Title:
Automated and movable shelving system for cabinetry
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a more diverse, effective, and user-friendly cabinet system. More specifically, the present invention discloses and claims a cabinet system which allows the user to reach items stored in the highest shelves by bringing the shelf to the user, instead of making the user reach the shelf. The invention can be installed during the manufacturing process of new cabinets, so it can be incorporated in the cabinet system as it is being placed in a home. The invention can also be sold as a kit, which can be used to modify already installed cabinets. The present invention can be manufactured in a wide variety of dimensions, so it is capable of fitting new or already installed cabinets.



Inventors:
Schmitt, Patrick (Sierra Vista, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/787872
Publication Date:
10/18/2007
Filing Date:
04/17/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B51/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRAN, HANH VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATRICK SCHMITT (SIERRA VISTA, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An automated and movable shelving system for cabinetry, comprising: a. a cabinet comprising a top, a front, a rear, a bottom and two sides, the bottom being open, the top comprising an interior and exterior side, the front comprising one or more hinged doors, the hinged doors comprising handle means; b. at least one rectangular insert, the insert being of smaller dimensions than the cabinet so that the insert is capable of fitting inside the cabinet and can be lowered and raised passing through the cabinet's open bottom, the insert comprising a top, bottom and two sides, and further comprising a plurality of shelves extending from one side of the insert to the other, the shelves comprising a front end and a back end and a raised lip extending across the front end to prevent the contents of the shelves from falling when the insert is raised or lowered, and the bottom of the insert functioning as the lowest shelf of the insert and further comprising sides slightly wider and deeper than the rest of the insert, resulting in the bottom of the insert and the bottom of the cabinet being flush when the insert is fully raised; c. a lowering and raising means comprising a reversible motor system fixedly attached to the interior of the top of the cabinet, the motor being capable of reversing direction, electromagnetic braking and operating at low revolutions per minute to safely raise and lower the insert; d. an electrical switch box fixedly attached to the side of the cabinet and protruding from the inside of the cabinet to the outside, comprising two activating means that raise and lower the insert when activated and an electrical connection to the motor system; e. an electrical connecting means fixedly attached to the electric motor, comprising a cord and standard electrical plug; and f. a spooling system, comprising a cable of appropriate strength and length so that the insert is capable of resting on a counter or stable surface when the cable is fully extended, the cable comprising two ends, one end being fixedly attached to the top of the insert and the other end being fixedly attached to a spool, the spool being fixedly attached to the motor system and capable of reeling the length of the cable in or out when the motor system is activated.

2. An automated and movable shelving system for cabinetry according to claim 1, wherein the insert comprises a plurality of drawers extending from one side of the insert to the other, the drawers being fixedly attached to both sides of the insert and being capable of sliding forward to allow access to contents.

3. An automated and movable shelving system for cabinetry according to claim 1, wherein the electrical switch box is fixedly attached to the interior of the door of the cabinet, allowing the lowering and raising system to be activated after the door is opened.

4. An automated and movable shelving system for cabinetry according to claim 1, wherein the lowering and raising means comprises a manually activated system capable lowering and raising the insert, the manually activate system further comprising a retractable and extendable coil fixedly attached to the interior of the top of the cabinet and extending to the top of the insert, and a locking mechanism movably attached to the bottom of the cabinet, the locking mechanism being capable of holding the insert in its fully raised position when engaged.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

I hereby claim the benefit under Title 35, United States Code Section 119(e) of any United States Provisional Application(s) listed below:

  • Application No. 60/792,257
  • Filing Date: Apr. 17, 2006

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field of the Invention

This invention generally relates to furniture. More specifically, this invention relates to a cabinet system comprising automated and moveable shelves.

2. Description of the Background Art

Historically, dating back to the 17th century, the traditional “cabinet maker” conceived and produced most, if not all, pieces of furniture found in homes. In the mid-18th century, there were well known cabinet maker companies which designed and fabricated cabinets and even published books on the subject. The industrial revolution brought about the incorporation of mass production techniques to the fabrication of cabinets. At that point, the traditional cabinet shop ceased to be the main source of furniture.

Cabinets have been long used as storage systems for kitchens, pantries, laundry rooms, bathrooms and garages. The first known examples of cabinets were usually free standing, custom made, sometimes elaborate pieces of furniture. Today, the more commonly found cabinet systems found at homes are “fixed” devices with little diversity, except for size, shape and ornamental features. The storage area typically consists of a series of fixed horizontal shelves for storage.

For people who are less than six feet tall, are disabled, or have difficulty lifting heavy items, the items on upper shelves of a cabinet can be difficult to reach and access. For people who are not disabled, one solution to that shortcoming of modern cabinet systems is to either use a stepladder or a similar device to access high shelves. Another option is not to use the upper shelves at all or to store rarely used items on top shelves. Still another option is to build cabinets low enough to be reached and accessed by able people of average height, resulting in aesthetically unappealing arrangements and loss of storage space, especially in high ceiling environments.

An invention that has been marketed as a solution to the problem created by high, out-of-reach shelves is the “grabber.” A grabber consists of a grasping device affixed to a dowel or rod, which extends the reach of the person utilizing the device. Most of the available grabbers are not easy to use when trying to reach objects placed deep into a cabinet's high shelf. Another major limitation of a grabber is that it could easily lose its grasp on heavy or oddly-shaped items. The latter shortcoming creates a risk of destruction of the item and injury to the person operating the grabber.

Many cabinet-based inventions have been disclosed and marketed. Most commonly, the prior art includes cabinetry systems whose inventions have disclosed and/or claimed new ornamental features of cabinets. Most recent utility applications concern drug dispensing cabinets for use in pharmacies. In contrast, the present invention comprises a new and useful cabinet, which makes cabinetry accessible to consumers who have difficulty reaching the highest shelves of traditional cabinetry.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A general objective of the present invention is to provide a more diverse, effective, and user-friendly cabinet system. More specifically, the present invention discloses and claims a cabinet system which allows the user to reach items stored in the highest shelves by bringing the shelf to the user, instead of making the user reach the shelf. The invention disclosed and claimed herein can be installed in new cabinets, as they are being placed in a home, or can be sold as a kit, which can be used to modify already installed cabinets. The present invention can be manufactured in a wide variety of dimensions, so it is capable of fitting new or already installed cabinets.

The apparatus of the present invention comprises at least one rectangular insert, which further comprises a plurality of shelves capable of fitting inside a cabinet; a lowering and raising means; and a spooling system. The insert fits entirely within a previously installed or new cabinet, with dimensions that can be varied to fit within the cabinet. The insert further comprises a plurality of horizontal shelves for storing items. The insert is unseen, unless the cabinet door is opened. The insert can be lowered and raised vertically in a motion similar to an elevator. When the insert is lowered, it rests upon a countertop or other platform below the cabinet.

The insert's vertical movement is powered by a small, reversible electric motor equipped with an electromagnetic brake, which is mounted on the inside of the top of the existing cabinet. The motor is interfaced with the insert via a spool and an appropriately strong cable mounted on the top of the insert. The motor operates at low revolutions per minute, resulting in a slow, safe vertical movement. The motor is activated by a two-way electrical switch.

The foregoing has outlined, in general, the physical aspects of the invention and is to serve as an aid to better understand the more complete detailed description, which is fully illustrated by the drawings that follow. The present invention is by no means limited to the method or detail of construction, fabrication, material, or application of use described, illustrated and claimed herein. Any other variation of fabrication, use, or application should be considered apparent as an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

It is further intended that any other embodiments of the present invention that result from any changes in application or method of use or operation, method of manufacture, shape, size, or material which are not specified within the detailed written description or illustrations contained herein are considered apparent or obvious to one skilled in the art are within the scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE VARIOUS VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a frontal view of the invention where the cabinet doors are closed and the insert is in the fully raised position.

FIG. 2 is a frontal view of the invention where the cabinet doors are opened and the insert is in the fully raised position.

FIG. 3 is a frontal view of the invention where the cabinet doors are opened and the insert is lowered.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the invention where the insert is fully raised and cabinet doors are closed.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the invention where the insert is in the process of lowering and the cabinet doors are open.

FIG. 6 is a front view of the invention in a traditional setting among upper cabinets with insert and lower cabinets without inserts.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

As is apparent from FIG. 2, the preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a new or existing cabinet system housing a shelving insert. The cabinet (8) is fixedly attached to a wall, and the insert, once installed, can be lowered from the cabinet and come to rest on a countertop or other stable surface directly beneath the cabinet. The insert (9) has slightly smaller dimensions than the cabinet to allow it to move upward and downward. The insert is several inches shorter vertically than the cabinet, creating an upper space between the top of the insert and the top of the cabinet where an electric motor and pulley system for the insert are contained.

A cabinet normally comprises a top, bottom, left side, right side, a front and a back, each of these further comprise an interior side and an exterior side. Each of these elements is traditionally a solid surface, except for the front, which is open. At least one door (4) is affixed to the front of the cabinet using hinges (1), and a handle means (2) is fixedly attached to each door to assist in opening the door. When installed, the back of the cabinet is fixedly attached to a wall. Cabinets normally house a plurality of flat shelves or drawers for storing goods that extend from the right side to the left side of the cabinet.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a regular cabinet's set of shelves or drawers and the bottom of the cabinet are removed completely, and the cabinet's bottom is open to allow the insert to pass through the opening. The bottom of the insert is slightly wider and deeper than the rest of the insert, so that when the insert is in a fully raised position, the bottom of the insert meets the bottom of the cabinet so that the bottoms of both the insert and the cabinet are flush. A lowering and raising means, usually a motor (5) is fixedly attached to the interior of the top of the cabinet. The motor is reversible and capable of low rotations per minute. The motor further comprises an electrostatic braking mechanism and is attached to an electrical connecting means (7) and a two-button activating means (3). The electrical connecting means comprises a cord and a standard electrical plug. One button on the two-button activating means causes the motor to revolve in one direction when activated, and the second button causes the motor to revolve in the opposite direction when activated. In the referred embodiment of the invention, the activating means is fixedly attached so it can be activated from the outside of the cabinet. In an alternate embodiment, the activating means is fixedly attached to the inside of the door and can be activated after the door is opened.

A spool (6) is fixedly attached to the motor and rotates as the motor revolves. A cable (10) of appropriate strength is fixedly attached to the spool and reels onto or off of the spool, depending on the direction in which the motor is rotating. The other end of the cable is fixedly attached to the top of the insert. The cable is an appropriate length so that when it is fully extended, the insert rests on a countertop or other stable surface beneath the cabinet.

The shelving insert further comprises a plurality of shelves (11) that may be of a fixed or adjustable height. The shelves extend horizontally from one side of the insert to the other. Rather than being completely flat as in a regular cabinet, the shelves have a raised lip that extends across the front of the shelves. The lip prevents the contents of the shelves from falling off of the shelves when the insert is in motion. In an alternate embodiment of the invention, the insert comprises a series of drawers rather than shelves to make the contents of the cabinet more accessible. The drawers extend horizontally from one side of the insert to the other and are fixedly attached to the sides of the insert. The drawers are capable of sliding forward to allow access to their contents.

In an alternate embodiment of the invention, a manual movement system replaces the motor system. The manual movement system comprises an extendable and retractable metal coil. Additionally, a locking mechanism is movably attached to the bottom of the cabinet, the locking mechanism being capable of holding the insert in its fully raised position when engaged.