Title:
Acoustic panel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An acoustic panel is provided. The acoustic panel includes a frame, an acoustic absorbing material, and an outer skin. The frame has a plurality of apertures therealong and an interior space. An acoustic absorbing material is located within the interior space. The outer skin covers the front surface of the frame.



Inventors:
Sigler, Patrick (Holland, MI, US)
Dekruif, William (US)
Ell, Susan (St. Peters, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/810954
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
06/07/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/82
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PHILLIPS, FORREST M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRINKS HOFER GILSON & LIONE (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An acoustic panel: a frame having a plurality of apertures therealong and an interior space; an acoustic absorbing material within the interior space; and a outer skin covering a front surface of the frame.

2. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the acoustic absorbing material is formed from polyester.

3. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the outer skin is a white board material.

4. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the outer skin is formed from a screen.

5. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the outer skin is formed from a fabric material.

6. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the outer skin has a graphic work.

7. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the apertures form a series of elongated slots.

8. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein the outer skin overlays a tack board material.

9. The acoustic panel of claim 1 further comprising a separate graphic work attached to the outer skin.

10. The acoustic panel of claim 1 wherein a monitor is attached to the outer skin.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present patent document claims the benefit of the filing date under 35 U.S.C. ยง 119(e) of provisional U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/812,344, filed Jun. 10, 2006, which is incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to acoustic panels. More particularly, the present invention relates to an acoustic panel having a multi-functional front surface and an improved acoustic absorption capability.

BACKGROUND

Acoustic absorbing materials have been used in many fields. In workplace environments, acoustic panels have been provided to control the sound level therein. In the past, acoustic panels have been formed using a perimeter frame, an acoustic absorbing material within the frame and an outer skin. The outer skin was designed to be acoustically transparent or partially acoustically transparent. Acoustic energy could then pass through the covering and be absorbed by the acoustic absorbing material within the interior of the acoustic panel. However, it has been found that acoustic energy often travels along the walls that form a workplace environment. As previous acoustic panels were designed to only absorb acoustic energy through the outer skin, these panels are ineffective to absorb traveling along the walls in a workplace. Therefore, there is a need for an acoustic panel operable to absorb acoustic energy traveling along a wall in a workplace environment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to an improved acoustic panel operable to absorb sound through a front surface and a side surface.

According to one aspect of the invention, an improved acoustic panel is provided. The acoustic panel includes a frame, an acoustic absorbing material and an outer skin. The frame has a plurality of apertures therealong and defines an interior space. An acoustic absorbing material is located within the interior space. The outer skin covers the front surface of the frame.

According to another aspect of the invention, the acoustic panel includes a separate functional element attached to the outer skin. One specific embodiment is directed to a display attached to the outer skin. Another specific embodiment is directed to a separate graphic work. A further specific embodiment is directed to a white board material attached to the outer skin or used as the outer skin.

The present invention, together with attendant objects and advantages, will be best understood with reference to the detailed description below in connection with the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view an acoustic panel in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of two acoustic panels in accordance with second and third embodiments;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a series of panels in accordance with a fourth embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a partially exploded view of a corner of a panel illustrating the sound absorbing material located within the interior;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a frame;

FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the second embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a fifth embodiment with a separate graphic work shown attached to the acoustic panel; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a sixth embodiment with a display shown attached to the acoustic panel

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The invention is described with reference to the drawings in which like elements are referred to by like numerals. The relationship and functioning of the various elements of this invention are better understood by the following detailed description. However, the embodiments of this invention as described below are by way of example only, and the invention is not limited to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings. It should also be understood that the drawings are not to scale and in certain instances details have been omitted which are not necessary for an understanding of the present invention, such as conventional details of fabrication and assembly. In addition, like elements have been numbered identically in the different embodiments.

FIGS. 1-8 illustrate various different embodiment of an acoustic panel in accordance with the present invention. FIG. 1 illustrates a generally square acoustic panel 10 in accordance with a first embodiment. The acoustic panel 10 is connected to wall 12 using known conventional fastening techniques. A graphic work 14 is illustrated on the outer skin 16 of the acoustic panel 10. It should be recognized that many different types of graphic works may implemented with the present invention. In addition, the graphic work may be applied using known conventional techniques.

FIG. 2 illustrates a second acoustic panel 20 and a third acoustic panel 22. The second acoustic panel 20 includes an outer skin 24 having a material that functions as a white board or projection screen. The third acoustic panel 22 includes an outer skin 26 that may be formed from a fabric material that creates a unique visual appearance useful in selected settings. FIG. 3 illustrates plurality of elongated rectangular panels 40, 42, 44 that have a unique appearance that again are useful in selected settings.

The interior of a representative acoustic panel is best illustrated in FIGS. 4-6. With particular reference to FIG. 6, the acoustic panel 20 includes an outer skin 24, a frame 50, a sound absorbing material 52, and an acoustically transparent or substantially transparent rear cover 54. The outer skin 24 can be formed from many known materials. The material selected can be directed at creating a specific visual impression or have a specific functionality. In order to create a specific visual impression, the outer skin 24 can have a specific color or texture to suit a particular space. Further, as illustrated in FIG. 1, a selected graphic image 14 may be applied to the outer skin 24. The outer skin 24 can also be selected from a material that provides a particular functionality such a white board, a tack board or a screen. In addition, the outer skin 24 may be placed over a tack board material such that tacks may penetrate the outer skin 24 and attach to the tack board material. It may be desirable to place various openings in the tack board material to allow acoustic energy to pass therethrough and be absorbed by the sound absorbing material 52. It should be recognized that the exact size and shape of the outer skin 24 may be varied.

The outer skin 24 is attached to the frame 50 using conventional fastening elements such as staples. In addition, a permanent adhesive is used to permanently bond the outer skin 24 to the frame 50. A permanent bond has been found useful during the construction process of the acoustic panel of the present invention.

One embodiment of the frame 50 is illustrated in FIG. 5. The frame 50 has a plurality of sides 60, 62, 64, 66. Each of the sides 60, 62, 64, 66 includes a plurality of apertures or slots 68. It should be recognized that the size and shape of the slots 68 may be altered to suit the needs of a particular acoustic panel. For example, slots of different sizes could be implemented or even holes could be used. The apertures or slots 68 are an important feature of the present invention because they allow acoustic waves to pass into the interior 70 from the side of the acoustic panel. While a center stretcher 72 is illustrated, this element may not be necessary for all types and sizes of frames. Also, it should be recognized that frames of various sizes and shapes may be used with the present invention. The frame 50 is illustrated using a wood construction. However, the frame 50 may be formed from other known materials such as plastic or metal.

A sound absorbing material 52 is illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 6. The sound absorbing material may be selected from materials such as polyester, fiberglass or an aerogel material. The polyester material could be selected from materials of varying densities. The sound absorbing material 52 is intended to substantially fill the interior 70 of the frame 50. A rear cover 54 is used to enclose the sound absorbing material 52 within the interior 70 of the frame 50. The rear cover 54 is also designed to be acoustically transparent or substantially transparent.

FIG. 7 illustrates an embodiment of an acoustic panel 80 with a framed art element 82 attached thereto. FIG. 8 illustrates an embodiment of an acoustic panel 90 with a display 92 attached thereto. These embodiments illustrate that the acoustic panel of the present invention may have other separate functional elements attached to the outer surface.

The embodiments described above and shown herein are illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is indicated by the claims rather than by the foregoing description and attached drawings. The invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, the acoustic panels of the present invention can be provided in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Accordingly, these and any other changes which come within the scope of the claims are intended to be embraced herein.