Title:
Pillow closure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pillow shell, the pillow shell having an opening leading into an internal cavity, the opening having a zipper closure mechanism, the zipper closure mechanism adapted to operate in only a single direction. Also disclosed is a pillow comprising a pair of panels each having a first edge and opposed second edge spanning a first end and an opposed second end, the panels being sewn along at least the first and second side edges and the first end edge to create a cavity between the panels, fill material disposed within the cavity, and a zipper closure mechanism associated with the second end edges, the zipper closure mechanism adapted to operate only in a single direction. The zipper closure mechanism may include a pull tab connected to a slide, the slide including a ratchet mechanism to permit operation of the slide in only the single direction.



Inventors:
Hollander, Jeffrey (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/396147
Publication Date:
10/04/2007
Filing Date:
03/31/2006
Assignee:
Hollander Home Fashions Corp. (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G9/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SANTOS, ROBERT G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LERNER, DAVID, LITTENBERG, (Cranford, NJ, US)
Claims:
1. A pillow, said pillow comprising: a pair of panels each having a first edge and opposed second edge spanning a first end and an opposed second end, said panels being sewn along at least said first and second side edges and said first end edge to create a cavity between said panels; fill material disposed within said cavity; and, a zipper closure mechanism associated with said second end edges, said zipper closure mechanism adapted to operate only in a single direction.

2. The pillow of claim 1, wherein said zipper closure mechanism comprises a pull tab connected to a slide, said slide including a ratchet mechanism to permit operation of said slide in only the single direction.

3. The pillow of claim 2, wherein said zipper closure mechanism further comprises teeth, said ratchet mechanism adapted to interact with said teeth to permit operation in only the single direction.

4. The pillow of claim 2, wherein said pull tab is separable from said slide.

5. The pillow of claim 1, wherein said second end edges are partially sewn in sewn portions, said sewn portions being adjacent to said first and second edges with said zipper closure mechanism between said sewn portions.

6. The pillow of claim 1, wherein cord is sewn integrally with said first and second side edges and said first end edge.

7. The pillow of claim 1, wherein said zipper closure mechanism includes a pull tab, said pillow further comprising a staple adapted to connect said pull tab to at least one of said panels.

8. A kit of pillow components for manufacturing a pillow, said pillow components comprising: a pair of panels having edges, said pair of panels adapted to be sewn together along their respective edges except in a limited area to create an open cavity; fill material to be disposed within said cavity; and, a zipper closure mechanism adapted to span said limited area, said zipper closure mechanism adapted to be moved freely in a first direction to close said cavity, said zipper closure mechanism having a feature restricting movement in a second direction to inhibit opening of said cavity.

9. The kit of pillow components of claim 8, wherein said zipper closure mechanism comprises a pull tab connected to a slide, said slide including a ratchet mechanism to permit operation of said slide in only the single direction.

10. The kit of pillow components of claim 9, wherein said pull tab is separable from said slide.

11. The kit of pillow components of claim 9, wherein said zipper closure mechanism further comprises teeth, said ratchet mechanism adapted to interact with said teeth to permit operation in only the single direction.

12. The kit of pillow components of claim 8, wherein said zipper closure mechanism includes a pull tab, said pillow components further comprising a staple adapted to connect said pull tab to at least one of said panels.

14. A pillow, said pillow comprising: a pair of panels sewn together continuously along all but an unsewn portion of their edges to form a cavity; a zipper closure mechanism associated with said unsewn portion, said zipper mechanism comprising a slide and a pull; wherein said pull is secured to at least one of said panels upon closing.

15. The pillow of claim 14, wherein said pull is secured with one of a staple, a pull tie, or a safety pin.

16. A method of forming a pillow from a pair of panels, said method comprising: sewing the panels together along their edges to form a cavity having an entrance; associating a zipper with said entrance of said cavity, the zipper having a one way closure mechanism; filling the cavity with fill material; closing the one way closure mechanism to enclose the filling within the cavity.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said step of sewing the panels together is followed by the step of inverting the cavity.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said step of sewing the panels together incorporates a cord.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein said step of sewing the panels together is conducted with an overlock stitch.

20. A pillow shell, said pillow shell having an opening leading into an internal cavity, said opening having a zipper closure mechanism, said zipper closure mechanism adapted to operate in only a single direction.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to pillows, and more particularly, to closure mechanisms for factory pillow shells.

Pillows are available in a variety of different styles designed to accommodate the widely variant preferences of the purchasing public. Such styles include traditional and generally soft bed pillows, decorative throw pillows, floor pillows, and the like. These styles come in various shapes and sizes, as well as various levels of firmness.

Firmness is predominantly a function of the fill materials used to provide the pillows with loft and cushioning. Typically, pillows are constructed from an outer shell of cloth or silk. The outer shell is filled with fill materials, either natural or synthetic. Natural fill materials include feathers or down, while synthetic fill materials typically comprise polyester fibers or various foams.

If permitted to escape from the pillow shell, or casing, many of these fill materials can be hazardous to small children. For example, children may choke on down or be poisoned by ingestion of some of the various synthetic materials utilized.

Presently, the majority of pillow casings are sewn using a combination of manual labor and sewing machines. In the example of a four-sided rectangular pillow, the pillow casing typically consists of a pair rectangular panels, which are abutted against each other and completely sewn along three edges with a machine. The casing may also be sewn along portions of its fourth edge, those portions being directly adjacent to the other sewn edges leaving an opening into a cavity within which fill material may be placed. Otherwise, the entire fourth edge forms the opening. The pillow is then typically inverted such that the sewn edges are clean in the finished product. Fill material is then placed within or injected into the cavity and the cavity is typically sewn closed, either completely manually or manually with the assistance of a sewing machine.

In the United States the number of capable laborers willing to stitch the final closure is diminishing. At the same time, labor rates for such persons continue to increase. It has therefore become necessary to develop novel techniques for closing pillows without involving the time-consuming task of manually sewing the cavity closed. Such techniques preferably restrict the reopening of the pillow casing, to prevent possible exposure to the fill materials.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art by providing, in accordance with certain aspects, a pillow comprising a pair of panels each having a first edge and opposed second edge spanning a first end and an opposed second end, the panels being sewn along at least the first and second side edges and the first end edge to create a cavity between the panels, fill material disposed within the cavity, and a zipper closure mechanism associated with the second end edges, the zipper closure mechanism adapted to operate only in a single direction.

The zipper closure mechanism may comprise a pull tab connected to a slide, the slide including a ratchet mechanism to permit operation of the slide in only the single direction.

The zipper closure mechanism may further comprise teeth, the ratchet mechanism adapted to interact with the teeth to permit operation in only the single direction.

The pull tab may be separable from the slide.

The second end edges may be partially sewn in sewn portions, the sewn portions being adjacent to the first and second edges with the zipper closure mechanism between the sewn portions.

Cord may be sewn integrally with the first and second side edges and the first end edge.

The zipper closure mechanism may include a pull tab, the pillow may further comprise a staple adapted to connect the pull tab to at least one of the panels.

In accordance with other aspects of the present invention, pillow components may comprise a pair of panels having edges, the pair of panels adapted to be sewn together along their respective edges except in a limited area to create an open cavity, fill material to be disposed within the cavity, and a zipper closure mechanism adapted to span the limited area, the zipper closure mechanism adapted to be moved freely in a first direction to close the cavity, the zipper closure mechanism having a feature restricting movement in a second direction to inhibit opening of the cavity.

The zipper closure mechanism may comprise a pull tab connected to a slide, the slide including a ratchet mechanism to permit operation of the slide in only the single direction.

The pull tab may be is separable from the slide.

The zipper closure mechanism may further comprise teeth, the ratchet mechanism adapted to interact with the teeth to permit operation in only the single direction.

The zipper closure mechanism may include a pull tab, the pillow components further comprising a staple adapted to connect the pull tab to at least one of the panels.

In accordance with still further aspects of the present invention, a pillow may comprise a pair of panels sewn together continuously along all but an unsewn portion of their edges to form a cavity, a zipper closure mechanism associated with the unsewn portion, the zipper mechanism comprising a slide and a pull, wherein the pull is secured to at least one of the panels upon closing.

The pull may be secured with one of a staple, a pull tie, or a safety pin.

In accordance with additional aspects of the present invention, a method of forming a pillow from a pair of panels may comprise sewing the panels together along their edges to form a cavity having an entrance, associating a zipper with the entrance of the cavity, the zipper having a one way closure mechanism, filling the cavity with fill material, and closing the one way closure mechanism to enclose the filling within the cavity.

The step of sewing the panels together may be followed by the step of inverting the cavity.

The step of sewing the panels together may incorporate a cord.

The step of sewing the panels together may be conducted with an overlock stitch.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, a pillow shell may have an opening leading into an internal cavity, the opening having a zipper closure mechanism, the zipper closure mechanism adapted to operate in only a single direction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The subject matter regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims. The invention, however, both as to organization and methods of operation, together with features objects, and advantages thereof, may be best understood by reference to the following detailed description when read with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional pillow sewn with a first style of stitching;

FIG. 2 is a side view of a conventional pillow sewn with a second style of stitching;

FIG. 3 is cut-away perspective view of a conventional non-separating zipper;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a conventional pillow and multi-step zipper closure system;

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view of a conventional mono-directional zipper slide with a ratchet mechanism in a first position;

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of the conventional mono-directional zipper slide of FIG. 6, with the ratchet mechanism in a second position;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a pillow with a mono-directional slide mechanism in accordance with certain aspects of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a pillow with conventional zipper installed inside-out in accordance with additional aspects of the present invention; and,

FIG. 9 is a plan view of a pillow with a conventional zipper and locking feature in accordance with further aspects of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following are described the preferred embodiments of the pillow closure in accordance with the present invention. In describing the embodiments illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be used for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terms so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose. Where like elements have been depicted in multiple embodiments, identical reference numerals have been used in the multiple embodiments for ease of understanding.

As previously stated, the present invention relates to pillows, and more specifically to closure mechanisms for pillows.

Such pillows may be of any type, including bed pillows, throw pillows, bolster pillows, floor cushions, body pillows, mini pillows, and the like. Similarly, the pillows may be configured to virtually any shape and size, so long as there is a suitable location to mount a closure device. Suitable shapes include geometric shapes, such as rectilinear, circular, oval, star shaped, and the like. Other pillows may be formed to non-geometric shapes, whether conventional or non-conventional. For ease of reference, the pillows discussed hereinafter in accordance with the present invention will typically be configured as standard rectangular bed pillows of conventional sizing. These sizes include the Oxford size of 20-inches×30-inches and the Continental size of 26-inches×26-inches.

As with the shape and sizing, materials utilized to construct the casing of the inventive pillows may be conventional. Such materials include natural materials such as plain weave cotton or silk. The materials also include synthetics, for example nylon or fake fur. Fill materials may also be natural or synthetic, and may include down, feathers, Styrofoam beads, foam, or other conventional materials.

Presently, the majority of pillow casings are sewn using manual labor and sewing machines. In the example of a four-sided rectangular pillow, the pillow casing typically consists of a pair rectangular cloth panels, which are abutted against each other and completely sewn along three edges with a machine. The casing may also be sewn along portions of its fourth edge, those portions being directly adjacent to the other sewn edges leaving an opening into a cavity within which fill material may be placed. Otherwise, the entire fourth edge forms the opening. The pillow is then typically inverted such that the sewn edges are clean in the finished product. Fill material is then placed within or injected into the cavity and the cavity is typically sewn closed, either completely manually or manually with the assistance of a sewing machine.

The technique of sewing the pillow casing closed has become increasingly costly, due to the limited labor available and increasing costs for such labor. Accordingly, novel techniques for pillow closure have been developed, and are disclosed herein. Such techniques include the novel use of conventional zippers.

The use of multi-directional zippers is typically reserved for pillow cases selected by the end-user of the pillow. The case is typically placed over the already assembled factory shell. The removability of the case facilitates cleaning of the case. A factory shell as used herein is intended to be enclosed permanently so that the fill material cannot easily escape or be removed from the shell.

FIG. 1 depicts a conventional pillow shell 100 with edges and ends sewn in the conventional single-needle style. Pillow 100 comprises a first panel 102 sewn to a second panel 104 along a first edge 106, opposed second edge 108, and first end 110, the first end 110 spanning between the first edge 106 and second edge 108. With the first edge 106, second edge 108, and first end 110 sewn, the pillow 100 forms a cavity within which filling material may be placed after the pillow 100 is inverted to present cleanly sewn edges 106, 108 and end 110. A second end 112, opposite to the first end 110 is then sewn in a semi-manual sewing operation conducted after the cavity is stuffed with filling material. Formed thusly, the pillow 100 is permanently sealed to prevent the fill material from escaping. In use, the pillow 100 is typically placed within a separate pillow case (not shown) provided by the user, such that the pillow 100 is protected and matches the user's décor.

FIG. 2 depicts a side view of a pillow 200 formed in a similar manner to the pillow 100 of FIG. 1, with panels 202, 204 joined together. However, in this embodiment, the panels 202, 204 are joined with a different style of stitching. In this style, the edges 206, 208 and ends, including end 212, are sewn with filler materials, such as a cord, or with an overlock style mimicking a cord. Pillows 200 of this type are conventionally sold as a more upscale alternative to the pillows 100 of FIG. 1, and may also be utilized in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 depicts a cut-away perspective view of a conventional non-separating zipper. It is shown in FIG. 3 that a zipper 300 may comprise a plurality of teeth 302 attached in series to opposed edges 304 of fabric tape 306. In a conventional non-separating zipper, such as zipper 300 shown, the fabric tapes 306 are held together at a first end 308 by a stop member 310. The series of teeth 302 extend along the respective edges 304 of the fabric tape 306 from the first end 308 to a second end 312 (FIG. 8), where the two edges 304 again meet at a second stop member (not shown). Accordingly, the zipper 300 may be opened and closed, with its two ends always remaining connected to form an opening.

The teeth 302 may include tooth bases 314 connected to respective edges 304 of the fabric tape 306 with bulbous teeth heads 316 extending therefrom, away from the connection point of the tooth bases 314 and fabric tape 306. To interpose the teeth 302 into an engaged arrangement, such that the teeth heads 316 of one edge 304 are adjacent to the teeth bases 314 of the other edge 304, the zipper 300 includes a slide mechanism 318. A pull tab 320 may be connected to the slide mechanism 318 by a pull ring 322 to allow a user to easily and comfortably move the slide mechanism 318 from the first end 308 to the second end 312 of the zipper 300 to interpose each of the teeth 302 and close the zipper 300 as the slide mechanism 318 moves in the closing direction. In a conventional multi-directional zipper 300, the slide mechanism 318 may be moved in an opening direction, opposite to that of the closing direction, to release the teeth 302 and open the zipper 300.

Zipper 300 also includes an underside 324, which is typically not exposed in normal use. However, as will be discussed, certain aspects of the present invention may expose the underside 324 at the exterior of the pillow.

FIG. 4 depicts a pillow 100′ of the type shown in FIG. 1, with a zipper 300 of the type shown in FIG. 3 attached and functioning. It is known conventionally to arrange a pillow 100′ with such a zipper 300. The zipper 300 may be utilized during the pillow manufacturing process to open and close the cavity, such that fill material may be placed in the cavity through the open zipper. To prevent the zipper 300 from being opened once the fill material is passed therethrough and the zipper 300 closed, it is known to pass a staple 400 over the teeth 302 through the fabric tape 306 adjacent to the closed zipper slide 318. In this regard, the zipper 300 cannot be moved to an open position without removal of the staple 400 as the staple 400 interferes. It is also known to replace the staple 400 with a plastic pull tie. In accordance with some conventional methods, the plastic pull tie may then be melted to permanently prevent the zipper 300 from opening.

While adding a staple 400 to a conventional multi-directional zipper is one way of preventing access to the fill material, this technique has several undesirable drawbacks. First, installation of the staple 400 in such a position requires specialized tools and a surprisingly high level of skill. The specialized tool would ideally be in the form of a suitable stapler, which can deliver an industrial strength staple 400 accurately and quickly, with little effort. However, it has been found in practice that alignment of the stapler is difficult, and staples 400 are often delivered through the teeth 302 of the zipper rather than through the fabric tape 306. This causes the teeth 302 to break, and may limit the ability for the zipper 300 to be opened after removal of the staple 400, should the need arise. Further, in many circumstances the staple 400 causes an undesirable appearance. This is particularly true in pillows 100′ where the staple 400 is exposed to view.

Because the staple 400 is often exposed, and may often be metallic in color and somewhat attractive, it may be prone to investigation by curious children. Older children may be capable of removing the staple 400 with a simple lever device, or an appropriate tool if the child is sufficiently advanced. Once the staple 400 is removed, the child may open the zipper 300 to expose the filler material, which is potentially hazardous to the child and others. Finally, if one is strong enough, one may overstress the staple 400 and pull the slide 318 to dislodge the staple 400, allowing the slide 318 to pass where the staple 400 was mounted, thus opening the pillow 100′.

Devices which when used novelly in conjunction with a pillow may solve many of these problems are known. For example, a cross-sectional view of a conventional one-way zipper slide 500 is shown in FIG. 5. In this regard, the zipper slide 500 may be freely operable in a first direction indicated by arrow A in FIG. 5, but may include a blocking element to prevent movement in a second direction indicated by arrow B of FIG. 5, such that when used with a pillow, the pillow casing cannot be opened without damaging the zipper and or zipper slide 500. Heretofore, such one-way zipper slides 500 have not been adopted for use with pillows, and their use is considered to be novel.

As shown in FIG. 5, the zipper slide 500 may comprise a slide upper portion 502 and a slide lower portion 504 in mating relation. The slide upper portion 502 and the slide lower portion 504 may include a zipper cavity 506 within which the zipper teeth 508 may enter as the slide 500 is moved relative to the stationary zipper teeth 508. Although not shown, it will be appreciated that the slide 500 includes features to interlock the teeth 508 or spread apart the zipper teeth 508, as the zipper slide 500 is moved back and forth along the zipper teeth 508, in the conventional manner. The slide 500 may also include an integral pull ring 510 to which a zipper pull 512 may be assembled. The zipper pull 512 is preferably sized to be easily manipulable by a user. The zipper pull 512 may also be removable to prevent users from attempting to manipulate the slide 500.

As also shown in FIG. 5, the zipper slide 500 may include a ratcheting mechanism 514. The ratcheting mechanism 514 may reside in a ratchet cavity 516, formed within the slide upper portion 502. The ratcheting mechanism 514 may comprise a blocking member 518 rotatable about a pivot pin 520 operatively engaged with the slide upper portion 502. The blocking member 518 may also comprise an angled surface 522 and blocking surface 524 at its end opposite the pivot pin 520.

Movement of the slide 500 relative to the zipper teeth 508 in a first direction, for example from left to right along arrow A in the view shown in FIG. 5, serves to abut successive teeth 508 against the angled surface 522 of the blocking member 518 which causes the blocking member 518 to rotate in a counter-clockwise direction in the view shown in FIG. 5. Such rotation permits passage of the teeth 508 while the blocking member 518 ratchets, which forces the teeth 508 into an interspersed relation to close the zipper.

As shown in FIG. 6, attempted movement of the slide 500 in a direction from left to right in the view shown in FIG. 6, along arrow B, will cause the blocking surface 524 of the blocking member 518 to interfere with the teeth 508, rotating the blocking member 518 into a limit block 526 associated with the slide upper portion 502. The limit block 526 functions to prevent the blocking member 518 from rotating to a point where the teeth 508 can pass, preventing the slide 500 from moving further in that direction. Thus, the ratchet mechanism 514 of the slide 500 permits movement in only one direction, forming a mono-directional zipper. In accordance with other embodiments of the present invention, the ratcheting mechanism 514 may have an override feature, such that the zipper slide 500 may move in the direction of arrow B to open the zipper. Preferably, the override feature is childproof, and causes the ratcheting mechanism to be held in the position shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 depicts a pillow 600 with a mono-directional zipper 602 installed. It will be appreciated that the mono-directional zipper 602 is installed such that once the zipper 602 is closed, the slide 604 cannot be moved to open the zipper 602 without damaging the slide 604 and or zipper 602. The fill material of the pillow 600 is therefore protected from being exposed.

It is preferred that the zipper 602 be of a length suitable for the fill material utilized, but no longer. For example, for blown fill materials, such as down, a suitable length L is approximately 6-inches to 10-inches. Foam fill materials typically require larger openings, and may be on the order of 19-inches to 22-inches in length. Preferably, the overall zipper length L is kept to a minimum both for aesthetic reasons and to reduce the cost of the zipper 602. The portions 606 of the second end 608 that are not associated with the zipper 602 are typically sewn closed. As previously discussed this leaves a limited area open to the cavity prior to closure of the zipper 602. The zipper 602 itself is sewn to the second end 608 in the conventional manner.

In other embodiments, the zipper pull 604 may be removed from the pull ring (not shown) once the zipper 602 is closed, to further prevent attempted opening.

FIG. 8 depicts a pillow 700 in accordance with another aspect of the present invention. In this embodiment, a conventional multi-directional zipper, such as zipper 300 shown in FIG. 3, may be installed on a pillow 700 such that the underside 324 of the zipper 300 will be exposed upon completion of the pillow 700. This is achieved by installing the zipper 300 before the pillow casing is inverted for filling. Thus, one may reach into the cavity of the pillow 700 to begin closing the zipper 300. However, once the opening becomes too small to fit a hand within, the zipper 300 may be closed by pushing the zipper slide 318 the remainder of the way. It will be appreciated that without an exposed zipper pull (not shown), children may not be tempted to try to open the pillow 700, thus achieving the result of keeping the pillow closed without resorting to mono-directional zippers. Of course, in accordance with other aspects of the present invention, a mono-directional zipper may also be utilized in this “inside-out” technique, to provide even further protection against opening.

In order to hide the zippers, pillows constructed in accordance with the present invention may include flaps 702, such as flap 702 of FIG. 8, which only has a portion shown for clarity. The flaps 702 may be configured to cover the zipper 300 after the zipper 300 has been closed, such that the zipper 300 is not visible in the ordinary use of the pillow 700. Further, the laps 702 may protect the user from resting a portion of her body, such as her forehead or temple, against the slide 318, which may be uncomfortable. Rather, the flaps 702 can provide a soft barrier.

In yet a further aspect of the present invention, a pillow 800 may be configured with a zipper 802, which may be either mono-directional or multi-directional. Once the zipper 802 is closed to seal the fill material within the pillow cavity, a staple 400 may be passed through an aperture 804 in the zipper pull 806 and connected to the pillow 800 to prevent the pull 806 from being utilized. In the case of a mono-directional zipper, the staple 400 may be a relatively light gauge staple, designed primarily to hold the pull 806 in a fixed position. In the case of a multi-directional zipper, the staple 400 may be of a heavier gauge designed to withstand the force of attempted opening, as well as unintended migration of the zipper slide 808. In either event, the pillow may include a flap 810, portions of which can be seen in FIG. 9, to hide the zipper 802 and protect users from its hard portions.

In other embodiments, the staple 400 may be replaced with a suitable fastener, such as a plastic pull tie, safety-pin, or the like.

Although the invention herein has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it is to be understood that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the present invention. It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative embodiments and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.

In this regard, it will be appreciated that although the pillows shown and described have included zippers mounted along the intersection of two panels, it will be appreciated that such zippers could be mounted completely within the limits of a single panel, such that the two panels may be sewn along their entire circumferences. Also, pillows may be configured from more than two panels, or a single folded panel, if so desired.