Title:
FOLDING TABLE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A folding table includes a single tabletop extending over a framework and legs. The folding table includes a first framework with a first pair of legs and a second framework including a second pair of legs. Folding linkages fold the tabletop between a first use position wherein the tabletop is substantially horizontal and second storage position wherein the tabletop is substantially vertical. A damping assembly includes a damper mounted to the tabletop and the frameworks and includes a damping linkage to guide and provide controlled folding and unfolding of the table.



Inventors:
Elliott, John M. (Edina, MN, US)
Dickey, Christopher C. (West St. Paul, MN, US)
Application Number:
13/025588
Publication Date:
08/16/2012
Filing Date:
02/11/2011
Assignee:
Sico Incorporated (Edina, MN, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/128
International Classes:
A47B3/00; A47B13/02
View Patent Images:
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Foreign References:
JP2001137049A2001-05-22
Primary Examiner:
TRAN, HANH VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A folding table, comprising: a tabletop; a first framework including a first pair of legs beneath a first portion of the tabletop; a second framework including a second pair of legs beneath a second portion of the tabletop; a folding linkage folding the table top between a first position wherein the tabletop is substantially horizontal and supported on the first pair of legs and the second pair of legs, and a second position wherein the tabletop extends substantially vertically; a damping assembly including a damper mounted to the tabletop and a damping assembly linkage mounted to the tabletop and the damper.

2. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein the damper is vertically oriented when the table top is in the first position.

3. A folding table according to claim 2, wherein when the table top is in the first position, the damper is aligned with a center pivot of the folding linkage so that force from the damper does not act to tend to fold the table.

4. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein each of the legs includes a caster.

5. A folding table according to claim 4, wherein the folding table is supported on the casters at the second position and the casters are lifted from the ground at the first position.

6. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein the folding linkage comprises pivots and the damping assembly linkage comprises pivots configured to facilitate folding and unfolding of the folding linkage.

7. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein the damping assembly linkage comprises a first set of pivot links on a first side of the damper and a second set of pivot links on an opposite side of the damper.

8. A folding table according to claim 7, wherein the first set of pivot links and the second set of pivot links of the damping assembly linkage comprise parallel linkages.

9. A folding table according to claim 6, wherein the folding linkage comprises a first linkage extending between the first framework and the second framework and a second linkage extending between the first framework and the second framework.

10. A folding table according to claim 9, wherein the damping assembly linkage is intermediate the first linkage and the second linkage.

11. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein the first framework and the second framework define a centerline and the first portion of the tabletop is on a first side of the centerline and the second portion of the tabletop is on a second side of the centerline, the first portion being larger than the second portion.

12. A folding table according to claim 11, wherein the first portion of the tabletop is below the second portion of the tabletop when the folding table is at the second position.

13. A folding table according to claim 1, further comprising a handle on an underside of the second portion of the tabletop.

14. A folding table according to claim 12, further comprising a handle on an underside of the second portion of the tabletop.

15. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein the tabletop is oval.

16. A folding table according to claim 15, wherein the oval tabletop has a length greater than a width, and wherein the length extends generally along a folding axis.

17. A folding table according to claim 1, wherein when the table top is at the second position, the damper exerts a force that acts to tend to maintain the table in the second position.

18. A folding table, comprising: a tabletop; a first framework including a first pair of legs beneath a first portion of the tabletop; a second framework including a second pair of legs beneath a second portion of the tabletop; a first folding linkage extending between the first framework and the second framework and a second folding linkage extending between the first framework and the second framework folding the table top between a first position wherein the tabletop is substantially horizontal and supported on the first pair of legs and the second pair of legs, and a second position wherein the tabletop extends substantially vertically, the first framework and the second framework defining a centerline with the first portion of the tabletop on a first side of the centerline and the second portion of the tabletop on a second side of the centerline, the first portion being larger than the second portion and below the second portion when the folding table is at the second position; and a damping assembly including a damper mounted to the tabletop and a damping assembly linkage mounted to the tabletop and the damper, the damping assembly linkage having pivots configured to facilitate folding and unfolding of the folding linkage.

19. A folding table according to claim 18, wherein the damping assembly linkage comprises a first set of pivot links on a first side of the damper and a second set of pivot links on an opposite side of the damper.

20. A folding table according to claim 19, wherein the first set of pivot links and the second set of pivot links of the damping assembly linkage comprise parallel linkages.

21. A folding table according to claim 18, wherein each of the legs includes a caster and wherein the folding table is supported on the casters at the second position and the casters are lifted from the ground at the first position.

22. A folding table according to claim 18, further comprising a handle on an underside of the second portion of the tabletop.

23. A folding table according to claim 18, wherein the damping assembly linkage is intermediate the first folding linkage and the second folding linkage.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a folding table and in particular to a portable folding table having a single folding tabletop member.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Folding tables are widely used in rooms that are used for multiple purposes. Tables can be rapidly set up in a room, and then quickly folded and put in storage as may be required. A typical prior art folding table has a pair of tabletop surfaces that are hingedly connected along adjacent edges. Leg assemblies pivotally connect to the undersides of the tabletops and cross connect links pivotally interconnect the legs of one tabletop surface to the underside of the opposite tabletop surface. With such a configuration, tables fold between a substantially vertical storage position wherein the tabletop members and legs are generally vertically oriented and a horizontal use position wherein the tabletop surfaces are generally horizontal to define an extended tabletop surface. The tables provide a degree of nesting in the storage position so that the tables have a smaller footprint during storage.

Although such tables provide great utility and increase the flexibility of spaces in which they are used, the tables do have some drawbacks. The tables generally require a somewhat complex frame and linkage assembly to ensure safe folding between the use and storage positions. Moreover, it may be difficult to maintain a slow controlled folding motion so that the tabletops do not slam down towards the use position. Although such tables do provide a tabletop surface with great utility, the surface is not continuous. The tabletop members folding along an adjacent edge may present a pinching hazard requiring workers to use care during folding and unfolding. Moreover, it is often desirable to have a continuous single tabletop as it is generally easier to clean and maintain. Moreover, in some cultures and uses, a single tabletop member is preferred. Such folding tables may often be used in ballrooms and other halls wherein wedding receptions are held. A single tabletop is a sign of unity in some cultures and is often preferred over a table having a pair of opposed folding tabletops.

It can be seen then that a new and improved folding table is needed. Such a table should provide for safe and efficient use in folding between the storage and use positions. Such a table should utilize a single folding tabletop member forming the entire table surface. Moreover, the table should utilize a folding linkage that provides for controlled folding and slow deployment, especially when folding to the use position. Such a tabletop should also provide balance and allow for a single person to safely fold the table between the different positions. The present invention addresses these problems, as well as others associated with portable folding tables.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a folding table and in particular to a folding table having a single tabletop and a damper assembly to facilitate controlled folding between use and storage positions. The folding table includes two pairs of opposed legs with each pair having an associated framework. These assemblies are connected by a pair of folding linkages that facilitate folding between a use position and a storage position. In the use position, the single tabletop extends over the legs and framework in a substantially horizontal plane. In the storage position, the tabletop is substantially vertical. The storage position provides for a smaller footprint, requiring less storage space, allows a degree of nesting between adjacent tables and facilitates transportation between storage and use locations.

The legs are equipped with casters that extend so as to be spaced above the ground in the use position and to engage the ground with the legs automatically lifted from the ground in the storage position.

The framework includes pivoting members supporting the tabletop and connecting the legs. A pair of folding linkages have cross links that mount between the pairs of legs and facilitate the folding between the use position and the storage position. The folding tabletop is positioned slightly off center from the folding axis so that a majority of the tabletop is below the axis in the storage position. Such a position provides for a lower center of gravity and requires less effort from workers to fold and unfold the table.

In addition to the folding linkages, folding and unfolding the table is facilitated by a damper assembly including a damper having a damper body containing a damping fluid and a telescoping rod extending from the damper body. Valves in the damper control fluid into and out of the damper body and vary the damping forces so that damping engages at the proper position during folding and unfolding and provides the required forces needed while allowing the table to fold and unfold without requiring undue effort from a person folding and/or unfolding the table.

The damping assembly also includes a pair of linkages that are substantial mirrors of one another and connect the two folding portions of the frame as well as the damper body. The damper rod connects to the frame at an underside of the tabletop in one configuration. The damper linkages are substantially mirror images of each other and each includes two link elements connecting at the damper and that with the damper and damper rod form parallel four bar linkages. It can be appreciated that the force and length of the various links in the damper assembly may be adjusted depending upon the configuration of the table and the weight of the tabletop.

Folding and unfolding of the table is accomplished by gripping the tabletop at the ends or grasping handles on an underside of the tabletop proximate the top edge from the tabletop assembly storage position. Folding from the use position to the storage position is easily accomplished by simply lifting the tabletop upward and allowing the linkages to fold and using the weight of the tabletop to move to the storage position. The damper assembly also provides a mechanical force to aid in folding to the storage position.

Unfolding from the storage position to the use position is accomplished by again grasping the tabletop and guiding the tabletop downward toward the horizontal position. The tabletop is offset slightly and balanced so that the tabletop will fall somewhat slowly until reaching a position wherein the damper engages with greater force. This position might typically be, for example, at approximately 30 degrees from horizontal, after which the damper controls the speed of the table motion as the table top moves down to the horizontal position. It can be appreciated that no locks are required and that the folding may be easily performed with a single person guiding the tabletop between the storage and use positions. The valves in the damper provide uneven flow between extension and retraction of the telescoping rod to match the damping forces needed for folding and unfolding. The damper provides for faster motion when the tabletop is raised to the substantially vertical storage position than when being lowered to the substantially horizontal use position.

This configuration provides several advantages. When the table is in the use position, the damper extends vertically and the force extends through the pivot. Therefore, the force of the damper does not act so as to tend to fold the table. Moreover, the damper exerts a force that assists in maintaining the table in the storage position as the table is transported between storage and/or use locations.

These features of novelty and various other advantages that characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages, and the objects obtained by its use, reference should be made to the drawings that form a further part hereof, and to the accompanying descriptive matter, in which there is illustrated and described a preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a folding table in a folded storage configuration according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is perspective view of the folding table shown in FIG. 1 in an unfolded use configuration;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the folding table shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an end elevational view of the folding table shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an end elevational view of the folding table shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the folding table shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is an end elevational view of the folding table shown in FIG. 1 in a partially folded position;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view along line 8-8 of FIG. 3 showing details of a damper assembly for the folding table; and

FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 6 showing details of the damper assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings and in particular to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown a portable folding table, generally designated 10. In the embodiment shown, the folding table 10 contains a single oval tabletop 12. However, other common tabletop shapes can also be used. The folding table 10 also includes legs 14 with casters 16 mounted on the legs 14. In the use position shown in FIG. 2, the table 10 is supported solely on the legs 14 while the casters 16 are lifted off the floor. Conversely, in the folded storage position shown in FIG. 1, the legs 14 are automatically lifted from the floor and the folding table 10 is supported solely on the casters 16, as shown most clearly in FIG. 4.

As shown most clearly in FIGS. 1, 3, 4 and 6, the folding table 10 includes a frame 20 pivotally mounted to the legs 14. The framework of each pair of legs 14 pivots about hinges 18 to define a folding axis for the table 10. A center frame member 24 mounts to an underside of the tabletop 12 near a pivoting axis of the tabletop 12. Side frame members 28 also mount on an underside of the tabletop 12. In addition, a moving center member 26 supports the tabletop 12 in the use position while pivoting side frame members 30 also support the tabletop 12 in the use position. Frame members 22 extend between the legs 14 of each pair. The underside of the tabletop 12 may also include a handle 32 to aid in gripping the tabletop 12 during folding and unfolding of the table 10.

As shown most clearly in FIGS. 1 and 3-7, the folding table 10 includes a pair of folding linkages 40 that facilitate folding of the table 10 between the use position and storage position shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The folding linkage 40 includes cross links 42 extending between the frame members 22 and 26. The cross links 42 pivotally mount at one end to center pivot mounts 46 and at an opposite end to mounts 44. The table 10 includes two parallel linkages 40, one associated with each pair of legs 14. It can further be appreciated that the tabletop 12 is positioned slightly off center from the folding axis with a greater portion of the tabletop 12 positioned below the folding axis when in the storage position shown in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4 to facilitate greater balance during the folding and unfolding operations. Moreover, such a configuration lessens the effort needed by a worker to fold and unfold the table 10. The offset of the tabletop 12 also provides a lower center of gravity when the tabletop 10 is in the storage position. This configuration also provides improved balance and decreases the amount of damping required as explained hereinafter.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, there is shown a damper assembly 50 mounted to an underside of the table 10 and intermediate the folding linkages 40. The damper assembly 50 includes a damper 52 including a damper body 54 containing hydraulic fluid to control extension and retraction of a damper rod 56 into and out of the damper body 54. The damper 52 mounts to an assembly that includes a pair of parallel damper linkages 60 mounting at a common pivot 68 with the damper body 54 to substantially mirror one another about the damper 52. One of the pair of linkages 60 mounts to the moving center frame member 26 while the other damper linkage 60 mounts to the underside of the tabletop 10 at the center frame member 24. The telescoping rod 56 extends outward to pivotally mount at mounting element 66 extending from the center frame member 24. Each of the damper linkages 60 includes a longer first link 62 mounting at the damper 52 and pivot 68, and a second shorter link 64 mounted to the first link 62. One of the second damper links 64 mounts to the first mount at the frame member 26 while the other of the second damper links 64 mounts to the frame member 24. The longer damper linkage links 62 may include a bend along a portion of the link 62 to mirror the cross links 42 of the folding linkages 40, which may also have a slight bend in the embodiment shown.

It can be appreciated that the damper linkages 60 are independent of the folded linkages 40, as shown most clearly in FIG. 6, so that the damper assembly 50 may be adjusted to fit the particular configuration of the table 10 and to adapt to different tabletop members 12. The portable folding table 10 may be easily modified for different tabletop sizes and shapes along with changing the amount of damping provided by the damper 52.

As shown in FIG. 7, the folding table 10 may be generally folded from the storage position shown in FIG. 1 to the use position shown in FIG. 2 by simply lowering the tabletop 10 and providing some guidance. This may be accomplished either by standing at the side of the folding tabletop 10 or by grasping the handle 32 at the raised edge of the tabletop 10 when folded. The hinges 18, folding linkages 40 and damper linkages 60 provide for smooth transition and folding and lowering of the tabletop 12 to the position shown in FIG. 7. At or near such a partially folded position, the damping force increases due to the control valve in the damper body 54 controlling the flow of fluid into and out of the body 54. In one embodiment, the increased damping force activates when the tabletop 12 is at an angle of approximately 30 degrees from horizontal. When the damping increases, the folding motion is resisted so that a slow controlled unfolding takes place as the tabletop lowers to the horizontal position shown in FIG. 2. Such slow and controlled unfolding provides for added safety as the workers may help to guide and control the table 10 while also having sufficient time to be positioned away from below the tabletop lowering to the use position.

To fold the table 10 to the storage position, the tabletop 12 may again be grasped at the sides or at an edge of the tabletop 12 or by grasping the handle 32. The tabletop 12 is simply raised upward and is easily folded in a controlled manner to the position shown in FIG. 1. The legs 14 and casters 12 are configured so that the bottom of the legs 14 are automatically lifted from the ground and the table 10 is supported solely on the casters 16 for easily rolling to the storage location. Moreover, the damper 52 does not exert a great damping force when the table 10 is nearly folded so that folding is easily accomplished when folding to the storage position. When folded, it can be appreciated that the folding table 10 requires a much smaller footprint and provides easier storage while achieving a degree of nesting between adjacent tables 10.

It is to be understood, however, that even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the present invention have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the invention, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.





 
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