Title:
Display rack with ventilation window in the vertical walls
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present disclosure relates to a polymeric display rack for supporting and displaying articles. The rack may include one or more elongate channels defined by at least one vertical sidewall, a track, and a front member. Each channel may incorporate one or more ventilation windows defined therein that may vary in size, shape, and dimensions, thereby facilitating the circulation of air through the channel.



Inventors:
Riley, Daniel C. (Hackensack, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/724119
Publication Date:
09/18/2008
Filing Date:
03/14/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080121598Towel holderMay, 2008Brinson
20070144988Mounted rack with side protectors for holding packs of plastic bagsJune, 2007Alvarado
20100032395FOLDABLE TRAY ATTACHMENT AND PACKAGE FOR CHAIRFebruary, 2010Zabinski
20050258117Folding shelfNovember, 2005Drake
20070163969Clamping cartridge for panel-type productsJuly, 2007Huszczo et al.
20040155001Portable bath and shower restraining deviceAugust, 2004Pingel
20070272641Multipurpose stereoscopic display shelfNovember, 2007Wong et al.
20090057249Rotating stand (carousel) bottle and tube holderMarch, 2009Donnellan
20080272073RACK SYSTEM AND SUPPORT MEMBER FOR SUPPORTING A FOLDING RACK IN A DISHWASHERNovember, 2008Pike et al.
20040129658Tool display panel for the automotive tool cartJuly, 2004Leclerc



Primary Examiner:
RODDEN, JOSHUA E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARTER, DELUCA & FARRELL LLP (MELVILLE, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A polymeric display rack for supporting and displaying articles, comprising: at least one elongate channel defined by at least partially defined by at least one vertical sidewall, the at least one vertical sidewall having proximal and distal sections and including at least one ventilation window defined therein, the at least one ventilation window being configured and dimensioned to permit the circulation of air throughout the at least one elongate channel; a track connected to a bottom of the at least one vertical sidewall, the track at least partially defining the elongate channel; and a front member connected to the at least one vertical sidewall.

2. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the at least one vertical sidewall includes a securing mechanism.

3. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the track includes a securing mechanism.

4. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate channel defines at least two sections, the at least two sections sharing at least one vertical sidewall.

5. The polymeric display rack of claim 4, wherein the at least one vertical sidewall defines a first height in the proximal section and a second height in the distal section, the first height and the second being substantially unequal.

6. The polymeric display rack of claim 5, wherein the second height is greater than the first height.

7. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the at least one vertical sidewall defines a height, the height being substantially tapered from the proximal end of the at least one vertical sidewall to the distal end of the at least one vertical sidewall such that the height of the at least one vertical sidewall is substantially greater at the distal end thereof.

8. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the display rack is at least partially formed of a plastic material.

9. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the at least one elongate channel is configured and dimensioned to slidably receive at least one article such that the at least one article may at least partially traverse the at least one elongate channel, the at least one ventilation window being oriented such that the at least one article is substantially aligned therewith while at rest in the at least one elongate channel.

10. The polymeric display rack of claim 9, wherein the at least one ventilation window is quadrilateral in configuration, the at least one ventilation window defining an axial dimension and a transverse dimension.

11. The polymeric display rack of claim 10, wherein the axial dimension is greater than the transverse dimension.

12. The polymeric display rack of claim 10, wherein the transverse dimension is greater than the axial dimension.

13. The polymeric display rack of claim 9, wherein the at least one ventilation window is substantially elliptical in configuration, the at least one ventilation window defining an axial dimension and a transverse dimension.

14. The polymeric display rack of claim 13, wherein the axial dimension is greater than the transverse dimension.

15. The polymeric display rack of claim 13, wherein the transverse dimension is greater than the axial dimension.

16. The polymeric display rack of claim 1, wherein the at least one vertical side wall includes at least one selectively removable panel disposed about the at least one ventilation window such that when the panel is removed, the at least one ventilation window is at least partially revealed.

17. The polymeric display rack of claim 16, wherein the at least one selectively removable panel is at least partially formed of a lattice.

18. An improved polymeric display rack having at least one elongate channel that has at least one vertical sidewall, a track connected to a bottom of the at least one vertical sidewall, and a front member connected to the at least one vertical sidewall, wherein the improvement comprises: at least one ventilation window defined in the at least one vertical sidewall, the at least one ventilation window being configured and dimensioned to permit the circulation of air throughout at least a portion of the at least one elongate channel.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to a display rack for supporting and displaying articles, and more particularly to a polymeric display rack that incorporates at least one ventilation window.

Typically, a display rack for supporting and displaying articles is either of the horizontal variety or the gravity-fed variety. In horizontal display racks, generally, a spring or some other means is provided to move the articles, e.g., bottles, forward through a channel as the lead article is removed. In gravity-fed display racks, the front end is typically set at an angle relative to a horizontal axis such that the articles in the channel may move toward the front of the channel under the influence of gravity as the lead article is removed.

In either variety, the channels which house the articles and through which the articles travel during dispensation, are defined by at least one sidewall and a floor, or track, the gravity-fed variety typically also including a front member designed to maintain articles within the channel against the force of gravity until dispensed. A typical display rack may include one or more channels. In multi-channel display racks, the sidewalls of the individual channels may be adapted for connection with those of an adjacent channel such that a single unit may be formed. This connection may be achieved through the use of an individual element, such as a clip, fastener, or any other suitable mechanism or structure that may be either integrally formed with or connected to the sidewalls of the channel, or the track. Alternatively, a display rack may be unitary in construction, employing a plurality of channels having at least one sidewall that may be shared with an adjacent channel, and a floor or track common to each channel.

In general, the sidewalls, tracks, and/or front members that define a display rack are dimensioned to accommodate articles of particular size, as may be standard in a particular industry. For example, with respect to soft-drinks, bottles and cans are typically dimensioned within a particular range of heights and widths, and display racks are generally dimensioned accordingly. However, in the United States, these articles are typically smaller than those that may be available or used over seas, or in other countries. Accordingly, domestic, or conventional display racks are typically unable to accommodate these larger articles, and if used, the conventional racks may perform poorly or unreliably. Accordingly, there exists a need for a display rack that more adequately accommodates articles that may vary in size, such that proper performance may be ensured.

Frequently, display racks of the type disclosed herein may be used to display and support articles or items in a vending machine. In this setting, it may be desirable to maintain the articles below ambient temperature, particularly in the case of food items such as soft-drinks, sandwiches, snacks, or the like, to increase the shelf-life of a particular item, or to increase consumer satisfaction. To maintain the temperature of such articles below ambient, cool air is generally circulated throughout the food compartment of the vending machine. This cool air maintains the temperature of the articles housed therein at or below a pre-determined threshold vis-à-vis contact with the outer surface of the article, as in a common refrigeration unit. The exposed surface area of an article, therefore, may be of significant import, in that increasing this surface area has a direct effect upon the rate at which an article may be cooled, and the ease with which the desired temperature of that article may be maintained once achieved. Accordingly, the degree to which the surface area of an article may be exposed has a direct effect on the overall efficiency of the unit in which it is housed. By increasing the efficiency of the cooling process through the exposure of a larger percentage of the surface area of an article to the cooled ambient, the overall cost of supporting and maintaining that process may be significantly reduced.

In conventional polymeric display racks, as are known in the art, the vertical sidewalls are typically solid structures. There exists a need, therefore, for a lightweight, polymeric display rack that may accommodate articles of various size, including those of the larger variety, that is less expensive manufacture, and that saves costs during use by facilitating the increased circulation of cool or refrigerated air therethrough.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, a polymeric display rack for supporting and displaying articles is disclosed which includes at least one elongate channel at least partially defined by one or more vertical sidewalls with proximal and distal sections, and a track connected to a bottom thereof. The sidewall, or walls, may define at least one ventilation window therein that is configured and dimensioned to permit the circulation of air throughout the channel, or channels. Additionally, the display rack may further include a front member connected to the sidewall, or walls.

In alternate embodiments, either the vertical sidewall, or walls, or the track may include a securing mechanism.

In another embodiment, the elongate channel, or channels, may define at least two sections that share at least one vertical sidewall.

In still another embodiment of the present disclosure, the vertical sidewall, or walls, may define a first height in the proximal section, and a second height in the distal section. It is contemplated that the first height and the second height may be substantially unequal, and that the second height may be greater than the first height. It is further contemplated that the at least one vertical sidewall may define a height that is substantially tapered from its proximal end to its distal end, the height of the at least one vertical sidewall being substantially greater at the distal end thereof.

It is contemplated herein that the elongate channel, or channels, may be configured and dimensioned to slidably receive at least one article, such that the article or articles may at least partially traverse the elongate channel, or channels. In this embodiment, the ventilation window, or windows, defined in the at lest one vertical sidewall may be oriented such that the article, or articles, are substantially aligned therewith when they are at rest in the channel, or channels.

It is further contemplated that the polymeric display rack may incorporate one or more selectively removable panels that may be disposed about the ventilation window, or windows. In such an embodiment, when the selectively removable panel, or panels, are removed, the at least one ventilation window revealed. In one embodiment, the selectively removable panel, or panels, may be at least partially formed of a lattice.

The present disclosure contemplates that the ventilation window, or windows, disclosed herein may be quadrilateral, or elliptical, in configuration. In each embodiment, the window, or windows, define an axial dimension and a transverse dimension. It is contemplated, in either embodiment, that the axial dimension may be greater than the transverse dimension, or that the transverse dimension may be greater than the axial dimension.

In one embodiment, the polymeric display rack disclosed herein may be at least partially formed of a plastic material.

The present disclosure further contemplates an improved polymeric display rack that includes at least one elongate channel at least partially defined by at least one vertical sidewall, and a track connected to a bottom thereof. In this embodiment, the improvement may comprise one or more ventilation windows defined in the at least one vertical sidewall that may be configured and dimensioned to permit the circulation of air throughout at least a portion of the elongate channel, or channels.

These and other features of the polymeric display rack disclosed herein will become more readily apparent to those skilled in the art through reference to the detailed description of the various embodiments of the present disclosure below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various embodiments of the present disclosure are described herein below with references to the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side-view of an exemplary polymeric display rack in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure having a plurality of articles disposed therein;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the articles and the polymeric display rack of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side-view of an alternate embodiment of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 1 having sidewalls with a tapered profile;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged side-view of one embodiment of the polymeric display rack taken along line 1-1 of FIG. 1 including quadrilateral ventilation windows;

FIG. 4A is a side-view of an alternate embodiment of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 4;

FIG. 4B is a side-view of an alternate embodiment of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 4, including ventilation windows with an elliptical configuration;

FIG. 4C is a side-view of an alternate embodiment of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 4B;

FIG. 5A is a side-view of an alternate embodiment of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 4 including selectively removable panel;

FIG. 5B is a side-view of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 5A with the selectively removable panel removed; and

FIG. 5C is a perspective side-view of an alternate embodiment of the polymeric display rack of FIG. 5 including selectively removable panel incorporating a lattice.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Specific embodiments of the polymeric display rack disclosed herein will now be described in detail with reference to the foregoing figures wherein like reference numerals identify similar or identical elements. In the drawings and in the description which follows, the term “proximal” refers to that portion of the polymeric display rack furthest from where an article or item may be dispensed, while the term “distal” refers to that portion of the polymeric display rack closest thereto. In addition, the term “article” is to be given the broadest possible meaning within the relevant art, therefore including, but not being limited to bottles, cans, sandwiches, snacks, and the like.

Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 generally illustrates a polymeric display rack, or rack 100 for supporting and displaying one or more articles “A”. The rack 100 may include at least one elongate channel generally designated 102. Elongate channel 102 is defined by, at least one vertical sidewall 104 and a track or floor 106, and may include a front member 108. Channel 102 may generally include a securing mechanism 110, disposed on either sidewall 104 (FIG. 1), or track 106 (FIG. 2). It is contemplated that securing mechanism 110 may be any mechanical mechanism or structure suitable for securing a plurality of racks in a side-by-side, substantially parallel, substantially aligned relationship. A variety of mechanisms or structures may be employed including, but not limited to clips or dovetail fasteners. Further details regarding securing mechanism 110 may be ascertained through reference to commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 5,645,176, filed Jul. 8, 1997, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

As best seen in FIGS. 1-2, elongate rack 100 may be an integral, one-piece, unitary construction formed in a single polymeric molding operation. In one embodiment, rack 100 may be formed, in whole or in part, of any suitable polymer, including a plastic, as would be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art. Forming rack 100 of a single plastic molding operation may significantly reduce the weight and costs of manufacture, while increasing the strength and minimizing the width of the unit, and avoiding various secondary pieces, such as an individual front member 108. Rack 100, and in particular, sidewalls 104 and track 106 may be formed of a substantially transparent or clear material such as clear polypropylene, thereby allowing for an unobstructed view of any article disposed therein. Clear polypropylene is not only transparent, but is also adequately strong, easy to clean, and allows an article to more easily traverse a rack made therefrom when compared to other materials which have conventionally been utilized in display rack manufacture, such as polystyrene. With respect to economic concerns, a substantially, or partially transparent material, such as partially clarified polypropylene, may be used instead of, or in conjunction with a wholly transparent material.

Referring still to FIGS. 1-2, rack 100 includes at least one upstanding, vertical sidewall 104, a substantially planar track or floor 106, and may optionally include a front member 108, as described above. Sidewall 104 is connected to track 106 at a bottom thereof, through any suitable method, sidewall 104 and track 106 each extending the length of, and defining, channel 102. Front member 108 may be spaced above track 106 and may be connected thereto, again through any suitable method.

In one embodiment, rack 100 may comprise a single channel 102 having two sidewalls 104 connected by track 106 and, optionally, front member 108, as seen in FIGS. 1-2. In such an embodiment, rack 100 may include a securing mechanism 110 which may facilitate the connection of rack 100 with another substantially similar rack such that a palette of racks may be formed. In another embodiment, however, it is contemplated that a unitary palette may be formed, e.g., through a polymeric molding operation, as described above, incorporating a plurality of channels, but no individual racks. In this embodiment, adjacent channels may share one or more common elements including, but not limited to, a sidewall, a track, and/or a front member.

Referring still to FIGS. 1-2, sidewall 104, track 106, and front member 108, if included, may be substantially rigid or resiliently flexible. Sidewall 104 has a proximal section 112 and a distal section 114 that define a first height H1 a second height H2, respectively. H1 and H2 may be any height suitable for maintaining an article “A” within channel 102. It is contemplated, therefore, that H1 and/or H2 may substantially less than, greater than, or equal to HA, the height of the article displayed therein. It is also contemplated that H1 and H2 may be substantially unequal, as seen in FIG. 1. As depicted in FIG. 1, it is contemplated that H2 may be appreciably greater than H1, although equivalent heights in the proximal and distal sections 112, 114 are not beyond the scope of the present disclosure. While FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a rack 100 with two sections, i.e. a proximal section 112 and a distal section 114, embodiments incorporating a rack, or racks, having additional sections, e.g. one or more intermediate sections disposed between proximal and distal sections, each of which may define a corresponding height in the sidewall, is not outside the scope of the present disclosure. In another embodiment, sidewalls 204 may be substantially tapered from proximal end 212 to distal end 214, such that the height of sidewall 204 is substantially greater at distal end 214, as seen in FIG. 3.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 4, sidewall 104 incorporates one or more ventilation windows 116. Ventilation windows 116 are openings at least partially defined within sidewall 104 that are configured and dimensioned to permit the circulation of air through channel 102 of rack 100. Accordingly, the present disclosure contemplates that windows 116 may be configured in any manner suitable for facilitating such circulation, including ornamental or decorative configurations.

As seen in FIG. 1, ventilation window 116 may be incorporated in both proximal and distal sections 112, 114. As discussed above, proximal and distal sections 112, 114 may define dimensions H1 and H2. Accordingly, it is contemplated that the windows 116 in the proximal section may have a first height W1, while the windows in the distal section may have a second height W2. As with dimensions H1 and H2, it is contemplated that window heights W1, W2 may be substantially equivalent. As seen in FIG. 1, it is further contemplated that W1 may not be substantially equivalent to W2, and that W2 may be may be greater than W1. In those embodiments employing additional intermediate sections, as discussed above, the windows defined therein may be commensurate in size with those defined in any other section, or may be particularly sized given the dimensions of the section in which they may be defined.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 4-4C, it is contemplated that windows 116 may be quadrilateral in configuration, thereby defining an axial dimension “L1” and a transverse dimension “T1”. Axial and transverse dimensions “L1”, “T1” may be of any suitable scale to permit the inflow and outflow of air through channel 102. It is contemplated that the transverse dimension “T1” may be greater than the axial dimension “L1” in one embodiment, as seen in FIG. 4. It is also contemplated that the transverse dimension “T2” may be less than the axial dimension “L2”, as seen in FIG. 4A, or substantially equal thereto. In another embodiment, ventilation window may be substantially elliptical in configuration, again defining a transverse dimension “T3” and an axial dimension “L3”, as seen in FIG. 4B. It is contemplated that transverse dimension “T3” may be greater than axial dimension “L3”, as seen in FIG. 4B. It is also contemplated, however, that transverse dimension “T4” may be greater than axial dimension “L4”, as seen in FIG. 4C, or substantially equal thereto.

Referring again to FIG. 4, ventilation windows 116 are oriented such that the articles “A” may be substantially aligned therewith when at rest within rack 100. In substantially aligning articles “A” with windows 116, the surface area of the articles exposed to the ambient through the windows 116 may be substantially maximized. Accordingly, it is contemplated that windows 116 may be spaced from one another in any suitable increment that facilitates such exposure.

Referring now to FIGS. 5A-5B, in one embodiment of the present disclosure, rack 300 may incorporate a panel 318 that may be disposed in, on, or about ventilation window 316, (FIG. 5A), using any suitable method, e.g. interference or snap-fit, screws, adhesives, buttons, snaps, or magnets, such that panel 318 may be selectively removed, thereby exposing or revealing window 316 (FIG. 5B). Panel 318 may be disposed within rack 300, i.e. on an interior surface (not shown) of sidewall 304, or without rack 300, i.e. on an exterior surface (not shown) of sidewall 304. Panel 318 may provide for increased stability during the shipping or installation of rack 300, and therefore may be substantially rigid in character, although a substantially non-rigid panel is also within the scope of present disclosure. It is further contemplated that panel 318 may be formed of the same material as sidewall 304, or any other material suitable for the intended purpose of at least partially obscuring window 316. In the interests thereof, panel 318 may be solid, or may itself define one or more windows or openings therein. In addition, panel 318 may be formed of any transparent, translucent, or opaque material. In one embodiment, the present disclosure contemplates that panel 418 may incorporate a lattice structure or screen 420, as seen in FIG. 5C.

In each of the aforementioned embodiments, it is contemplated that one or more components of the rack disclosed herein, e.g. the sidewall, the window, or the track, may incorporate a support system, mechanism, structure, or element. As an illustrative example, it is contemplated that the sidewalls may have wire or the like, either disposed therein or thereupon, such that the rack may be significantly rigidified and/or supported.

From the foregoing and with reference to the various figure drawings, those skilled in the art will appreciate that certain modifications can also be made to the present disclosure without departing from the scope thereof. While several embodiments of the disclosure have been shown in the drawings, it is not intended that the disclosure be limited thereto, as it is intended that the disclosure be as broad in scope as the art will allow and that the specification be read likewise. Therefore, the above description should not be construed as limiting, but merely as exemplifications of particular embodiments. Those skilled in the art will envision other modifications within the scope and spirit of the claims to be appended hereto.