Title:
Resin Encased Lead Furniture and Surfaces
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A decorative flat member comprises a rigid, substantially flat substrate having top, bottom, and lateral surfaces; a metal layer attached to the top, bottom, and lateral surfaces; and a resin layer encasing the metal layer. The decorative member can be a part of a piece of furniture, countertop, flooring, carpentry, or cabinetry. A lead layer having an epoxy resin layer thereon has been found to be of special interest for architectural or decorating purposes.



Inventors:
Springer, Corey (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/751424
Publication Date:
11/22/2007
Filing Date:
05/21/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B13/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BALDWIN, GORDON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cozen O''Connor (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A decorative flat member comprising: a rigid, substantially flat substrate having top, bottom, and lateral surfaces; a metal layer attached to said top, bottom, and lateral surfaces; and a resin layer encasing said metal layer.

2. The decorative member of claim 1 which is a part of a piece of furniture, countertop, flooring, carpentry, or cabinetry.

3. The decorative member of claim 1, wherein the substrate comprises medium dense fiberboard, particle board, or plywood.

4. The decorative member of claim 1, wherein the bottom surface has notched areas to receive the metal layer.

5. The decorative member of claim 4, wherein the layer of metal with a layer of resin received in the notched area is substantially flush with the bottom surface.

6. The decorative member of claim 1, wherein the resin is an environmentally acceptable epoxy resin.

7. The decorative member of claim 1, wherein the top surface of the substrate has a recessed area to receive the metal layer and the resin layer.

8. The decorative member of claim 7, wherein the recessed area extends longitudinally or laterally across the top surface of the substrate.

9. The decorative member of claim 7, wherein the recessed area has one or more lateral notches to receive the metal layer and the resin layer.

10. The decorative member of claim 7, wherein the bottom surface of the substrate has a corresponding recessed area.

11. The decorative member of claim 10, wherein the corresponding recessed area has one or more notches to receive the metal layer and the resin layer.

12. A decorative flat wooden member comprising: a rigid, substantially flat substrate having top and bottom surfaces and having a recessed area within the top surface, the recessed area having a substantially flat bottom surface; a metal layer attached to the substantially flat bottom surface of the recess; and a resin layer overlaying said metal layer and substantially filling said recess.

13. The decorative member of claim 12, wherein the substrate comprises medium dense fiberboard, particle board, or plywood.

14. The decorative member of claim 12, wherein the resin is an environmentally acceptable epoxy resin.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of co-pending U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/747,744, filed May 19, 2006, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to furniture and surfaces. More particularly, the invention relates to a process of encasing lead or other metal in resin for the purpose of creating a durable and unique table or countertop surface for residential or commercial use.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Lead, a soft and malleable metal, has a desirable aesthetic quality and an easy workability. It is primarily used for industrial or commercial purposes, especially exterior applications. Lead products are typically sold to the roofing industry to be used as flashing. Since lead is known to have unsafe properties, particularly when absorbed in the body, it is rarely used in interior applications.

It is known that architects and designers have used lead in interiors as wall coverings to clad over wood or other materials. The lead is typically sold in 3 foot by 3 foot sheets that are approximately 1/16 of an inch thick. These applications use the lead for its aesthetic beauty, but it is not being used as an everyday table or surface due to its toxicity. Lead is rarely used as a design element and material in furniture and/or surfaces due to the fear of lead poisoning and lead's vulnerability to wear and tear over a period of time.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention is to combine a toxic material such as lead with a durable and safe encasement to avoid the unwanted and toxic effects of the unprotected toxic material.

It is another object of the invention to provide a new, unique, easy to maintain, clean, and versatile material that can be used in furniture.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a new, unique, easy to maintain, clean, and versatile material that can be used as table surfaces, counter tops, or flooring.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a material that can be used as an entire surface top or as a detail or inlay.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a material that allows for the incorporation of other materials within the process of the resin casting.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a material wherein materials such as metal, wood, or the like can be encased within a resin.

These and other objects of the invention will become more apparent from the description below.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the invention, lead or another metal can be encased in a resin such as an epoxy resin to eliminate negative attributes that the exposed surface of a metal such as lead possess. The resulting product is useful in exterior or interior applications, especially as table or counter surfaces or other flat furniture or cabinetry applications.

According to the invention, a resin such as an epoxy resin, which is a two component liquid mixture, can be cast or formed to create a solid object. The resin can be cast with nothing in it, or it can be cast to encase one or more objects or materials. Once the process of casting the resin is complete, the result is an impermeable, durable, and solid surface. The surface is resistant to stains, scratches, and heat, therefore making it an ideal material for any residential or office application.

The desire to incorporate lead as an aesthetic element in design made it necessary to develop a process that would allow the lead to be used while being completely encased and protected to the user. Therefore, the process of encasing a substrate clad with lead in resin provides both an ideal and aesthetically pleasing solution.

In one embodiment of the invention, a toxic material is provided with a durable and safe encasement to avoid the unwanted and toxic effects of the unprotected toxic material.

In another embodiment of the invention, a new, unique, easy to maintain, clean, and versatile material is provided that can be used as a table surface, a countertop, cabinetry, door, or flooring.

In another embodiment of the invention, a material can be provided that can be used as an entire surface top or as a detail or inlay.

In another embodiment of the invention, a material is prepared that allows for the incorporation of other materials within the process of a resin casting.

In another embodiment of the invention, a material is prepared that allows for the incorporation of wood or other materials or metals within a resin casting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a substrate in an embodiment of the present invention after the underside is notched or cut back;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a resin encased surface in an embodiment of the invention showing all the layers;

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the substrate in an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a top view of a substrate for another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a lateral view of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view across the middle of the embodiment the invention shown in FIG. 4 after the layers are applied;

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the resin-encased lead inlay in the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention can perhaps be better understood from the description and comments below.

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a representative table top 2 where a substrate 4 has been cut to a desired size. Substrate 4 can be any substrate material typically used in furniture, carpentry, or cabinetry, such as medium density fiberboard (MDF), particle board, or plywood. Substrate 4 has a lateral notch 6 to receive a layer of lead 8 and a resin layer 10, as shown in FIG. 2. The width 14 of notch 6 is from about 1 inch to about 3 inches, preferably from about 1.5 to about 2 inches, and the depth or height 16 of notch 6 is from about ¼ inches to about ¾ inches, preferably about 3/16 to about ⅝ inches. Height 16 is intended to be sufficiently deep that the outer surface 18 of resin layer 10 will be substantially flush with the bottom surface 22 of substrate 4.

In FIG. 2, a layer of lead 8 has been has been laid down in the pattern desired and then glued, nailed, or glued and nailed to substrate 4. As can be appreciated from FIG. 3, which is a bottom view, notch 6 extends in this application on all four sides of substrate 4 to receive the lead and resin layers 8 and 10.

Another embodiment of the inventor is shown in FIGS. 4 to 7, where a substrate 30 has a center member 32 formed by an upper center notched area 34 and a lower center notched area 36. Center member 32 has end notched areas 40. A layer of lead 42 is affixed to the upper surface 44 of center member 32 and then wrapped around the ends 46 of center member 32 and onto the lower surface 48 of center member 32. A resin layer 50 is formed over lead layer 42. Lower surface 48 optionally has recesses or notches to receive lead layer 42 and resin layer 50. The depth of each of upper and lower notched areas 34 and 36 and notch areas 40 will be about the same dimension as the depth of notch 6.

A further embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 8, where a substrate 60 such as a panel has an internal recess 62 in the top surface 64 of substrate 60 that has a layer of lead 66. A layer of resin 68 overlays layer 66 to the extent that it substantially fills recess 62 and is substantially flush with top surface 64. Recess 62 has a depth consistent with the depth of notch 6 or of upper and lower notched areas 34 and 36.

Lead is a preferred metal to be used according to the invention. However, other metals or alloys such as stainless steel, copper, zinc, rusted steel, cold rolled steel, and the like, can also be used.

The process by which the lead is encased is fundamentally the same when other metals are used. However, other metals might require the use of specific machinery to cut and bend the material around the substrate. In such a case the metal can be applied without the use of nails, glue, or seams, thereby creating a more consistent surface which bears a different aesthetic than that of the lead with nails. The advantage of encasing other metals, which can oxidize or rust, within the resin, is that the material can be captured in time, therefore not allowing it to be exposed to oxygen. This allows casting patinated copper in resin and maintaining its level of patina indefinitely.

In addition to the surface being used as table surfaces, countertops, flooring, etc., it can also be used as sinks and/or bathroom vanity tops with cast and formed sinks, thus creating a seamless countertop and sink in one. This material can also be used as outdoor furniture, tables tops, seat bottoms, interior and exterior doors, or as an accent or detail in a piece of furniture or cabinetry.

In preparation of a typical example of a product of the invention, the process of preparing the lead begins with a design layout of how the lead will lie on the substrate. Then, the pieces of lead are cut accordingly. The lead is cleaned with an alcohol-based solvent and subsequently sprayed with a salt water solution. This application changes the physical appearance of the lead from one that is rather shiny and inconsistent to one that is matte and consistent.

The lead sheets are laid out and flattened using a board and a mallet. Then an aqueous solution of kosher salt is sprayed over the top of the lead sheets. After the solution evaporates, it is sprayed again. This process is repeated until the desired oxidization is achieved (usually 3-5 applications). The lead is then wiped down with a wet rag.

At this point the lead is ready to be cut and applied to its substrate. The lead is cut using a box cutter (razor blade) and a ruler. It is cut and laid out in the desired pattern or arrangement. The backside of the lead is cleaned with a wax remover, and an industrial strength adhesive is used to adhere the lead to the substrate. The lead is then reinforced with nails or brads, which act to both secure the lead in place and add an aesthetic element.

The lead substrate can also be combined with solid or veneered wooden surfaces prior to casting to cast both the wood and the lead in the resin, or to form an inlay within the wood surface. This process allows for endless combinations of materials and designs and is completely unique and specific to the invention herein. To prepare wood to be encased in resin, one must first attach the wood to the substrate and then cut back the underside as stated above. Once the wood has been sanded and brought to its final dimensions, the substrate is ready for the lead. The lead preparation is the same as mentioned above.

After the lead is completely flattened and wrapped around and under the substrate, it is ready for a mold. The mold consists of a flat platform with, preferably, four interchangeable walls. It is understood that if the final product is round then the walls are constructed to form a round shape. The platform is leveled and prepared for casting. This process entails two coats of shellac and two coats of paste wax to ensure an easy release of the resin once it has cured. In addition, a thin line is drawn all the way around the mold to indicate when to stop pouring the resin.

After the mold has been prepared, the lead substrate is wiped clean with a wax remover such as Naptha to remove all wax and dirt. The substrate is then set within the mold and spaced anywhere between 3/16 of an inch to ½ of an inch equally from two adjacent walls. The spacing is dependent upon the desired thickness of the resin. The substrate is then fastened from underneath to hold the form flat to the platform. Once it has been secured, the two remaining walls are attached and are spaced equally. After the mold walls have been secured, all the seams are filled with clay to prevent any leaking of the resin. The entire structure is then checked once again to ensure that the mold is leveled.

The resin used can be any commercially available polymer resin that will harden to form a clear or translucent layer. It is preferred to have a resin mixture that will harden in a suitable time, e.g., 24 to 72 hours, to form a layer that will be environmentally acceptable, for example, it will not generate noxious or toxic substances or gases, such as is typical of some polyurethane or polyurea compositions. Epoxy resins are preferred, and especially preferred is a two-part epoxy resin system available under the name EX-88 from Environmental Technology Inc. (Fields Landing, Calif., www.eti-usa.com).

When the resin is a two-part mixture, it is mixed in equal parts in a plastic mixing bucket. It is then thoroughly mixed by hand to ensure that the equal parts are mixed evenly. Once the resin is carefully mixed, it is ready to be poured into the mold.

The resin is poured over the top of the substrate, and it settles over the side of the form and fills in the void on the underside of the substrate. This allows for all the air that could potentially get trapped underneath to escape as the resin rises up the sides of the mold.

Within one hour the air bubbles that might have been trapped within the resin will rise to the surface. At this point it is important to break the surface tension of the resin. A blow torch set on a low to medium flame is gently passed across the surface. This pops all air bubbles and breaks the surface tension.

The mold is then checked over the period of a few hours to ensure that there are no more bubbles that have risen to the surface. If there is any sign of residual air pockets, the blow torch is used once again to eliminate this surface tension.

The mold then needs to cure for 24 hours. After 24 hours have passed, the mold walls can be removed, and the substrate can be freed from the platform. When the resin cures, it has inconsistencies that need to be sanded out. The process from here to completion is rather time consuming and laborious.

The first step after the resin/lead form is freed from the mold is to sand the top and bottom of the form using a random orbit sander to give the surface a rough, yet uniform finish. This step is necessary because the side walls of the form after it is freed from the mold are rough and oversized and need to be cleaned up and resized using a hand held router with a template bit.

After the form has been roughly flattened, a template of the final size desired is cut out of a ½ inch plywood. It is clamped onto the surface of the form so that the resin border is even all the way around all four sides. Once it has been secured, the operator uses the router to remove about 1/16 of an inch of material all the way around the form. The template is then removed and the form is now ready for sanding.

Because a very silky smooth and matte surface is desired, the sanding process is very time consuming and specific. It involves a combination of both dry sanding and wet sanding to achieve the desired surface texture.

By use of different stages of grits of sandpaper, a random orbit sander is then used to sand the surface and edges. The operator starts with a low grit and works up to a high grit. More specifically, for example, in this order: 100 grit, 150 grit, 220 grit, 320 grit. After the dry sanding process has been completed, and the surface and edges are very smooth, the resin tends to still be a bit cloudy and sanding marks are very much present.

To eliminate the sanding marks and to make the clear resin completely transparent, it is necessary to use a wet sander. This is very similar to the orbit sander mentioned above; however, it uses special sanding pads that have a foam backing that retains water as it is removing material. The wet sanding process begins with a 350 grit sandpaper and works up to 500 grit, 1000 grit, and concluding with 2000 grit.

The end result of this sanding process creates a surface that is lustrous, smooth, and durable. At some vantage points it appears that the surface it a solid gray material, and at others the viewer can tell that there is actually lead that is fully encased with the clear resin.

Most applications of the lead and resin layers according to the invention produces a final thickness of 1¼ inches to 1½ inches, the majority of which is the underlying substrate, such as MDF or plywood, Usually this substrate starts out as 1¼ inches thick and is cut back or notched about 3/16 of an inch on the bottom edge. The 1/16 inch thick lead is then applied to the surface and wrapped over the sides and under the bottom side. The resin is then poured at about ⅛th to about 3/16th of an inch on all three sides (top, bottom, and sides), thus producing an average thickness of about 1¼ to about 1½ inches.

With regard to FIGS. 4 to 8, to create an inlay of resin encased lead within a solid piece of wood, the wooden substrate is built with open grooves where the lead/resin will ultimately reside. This process entails the joining of two pieces of wood to a third piece that will act as the substrate for the lead. The third piece is cut shorter on both ends and thinner on the top to allow for the lead to be laid on top and wrapped around the ends of the center piece, therefore, allowing room for the thickness of the resin. After the lead is fixed and cleaned, the resin is poured into the channel.

The casting process a bit different than the one stated above; however, the finishing process is quite similar. In lead inlay process, the resin is being poured so that the end result is a seamless and flush surface between two pieces of wood. Two wooden molds are built that clamp on to each end of the substrate. This mold acts as a dam. When the resin is poured into the channel it is allowed to flow over the side of the substrate and under in order to fully encase the lead. However, there is no need for it to flow over on the other sides, because it is meant to lie flush with the top of the wood, which is not getting encased with resin. The channel which is filled with resin, gets a clay wall on both sides of about ¼ of an inch high to prevent the resin from pouring over.

After the resin is cured, the molds are removed and the finishing process begins. Because the resin is being poured into a channel in hardwood, the finishing process is a bit easier. All residual resin on the underside of the board is sanded clean and the plank of wood with the poured resin channel is put into a thickness planer. A thickness planer is a machine that is used to remove dimension from a solid piece of wood in an efficient and safe manner. By using this machine, the inventor is able to make both the resin surface and the wooden surface flush. After this process has been completed, the entire board is sanded using a random orbital sander. This method only requires dry sanding and two different grits of sandpaper. 220 grit and then 320 grit over the entire surface of both the resin and wood. The final finish on the resin is achieved by using steel wool.

While the invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiment thereof, it will be appreciated by those, of ordinary skill in the art that modifications can be made to the structure and elements of the invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as a whole.