Title:
Stackable or nestable shelf with reinforced platform
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A particularly styled shelf of a simplified design has a unique structure and appearance from a minimum of components. The shelf may be both stackable, one shelf upon the other, for the storage of goods, and can be easily nested into a compact state, when shelves are desired to be stored or shipped. Each of the shelves has a platform with spaced apart planks upon transverse ribs, and the platform provides a smooth transition for ready storage of goods. Each shelf has two closed loop wire legs, at each end, and the legs elevate the shelf when upon another shelf or a surface. The downward end of each leg has a foot portion of less width than the handle. The foot portions may be inserted through the handle to furnish interconnection of stacked shelves, even when subject to a lifting force.



Inventors:
Gusdorf, Michael L. (Creve Coeur, MO, US)
Application Number:
12/151232
Publication Date:
11/05/2009
Filing Date:
05/05/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/134
International Classes:
A47F5/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RODDEN, JOSHUA E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul M. Denk (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A device for separating and storing items vertically, a plurality of said devices being capable of stacking, comprising: a generally planar platform, horizontal, having a perimeter frame and a grill within said frame; said perimeter frame having a height substantially greater than its thickness to add to its strength; and two spaced apart and opposed legs, each of said legs joining to said frame, each of said legs having a handle proximate and above said platform, an opposite foot, and at least one side connecting said handle to said foot.

2. The storing device of claim 1 wherein the plurality of devices are nested.

3. The storing device of claim 2 further comprising: said handle of each of said legs being inclined towards said frame, the incline of which terminating at a shoulder where said handle connects to said side; said side of each of said legs continuing downwardly from said shoulder, generally perpendicular to said frame; said foot of each of said legs extending perpendicular to said side and generally outwardly from said frame.

4. The storing device of claim 3 further comprising: each of said legs forming a closed loop having said handle integral with two of said shoulders, said shoulders integral with two of said sides, said sides integral with said foot.

5. The storing device of claim 4 wherein each of said sides bends inwardly, said foot of each leg has less width than said handle, and said handle of each leg is located above an end of said platform.

6. The storing device of claim 3 further comprising: each of said legs forming a closed loop having said handle integral with two of said shoulders, said shoulders integral with two of said sides, said sides integral with said foot and said sides bent inwardly, said foot of each leg has less width than said handle, and said handle of each leg is located above an end of said platform; said foot of each leg of an upper device fitting into a gap between said handle of each leg of a lower device and said frame of a lower device, thus locating the upper device in a spaced apart stacked relationship with the lower device as during usage; and, said foot of each leg of the upper device passing said handle of each leg of the lower device and within said sides of each leg of the lower device so said feet of the upper device and the lower device are spaced apart and parallel, thus locating the upper device in a compact nesting relationship with the lower device as during non-usage.

7. The storing device of claim 3 further comprising: said grill having planks extending parallel to the longitudinal axis of said device and a plurality of ribs laterally beneath said planks; said perimeter frame having sufficient thickness to conceal said planks; and, said ribs connecting beneath said perimeter frame.

8. The storing device of claim 3 further comprising: said grill having planks extending parallel to the longitudinal axis of said device and a plurality of ribs laterally beneath said planks; said ribs connecting within said perimeter frame; and, said perimeter frame having sufficient thickness to conceal said planks and said ribs.

9. The storing device of claim 3 wherein said ribs have a height substantially greater than their thickness to add to their strength.

10. A stackable and nestable shelf for use for temporarily stacking and storing items, vertically, a plurality of said shelves being capable of stacking, one on top of the other, comprising: a generally planer platform, horizontally disposed, and including a series of longitudinally and parallel arranged bars along it length; two spaced apart opposed legs; a pair of horizontal ribs, one being arranged at least at each end of the platform, and securing the longitudinal bars thereon; the legs been secured to a respective horizontal rib to complete the integrated structure of each shelf; and each of the legs having a handle proximate and above said platform, and an opposite foot arranged downwardly thereof, and a pair of sides connecting said handle to each foot, to complete the leg structure for each shelf.

11. The shelf of claim 10 wherein a series of said shelves may be stacked one upon the other, with the foot of one shelf locating within the handle of the shelf arranged therebelow.

12. The shelf of claim 11 wherein a series of said shelves may be nested, for storage.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This non-provisional patent application claims priority to the design patent application having Ser. No. 29/255,646, which was filed on Mar. 10, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The stackable and nestable shelf with reinforced platform relates to light duty shelving in general, and more specifically, to stackable racks with interlocking legs. Unique aspects of the present invention are legs with feet that rest upon a platform and within the handle of a leg below when two adjacent shelves are stacked vertically.

Various styles of racks are available in the prior art and many of them relate to types of racks that have industrial applications, such as for holding bottles, letters, or other components in a stacked relationship. Domestically, stackable and nestable racks have been available of a particular design, such as can be seen in the U.S. patents to Massoudnia, et al., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,035,335 and 5,152,407. In addition, U.S. Pat. No. 6,318,570 shows related structure. These patents are owned by an assignee affiliated with the applicant herein.

In these prior patents, the shown racks are stackable and nestable. One on top of the other, the racks can be erected into multiple heights. When not in use, the racks nest, one on top of the other, so as to reduce their size when undergoing shipment, placement in storage, or display for sale. The essence of these previous racks is to provide an upstanding handle, proximate each end of the rack, that furnishes clearance between the upper part of the handle, and the platform or surface formed of the rack, so that the turned foot of the supra-adjacent rack may engage in some manner with the raised handle, to secure the racks while holding fast, when two or more spaced apart racks are lifted, but likewise, to secure the racks together, when stacked.

More particularly, the U.S. Pat. No. 5,035,335 patent shows a shelf with a wire grid bounded by a perimeter wire. The grid is generally located upon the upper edge of the perimeter wire. And the U.S. Pat. No. 5,152,407 patent describes a shelf of a wire grid bounded by a perimeter wire. The grid is generally located upon the upper edge of the perimeter wire. And the U.S. Pat. No. 5,152,407 patent describes a shelf of a wire grid where the racks can be stacked together.

Various other prior art embodiments for miscellaneous types of racks are available in the art, to provide for stacking of one rack upon the other, such as can be seen in the previous United States patents to Barbier, U.S. Pat. No. 2,814,390; von Stein, et al, U.S. Pat. No. 4,079,836; Beach, U.S. Pat. No. 2,600,191; Pfeifer, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,805,785; Ondrasick, U.S. Pat. No. 4,821,885; Cassel, U.S. Pat. No. 4,915,238; Chesley, U.S. Pat. No. 3,435,958; and, vanDerTog, U.S. Pat. No. 2,975,906. The shelves and racks in these prior patents exceed the complexity of construction of this current invention, and in many instances, were designed for specific industrial purposes, and just do not serve well for domestic storage, for use in dormitories, stacking of household goods, or for organizing closets.

The United States patent to Chap, U.S. Pat. No. 4,444,320, discloses a stackable shelf unit, not identified as a nestable type shelf, but it discloses how the bottom of the legs unit are bent inwardly, and downwardly, so as to locate through the surface of the shown shelf. But, while this shelf unit may stack, it is not identified as one which may be nested, and furthermore, even when a plurality of such shelf units are stacked, they will not hold together, because the bent leg portions will simply separate from any subjacent unit, by sliding free of the same when lifted.

Thus, prior art devices do not provide for both stacking and nesting of platforms for installation and shipping respectively.

The present art overcomes the limitations of the prior art. The present invention has a platform with two parallel and spaced apart legs on the ends of the platform. The legs have a handle above the platform and an opposite foot. Between the bar and the foot, the legs taper in width, narrowing in the direction of the foot. Differing from the prior art, the present invention, a stackable and/or nestable shelf with reinforced platform, provides legs that nest between each other when a plurality of shelves are stacked and legs that rest upon a platform in a spaced relationship.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention contemplates the formation of a particularly styled shelf, formed of a simplified design, but yet is quite unique in structure, appearance, and in affording a minimum of components to provide for its fabrication. The shelf furnishes an attractive appearance and may be both stackable, one shelf upon the other, for assistance in organizing the storage of household or other goods, and at the same time, can be easily nested into a compact state, when a plurality of the shelves are desired to be stored or shipped. Each of the shelves is formed having a platform, of uniform planar dimension with spaced apart planks supported upon transverse ribs, and the platform provides a smooth transition from end to end, and likewise widthwise, without any further elevated components or protrusion, so as to assure that goods may be easily moved upon and stored thereon, as desired.

Each of the shelves is formed having two closed loop wire legs, at each end, and generally opposite one another. The legs of the formed platform provide elevation for the shelf when stood upon a surface. The downward end of each shelf incorporates an out turned foot portion, that has width less than the width of the handle opposite the foot. The foot portions may be inserted through the handle of another proximate leg of a lower shelf, to furnish interconnection of stacked shelves together, even when a plurality of them are stacked, and are subject to a lifting force.

Another unique aspect of this invention is the method for formation of the described shelves. The shelves may generally be fabricated as two components, a platform and adjacent legs, where the platform has spaced apart planks upon at least two transverse ribs with a perimeter frame enclosing the platform, similar to a grill, and where the handles of each pair of legs are welded in place upon the narrow ends of the platform. The platform may have the ribs extending below the planks and below the edge of the ribs. Alternatively, the ribs and planks are located within the height of the frame.

Where the surface of the platform for the shelf includes longitudinal wires or planks, the shelves, when stacked one upon the other, may not remain elevated, because the legs will simply flare out and then slide outwards from the upper edge of the platform and the shelf will not remain suspended in its desired elevated position, when stacked one upon the other. Hence, it is intended that various types of protrusions, particularly a handle, may be provided proximate the upper end of the leg portions of each shelf, and these protrusions may either be configured from an integral bending of the wires forming the legs, or have welded components fabricated thereto. The protrusions extend laterally and then engage the sides of the legs, forming the sides for the elevated surface platform, for the shelf, and contain a foot from an upper leg within the handle of a lower leg, thus preventing the further descent of the legs once they are inserted and installed as when a pair of shelves are stacked one upon the other.

This particular method and style for manufacture and assembly of shelves of this design, particularly because of the simplified design with a minimum of components is especially suited for initial fabrication by a manufacturer overseas, then shipped to a final assembly plant at another destination, and then finally welded, coated, painted, or otherwise treated for final appearance, and then shipped nested in bulk to a vendor for display, marketing, and sale to customers.

Therefore, it is the principal object of this invention to provide a stackable and nestable shelf, which affords a partially open platform, similar to a grill, entirely across the top of the formed shelf, and at the same time, providing interlocking means that hold one or more of the shelves together, when stacked one upon the other, so that all of the shelves may be lifted simultaneously, without separation.

It is another object of this invention to provide a shelf of the foregoing design, and which may be also nestable.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a shelf which is both stackable and nestable, and fabricated from a minimum of components.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a shelf that is of simplified design, but yet very sturdy of structure, providing components that inter-engage, when a pair or more of the shelves are stacked vertically, but yet can be easily disassembled, and nested together, into a minimum of space.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a shelf that has a surface platform that has few if any elevated or protruding components upon its upper platform within the legs and handles, thus the shelf is ready for placement of goods thereon.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a shelf, which is both stackable and nestable, and which is inexpensive of manufacture, and easy of usage, thereby allowing the owner to assemble the shelves in minutes, and to use the shelves of this design for domestic usage, for organizing closets, or the like.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a stackable and nestable shelf that can easily be used commercially, at a business, in a student's room, or even in industrial plants.

Another object of this invention is to provide a stackable and nestable shelf wherein its reinforced platform includes a series of parallel aligned and longitudinally arranged bars, rods, or planks, to add reinforcement to the shelf.

These and other objects may become more apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the invention as described herein, and upon undertaking a study of the description of its preferred embodiment, when viewed in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In referring to the drawings,

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a stackable and nestable shelf of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view thereof, the opposite side view being a mirror image;

FIG. 3 is an end view, the opposite end view being a mirror image;

FIG. 4 is a top view;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view;

FIG. 6 is a side view of a modification to the stackable and nestable shelf;

the opposite side view being a mirror image thereof;

FIG. 7 is an end view of the shelf in FIG. 6, the opposite end view being a mirror image thereof;

FIG. 8 is a bottom view;

FIG. 9 is a side view of a pair of the shelves in a stackable setting;

FIG. 9A is a detailed view of the connection of an upper leg upon a lower leg, particularly the foot upon the frame; and,

FIG. 10 is a side view of a series of the shelves being nested together.

The same reference numerals refer to the same parts throughout the various figures.

FIG. 11 shows an isometric view of a modification to the stackable and nestable shelf of this invention;

FIG. 12 is a side view, of the opposite side view being a mere image thereof;

FIG. 13. is an end view, the opposite end view being a mere image thereof;

FIG. 14. is a top plan view; and

FIG. 15 is a bottom view.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present art overcomes the prior art limitations by providing a stackable and nestable shelf 1 with a grill like platform 5. The platform has interior planks 3 surrounded by a perimeter frame 2 with two spaced apart opposite legs 6. One platform of this invention stacks upon another by engaging the legs.

In particular FIGS. 1 through 3, the stackable and nestable shelf 1 of this invention is disclosed. The shelf includes a perimeter frame 2, here shown as rectangular in plan and in section, having at least longitudinally arranged rods or planks 3, and may also include lateral ribs 4, although it is just as likely that the planks forming the surface platform 5, if they are sturdy enough, can form these particular components for the structured shelf. At each end of the shelf there are provided down-turned legs, as at 6, and at the bottom of each leg is formed an outwardly extending foot, as at 7. The single foot shown in the preferred embodiment extends laterally towards each corner of the shown shelf. Opposite the foot 7, each leg 6 has a handle 8, generally parallel to the foot but included, or offset, inwards of the foot, the perimeter frame is of a height substantially greater than its thickness to add to its strength.

As can be seen in FIG. 2, the legs have handle proximate the lateral ends of the frame. Each handle joins to a side 6a of a leg 6 at a shoulder 9. Above the shoulder, the side 6a deflects towards the frame 2. Below the shoulder, the side of a leg proceeds downward vertically to the foot. The foot 7 extends perpendicular from the side 6a and generally outwards from the frame and the handle. In the platform shown in this Figure, the ribs 4 terminate beneath the frame 2 here shown as rounded ends and the ribs may be of wire. As previously described in FIG. 1, the planks rest upon their edges on the ribs. Where the planks have the same height as the frame, the ribs will extend beneath the frame. Here the ribs are located below the frame but contiguous to the lower edge of the frame preferably for a welded connection.

FIG. 3 describes the shelf 1 of this invention from the side. The platform is shown horizontal with the ribs 4 extending laterally and beneath the frame. Upon this side, a leg 7 joins to the lateral end of the platform 5. As before, the leg has a handle 8 above the platform and generally parallel to the lateral end of the platform. Below the handle, the leg 6 has two sides 6a that descend to the foot 7. The sides have a slight taper, generally inwards, as they connect the wider handle to the narrower foot. The taper of the legs eases the nesting of a pair of shelves together, when arranged one upon the other, as can later be seen in FIG. 10. In addition, because of the slight inward disposition for the handles 6, as previously explained, when a pair or more of the shelves are stacked one upon the other, as can later be seen in FIG. 9, after the foot 7 at one end of the shelf are inserted through the handles 8 forming one end for the shelf, the foot 7 at the opposite end of the shelf, having its legs 6 biased or forced inwardly, against their inherent resiliency, may then be located outwardly through the handle for the subjacent shelf, as later shown in FIG. 9a, to provide for a very sturdy mount of a pair of shelves together, when assembled.

Rotating the invention from FIG. 3, FIG. 4 shows a top view of the invention. The platform has a generally rectangular shape with the frame 2 containing the planks 3 within it and orienting the planks longitudinally. The ribs 4 extend laterally, here shown as three ribs. Upon each lateral end of the frame, the handle of each leg bends inwards from the shoulder and appears to partially cover the lateral end of the frame. Outwards from the shoulder, the leg descends into the foot oriented away from the frame.

FIG. 5 shows the invention rotated upside down. Here, the platform has three ribs 4, spaced apart and parallel, that span laterally and support the planks 3. Each rib connects to the longitudinal sides of the frame upon the lower edge. In this view, the lateral ends of the frame are shown with the handle 8 as a thickened line behind the lateral ends. The shoulders of each leg adjoin the lateral ends, generally near each corner. The shoulders extend the legs slightly outwards from the frame and the sides of the legs extend to the feet shown here. As before, the feet extend outwards from the frame, generally perpendicular to the legs. In this view as in FIG. 4, the feet 7 have a lesser width than the handles 8. The lesser width of the feet permits nesting of the shelves when they are stacked in a tight vertical bundle.

Similar to FIG. 2, FIG. 6 shows an alternate embodiment. As before, the invention has a platform 5, generally rectangular with a frame 2 upon the perimeter. Within the frame, a plurality of longitudinal and spaced apart planks rest upon ribs 4. Here, the invention has three ribs that span laterally between the longitudinal sides of the frame. The height of the frame is established so that the planks 3 and the ribs 4 fit within the frame 2 and no protrusions interfere with items placed upon the platform and with sub-adjacent shelves when stacked tightly. The alternate embodiment has two spaced apart legs upon each lateral end of the frame. Each of the legs 6 have a handle 8, also spanning laterally above the lateral end of the frame 2 and connecting to a shoulder 9. The shoulder has a bend that locates the handle above the lateral end of the frame. Beneath the shoulder, each leg descends to a foot, bent perpendicular to the plane of the leg and generally parallel to the plane of the platform.

Turning the alternate embodiment, FIG. 7 shows a side view of the platform and legs. The platform has a frame 2 upon the perimeter that has sufficient height to conceal both the planks 3 and the ribs 4 from viewing the frame. As in FIG. 3, each of the legs has a handle 8 parallel to the lateral end of the platform and generally above the lateral end. The handle joins to shoulders at each end. The shoulders join to legs descending vertically towards a foot. The legs descend at a taper that reaches the foot where it has a narrower width than the handle for ease of nesting when shelves are stacked tightly.

Similar to FIG. 5, FIG. 8 shows the alternate embodiment from below. The platform has a perimeter frame that receives the ribs 4. In this view, the ribs are contained within the longitudinal sides of the frame 2. Each end of a rib generally abuts the inside face of a longitudinal side. The handles 8 are shown as a thickened line upon the lateral ends of the platform. From the handles, shoulders 9 supply a bend to each leg 6 that moves each leg slightly away from the platform and begins a tapering of each leg towards a foot 7. The foot is bent generally perpendicular to the sides of the leg and away from the platform.

In use, FIG. 9 shows two shelves of the present invention in a vertically stacked and spaced apart relationship. As before, each shelf has two spaced apart legs upon each lateral end. Here the upper shelf has two legs extending below the platform that reach the handles of the lower shelf. Upon reaching the lower shelf, the sides of the legs are deflected inwardly so that each foot from the upper shelf enters the gap beneath the handle and above the lower shelf. As the sides are deflected, the resiliency of the leg material urges the feet outwardly through the handle until the sides of the legs abut or engage the handle. When the legs engage the handle, the feet come to rest upon the lateral ends of the lower shelf, particularly the frame. The upper shelf is now stacked upon the lower shelf and ready for items to be placed upon the upper shelf. The upper shelf is also ready for additional shelves to stack vertically thereupon as desired by the owner of the shelves. The connection of legs between the shelves follows the engagement of feet through handles as described.

The connection of an upper shelf to a lower shelf appears in FIG. 9A. The upper shelf has a leg with a side 6A that descends to a foot 7. The foot passes beneath, through, and out of the handle 8 of the lower leg, and comes to rest upon the upper edge of the frame 2 of the lower shelf. In this view the longitudinal planks 3 are perpendicular to the frame 2 and below its top edge. The handle continues to each side 6a of the lower leg along an angle to the lower leg 6. The lower leg straightens at the shoulder 9 and then proceeds downwards to the foot below, not shown. The connection of a foot from an upper leg beneath a handle of a lower leg and upon the frame of the lower shelf permits shelves of the present invention to stack and bias the legs against collapsing outwardly.

For shipment between locations or storage at the owner's location, FIG. 10 shows the present invention in a tightly nested relationship. As the alternate embodiment differs from the preferred embodiment by the height of the frame, the description of stacking the shelves also applies to the alternate embodiment. Here in a stacked relationship, an upper shelf has its foot located outside of a handle. The taper of an upper leg fits the upper leg within a lower leg in a nesting arrangement. A plurality of shelves can be stacked in this way as the handle of a lower shelf offsets an upper shelf vertically so that the feet of stacked shelves are spaced apart vertically. The legs of stacked shelves remain straight and without deflection in contrast to FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 shows an isometric view of the stackable and nestable shelf of this invention. The shelf 10 includes a series of longitudinal and parallel lined bars, rods, or planks 11, that are affixed to the lateral ribs 12, with the end ribs 12 being secured with the end frames or legs 13 as can be seen. These legs are constructed similarly to those as previously described at 6 with respect to the embodiment as shown in FIG. 1. The parallel bars 11 have greater height and width, and therefore, add significantly to the reinforcement of the platform formed for the shelf as shown.

FIG. 12 provides a side view of the said reinforced platform, and the height of the bars 11 can be noted. The same can be seen from the end view as shown in FIG. 13.

FIGS. 14 and 15 provide top and bottom views for the reinforced platform for this particular stackable and nestable shelf. It can also be seen that the lateral ribs 12 have significant diameter, and therefore, add further structure to the reinforced shelf.

From the aforementioned description, a stackable and nestable shelf with a reinforced platform has been described. The stackable and nestable shelf is uniquely capable of engaging the feet and the handles of legs for stacking and separating the feet and handles of the legs for nesting a plurality of shelves vertically, or, optionally, certain of the shelves may be stacked, but may be made so that they will not necessarily nest. The stackable and nestable shelf and its various components may be manufactured from many materials including but not limited to polymers, high density polyethylene HDPE, polypropylene PP, polyethylene terephalate ethylene PETE, polyvinyl chloride PVC, polystyrene PS, nylon, steel, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, their alloys, and composites.