Title:
Framing mat for display articles
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A single unit framing mat used to display collectible items, comprised of a top flexible, EVA layer with cut-outs, and a rigid, uncut supporting bottom layer. The top EVA layer has a high co-efficient of friction enabling it to self-seal against a transparent panel when compressed. The self-sealing mat thereby encapsulates and protects display articles from environmental elements. When pressure is released the top EVA mat layer retains its functional integrity and can be reused to encapsulate new display articles. The top EVA layer has a closed-cell structure that is impreviable to moisture and thereby resists wraping. The framing mat may be used to frame display articles of varying thicknesses. The mat may be used in a variety of commercially available picture framing devices that include pressure exerting back hardware.



Inventors:
Engelhardt, Karen (Cranston, RI, US)
Tinglof, Paula M. (Cranston, RI, US)
Application Number:
11/818415
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
06/14/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
40/768
International Classes:
A47G1/06
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Primary Examiner:
JUNGE, KRISTINA N S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Karen Engelhardt (Cranston, RI, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A single unit, framing mat comprised of a flexible, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) top layer and a rigid bottom layer having top layer cut-outs to receive display material.

2. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the top EVA layer with its' high co-efficient of friction, when pressed against a transparent panel, will self-seal without the use of bonding agents.

3. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the top EVA layer with its' high co-efficient of friction, when pressed against a transparent panel, forms a removable seal that retains its' functional integrity when pressure is released and reapplied.

4. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the top EVA layer with its' high co-efficient of friction, when pressed against a transparent panel, forms a seal that prevents display articles from slipping out of position.

5. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the top EVA layer with its' high co-efficient of friction, when pressed against a transparent panel, forms a seal that prevents the movement of the framing mat within the framing device.

6. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the top EVA layer with its' high co-efficient of friction, when pressed against a transparent panel, forms a seal that prevents environment elements from entering the encapsulating pocket.

7. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the top EVA layer is comprised of a closed-cell structure that prevents moisture penetration thereby eliminating mat warping.

8. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein its single unit construction enables full view of display articles.

9. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein its' design characteristics allow for lightweight flat objects and heavier 3-dimensional objects to be framed within the same mat.

10. The framing mat of claim 1, wherein the back layer when comprised of a transparent material allows for full, back viewing of display articles.

Description:

This application is a CIP of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/033,517 submitted on Jan. 12, 2005, Titled, “Frame Assembly” which is incorporated herein by reference.

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/536,772 submitted on Jan. 15, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

I. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a framing mat designed for displaying, protecting, and allowing for easy changing of collectible articles, such as, but not limited to, postcards, records, compact discs, tokens, pins and medals.

II. Description of Related Art

Collecting memorabilia has traditionally been a popular pastime. As everyday articles, such are records and compact discs become obsolete, new categories of collecting open up, and the demand for innovative products to display these types of articles is growing. Collectors, in particular, desire wall displays that provide both protection from environmental elements and allow for easy changing of display articles. Conventional picture framing techniques and related display devices do not provide both features in one unit.

There are many conventional methods of displaying artwork, photographs and memorabilia. Most methods utilize a retaining backing board or shadow box design and a cellulose based framing mat. In these types of systems, artwork is held in place, by permanently mounting it to the backing board or shadow box construction through a variety of professional techniques. A decorative mat with a cutout window(s) is positioned on top of the backing board or shadow box unit. The mat and mounted artwork are then placed inside a picture frame assembly and secured into place with framing hardware. Typically, framing paper is glued or taped to the back of the frame to prevent moisture and dust from penetrating the assembly thereby preserving artwork from deterioration.

A framing device noted by Yesbick, U.S. Pat. No. 5,787,625 Aug. 4, 1998, utilizes a permanently adhered gasket as a method of sealing and weatherproofing a display frame for outdoor use.

A limitation of the Yesbick patent and previously noted conventional methods of picture framing is that they do not allow for easy changing of display articles. Furthermore, they are expensive, time consuming and require professional skill and equipment to be done properly.

One recent attempt to address the issue of artwork changeability was disclosed by Champnella II, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,796,066 B2, Sep. 28, 2004. This patent discloses the use of multiple, separate mat layers as a way of accessing and holding artwork in place. Artwork is positioned into an article holding mat that has window cut-outs. The article holding mat is then sandwiched between top and bottom mats. The top mat has corresponding window cutouts and must be exactly aligned with the article holding mat. A solid bottom mat is positioned against the article holding mat. A backed hinged piece is used to hold the assembly in place and allow access to the article holding mat.

One limitation with the above noted patent, is that the separate mat layers do not provide a means of sealing out environment elements. Loose layers allow for penetration of air and moisture into the assembly. Furthermore, the back layer must be removed inorder to access the article holding mat, and therefore, any attempt to bond such layers would render the device useless.

A further limitation with the above noted patent, is its cumbersome and expensive design. The use of multiple mats with aligning windows makes it tedious to use and increases manufacturing costs.

Furthermore, since the mat layers are loose, any jolt to the frame assembly can cause the display articles to slip between mat layers.

In another known device, patented by Hosker, U.S. Pat. No. 4,117,613, Oct. 3, 1978, a photo receiving board is sandwiched behind a decorative window cut panel and in front of a resilient layer. The photo receiving board has a flat surface and is uncut. The decorative panel has multiple window openings with one large center opening. Photographs are inserted through the front, large window and maneuvered into position against the receiving board. Because the receiving board has a resilient backing layer, it can be pushed back allowing photos to be maneuvered into position. When pressure is released, the receiving board then springs back and frictionally engages the photos against the decorative window cut panel. The patent discloses a box type assembly that does not use a front acrylic or glass cover.

One limitation of the Hosker patent, is that it can only be used with photographs and flat, lightweight objects. Heavier or 3-dimensional articles such as compact discs or records, could not be frictionally supported by this type of design. Furthermore, it is easy to imagine that bumping the frame would cause the photos to slip and misalign.

Another limitation of the Hosker patent is that the top panel windows are confined by size and distribution requirements. This limits the design flexiblity of the device and its suitability for various types of display articles.

Yet another limitation of the Hosker patent is that edges of the display articles are hidden by the top panel and full display of the articles is not possible.

Another limitation of the Hosker patent is that it is an open device and does not provide protection from environmental elements.

Finally, conventional picture framing techniques and previously noted display devices utilize cellulose based mats and materials which absorb moisture and can cause warping.

Thus, a need exists for an inexpensive, improved framing mat that overcomes limitations with currently known devices and conventional picture framing methods.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In view of the above related needs, it is the object of this invention to provide a framing mat for display articles, that when used in conventional picture frame assemblies, encapsulates and protects display articles from environmental elements. This is solved through the use of a mat that self-seals, without the use of adhesives, when pressed against an acrylic or glass cover. The seal prevents environmental elements, such as moisture and dust, from entering the mat cut-outs.

Another object of this invention is to provide for easy changing of display articles. This is achieved by releasing the frame assembly hardware that applies pressure against the back of the mat. Once pressure is released, the mat can easily be removed and display articles changed. The mat retains its functional integrity and can be reused.

An additional object of this invention is to provide a mat that resists warping. This is solved through the use of a closed cell EVA material that is impervious to moisture. This solves moisture related problems associated with conventional cellulose based picture framing mats.

Another object of this invention is to provide a framing mat that is simple to use and does not require the alignment of multiple mat layers. This is solved through the use of a single unit mat with top layer recessed openings.

Another object of this invention is to prevent display articles from slipping between loose mat layers. This is solved through the use of a single framing mat that because of its unique properties will securely position itself to a transparent framing cover.

Another object of this invention is to provide a full view of the display articles. This is solved through the use of single framing mat with holding pockets that do not require the use of any additional overlay mats.

Furthermore, it is the object of this invention to provide a mat design that can provide both a front and back view of display articles when a transparent mat backing is used.

Furthermore, it is the object of this invention to provide a framing mat that can retain both lightweight and heavier 3-dimensional objects.

Finally, it is the object of this invention to provide a framing mat that is not limited by size and distribution requirements of window openings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the framing mat showing two recessed pockets.

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of the framing mat showing a rigid back layer and the front EVA layer.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the framing mat as it is used with a picture frame glass or acrylic cover.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the framing mat positioned to a picture frame glass or acrylic cover.

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view of the framing mat inside a conventional picture frame assembly, and illustrates the encapsulation of a display article.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1., a frame mat 10 having a front layer 16 and a support backing 12, and recessed pockets 24 is shown. Although the framing mat 10 is illustrated as a rectangle, it will be understood that the framing mat 10 may be of other shapes without deviation from the scope of the invention. Furthermore, it is also understood that the recessed pockets 24 while shown as a square and circle may be of other shapes and quantity, arranged in any manner depending on the display articles.

Referring to FIGS. 1 & 2, the front layer 16, is composed of an Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) resin. The EVA surface 16 is formulated with several desirable properties that include elasticity, a high coefficient of friction and a closed cell structure. Furthermore, the front EVA layer may range in thickness, typically, but not limited to, ⅛″ to ¾″ depending on the type of display articles.

Still referring to FIGS. 1 & 2, the support backing 12 is any rigid material capable of supporting the front EVA layer 16. The support backing 12 may be opaque or transparent depending on the display article. An opaque material would enable a front view only of the display articles, while a transparent material would allow for both a front and back view of the display articles.

Still referring to FIGS. 1 & 2, a ledge 22 is shown, as created by cutting the EVA surface 16 at a 90 degree angle. The ledge 22 is used to support display articles and has a depth equal to the thickness of the front EVA layer 16.

Still referring to FIGS. 1 & 2, the framing mat 10 is created through a process of fusing the front EVA layer 16 to the support backing 12 using, but not limited to, specific bonding agents suitable for these materials.

Referring to FIG. 3, the framing mat 10 is shown in relationship to a picture frame glass or acrylic cover 26 and the display article 29. The display article 29 is illustrated inside the front, recessed pocket of the framing mat 10 and is supported by the ledge 22.

Referring to FIG. 4, the framing mat 10 is shown positioned to a picture frame glass or acrylic cover 26 and the display article 29. The framing mat 10 is shown in position to a front frame glass or acrylic cover 26. FIG. 4 shows the encapsulation of the display article 29 that is created when the front cover 26 and the framing mat 10 are engaged.

Referring to FIG. 5, the framing mat, comprised of the rigid bottom layer 12 and the top EVA layer 16, is shown inside a conventional picture frame assembly that includes an outside frame 28, the glass or acrylic cover 26 and the back hardware 30. Pressure is exerted by pressing the framing hardware 30 against the support backing 12. This pressure causes the front EVA layer 16 to compress and self-seal against the picture frame glass or acrylic cover 26. Because the EVA layer 16 is uniquely formulated to contain a high coefficient of friction, the front EVA layer 16 forms a seal with the picture frame glass or acrylic cover 26. Furthermore, since this process does not require the use of adhesives the seal may be broken by releasing the back hardware 30. The framing mat 10 may then be removed and the display article 29 changed. The framing mat 10 can then be placed back into the picture frame assembly and compressed into placed as previously noted. The functional integrity of the seal remains intact because of the resiliency of the EVA layer 16, and a new display article is encapsulated. This process may be repeated as often as desired.