Title:
FOLDABLE CABINET
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A luggage cabinet provides efficient storage space for luggage when opened while also providing a thin profile when closed through a unique arrangement of pivotable shelves In an embodiment of the invention, a foldable cabinet comprises a structural frame having a depth, a plurality of shelves, pivot means to pivotally mount the plurality of shelves within said structural frame and to enable said plurality of shelves to pivot between a substantially horizontal position and a substantially vertical position, and stop means to support the shelves when they are in the substantially horizontal position, wherein each of said shelf is pivotally mounted within said frame, along said depth, at a relative offset position so as to overlap the shelves when the shelves are in the substantially vertical position.



Inventors:
Morelli, Vince (Red Deer County, CA)
Application Number:
12/264609
Publication Date:
01/28/2010
Filing Date:
11/04/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B88/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HAWN, PATRICK D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SANDER R. GELSING (RED DEER, AB, CA)
Claims:
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or priviledge is being claimed are defined as follows:

1. A foldable cabinet comprising: a structural frame comprising a top wall and two integral side walls, said structural frame having a depth; a plurality of shelves, wherein each of said shelves comprising a bottom surface which accommodates the shelf underneath it when said shelves are placed in a substantially vertical position; pivot means to pivotally mount the plurality of shelves within said structural frame and to enable said plurality of shelves to pivot between a substantially horizontal position and said substantially vertical position; and stop means to support the shelves when they are in the substantially horizontal position; wherein each of said shelf is pivotally mounted to said integral side walls, along said depth, at a relative offset position so as to provide a nestable configuration of the shelves when the cabinet is folded.

2. The cabinet of claim 1 wherein each shelf further comprises a pair of telescoping shelf slides.

3. The cabinet of claim 1 wherein the pivot means further comprises: two pairs of pivot disks for each of said plurality of shelves, where each of the pair of pivot disks comprises a first pivot disk connected to the shelf and a second pivot disk connected to the integral side wall of the cabinet.

4. The cabinet of claim 3 wherein the stop means further comprises: a first lobe projecting from the first pivot disk; and a second lobe projecting from the second pivot disk.

5. The cabinet of claim 1 further comprising at least one door mounted along a front face of the structural frame.

6. The cabinet of claim 5 further comprising a mirror mounted to the inside of said at least one door.

7. The cabinet of claim 5 further comprising a bulletin board mounted to the inside of said at least one door.

8. The cabinet of claim 1 wherein the depth is in the range of 6 inches to 12 inches.

9. A foldable cabinet comprising: a structural frame having a depth; a plurality of shelves; pivot means to pivotally mount the plurality of shelves within said structural frame and to enable said plurality of shelves to pivot between a substantially horizontal position and a substantially vertical position; and stop means to support the shelves when they are in the substantially horizontal position; wherein each of said shelf is pivotally mounted within said frame, along said depth, at a relative offset position so as to overlap the shelves when the shelves are in the substantially vertical position.

10. The cabinet of claim 9 wherein the sum of each of the plurality of shelves' depth is greater than the height of the cabinet.

11. The cabinet of claim 9 wherein each shelf further comprises a pair of telescoping shelf slides.

12. The cabinet of claim 9 wherein the pivot means further comprises: two pairs of pivot disks for each of said plurality of shelves, where each of the pair of pivot disks comprises a first pivot disk connected to the shelf and a second pivot disk connected to the integral side wall of the cabinet.

13. The cabinet of claim 12 wherein the stop means further comprises: a first lobe projecting from the first pivot disk; and a second lobe projecting from the second pivot disk.

14. The cabinet of claim 9 further comprising at least one door mounted along a front face of the structural frame.

15. The cabinet of claim 14 further comprising a mirror mounted to the inside of said at least one door.

16. The cabinet of claim 14 further comprising a bulletin board mounted to the inside of said at least one door.

17. The cabinet of claim 9 wherein the depth is in the range of 6 inches to 12 inches.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to storage devices and, more particularly, to folding cabinets adapted to fold into substantially flat configurations for storage against a wall, and to be readily opened and assembled with a minimum of effort.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

When staying overnight at a hotel, motel, inn or the like, a collapsible luggage rack is often provided as part of the room accessories. Typically such a collapsible luggage rack is constructed of two U-shaped pieces of tubular steel, one of which is of such width so as to fit or nest inside the other. These two U-shaped pieces are then pivotally joined, along both legs of the U, at a centrally located pivot point. The two pivotally connected U-shaped pieced are then turned up-side-down and a plurality of fabric straps are used to connect the bases of the two U's. The use of the two pivotal connections and the fabric straps allows the rack to be folded flat when not in use, while the straps support suitcases, towels or other supplies when in use. Non-slip plastic feet are often added to the tips of the U's.

While these traditional collapsible luggage racks provide guests a convenient place to put their suitcase or duffle, they are limited by the fact that they typically can only support one average sized suitcase. A traveler or guest with multiple pieces of luggage then is forced to pick which piece will be supported by the rack, utilize additional such racks or unpack all the luggage and place the various items in the drawers and cabinets that are also generally provided in a room. Moreover, using a plurality of such collapsible luggage racks, is not an efficient use of a room's often limited square footage space.

Cabinets, drawers and wardrobes are typically a better use of a hotel room's limited square footage space (because items can be stacked in drawers or on shelves), but these also suffer from a number of disadvantages, including that these pieces of furniture are often not able to accommodate entire suitcases and thus suitcase contents must be unpacked and placed inside them on a piece by piece basis, and likewise requiring repacking of the suitcases upon check-out. Providers of hospitality services may also be reluctant to provide large cabinets, drawers and wardrobes, because these items also generally take up valuable room square footage space.

Foldable cabinets are also known in the art, but these typically incorporate hinged folding sides and hinged shelves, with said shelves then attaching to, or being supported by, the hinged folding sides when in assembled. One disadvantage of such design is that the hinged folding sides could dislodge, with the sides then pivoting about the hinge axis and causing the shelves (that were being supported by said sides) to fall or dislodge. Such an unstable design is not suitable to support the heavy weight, and the on-and-off movement, of suitcases and other baggage that commonly occurs in hotel rooms. Another disadvantage of these prior art foldable cabinets, is that shelf space (including the total depth of the shelves) is limited by the height of the foldable cabinet, typically resulting in narrow shelves.

Accordingly, a need exists in the art for a luggage storage apparatus that allows for highly compact and efficient forms when not in use, while providing efficient and stable support and access to multiple pieces of luggage when in use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides improvements to foldable cabinets. In one embodiment, the present invention provides a foldable cabinet comprising a structural frame comprising a top wall and two integral side walls. The structural frame has a depth, a plurality of shelves. Each of the shelves comprise a bottom surface which accommodates the shelf underneath it when the shelves are placed in a substantially vertical position. The cabinet further comprises pivot means to pivotally mount the plurality of shelves within said frame and to enable said plurality of shelves to pivot between a substantially horizontal position and said substantially vertical position. The cabinet further comprises stop means to support the shelves when they are in the substantially horizontal position. Each of the shelves is pivotally mounted to the inside of the integral side walls, along said depth, at a relative offset position so as to provide a nestable configuration of the shelves when the cabinet is folded.

In another aspect of the invention there is provided a foldable cabinet comprising a structural frame having a depth, a plurality of shelves, pivot means to pivotally mount the plurality of shelves within said structural frame, and to enable said plurality of shelves to pivot between a substantially horizontal position and a substantially vertical position, and stop means to support the shelves when they are in the substantially horizontal position. Each of the shelves is pivotally mounted within said frame, along said depth, at a relative offset position so as to overlap the shelves when the shelves are in the substantially vertical position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a cabinet according to a preferred embodiment of the invention from the front with the doors open and the shelves in an extended, and substantially horizontal, support position;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cabinet of FIG. 1 with the doors open and the shelves in a storage position;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the cabinet of FIG. 1 with the doors closed and the shelves in a storage position;

FIG. 4 is a front view of the cabinet of FIG. 1 (doors not shown);

FIG. 5 is a side sectional view of the cabinet of FIG. 1 with the shelves in a substantially horizontal, support position;

FIG. 6 is a side sectional view of the cabinet of FIG. 1 with the doors closed and the shelves in a storage position;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a pivot means and stop means of the cabinet of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 8a and 8b are perspective views of the pivot means and stop means of FIG. 7, mounted between a shelf and a sidewall of the cabinet of FIG. 1, with FIG. 8a showing the shelf in a substantially horizontal support position and with FIG. 8b showing the shelf in a substantially vertical storage position;

FIG. 9a is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of the pivot means and stop means of FIG. 7 taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 8a;

FIG. 9b is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of the pivot means and stop means of FIG. 7 taken along line 6-6 in FIG. 8b;

FIG. 10 is a front view of another embodiment of the cabinet wherein the pivot means and the stop means are separate from each other (doors not shown); and

FIG. 11 is a side sectional view of the cabinet of FIG. 10 with the shelves in a substantially horizontal, support position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description are of a preferred embodiment by way of example only and without limitation to the combination of features necessary for carrying the invention into effect. Reference is to be had to the Figures in which identical reference numbers identify similar components. The drawing figures are not necessarily to scale and certain features are shown in schematic form in the interest of clarity and conciseness.

FIGS. 1-9b illustrate the configuration of one embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, foldable cabinet 10 is generally oriented about a structural frame 12 having a height H and comprising a pair of doors 14 along its front face. Preferably, a mirror 14m is mounted to the inside of one of the doors 14 and a bulletin board 14b is mounted to the inside of the other door 14.

Frame 12 further comprises top wall 16, bottom wall 18 and two side walls 20. Side walls 20 of frame 12 extend back a sufficient depth D to provide space to mount and store one or more pivoting shelves 22. In this embodiment the depth D approximates 9¾ inches. Advantageously, the cabinet 10 takes up very little square footage space when in the storage position. Preferably, the frame 12 further comprises a back wall 19. More preferably, the cabinet 10 is positioned against, and fastened to, an interior wall W of a room in which the cabinet 10 is placed. Even more preferably, the side walls 20 are integral with the frame 12 (i.e. not hinged to the frame 12 or back wall 19). Advantageously, by being integral with the frame 12, the side walls 20 (and any elements of the cabinet 10 that they support, such as shelves) will have increased stability.

Shelves 22, are pivotally connected at their rear to the inward facing surfaces of the side walls 20 using pivot means 30. Shelves 22 pivot from a substantially horizontal position when the cabinet 10 is in the opened position (see FIGS. 1 and 5) to a substantially vertical position when in the closed position (see FIGS. 2 and 6).

Pivot means 30 may be a conventional means, such as a pair of bolts and nuts extending through the rear side corners of the shelf 22 and the side wall 20 at the appropriate position (not shown) or by means of a piano hinge pivotally joining the rear end of the shelf 22 to the back wall 19 (also not shown). In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-9b, the pivot means 30 comprises two pairs of pivot disks where each of the pair of pivot disks comprises a first pivot disk 31 connected or mounted to the shelf 22 and a second pivot disk 32 connected or mounted to the side wall 20 of the cabinet 10 (as more clearly shown in FIGS. 7-8b).

In the preferred embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-9b, the first pivot disk 31 has a first surface 31a, a second opposing surface 31b and a generally axial ring 33 extending perpendicularly from surface 31a. Likewise, in the preferred embodiment of FIGS. 1-9b, the second pivot disk 32 has a first surface 32a, a second opposing surface 32b and a generally axial ring 34 extending perpendicularly from surface 32a. The second surface 31b of the first pivot disk 31 mounts against the shelf 22. The second surface 32b of the second pivot disk 32 mounts against the side wall 20, either directly (see FIG. 4 at position P3) or via a spacer 50 (see FIG. 4 at positions P1 and P2).

The axial rings 33, 34 mate with each other to allow for axial/pivotal movement of each disk 31, 32, while preventing or restricting planar movement of the disks 31, 32 relative to each other. Axial ring 33 has a height and shape keyed to engage a corresponding axial ring 34 on the second pivot disk 32. In this embodiment, axial ring 33 on the first pivot disk 31 has an outside diameter smaller than the inside diameter of axial ring 34 on the second pivot disk 32 and, hence, engages axial ring 34 from within and rests against first surface 32a of said second disk 32, thereby allowing axial ring 34 to rest against the first surface 31a of the first disk 31. In the preferred embodiment shown, disks 31, 32 are constructed of a material such as T-1 steel plate and each further comprises an axial orifice 310, 320. A fastener (not shown), such as a bolt and nut, extends through orifices 310, 320 of the disks 31, 32 and holds or mounts the pivot disks 31, 32 to the shelf 22 and inside surface of the side wall 20 respectively. Alternatively, and if the sides of the shelves 22 (or at least the portion of the sides where the disks mount) and the inside of the side walls 20 (or the spacers 50) are made of steel or metal, the disks 31, 32 are fastened by welding.

In the preferred embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-9b, pivot means 30 further comprises stop means 40 to prevent over-rotation of the shelves 22, beyond their desired horizontal position, and support the shelves 22 in their horizontal positions. In alternate embodiments (such as those shown in FIGS. 10-11), stop means 40 is provided separate from the pivot means 30 and comprises a ledge, tab, shoulder or protruding member that extends from the inside surface of the side walls 20 and provide a surface upon which the shelves 22 rest when in the substantially horizontal position, thereby supporting the shelves 22 and any items (such as luggage and suitcases) placed on them.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-9b, the stop means 40 comprises two lobes 41, 42, with lobe 41 projecting from the first surface 31 a of disk 31 and lobe 42 projecting from the first surface 32a of disk 32. Preferably, disks 31 and 32 and their respective lobes 41, 42 are fully machined from a single piece of T-1 steel plate. More preferably, the lobes 41, 42 project from their respective disks to substantially the same height as the axial rings 33, 34. In the preferred embodiment of FIGS. 1-9b, the diameter of disks 31 and 32 is 2⅜ inches, the thickness of the disks 31 and 32 is ⅛th of an inch, and the height of axial rings 33, 34 and the lobes 41, 42 is ⅛th of an inch from their respective surface 31a, 32a. Yet even more preferably, lobes 41, 42 each further comprise an engagement shoulder 41s, 42s to facilitated secure engagement of the two lobes 41, 42 against each other (see FIGS. 8a and 9a) and to allow the stop means 40 to securely support the shelves 22 and the weight of any luggage, suitcases or other travel items that might be placed on the shelves 22. The inventor has observed that a shelf 22, comprising the pivot means 30 and the stop means 40 of the preferred embodiment, was able to support a weight of at least 400 lbs (181.4 kilograms).

Preferably, lobes 41, 42 each comprise no more than approximately a 90 degree arc of their respective disk's first surfaces 31a, 32a (as more clearly illustrated in FIGS. 9a and 9b) so as to allow the shelves 22 to be slightly over-rotated when in the vertical position and lean back against the back wall 19 or another upright shelf 22 (see FIGS. 6 and 8b). Advantageously, by allowing the shelves 22 to over-rotate slightly beyond the vertical position, and lean back against the back wall 19 or an intervening shelf 22, gravity alone will usually be sufficient to keep the shelves 22 in a substantially vertical position. More preferably, stop means 40 further comprises a coil or torsion spring (not shown) used in a conventional manner to raise the shelves 22 to the substantially vertical position when all items (such as luggage) are removed from the shelves 22.

The positioning of the lobes 41, 42 on their respective disk 31, 32, and mating of the respective axial rings 33, 34, is such that rotation of the disks 31, 32 relative to each other, and hence pivoting of the shelves 22, is stopped by lobes 41 and 42 (see FIGS. 8a and 9a) to allow the shelves 22 to rotate from a substantially vertical position (see FIGS. 2, 6, 8b and 9b), which allows the cabinet 10 to be stored in a highly compact and efficient form when not in use (see FIG. 3), to a substantially horizontal position (see FIGS. 1, 4, 5, 8a and 9a), where the shelves 22 provide efficient and stable support and access for multiple pieces of luggage.

Preferably, and so as to facilitate efficient use depth D to hold multiple shelves 22, the shelves 22 are in a nestable configuration when the cabinet 10 is in the closed or storage position and when the shelves 22 are oriented in a substantial vertical position (see FIGS. 2 and 6). In this embodiment, there are three shelves 22a, 22b, 22c, with the lower shelf 22a being nestable in the shelf directly above it 22b, and with shelf 22b being nestable in the upper shelf 22c (see FIGS. 4 and 6). The shelves 22a, 22b, 22c then overlap with each other, rather than being positioned one underneath the other all in a straight line, as is the case in prior art foldable cabinets.

The nestable configuration of this embodiment comprises two elements: (i) a bottom opening or surface O in each shelf 22 that will accommodate the shelf 22 underneath it when the shelves 22 are in the vertical position and (ii) relative and offset positioning of each shelf's pivot point on the side wall 20, along and within depth D, compared to the other shelves 22. More particularly, in this embodiment lower shelf 22a has width C which is narrower than the bottom opening O of middle shelf 22b. Middle shelf 22b, in turn, has width B which is narrower than bottom opening O of upper shelf 22c (see FIG. 4).

Additionally, in this embodiment lower shelf 22a is pivotally mounted on side wall 20 at a position P1 that is more forward relative to the pivot position P2 of the middle shelf 22b above it (see FIG. 5 and compare distance Y to distance Z). In turn, pivot position P2 of the middle shelf 22b is more forward relative the pivot position P3 of the upper shelf 22c (see FIG. 5 and compare distance X to distance Y).

In another embodiment (not shown), where the shelves 22 are simple wooden planks not having a bottom opening, the nestable configuration comprises only the relative and offset positioning of each shelf's pivot point, along depth D, compared to the other shelves 22. For example, the shelves 22 may be connected to the back wall 19 by means of a continuous piano hinge, with the top shelf 22c being directly connect to the back wall 19 and with each lower shelf being offset a sufficient distance from the back wall 19 (by means of a spacer), so as to allow a similar overlap of the shelves 22 as that shown in FIG. 6.

Advantageously, the dimensions of the bottom openings O, along with the relative positioning of each shelf's pivot mount or pivot point, allows for a cabinet 10 that, when folded, is thinner in profile than prior art foldable cabinets. More advantageously, the offset hinged positioning of the shelves 22, and their ability to overlap when in their substantially vertical storage position, also enables the cabinet 10 to have a plurality of shelves 22, wherein the total shelf depth, i.e. the sum of each shelf's depth SDa, SDb, SDc, is greater than the height H of the cabinet 10.

Preferably, and still referring to FIGS. 1-9b, each shelf 22 further comprises a pair of telescoping shelf or drawer slides 60. The Illinois Lock Company, of Wheeling, Ill., U.S.A. distributes a variety of such drawer slides 60, including an ultra-duty slide which has a load rating of up to 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms). Advantageously, the cabinet's shelves 22 can telescope to provide ease of access to any luggage or items that may be placed thereon.

FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate the configuration of another embodiment of the present invention. This embodiment is identical to that of FIGS. 1-9b with the exception that stop means 40 is separate from the pivot means 30 and comprises a ledge, tab, shoulder or protruding member that extends from the inside surface of the side walls 20 and provide a surface upon which the shelves 22 rest when in the substantially horizontal position.

Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that various modifications to the invention as described herein will be possible without falling outside the scope of the invention.