Title:
Collapsible Dish Rack
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dish rack convertible between and expanded and collapsed configurations. The dish rack has at least three support surfaces, with a first support surface pivotally connected to a base tray, a second support surface pivotally connected to the first support surface, and a third support surface pivotally connected to the second support surface. In the collapsed configuration, each of the three support surfaces and the base tray are in a generally parallel arrangement.



Inventors:
Segall, Paul M. (El Paso, TX, US)
Bain, Charles (West Dundee, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/457738
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
02/06/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/126.1, 211/195
International Classes:
A47B43/00; A47L19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARNETT, DEVIN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FITCH EVEN TABIN & FLANNERY, LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A dish rack convertible between a collapsed configuration and an expanded configuration, the dish rack comprising: a generally rectangular tray having a base and at least three edges extending upwards therefrom; a generally rectangular first support surface having a lower end pivotally attached to the tray; a generally rectangular second support surface pivotally attached to the first support surface at a midpoint; a generally rectangular third support surface having a lower end pivotally attached to the second support surface; an expanded configuration of the dish rack having the first and second support surface positioned at acute angles relative to the tray and the third support surface positioned at an angle relative to the second support surface; and a collapsed configuration of the dish rack having the first, second, and third support surfaces and tray generally parallel to each other and nested within an interior section of the tray.

2. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the first and second support surfaces are pivotally connected to one another to permit pivotal movement about an axis located about midway along the first support surface.

3. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the third and second support surfaces are pivotally connected to one another to permit pivotal movement about an axis located at a lower region of the second support surface.

4. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the first support surface is pivotally connected to the tray to permit pivotal movement about an axis located at the lower end of the first support surface.

5. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the support surfaces are each comprised of frames generally disposed about one or more peripheries of the support surface.

6. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the width of the third support surface is less than the width of the second support surface, the width of the second support surface is less than the width of the first support surface, and the width of the first support surface is less than the width of the tray to permit nesting of the third support surface relative to the second support surface, the second support surface relative to the first support surface, and the first support surface relative to the interior section of the tray.

7. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the interior section of the tray contains at least one opening at the base of the tray where the opening in the base is large enough to use as a grip, and where the base is at a slight angle of incline that increases as the distance away from the opening increases.

8. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the tray has at least one stop that is located on the base of the tray at an end opposite the pivotal attachment of the first support surface relative to the tray, and where a lower end of the second support surface rests against the stop in the expanded configuration to prevent the second support surface from pivoting beyond an angle greater than an acute angle with the tray.

9. The dish rack according to claim 1 wherein the tray has at least one locking bracket that is located on the tray at an end opposite the pivotal attachment of the first support surface relative to the tray, and where the locking bracket is positioned along an outer perimeter edge of the tray.

10. The dish rack according to claim 9 wherein the locking bracket fixedly holds the first frame in place by snapping around an upper edge of the first support surface in the collapsed configuration.

11. A dish rack connected to a tray for collecting and draining water used for drying objects, the dish rack comprising: a generally rectangular tray having a base and at least three edges extending upwards therefrom; a generally rectangular first support surface having a lower end pivotally attached to the tray, the first support surface being positioned at an acute angle relative to the tray; a generally rectangular second support surface pivotally attached to the first support surface at a midpoint, the second support surface being positioned at an acute angle relative to the tray; a generally rectangular third support surface having a lower end pivotally attached to the second support surface, the third support surface being positioned at an angle relative to the second support surface.

12. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the first and second support surfaces are pivotally connected to one another to permit pivotal movement about an axis located about midway along the first support surface.

13. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the third and second support surfaces are pivotally connected to one another to permit pivotal movement about an axis located at a lower region of the second support surface.

14. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the first support surface is pivotally connected to the tray to permit pivotal movement about an axis located at the lower end of the first support surface.

15. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the support surfaces are each comprised of frames generally disposed about one or more peripheries of the support surface.

16. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the width of the third support surface is less than the width of the second support surface, the width of the second support surface is less than the width of the first support surface, and the width of the first support surface is less than the width of the tray to permit nesting of the third support surface relative to the second support surface, the second support surface relative to the first support surface, and the first support surface relative to the interior section of the tray.

17. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the interior section of the tray contains at least one opening at the base of the tray where the opening in the base is large enough to use as a grip, and where the base is at a slight angle of incline that increases as the distance away from the opening increases.

18. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the tray has at least one stop that is located on the base of the tray at an end opposite the pivotal attachment of the first support surface relative to the tray, and where a lower end of the second support surface rests against the stop in an expanded configuration to prevent the second support surface from pivoting beyond an angle greater than an acute angle with the tray.

19. The dish rack according to claim 11 wherein the tray has at least one locking bracket that is located on the tray at an end opposite the pivotal attachment of the first support surface relative to the tray, and where the locking bracket is positioned along an outer perimeter edge of the tray.

20. A method of shifting a dish rack between an expanded configuration and a collapsed configuration, the dish rack having first, second and third support surfaces and a base tray being in a generally parallel arrangement in the collapsed configuration, the method comprising: folding a third support surface into a generally parallel arrangement relative to a second support surface; folding the second support surface into a generally parallel arrangement relative to a first support surface; folding a first support surface into a generally parallel arrangement relative to a base tray.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Appln. No. 60/699,630, filed on Jul. 15, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

This disclosure relates generally to a dish rack for supporting objects during drying, and more particularly to a dish rack that is convertible between an expanded configuration and a collapsed configuration.

BACKGROUND

One type of dish rack includes a plurality of support surfaces that are fixed relative to each other. An example of such a dish rack is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,708,037. However, a disadvantage of such a dish rack is that its fixed support surfaces can prevent the rack from being collapsed into a smaller configuration, such as for storage.

Another type of dish rack has a pair of rack elements connected at their midsections to permit them to fold into a collapsed configuration. In the unfolded configuration, a pair of support surfaces are positioned in a V-shaped arrangement. One example of such a dish rack is disclosed in U.S. Design patent No. D258,928. Another similar dish rack design is disclosed in U.S. Design patent No. D252,251. One disadvantage of such dish racks is that water draining from between slits of the support surfaces can undesirably pool onto the counter top or other location where the dish rack is used.

SUMMARY

A convertible dish rack is disclosed that is convertible between a collapsed configuration and an expanded configuration. The convertible dish rack is comprised of a tray attached to a first support surface that is pivotally attached to the tray, a second support surface that is pivotally attached to the first at a midpoint, and a third support surface pivotally attached to the second support surface. When the dish rack is in an expanded configuration the first and second supports are positioned at acute angles to the tray and the third support is positioned at an angle relative to the second support. When in the collapsed configuration the first, second, and third support surfaces and the tray are generally parallel to each other and the support surfaces are nested within an interior section of the tray.

The first and second support surfaces are pivotally connected at a midpoint to allow pivotal movement about an axis located at the connection point. The third and second support surfaces are also pivotally connected to one another at a lower end which allows pivotal movement about this connection point. The first support surface is pivotally connected to the tray to allow pivotal movement about an axis located at a lower end of the first support surface.

The support surfaces may comprise frames disposed about one or more peripheries of the support surface. Alternatively, the support surfaces may be connected directly to each other. The width of the third support surface is less than the width of the second, which is less than the width of the first, which is less than the width of the tray.

The dish rack further comprises at least one opening at the base of the tray for draining water. The at least one opening may comprise a single opening that is sized for use as a hand grip. The dish rack may also comprise at least one stop at the base of the tray to hold the second support in place when in the expanded configuration and at least one locking bracket on the tray to snap around the upper edge of the first support surface to hold it in place when in the collapsed configuration.

A dish rack is disclosed connected to a tray for collecting and draining water. The dish rack is comprised of a tray attached to a first support surface that is pivotally attached to the tray and the first support surface being positioned at an acute angle relative to the tray. A second support surface is pivotally attached to the first at a midpoint and is positioned at an acute angle relative to the tray. A third support surface is pivotally attached to the second support surface and is positioned at an angle relative to the second support surface.

The first and second support surfaces are pivotally connected at a midpoint to allow pivotal movement about an axis located at the connection point. The third and second support surfaces are also pivotally connected to one another at a lower end which allows pivotal movement about this connection point. The first support surface is pivotally connected to the tray to allow pivotal movement about an axis located at a lower end of the first support surface.

The support surfaces may comprise frames disposed about one or more peripheries of the support surface. Alternatively, the support surfaces may be directly connected to each other. The width of the third support surface is less than the width of the second, which is less than the width of the first, which is less than the width of the tray.

The dish rack further comprises at least one opening at the base of the tray for draining water. The opening may be sized for use as a hand grip. The dish rack may also comprise at least one stop at the base of the tray to hold the second support in place when in the expanded configuration.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the collapsible dish rack in its expanded configuration;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the collapsible dish rack of FIG. 1 in a partially collapsed configuration;

FIG. 3 is another perspective view of the collapsible dish rack of FIG. 1 in a partially collapsed configuration;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the collapsible dish rack of FIG. 1 in a fully collapsed configuration;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of a support surface and a frame of the collapsible dish rack of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the support surface and the frame of FIG. 5 is an assembled arrangement; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a cross-section of support surfaces and frames of the collapsible dish rack of FIG. 1 without the tray.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Apparatus and methods are disclosed herein and illustrated in FIGS. 1-7 for a collapsible dish rack that is convertible between an expanded configuration and a collapsed configuration. The dish rack has a plurality of support surfaces for supporting dishware, such as when the dishware is drying. The collapsible dish rack preferably includes a catch tray for collection of any water dripping down from dishware positioned on the rack when the rack is in its expanded configuration. In addition, the tray provides for compact storage of the support surfaces when the rack is in its collapsed configuration.

Wet dishware can be stacked onto multiple layers of a dish rack where the racks are configured as in FIG. 1. There is a large rack on an upper level that can hold any size dishware and a smaller rack on a lower level that can store smaller sized items. Dishware may include any items that may be found in a kitchen area, such as dishes, plates, pots, pans, glasses, cups, saucers, utensils and the like. When plates are being stacked on the rack, they can conveniently fit between the slots in the wire rack which will support the plates upright and allow for multiple plates to be stored, or alternatively, can be laid flat on the rack. Similarly, cups, utensils, cookware, and the like may all be stored on the dish racks by being laid across the rack surface.

In the expanded configuration, the drying rack can accept and support dishware for drying. Also in the expanded configuration, the dish rack is located over a catch tray which collects the dripping water from the dishes. The tray can be configured to permit water to drain from an opening located at one end of the tray. Moreover, the end of the tray having the opening may be positioned at a lower elevation that the opposite end of the tray to permit water or other liquid to drain toward the opening. When there is no dishware to dry and stack, the drying rack can be easily folded up into the interior of the tray. Preferably, though not necessarily, the tray can include upstanding sidewalls so that the support surfaces of the dish rack can nest within the tray in the collapsed configuration.

Turning now to the details of the dish rack, the dish rack 10 contains a generally rectangular tray 12 used for collecting and draining water where the tray 12 is laid flat on a horizontal surface when the rack 10 is in an expanded configuration, as shown in FIG. 1. The tray 12 comprises a base 20 in an interior area and sidewalls 21 that extend vertically upwards therefrom. The base 20 and the edges 21 together form the interior section of the tray 12. At one end of the base 20 there is an opening 22 which is used for draining water that collects in the interior section of the tray 12. The base 20 of the tray 12 can be at a slight incline, starting from a section of the base 20 near the opening 22 and continuing at an inclined angle towards the opposite end of the tray 12, such that any water that collects in the tray 12 will tend to flow towards the opening 22. The opening 22 is sized such that it is large enough to use as a grip or handle by placing one's fingers therethrough Optionally, a handle 24 may be included on the end of the opening 22 for easier gripping. Alternatively, one or more smaller drain holes may take the place of the opening 22 or be used in conjunction with the opening 22.

The drying or support surfaces of the rack 10 include three collapsible support surfaces which are positioned over the interior section of the tray 12 when the rack 10 is in its expanded configuration. The first support surface 14 includes a generally rectangular wire platform 44 and a first support frame 36 surrounding one or more peripheries of the platform 44, and preferably three peripheries. The platform 44 and frame 36 may comprise a number of different materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal, but preferably metal is used for the platform 44 and a plastic is used for the frame 36. The wire platform 44 includes vertical slots between metal rods. The distance between the slots may be set at any reasonable distance to allow proper support of dishware without it falling through, and is preferably sized to accommodate an edge of plate. This configuration allows for thin dishware, such as plates, to be placed securely through the slot so that part of the plate is above the support surface 14 and a part of the plate is below the support surface 14. The wire platform 44 extends only in about half of the region surrounded by the frame 36, as illustrated in FIG. 1. The portion of the frame 36 opposite the wire platform 44 is pivotally connected about a pair of pivot members 34 to sidewalls 21 of the tray 12.

The second support surface 16 includes a generally rectangular wire platform 46 and has a second frame 38, where both are similar in material and configuration to the first support surface 14. The second support surface 16 preferably extends within the entire second frame 38. The second support surface 16 is pivotally attached relative to the first support surface 14, and preferably the first and second frames 36 and 38 are connected by a pair of pivot members 30 at a midpoint along the first and second frames 36 and 38. When the rack 10 is in its expanded configuration, the second support surface 16 and first support surface 14 generally form an ‘X’ shape.

The width of the second support surface 16 is less that the width of the first support surface 14, so that the second support surface 16 may be at least partially nested within the first support surface 14 when the rack 10 is in its collapsed configuration.

The first and second support surfaces 14 and 16 are supported in the expanded configuration in part by the pivot members 34 between the tray 12 and the frame 36 of the first support surface. The first and second support surfaces 14 and 16 are also supported in the expanded configuration in part by stops 26 located on the bottom surface or base 20 of the tray 12. The stops 26 may be made of rubber and separately inserted into apertures formed in the base 20. The stops may alternatively be integrally formed in the base 20 of the tray 12. The stops 26 are located such that they are generally opposite the pivot members 34 between the first frame 38 and the tray 12. The position of the stops 26 ensures that the lower end of the second support surface 16 contacts the base 20 and forms an acute angle relative to the tray 12 that is generally equivalent to the acute angle formed between the lower end of the first frame 36 and the tray 12. When the rack 10 is in its collapsed configuration, the stops 26 preferably do not interfere with the nesting of the support surfaces 14 and 16 in the tray 12, and may be located such that they protrude through the slots or openings between rods of the wire platforms 44 and 46.

The third support surface 18 also includes a generally rectangular wire platform 42 partially surrounded by a frame 40, and is similar in material and construction to the first and second support surfaces 14 and 16. The third support surface 18 is smaller in size than the other two supports, as illustrated in FIG. 1. One end of the frame 40 is pivotally attached to the second frame 38 via a pair of pivot members 32. The width of the third support surface 18 is preferably less than the width of the second support surface 16 such that the third support 18 may be nested within the frame 38 of the second support surface 16 when the rack 10 is in its collapsed configuration. The third support surface 18, when in an expanded position, is at an angle relative to the second support 16 such that dishware can be placed between the adjacent lower portion of the second support surface 16 and the third support surface 18. When in the expanded position, a lower cross rod of the wire platform 42 abuts against the lower portion of the second support surface to limit pivoting of the third support surface beyond a predetermined amount.

In the collapsed configuration of the dish rack 10, illustrated in FIG. 4, the three support surfaces 14, 16 and 18, along with the tray 12, are generally parallel to each other. To fold the three support surfaces 14, 16 and 18 into the parallel relationship, and subsequently into the tray 12 for storage, the third support surface 18 is pivoted about the pivot members 32 toward the second support surface 16 such that it is parallel to the second support surface 16, as indicated by the arrow A in FIG. 2. The second support surface 16 is pivoted about the pivot members 30 toward the first support surface 14 such that it is parallel to the first support surface 14 and adjacent to it, as indicated by the arrow B in FIG. 2. Once both the third and the second support surfaces 18 and 16 have been collapsed in a position that is parallel to and adjacent to the first support surface 14, the first support surface 14, together with the second and third support surfaces 16 and 18, pivots about the pivot members 34 toward the tray 12 and into the interior section of the tray 12 such that all three support surfaces 14, 16 and 18 are parallel to the tray, as indicated by arrow C in FIG. 3.

The frames 36, 38 and 40 are preferably sized such that the third frame 40 can nest within the second frame 38, and the second frame 38 can nest within the first frame 36. The first frame 36 is preferably sized such that it can nest within the interior of the tray 12. More specifically, the third frame 40 has a thickness t3 that is about the same size as a space s2 in the second frame 38 between the wire platform 46 and an edge of the frame, as illustrated in FIG. 7, such that, when parallel, the third support surface 18 can nest within the frame 38 of the second support surface 16. Similarly, the second frame 38 has a thickness t2 that is about the same size as a space s1 in the first frame 36 between the wire platform 44 and an edge of the frame such that, when parallel, the second support surface 16 can nest within the frame 36 of the first support surface 14. The first frame 36 has a thickness t1 that is about the same size as the height tt of the sidewall 21 of the tray 21 to accommodate the first support surface 14, and thus the second and third support surfaces 16 and 18, in a nesting arrangement when the dish rack 10 is in its collapsed configuration.

To keep the support surfaces 14, 16 and 18 in place when the dish rack 10 is in its collapsed configuration, at least one locking bracket 28, and preferably two locking brackets 28, are located in the sidewall 21 of the tray 12. The locking brackets 28 are preferably located at the first end of the tray 12 near the opening 22, opposite the pivotal members 34 between the first support surface 14 and the tray 12. As the first support surface 14 is folded down into the interior of the tray 12, it contacts the locking bracket 28 and pushes into the locking bracket 28 out of the way. The locking bracket 28 then returns to its extended position to secure the first support surface 14, and thereby the second and third support surfaces 16 and 18, in the tray 12. The locking bracket 28 can be manually shifted to its retracted position to permit conversion of the dish rack 10 from the collapsed configuration to the expanded configuration.

Turning to more of the details of the construction of the support surfaces 14, 16 and 18, each of the frames 36, 38 and 40 includes a channel or groove for receiving side rods of the wire platforms 42, 44 and 46. As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, the channel 48 can be sized to generally secure the frames 36, 38 and 40 relative to the wire platforms 42, 44 and 46, although other equally suitable methods of securing the components together may be utilized.

Although the use of frames 36, 38 and 40 are depicted in FIGS. 1-7, the support surfaces may comprise wire platforms directly connected to each other, such as with hinges. For example, the first support surface may have a pair of brackets on opposing sides with pivot pins extending through apertures formed in the second support surface. The third support surface may likewise having a pair of brackets on opposing sides with pivot pins extending through apertures formed in the second support surface. Brackets on opposing sides of the first support surface may also be provided, and may be connected with pivot pins to the tray.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that apparatus and methods for a collapsible dish rack are disclosed. The dish rack is not limited to the embodiments described hereinabove or to any particular embodiments. Various modifications to the foregoing, such as the use of a plastic grating material in place of the wire platforms of the support surfaces, will result in substantially the same dish rack. The dish rack is defined more particularly by the following claims.