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the partition panel assembly embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view of FIG. 1 taken at II-II;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged partial perspective view of a connector strip;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged partial perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the connector strip of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged partially exploded, perspective view of the partition panel assembly; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged, partially exploded perspective view of a corner assembly of the partition panel assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

For purposes of description herein the terms “upper”, “lower”, “right”, “left”, “rear”, “front”, “vertical”, “horizontal” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIGS. 1 and 2. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification are exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

The reference numeral 8 (FIG. 1) generally designates a partition panel assembly embodying the present invention and that is adapted to divide work spaces in an office setting. The partition panel assembly 8 includes a plurality of partition panels 14 coupled together by a plurality of connector strips 10. Each partition panel 14 includes a frame assembly 16 having a horizontal top frame member 18, a pair of vertical side frame members 20, and a horizontal bottom frame member (not shown). Each side frame member 20 includes an end cap 24 (FIG. 2) having a first portion 23 and a second portion 25. The first portion 23 is L-shaped and includes a center wall 26 and an outer wall 27 extending orthogonally from the center wall 26. The second portion 25 includes a center wall 29 overlapping and affixed to the center wall 26, and an outer wall 28 extending orthogonally from the center wall 29. Each portion 23, 25 of the end cap 24 includes an outwardly rounded portion or projection 42 located between the associated center wall 25, 26 and outer wall 27, 28. Each side frame member 20 further includes a connector plate 30 having a center wall 32 connected to the center wall 26 of the end cap 24 via a plurality of mechanical fasteners 51, and a pair of L-shaped flanges 34 opposed across the center wall 32 from one another and extending outwardly therefrom.

Each connector strip 10 (FIGS. 2 and 3) includes a body portion 35, a pair of longitudinally-extending, flexibly-resilient, S-shaped outer legs 36, and a pair of longitudinally-extending, flexibly-resilient, outwardly concave inner legs 38 located inwardly of the outer legs 36. The outer legs 36 and the inner legs 38 are integrally formed with the body portion 35. In assembly, adjacent partition panels 14 (FIG. 4) are connected to one another by a pair of connector strips 10. An outside surface of the outer legs 36 of each connector strip 10 engages the projections 42 located at the junction between the center walls 25, 26 and the outer walls 27, 28 of the associated end caps 24. An inside surface of each of the inner legs 38 of each feature strip 10 engages the connector flanges 34 of the pair of panel members 14, thereby preventing the panel members 14 from being separated from one another in a direction as represented and indicated by the directional arrow 40. Both the outer legs 36 and inner legs 38 have rounded or curved projections, thereby facilitating ease in installing and removing the feature strips. Lack of sharp edges decreases the possibility that the connector strip 10 will become lodged or stuck before it is fully installed or removed. Once in place, a planar outer surface 44 of the body portion 35 of each connector strip 10 appears to be flush or coplanar with an outer surface 45 of the outer walls 28 of the end caps 24 of the adjacent partition panels 14, such that the two partition panels 14 appear to form a single continuous panel. Each connector strip further includes lips 46 formed between the associated body portion 35 and the outer legs 36 that merge tangentially with the rounded surface of the projections 42 such that there is a very minimal gap between the distal end of the body portion 35 and the outer surface 45 of the outer walls 28. This structure creates the appearance that multiple coupled partition panel members 14 are continuous in nature rather than several adjoined panels. Moreover, the connector strip 10 preferably comprises a paintable resin material allowing the strip 10 and the outer surface 45 to be exactly color matched with one another, however, other materials such as anodized aluminum, wood, whiteboard material, etc., matchable with coverings for the partition panels 14 may also be utilized.

FIG. 5 discloses an alternative embodiment strip 10a of the present invention for use on an end cap of a partition panel that is not joined to an adjacent partition panel on that particular end. In use, the corner strip 10a is added to a single partition panel 14 (FIG. 1) to cover the corner of an end cap of the partition panel 14. Since the strip 1Oa is similar to the previously-described connector strip 10, similar parts appearing in FIGS. 3 and 4 and FIGS. 5 and 6, respectively, are represented by the same corresponding reference numeral, except for the suffix “a ” in the numerals of the latter. The strip 10a includes a body portion 35a having an outter surface 44a, an outer leg 38a that abuts a rounded projection on the corner of the partition assembly, an inner leg 38a that abuts a connector flange 34, and a corner leg 50. In assembly, a lip 46a (FIG. 6) merges tangentially with the rounded surface of the projections 42 such that there is a minimal gap between the end of the lip 46a and the outer surface 45 of the outer wall 28 of the partition panel 14. As a result, the outer surface 44a of the strip 10a is substantially flush or coplanar with the outer surface 45 of the outer walls 28. A square-shaped corner member 51 includes a plurality of outwardly-extending flanges 53. In assembly, the flanges 53 abut flanges 34 of one of the panel members 14 and are coupled to one another between the leg 38 and he corner leg 50.

The construction of a plastic vinyl connector strip that has an exterior face that is substantially flush with the sides of a partition panel creates a continuous and pleasing appearance. Furthermore, the connector strip is coated or painted to conform aesthetically with the color of the partition panels thereby increasing the aesthetic quality of the partition panel assembly. Still further, the connector strip couples adjacent panels together eliminating additional mechanical couplers typically required. Moreover, the multiple leg construction of the connector strip increases the connection strength between panels thereby decreasing the likelihood that the panels will become unattached.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein: Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.