Title:
Under-Cabinet Tray
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage unit for storing a number of items in an elevated space saving and easily accessible manner is provided that includes a cover slidably mounted to a storage container containing a number of storage chambers therein. The cover includes a number of adhesive securing means attached thereto that enable the cover to be fixedly secured to the underside of an elevated support structure, such as a cabinet in a kitchen. The storage container is slidably mounted to the cover such that the container can be moved from a closed position to an open position with regard to the cover in order for an individual to gain access to items contained within the storage container.



Inventors:
Hickey, Charles P. (Cheyenne, WY, US)
Application Number:
11/924116
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/25/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B88/00
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Primary Examiner:
EDWARDS, BRETT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOYLE FREDRICKSON S.C. (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A storage unit comprising: a) a cover including b) a storage container slidably engaged with the cover and including at least one first storage area therein; and c) a number of securing members disposed on one of the cover or the container and adapted to be attached fixedly to a supporting surface.

2. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the cover further comprises at least one second storage area therein accessible via openings positioned in communication with the at least one first storage area.

3. The storage unit of claim 2 wherein the at least one second storage area is aligned with the at least one first storage channel.

4. The storage unit of claim 3 wherein the container includes a front wall with a reduced-height portion aligned with the opening in the at least one second storage area.

5. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the storage container is formed of a moldable plastic material.

6. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the cover is formed of a moldable plastic material.

7. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the cover includes a pair of tabs on opposite sides of the cover that are slidably engaged within a pair of engagement gaps disposed on opposite sides of the storage container.

8. The storage unit of claim 7 wherein the cover is adapted to be fixedly mounted to a support surface and the container is slidably mounted to the cover.

9. The storage unit of claim 7 wherein the engagement gaps are formed by a ridge extending upwardly from each side of the storage container and an inwardly extending flange attached to the ridge opposite the storage container.

10. The storage unit of claim 7 further comprising a stop disposed on one of the pair of tabs or the pair of flanges to prevent separation of the storage container from the cover.

11. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the securing means is disposed on the cover.

12. The storage unit of claim 11 wherein the securing means are adhesive means.

13. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the cover further comprises a number of strengthening ribs.

14. The storage unit of claim 1 wherein the cover and the container are formed of different plastic materials.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to storage devices and more specifically to space saving, elevated storage devices.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In interior environments within a home or commercial location, such as kitchen environments, numerous items are required for preparing, serving and consuming food items therein. For this purpose, a number of different types of storage units and cabinets have been developed for placement in interior areas such as a kitchen to effectively store these implements in an easily accessible manner.

However, the majority of these storage units require large amounts of space on the floor of the interior area, on a food preparation surface or counter in the area, or on the ceiling or wall of the area if the storage unit is suspended above the floor. In addition, many storage units are large in size in order to accommodate a large number of items, while the storage need may require a much smaller space for storage of much fewer items.

Therefore, it is desirable to develop a storage unit that can be positioned in an unobtrusive but easily accessible manner for storage of a small and potentially replaceable number of items within the storage unit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention, a storage unit is provided that includes a cover to which is attached a storage container. The cover has an upper surface that is securely mounted to the underside of an elevated supporting object, such as an existing cabinet structure. The upper surface of the cover also includes a number of storage compartments in which certain item complementary to those located in the storage container can be positioned. Because the cover is secured to a supporting surface, these compartments can be accessed through openings formed in the lower surface of the cover. The lower storage container is slidably mounted to a lower surface of the cover, such that the container can be selectively moved away from the cover. When the storage container is slid outwardly away from the cover, a number of storage compartments therein are exposed in which various items can be positioned.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the storage unit is formed of a relatively lightweight and thermo-formable plastic material. The lightweight material enables the cover and storage container to be formed into the desired configuration in a conventional plastic molding process to allow the openings in the storage container to be shaped as desired to hold specific items therein, and to configure the cover and storage container to be slidably mounted to one another. The lightweight construction of the cover and container also greatly reduces the overall weight of the unit and the contents of the unit, such that it can be reliably held in the elevated position with a minimum of securing devices.

Numerous other features, objects and advantages of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description taken together with the drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings illustrate the best mode currently contemplated as practicing the present invention.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a first embodiment of a storage unit constructed according to the present invention in an open configuration;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the unit of FIG. 1 in a closed configuration;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the storage container of the unit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the storage container of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a right side elevation view of the storage container of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the cover of the unit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a front elevation view of the cover of FIG. 6;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference now to the drawing figures in which like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the disclosure, a first embodiment of the storage unit constructed according to the present invention is indicated generally at 10 in FIG. 1. The storage unit 10 includes a storage container 12 slidably mounted to a cover 14. Both the container 12 and cover 14 are formed of thermoplastic material that can be utilized in any conventional molding process to form both the cover 14 and container 12. A preferred plastic material for forming both the container 12 and cover 14 is any suitable lightweight and blow-moldable or thermo-formable plastic material, such as a polyethylene. Additionally, the storage container 12 and the cover 14 can be formed of different suitable lightweight and blow-moldable or thermo-formable materials that may also have different colors associated therewith to improve the aesthetic appearance of the unit 10.

Looking now at FIGS. 2-5, the container 12 can have any desired shape, but in a preferred embodiment is formed to have a generally rectangular shape, with a front wall 16, a pair of opposed side walls 18, and a rear wall 20. The container 12 also includes a number of storage areas 22 formed therein that extend downwardly from an upper surface 24 of the container 12 towards a lower surface 26. The container 12 can have any number of storage areas 22 formed therein, and the individual storage areas 22 can have any desired shape depending upon the particular items to be positioned within the storage areas 22 due to the ability to form the container 12 in a suitable plastic molding process. In the preferred, illustrated embodiment, the container 12 includes two storage areas 22a disposed on opposite sides of the container 12 that extend across the full width of the container 12 between the front wall 18 and the rear wall 20. Two additional storage areas 22b are disposed between the outermost storage areas 22a and extend only partially along the length of the container 12. Adjacent the front wall 16 of the container 12, these storage areas 22b terminate at a pair of reduced-height sections 28 of the front wall 16 of the container 12.

The storage areas 22a and 22b are each formed to have a depth sufficient to retain the desired items therein, but without having the lower end of each area 22a or 22b protruding past the lower surface 26 of the container 12. This maintains the low profile of the container 12 and the overall unit 10, such that the unit 10 can be secured in an unobtrusive manner beneath a suitable suspended mounting surface.

On the upper surface 24 of the container 12, a number of upwardly extending ribs 30 are formed between the storage areas 22a and 22b to separate the storage areas 22a and 22b from one another. Additionally, on opposite sides of the container 12, the upper surface 24 includes a pair of upwardly extending ridges 32 disposed along each side wall 18. Each ridge 32 includes an inwardly extending flange 34 disposed on the ridge 32 opposite the upper surface 24 that defines a gap 36 between the flange 34 and the upper surface 24. The ridges 32 and flanges 34 are preferably integrally formed with the upper surface 24 of the container 12, but can be formed separately from the container 12 as well.

Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2, 6 and 7, the cover 14 is correspondingly shaped to the container 12 and, in the illustrated preferred embodiment is generally rectangular in shape. The cover 14 is also formed with a front wall 38, a rear wall 40, a pair of side walls 42, and upper surface 46 and a lower surface 48. Each side wall 42 includes a recessed upper edge 50 that forms a tab 54 along each side of the cover 14. The tabs 54 are dimensioned such that they can slide along the gap 36 formed on the container 12 between the flange 34 and the upper surface 24. In this manner, the container 12 is slidably secured to the cover 14.

To secure the cover 14 to a suitable support surface (not shown), the cover 14 also includes a number of securing members 56 disposed on the upper surface 46 of the cover 14. The securing members 56 can be any suitable member capable of fixedly attaching the upper surface 46 of the cover 14 to the support surface, such as a mechanical or adhesive member, with an adhesive member or adhesive pad utilizing a contact adhesive being especially preferred. The securing members 56 are disposed at each corner of the upper surface 46 of the cover 14, such that the entire area of the cover 14 is securely held to the support surface. Once the cover 14 is attached to the support surface, the flanges 34 formed on the container 12 are slid over the tabs 54 on the cover 14, such that the lower surface 48 of the cover 14 contacts and moves along the ribs 30, such that the container 12 is slidably secured to the cover 14. The container 12 may additionally include a pair of locking members (not shown) that are disposed between the flanges 34 and the adjacent portion of the upper surface 24 near the rear wall 20 of the container 12. These locking members function to engage the side walls 42 of the cover 14 when the container 12 is slid away from the cover 14 to a certain location, such that the container 12 is not easily disengagable from the cover 14.

Similarly to the container 12, the cover 14 also includes a number of recessed storage areas 58 disposed adjacent a front wall 48 of the cover 14. Each storage area 58 includes an opening 60 formed through the cover 14 at a front end thereof. When the container 12 is in the closed position with regard to the cover 14, the openings 60 positioned in alignment with the reduced-height sections 28 of the front wall 16 of the container 12. This allows and individual to insert an object or a finger (not shown) over the reduced-height portion 28 and into the opening 60 to push an object (not shown) disposed in the storage area 58 upwardly and out of the storage area 58 without disengaging the cover 14 from the support surface. This allows sharp or otherwise dangerous objects (not shown) that are employed along with the items positioned within the storage areas 22a-22b in the container 12 to be placed in the storage areas 58 such that the objects are not easily seen or accessible by children.

To provide additional strength to the cover 14, the upper surface 46 of the cover 14 is formed with a number of stiffening ribs 62 disposed along the upper surface 46 between the storage areas 58. The ribs 62 are integrally formed with the cover 14 and provide added resistance to bending or flexing by the cover 14.

In an alternative embodiment of the unit 10, the cover 14 can be formed without the storage areas 58. Instead, a separate and similar storage area (not shown) can be formed in the container 12 along the front wall 16 in place of the reduced-height portions 28, which are omitted.

In operation, when the unit 10 is secured to a suitable surface, such as the underside of a cabinet, in order to access any items positioned within the container 12, or to place additional items in the storage areas 22a and/or 22b, the container 12 is slid outwardly with regard to the cover 14 to expose the storage areas 22a-22b formed therein (FIG. 1). In addition, to access any items positioned within the storage areas 58 disposed on the cover 14, the container 12 is moved to the closed position (FIG. 2), such that and individual can engage and remove the items from the storage areas 58 utilizing the openings 60 in the respective storage areas 58 to urge the items out of the storage areas 58, as discussed previously.

With regard to the types and numbers of items that can be positioned within the unit 10, any materials or items that are utilized in the particular environment that are also relatively lightweight and that have a configuration suitable for placement within the respective storage areas 22a, 22b and 58 can be utilized. For example, one suitable item that can be positioned or stored within the unit 10 is a bag resealing device (not shown) and the associated cutting device (not shown) disclosed in co-pending and co-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/736,921 filed Apr. 18, 2007.

Various alternatives are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.