Title:
Slide Mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A slide mechanism for a piece of furniture having a slidable member, the slide mechanism comprising (a) a fixed slide rail; (b) a rebate which in use receives the fixed slide rail; (c) first biasing means to resist engagement of the fixed slide rail with the rebate; and (d) a second biasing means to resist freefall of the slidable member; wherein in use the slidable member is moved from a first, fully raised position to a second, fully lowered position by exerting force on the first biasing means such that the slide rail is brought into engagement with the rebate, subsequent vertical movement of the slidable member being counterbalanced by the second biasing means.



Inventors:
Saraghi, Brett Alan (Victoria, AU)
Application Number:
12/226789
Publication Date:
03/26/2009
Filing Date:
04/24/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/93.1
International Classes:
A47D7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
POLITO, NICHOLAS F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael S. Kakuk (White Sulphus Sprints, MT, US)
Claims:
1. A slide mechanism for a piece of furniture having a slidable member, the slide mechanism comprising: (a) a fixed slide rail; (b) a rebate which in use receives the fixed slide rail; (c) a first biasing means to resist engagement of the fixed slide rail with the rebate; and (d) a second biasing means to resist freefall of the slidable member; wherein in use the slidable member is moved from a first, fully raised position to a second, fully lowered position by exerting force on the first biasing means such that the slide rail is brought into engagement with the rebate, subsequent vertical movement of the slidable member being counterbalanced by the second biasing means.

2. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 wherein the piece of furniture is chosen from the group comprising cots, cribs and beds.

3. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 wherein the biasing means are chosen from the group comprising coil springs, spiral balance tubes, and gas struts or combinations thereof.

4. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 wherein in use, force must be exerted on the first biasing means in a direction generally perpendicular to the plane of the slidable member such that the slide rail is brought into engagement with the rebate.

5. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 wherein the second biasing means counterbalances the effect of gravity on the slidable member.

6. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 wherein in use, the first and second biasing means and the rebate are concealed from sight within the slidable member.

7. A slide mechanism according to claim 6 wherein in addition, the slide rail is concealed from sight within the slidable member.

8. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 further comprising a latching mechanism such that the slidable member may be latched in the fully raised position.

9. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 further comprising a latching mechanism such that the slidable member may be latched in the fully lowered position.

10. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 which further comprises a latching mechanism chosen from the group comprising manual latches and automatic latches.

11. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 which further comprises a latching mechanism having a pawl which may be moved into engagement with the end of the fixed slide rail to prevent vertical movement of the slidable member.

12. A slide mechanism according to claim 1 which further comprises a latching mechanism having a pawl which may be moved into engagement with a stop on the furniture to prevent vertical movement of the slidable member.

13. A method of operating that slide mechanism of claim 1 the method comprising the steps of: (a) exerting force in a direction generally perpendicular to the plane of the slidable member such that the first biasing means is opposed and the slide rail is brought into engagement with the rebate, and (b) moving the slidable member to descend from the fully raised position to the fully lowered position, the second biasing means resisting freefall of the slidable member.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a slide mechanism for furniture. More particularly it relates to a slide mechanism for furniture having a panel, wall or similar component that is vertically slidable relative to the other parts of the furniture. For example, the slide mechanism of the present invention may be suitable for furniture such as a child's cot having one or more sides that can be moved vertically relative to the rest of the cot.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In this specification where a document, act or item of knowledge is referred to or discussed, this reference or discussion is not an admission that the document, act or item of knowledge or any combination thereof was at the priority date publicly available, known to the public, part of the common general knowledge, or known to be relevant to an attempt to solve any problem with which this specification is concerned.

Whilst the following description relates to a child's cot, it will be appreciated that the invention is not so limited and could relate to other furniture such as cribs, or hospital beds having a panel, railing or other generally planar side member that needs to be moved vertically.

Children's cots are common furniture items in homes where small children live. Typically a cot is a simple, small, rectangular bed having 2 fixed ends, and 2 high sides, usually enclosing a mattress or other bedding. The sides and ends are designed to stop a child falling or climbing from the cot. The sides may be solid, but more typically they are of open construction so the child can see out. Typically the sides consist of a rectangular frame supporting a series of vertical wooden rods that form a railing.

The sides of the cot must be deep enough to ensure the child cannot fall or climb out, however if the sides are deep it may be difficult for an adult to lift the child in and out of the cot. Accordingly it is common for one of the sides of the cot to be moved out of position in order to allow access to the interior of the cot. Typically the side is able to be vertically slid into and out of position.

Although cots are freely available and widely used, almost all cots suffer from a range of deficiencies related to the mechanism that allows the side to be moved. Typical safety issues are described in Australian & New Zealand cot standard, Cots for household use—Safety requirements (AS/NZ 2172:1995). Some cots fail to satisfy the requirements of the safety standard. For example, one of the problems associated with cots of the prior art is that the mechanism by which the side slides into and out of position has projections or recesses that could be used as a foothold by a child trying to climb out of the cot. Some sliding side mechanisms do not satisfy the safety standard because they have gaps in which a child can trap a finger or toe. It is also important that the mechanism for the sliding side automatically locks in position and cannot be released by a child who pushes or falls against it, yet the side must be quickly and easily operated by an adult.

One improved type of cot is described in International patent application PCT/AU2004/001441. The cot has a horizontal base for supporting a mattress, and four sides, at least one which can be manually moved between a first, fully raised position and a second fully lowered position. One of the advantages of the invention taught and disclosed in this application is that the mechanism is fully enclosed and the latching means is not able to be accessed by a child or accidentally released. This type of cot relies on an operator manually moving the cot side between the first, fully raised and second, fully lowered position. This can be difficult to manage for some operators, particularly if the side is very heavy or if the movement needs to be carried out repeatedly. Furthermore it is possible for the side to fall from the fully raised position to the fully lowered position if, for example the operator loses their grip on the side.

Clearly, addressing the requirements of safety standards for cots has many practical, commercial and social advantages provided they result in a product that is convenient and practical to use. Optimally such a product will have one or more convenient features such as being simple and robust in its mechanical makeup, reliably, low maintenance needs and manufacturing tolerances that make it relatively straightforward to manufacture.

It has now been found that a slide mechanism can be provided that meets safety standards and is easier and more convenient to use than mechanisms of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention therefore provides a slide mechanism for a piece of furniture having a slidable member, the slide mechanism comprising:

(a) a fixed slide rail;
(b) a rebate which in use receives the fixed slide rail;
(c) a first biasing means to resist engagement of the fixed slide rail with the rebate; and
(d) a second biasing means to resist freefall of the slidable member;
wherein in use the slidable member is moved from a first, fully raised position to a second, fully lowered position by exerting force on the first biasing means such that the slide rail is brought into engagement with the rebate, subsequent vertical movement of the slidable member being counterbalanced by the second biasing means.

Typically the first biasing means is a spring that exerts force in a generally horizontal direction such that an operator needs to push on the slidable member to counter the horizontal force, thus bringing the fixed slide rail into engagement with the rebate.

Typically the second biasing means is a spring such as a coil spring, a spiral balance tube (of the type used for sash windows) or a gas-strut that counterbalances any downward force on the slidable member. For example the second biasing means may resist the effect of gravity so that the slidable member will not freefall if, for example, the operator loses their grip on the slidable member while moving it between the first and second positions. Typically the degree of bias on the second biasing means can be adjusted to provide a desired degree of counterbalance to resist gravity or the force exerted by an operator lowering the slidable member.

For example, the degree of bias could be adjusted to allow the slidable member to lower under its own weight, at a suitably slow rate. Alternatively the degree of bias can be se such that the slidable member can auto-rise from the second, fully lowered position to the first, fully raised position. This is a preferred failsafe position for many applications, such as a child's cot. If the slide mechanism fails, the slidable member remains or moves to the fully raised position, keeping the child safely inside. By contrast, slidable sides on cots of the prior art typically fail to the fully lowered open position such that a child can fall out of the cot.

Typically the slidable member is generally planar. For example the slidable member may be a panel or a frame having vertical or horizontal bars to form a railing. With reference to a cot, the slidable member may comprise a square or rectangular side which can be moved between a first, fully raised position and a second, fully lowered position. In a preferred embodiment, both sides of the cot have slidable members that use a slide mechanism according to the present invention.

Preferably the rebate is located in a vertical edge of the slidable member. Preferably the first and second biasing means are also concealed in a vertical edge of the slidable member. The rebate and/or biasing means are thus protected from interference or damage and the appearance of the furniture is enhanced by concealment of the working parts of the slide mechanism. More importantly, concealment of the rebate and/or biasing means avoids protrusions and recesses which may present footholds for a child in the cot. Concealment also avoids the risk of a child catching their fingers or toes in the mechanism.

When the furniture item is a cot, typically the fixed slide rail is permanently attached to the cot frame or ends by permanent mechanical fasteners. The slide rail may be continuous or discontinuous, comprising two or more rail parts. Preferably, when the cot side is in the fully raised position, the vertical edges abut the fixed ends of the cot (that is, the headboard and footboard). Preferably, when the cot side is in the fully lowered position, the vertical edges abut the fixed ends of the cot, and/or the cot legs.

Typically a sliding plate or similar mechanism is movably attached to the sliding rail and fixed to the ends of the slidable member such that when the rebate of the slidable member engages the fixed slide rail, the slidable member is free to move vertically but not horizontally with respect to the fixed ends of the cot.

Preferably, in use the fixed slide rail is also concealed within the slidable member. Typically the fixed slide rail is concealed irrespective of whether the slidable member is in the first position, the second position or any position between these two extremes. This further reduces hazards and improves cot safety.

In a preferred embodiment, when the slidable member is a side for a cot, it may be moved between a first position, in which it is fully raised and a second position in which it is fully lowered. In the fully raised position, it provides a barrier to a child falling or climbing out of the cot. In the fully raised position it cannot be pushed downward merely by the application of downward vertical force; it may only be moved from the fully raised condition by inward pressure on at least one of the lower corners of the side in order to overcome the resistance of the first biasing means. The pressure thus bring the rebate into engagement with the fixed slide rail. The sliding side is then free to move vertically downward against the counterbalancing force of the second biasing means. The sliding side may then be lowered until its descent is halted by some convenient means. For example, it may be halted by a stop incorporated in the slide rail or a separate buffer, rest or détente. Fully lowering the side provide easy access for an adult wishing to put a child in the cot or lift them out of the cot.

Typically the counterbalancing force of the second biasing means is adjustable. For example, the biasing means may be adjusted to allow the sliding side to slowly slide downward along the fixed slide rail under its own weight and the force of gravity. Alternatively the second biasing means can be adjusted to slowly descend under the combined effects of gravity and downward force exerted by an operator.

From the fully lowered position the side can be manually lifted to the fully raised position with the assistance of the second biasing means. Alternatively, the second biasing means can be adjusted to provide all the vertically upward force required to raise the sliding side without the application of manual force. When the slidable member reaches the fully raised position at the upper end of the slide rail, the first biasing means pushes the rebate out of engagement with the slide rail. The slidable means cannot move downwards when it is out of engagement with the slide rail, thus there cannot be any non-deliberate downward movement of the slidable member.

The present invention may additionally include one or more latches. For example the sliding side may be latched in the first, fully raised position or the second, fully lowered position or optionally, any position between the first and second positions. The latch could comprise any convenient mechanism, such as a pawl-type mechanism. In a particularly preferred embodiment the pawl is in the form of a horizontal element removably attached to the slidable member, the horizontal element sliding in and out of engagement with a vertical protrusion on the headboard of the cot.

Alternatively the latching mechanism may comprise multiple mechanical linkage mechanisms that perform a pawl action of engagement or disengagement. The latch may be actuated by manual or automatic means. The automatic means may be remotely actuable, such as by radiofrequency, or other frequency waves tuned to an electromechanical actuator.

In a particularly preferred embodiment the present invention includes a manually operated latch mechanism, such as a foot operated latch mechanism. For example the latch may comprise a footplate, attached to a rod located on the underside of the sliding side that holds the sliding side in second, fully lowered position countering any force exerted by the second biasing means. Pressure exerted on the footplate rotates the rod out of engagement with a retaining means, such as, for example, the end of the fixed sliding rail. The force exerted by the second biasing means may then allow the sliding side to slowly rise vertically until it reaches the first, fully raised position unless it is latched intermediate the first and second positions

The present invention has the added advantage of allowing relatively easy removal of the slidable member. This permits ready removal of the bedding, including the mattress, for cleaning or replacement. Furthermore the present invention provides an easy means for converting a cot to a cot bed and thus allowing the one piece of furniture to be used for a baby, then modified for use as the baby becomes a toddler. Specifically, the sliding side and slide rail can be readily removed in their entirety using a single tool, such as a screwdriver. This leaves frame of the cot, such as the head board and foot board with little or no sign that they ever supported fittings and fixtures.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be further explained and illustrated by reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portion of a child's cot, cut-away in part to show the incorporation of the slide mechanism of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of the lower part of the slide mechanism depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3a is a view of a child's cot incorporating the slide mechanism depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the addition of a foot operated latching mechanism;

FIG. 3b is an enlarged view of the lower part of the slide mechanism and latching mechanism of FIG. 3a;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of a child's cot comprising the mechanism and showing a further latching mechanism that is suitable for use with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a further perspective view of the child's cot of FIG. 4, shown with the sliding side in the fully lowered position;

FIG. 6 shows the child's cot of FIG. 4 depicted from underneath to show the mechanism of the present invention in three different positions; and

FIG. 7 shows a further view of the child's cot of FIG. 4 which is partly cut-away to show the mechanism of the invention in greater detail.

FIG. 1

FIG. 1 is a side view of a portion of a child's cot with the sliding side (1) in the fully raised position with one edge abutting the frame of the cot headboard (2). The cot incorporates two slide mechanisms according to the present invention, one at either end of the sliding side, however only one of the slide mechanisms can be seen in this view. The edge of the sliding side has also been cut away to better show the slide mechanism—in use the mechanism would be mostly enclosed within the sliding side.

The fixed slide rail (3) is attached to the headboard (2) and is in 2 parts (3a, 3b). The rebate (4) located in the lower part of the sliding side (1) in this view the sliding side rests on the upper end of the lower part of the slide rail (3a), pushed out of engagement with the slide rail by first biasing means (not shown). The second biasing means (5) comprises a gas strut, the lower end of which rests on a bracket (6) attached to the headboard (2). The upper end of the gas strut is attached to the upper portion (7) of the slidable member (1).

FIG. 2

FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of part of the slide mechanism depicted in FIG. 1 showing the

    • sliding side (1)
    • fixed slide rail (3) having 2 parts (3a, 3b)
    • rebate (4)

FIG. 3

FIG. 3a is a view of a child's cot incorporating the slide mechanism depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the addition of a foot operated latching mechanism. FIG. 3b is an enlarged view of the lower part of the slide mechanism depicted in FIG. 3a. The latch comprises a footplate (5), attached to an actuating rod (6) located on the underside of the sliding side (1). In this view the actuating rod (6) is engaging a plate (7) which blocks movement of the sliding side along the slide rail. This maintains the sliding side in the fully lowered position countering any force exerted by the second biasing means (not shown). Downward pressure exerted on the footplate (5) rotates the actuating rod (6) out of engagement with retaining means. The force exerted by the second biasing means may then allow the sliding side to slowly rise vertically until it reaches the fully raised position.

FIG. 4

FIG. 4 is a perspective, view of a child's cot comprising a further embodiment of the sliding mechanism of the present invention. Part of the drawing is cut-away and enlarged to show detail. Specifically, the cot comprises a sliding side (10) shown in the fully raised position with one edge abutting the frame of the cot headboard (12). The cot incorporates two slide mechanisms according to the present invention, one at either end of the sliding side, however only one part of one the slide mechanisms can be seen (and is enlarged) in this view.

The fixed slide rail (13) is attached to the headboard (12) and is positioned outside the inner face of the sliding member (1). The opening (14) can be seen in the lower part of the sliding side (10) which allows for ingress and egress of the interlocking components on the headboard (23) and (24). In this embodiment the latching mechanism comprises a pawl (15) that is actuated by a manual push-bar (17). In this view the pawl (15) is located at the upper end of the slide rail (13). In this position the pawl (15) prevents the sliding member (1) from moving in a downward direction because of interference with the upper face of the slide rail (13),

FIG. 5

FIG. 5 is a further perspective view of the child's cot of FIG. 4, shown with the sliding side in the fully lowered position. Part of the drawing is enlarged to show detail. In this view the pawl (15) of the latching mechanism is located at the lower end of the slide rail (13) and in this position the pawl prevents the slidable member (1) from moving in an upward direction along the slide rail (13). Pressure on the manual push bar (17) against a leaf spring (18) or any other biasing means known in the art (such as compression spring polymer/elastomer spring, hair pin spring) can be used to move the pawl from this position.

FIG. 6

FIG. 6 shows the child's cot of FIG. 4 depicted from underneath to show the mechanism of the present invention in three different positions (FIG. 6(a), 6(b) and 6(c)).

FIG. 6(a) depicts the configuration of the mechanism when the sliding member is in the fully raised position, the pawl being located adjacent the top end of the slide rail and against a stop (13). In this position the pawl prevents lowering of the sliding member.

FIG. 6(b) depicts the configuration of the mechanism when the push-bar (17) has been manually depressed, opposing the leaf spring (not shown), causing the pawl (15) to rotate in the direction of the curved arrow and out of engagement with the top of the slide rail and the stop (13). The rebate is thus free to move downwards along the slide rail (13) until the sliding member is in the fully lowered position.

FIG. 6(c) depicts the configuration of the mechanism when manual pressure on the push-bar has been released, the leaf spring (not shown) imposing force in the direction of the arrow. The pawl (15) thus returns to the position depicted in FIG. 6(a) but this time the pawl is located adjacent the lower end of the slide rail and under the stop (13). In this position the pawl prevents raising of the sliding member.

FIG. 7

FIG. 7 is a further perspective view of the child's cot of FIG. 4. In this view the sliding side (15) in the fully raised position. The cot incorporates two slide mechanisms according to the present invention, one at either end of the sliding side. In this view the ends of the sliding side are cut away to better show the slide mechanisms.

The second biasing means (21a, 21b) comprises gas struts; the lower end of one of the struts is shown resting on a bracket (23). The upper end of the gas strut is attached to the upper portion of the slidable member (15). The rebate (14) can be seen located in the lower part of the sliding member (15). The interlocking component (24) in this embodiment comprises a freely rotating wheel which engages the return on the rebate the purpose of which is to prevent the separation of the sliding member (1) from the headboard (2) and to maintain the designed gaps and running clearances. In this view the slidable member (15) rests on the upper end of the lower part of the slide rail (13), pushed out of engagement with the slide rail by first biasing means (not shown).

The word ‘comprising’ and forms of the word ‘comprising’ as used in this description and in the claims does not limit the invention claimed to exclude any variants or additions.

Modifications and improvements to the invention will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Such modifications and improvements are intended to be within the scope of this invention.