Title:
Support member systems and methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present disclosure includes a number of system and method embodiments. One such system embodiment includes a first support member, a second support member and a third support member including a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough. The first support member extends in a z direction of a (x, y, z) Cartesian coordinate system, the second support member extends in an x direction and the third support member extends in the y direction. Also, the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member are rigidly fastened together via three removable fastening members.



Inventors:
Sparks, Douglas M. (Wabasha, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/710797
Publication Date:
08/28/2008
Filing Date:
02/26/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B47/00
View Patent Images:
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20020056793Stands for supporting musical instruments or the likeMay, 2002Bell
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20040200939Concrete foundation form systemOctober, 2004Matthew Sr.



Primary Examiner:
DUCKWORTH, BRADLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOKS, CAMERON & HUEBSCH , PLLC (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A system, comprising: a first support member having a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough extending in a z direction of a (x, y, z) Cartesian coordinate system; a second support member having a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough positioned perpendicular to and in contact with the first support member, where the second support member extends in an x direction; and a third support member having a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough positioned perpendicular to and in contact with the first support member and the second support member, where the third support member extends in a y direction, and where the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member are rigidly fastened together via three removable fastening members.

2. The system of claim 1, where the first support member is fastened to the second support member via a first fastening member and the first support member is fastened to the third support member via a second fastening member.

3. The system of claim 2, where the second support member is fastened to the third support member via a third fastening member.

4. The system of claim 1, where the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member each have a first set of holes positioned proximate a first end of the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member, and the first support member is fastened to the second support member through at least two of a second set of holes positioned longitudinally next to the first set of holes.

5. The system of claim 4, where the first support member is positioned adjacent the third support member such that the first support member is fastened to the third support member through at least two of the first set of holes positioned proximate the first end of the first support member and the third support member.

6. The system of claim 5, where the second support member is positioned adjacent the third support member such that the second support member is fastened to the third support member at the first set of holes positioned proximate the first end of the second support member and the second, set of holes positioned longitudinally next to the first set of holes on the third support member.

7. The system of claim 1, where the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member have a square cross-sectional shape and include the plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough on each side of the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member.

8. A method of assembly, comprising: positioning a first support member and a second support member such that the first support member extends in a z direction of a (x, y, z) Cartesian coordinate system and the second support member extends in an x direction, where the first support member is adjacent and in contact with the second support member; fastening the first support member to the second support member; positioning a third support member adjacent the first and second support member such that the third support member is in a y direction of a (x, y, z) Cartesian coordinate system and in contact with the first and second support member; and fastening the third support member to the second support member and the first support member to rigidly fix the first, second, and third support members with respect to each other.

9. The method of claim 8, where the first, second, and third support members each have a first set of holes and a second set of holes positioned longitudinally next to the first set of holes extending through the first, second, and third support members, and where fastening the first support member to the second support member includes fastening the first support member to the second support member at the second set of holes extending though the first support member and the second support member.

10. The method of claim 9, where positioning the first support member adjacent the second support member includes positioning the first support member and second support member such that the second set of holes are positioned approximately in the center of a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the first support member and the second support member.

11. The method of claim 9, where positioning the first support member adjacent the second support member includes positioning the first support member and second support member such that the second set of holes is positioned second among a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the first support member and the second support member.

12. The method of claim 8, where fastening the third support member to the first support member includes fastening the third support member to the first support member at a first set of holes extending through the third support member and the first support member.

13. The method of claim 12, where positioning the third support member adjacent the first support member includes positioning the first support member and the third support member such that the first set of holes is positioned approximately in the center of a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the third support member and the first support member.

14. The method of claim 12, where positioning the third support member adjacent the first support member includes positioning the third support member and first support member such that the first set of holes is positioned first among a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the third support member and the first support member.

15. The method of claim 8, where fastening the third support member to the second support member includes fastening the third support member to the second support member at a first set of holes extending through the second support member and a second set of holes extending through the third support member.

16. The method of claim 15, where positioning the third support member adjacent the second support member includes positioning the third support member and the second support member such that the first set of holes and the second set of holes are positioned approximately in the center of a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the third support member and the second support member.

17. The method of claim 15, where positioning the third support member adjacent the second support member includes positioning the third support member and second support member such that the first set of holes is positioned first among a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the second support member and the second set of holes is positioned second among a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the third support member.

18. A system, comprising: a first support member having a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough extending in a z direction of a (x, y, z) Cartesian coordinate system, a second support member having a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough positioned adjacent the first support member extending in an x direction, where the second support member is fastened to the first support member at a second set of holes extending through the first support member and the second support member; a third support member having a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough positioned adjacent the first support member and the second support member extending in a y direction, where the third support member is fastened to the first support member at a first set of holes extending through the third support member and the second first support member, and where the third support member is fastened to the second support member at a first set of holes extending through the second support member and a second set of holes extending through the third support member.

19. The system of claim 18, where the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member have a square cross-sectional shape and include a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough on each side of the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member.

20. The system of claim 19, where the first set of holes on each of the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member are positioned first among the plurality of longitudinally space aligning holes extending therethrough, and the second set of holes on each of the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member are positioned second among the plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough.

21. The system of claim 18, where the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member are approximately identical.

22. The system of claim 18, where the first support member, the second support member, and the third support member are fastened together with three approximately identical fastening members.

Description:

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure relates generally to support member systems and methods; and more particularly to systems and methods for fastening support members to each other.

BACKGROUND

Frame structures that are used for supports, stands, display apparatus, racks, carts, or workstations often utilize a plurality of differently shaped support members which are attached together to form the body of a structure. In some structures, the support members are attached together perpendicularly where certain frame members constitute vertical frame portions and other frame members constitute horizontal frame portions.

Oftentimes differently shaped diagonally oriented cross members and/or brackets are used to provide rigidity to the structure. For instance, the diagonal members are typically longer than the other support members in order to span the distance across the diagonal, and the attachment points are at the ends of the member, making them suitable only as diagonal members. Such different shaped members increase cost in creating such systems and in having the correct parts and expertise on hand to fabricate a particular structure.

Where permanent structures are envisioned, permanent techniques of fastening are used such as welding, gluing, or nailing. In structures which are not intended to be permanent, techniques such as bolting, interfitting projections and slots, bendable metal tabs, and the like have been used. In such non-permanent structures, the way in which the support members are affixed at their junction points may be different from one junction to the next. Further, in some non-permanent structures, the attachment components may be hard to access, making assembly and/or disassembly difficult.

Non-permanent structure systems may also be limited in that the number of points of attachment is restricted, and therefore, such systems are oftentimes predetermined for one configuration and cannot be used for multiple configurations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A illustrates an embodiment of a system according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 1B is an exploded illustration of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Embodiments of the present disclosure are directed to systems and methods for fastening a number of support members together to form entire structures or portions thereof. As used herein, structures can include shelves, racks, carts, workstations, containers, benches, and any other structure that can be constructed using embodiments of the present disclosure.

According to the present disclosure, there are several applications that may benefit from the systems and methods as described herein. Such applications include constructing structures without tools or through use of a minimal number of tools. Such embodiments may provide individuals that are not handy with tools the ability to create structures or portions thereof.

In addition, embodiments of the present disclosure may be useful to make structures that can be assembled and disassembled without damaging the support members of the structure. Such embodiments allow the support members to be reused and/or reconfigured into different structures or portions thereof.

Further, embodiments of the present disclosure may be useful when constructing a structure for a specific purpose, such that the structure can be designed and constructed to fit the purpose. Such embodiments can be designed to have a number of similar parts thereby allowing the parts to be used in a variety of configurations.

Additionally, various embodiments may use support members that have all the same sized members, including cross-sectional shapes, lengths, numbers of attachment points, and/or positions of attachment points. In some embodiments, the attachment components may be the same type and/or may be identical. Such similarity of components and/or members can allow for these parts to be used in more configurations and can create an easy building process, among other benefits.

FIG. 1A illustrates an embodiment of a system according to the present disclosure. In addition, FIG. 1B illustrates an exploded view of the embodiment of the system shown in FIG. 1A.

The figures herein follow a numbering convention in which the first digit or digits correspond to the drawing figure number and the remaining digits identify an element or component in the drawing. Similar elements or components between different figures may be identified by the use of similar digits. For example, 110 may reference element “10” in FIG. 1, and a similar element may be referenced as 210 in FIG. 2.

As will be appreciated, elements shown in the various embodiments herein can be added, exchanged, and/or eliminated so as to provide a number of additional embodiments of value. In addition, discussion of features and/or attributes for an element with respect to one figure can also apply to the element shown in one or more additional figures. Additionally, embodiments of the devices and systems may have different dimensions than those illustrated in the figures.

As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1A, the system 100 includes a first support member 102, a second support member 104, and a third support member 106. The first support member 102 can include a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes 108 extending therethrough the first support member 102. As used herein, “longitudinally spaced aligning holes” refers to holes 108 along a face 110 of a support member (e.g., the first support member 102) that align with holes 108 along a parallel face 112 of a support member.

In some embodiments, the holes 108 can be placed on the support member 102, 104, and 106 with a predetermined distance 109 between the holes 108 that is equal on each face 110, 112 of the support member 102, 104, and 106. Embodiments of the present disclosure are not limited to a particular shape of the holes 108. In various embodiments, the holes 108 can have a circular shape, as shown in FIGS. 1A-1B, however, the holes 108 can have other shapes including elliptical and/or polygonal. In addition, embodiments of the present disclosure are not limited to single holes 108 but can include holes 108 that are a series of overlapping openings (e.g., circular openings). The holes 108 can be formed on the support members 102, 104, and 106 by stamping, laser cutting, or drilling, among other manners.

The second support member 104 and the third support member 106 can also include a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes 108 extending therethrough, as discussed herein. As shown in FIGS. 1A-1B, the support members 102, 104, and 106 can be formed as a hollow structure. Embodiments of the present disclosure can also include solid support members 102, 104, and 106 where the longitudinally spaced aligning holes 108 extend through the support members 102, 104, and 106 and may intersect with longitudinally spaced aligning holes 108 on an orthogonal face 111 relative the face 110 and/or the parallel face 112.

In some embodiments, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can be made of a metal. Examples of such metals include, but are not limited to, platinum, titanium, stainless steel (e.g., 316L stainless steel), aluminum, copper, and/or gold.

In some embodiments, the support members 102, 104, and 106 can be made of a polymer. For example, suitable polymers include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), or the like. The support members 102, 104, and 106 can also be made of wood, and/or fiberglass. Embodiments can also be made of other suitable materials for forming the devices or systems discussed herein.

In addition, as discussed herein, in some embodiments, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can have approximately identical dimensions including, but not limited to, length, width, cross-sectional shape (e.g., square as shown in FIG. 1A), height, hole diameter, and distance between holes, among others. In some such embodiments, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can have approximately identical dimensions excepting the length of the support members 102, 104, and/or 106.

As illustrated in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1A, the first support member 102 can extend in a z direction 114 of a (x, y, z) Cartesian coordinate system. In addition, the second support member 104 can extend in an x direction 116 and the third support member 106 can extend in a y direction 118.

In some embodiments, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can have a square cross-sectional shape and can include the plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes 108 extending therethrough on each side of the support members 102, 104, and 106. Such embodiments can be beneficial because of the symmetrical shape of the support members 102, 104, and 106. Also, the square cross-sectional shape can provide more structural strength as compared to other cross-sectional shapes, for example, a rectangular cross-sectional shape.

Embodiments, however, are not limited to a square cross-sectional shape. In various embodiments, the support members 102, 104, and 106 can have circular, oval, triangular, rectangular, and/or other polygonal cross-sectional shapes. Other cross-sectional shapes may also be suitable. In addition, in some embodiments, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can have different cross-sectional shapes. In various embodiments, two of the support members 102, 104 can have the same cross-sectional shapes while the third support member 106 has a different cross-sectional shape.

As shown in FIGS. 1A-1B, the second support member 104 can be positioned perpendicular to the first support member 102 and the third support member 106 can be positioned perpendicular to both the first support member 102 and the second support member 104. In addition, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member can be rigidly fastened via three removable fastening members 120. Such embodiments can be beneficial because they utilize a minimum number of fastening members 120 to make the attachment.

In some embodiments, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can each have a first set of holes 122 positioned proximate a first end 124 of the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106. The first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can also include a second set of holes 126 positioned longitudinally next to the first set of holes 122.

In some embodiments, the first support member 102 can be fastened to the second support member via a first fastening member 128. The first fastening member 128 can extend through the second set of holes 126 on both the first support member 102 and the second support member 104 to fasten the first support member 102 to the second support member 104. In addition, the first support member 102 can be fastened to the third support member via a second fastening member 130. The second fastening member 130 can extend through the first set of holes 122 on both the first support member 102 and the third support member 106 to fasten the first support member 102 to the third support member 106.

In various embodiments, the second support member 104 can be fastened to the third support member via a third fastening member 132. The third fastening member 132 can extend through the first set of holes 122 on the second support member 104 and the second set of holes 126 on the third support member to fasten the second support member 104 to the third support member 106.

In embodiments where three fastening members are utilized, as discussed with respect to FIGS. 1A and 1B, the use of three fastening members can be beneficial because the support members 102, 104, and 106 can be rigidly fixed to each other with a minimum number of fastening members 120. Additionally, in embodiments as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the fastening members 120 can be the same, which reduces the amount of parts to be manufactured and provided to a user and also may take less skill to build a structure, among other benefits, as discussed herein.

In some embodiments, the first set of holes 122 can be positioned approximately in the center of a plurality of longitudinally spaced aligning holes extending therethrough the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106. In such embodiments, the second set of holes 126 can be positioned longitudinally next to the first set of holes 122. Also, the first support member 102, the second support member 104, and the third support member 106 can be fastened together using three fastening members 120, as discussed herein. In such embodiments, the system 100 can be used as a junction between two sections of a structure such as a desk or set of shelves, for example.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1B, in some embodiments, the fastening members 120 can be a bolt and a nut (e.g., hex nut, wing nut, etc.), among other suitable fastening mechanisms. Other suitable fastening mechanisms can include, but are not limited to, pins, including detent pins and other spring loaded devices, screws, ties, wires, adhesives, welding, and other types of fastening mechanisms. As some of the above would not be utilized with a hole 108, it is understood that some embodiments may not have a hole 108 for placement of a support member 102, 104, or 106.

In some embodiments, the fastening members 120 can have similar or identical profiles. In such embodiments, the fastening members 120 can be interchangeable when being used to attach support members 102, 104, and/or 106 to form the system 100.

In addition, in some embodiments, the fastening members 120 can be formed with a sufficient length to extend through two support members 102, 104, or 106. Additionally, the fastening members 120 can be formed with a length sufficient to extend through two specific support members having a square cross-sectional shape, but perhaps not enough length to extend through a square support member and a circular support member, for example. In some embodiments the fastening members 120 can be formed to accommodate the fastening of more than two support members 102, 104, or 106.

In addition, the fastening members 120 can be made of several different materials. In some embodiments, the fastening members 120 can be made of a metal, such as steel, iron, aluminum, titanium, copper, and/or the like. The fastening members 120 can also be made of synthetic materials, such as polyvinyl chloride, high density polyethylene, polyethylene, and/or butadiene-polyamide copolymer, among others. The fastening members 120 can also be made of other natural or synthetic materials such as wood and/or fiberglass, among others.

Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that an arrangement calculated to achieve the same techniques can be substituted for the specific embodiments shown. As one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate upon reading this disclosure, various embodiments of the invention can be performed in one or more devices, device types, and system environments including networked environments.

Combination of the above embodiments, and other embodiments not specifically described herein will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The scope of the various embodiments of the disclosure includes other applications in which the above structures and methods can be used. Therefore, the scope of various embodiments of the disclosure should be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full range of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

In the foregoing Detailed Description, various features may have been grouped together in a single embodiment for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the embodiments of the invention require more features than are expressly recited in each claim.

Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive subject matter lies in less than all features of a single disclosed embodiment. Thus, the following claims are hereby incorporated into the Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment.