Title:
MAGNETIC BUILDING BLOCKS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided is a magnetic building block, in the form of a 3D polygon of non-magnetic material having at least four faces. The faces meet in sets of at least three to define at least four vertices and a generally enclosed structure, each face having an outer surface. At least one internal holder is adjacent to at least one vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball. The holder positions the magnetic ball so as to be generally in about equal distance to the outer surface of at least three faces. A magnetic ball is disposed in each internal holder.



Inventors:
Klepper, Jeremy B. (Denver, CO, US)
Sepulveda, Manuel (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
14/014611
Publication Date:
03/05/2015
Filing Date:
08/30/2013
Assignee:
CubeCraft, LLC (Denver, CO, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DAVISON, LAURA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Office of Daniel W. Roberts (Superior, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A magnetic building block, comprising: a 3D polygon of non-magnetic material having at least four faces, the faces meeting in sets of at least three to define at least four vertices and a generally enclosed structure, each face having an outer surface; at least one internal holder adjacent to at least one vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball, the holder positioning the magnetic ball so as to be generally in about equal distance to the outer surface of at least three faces; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

2. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the 3D polygon is a hexahedron having six faces, meeting in sets of three to define eight vertices and a generally enclosed structure with eight internal holders, each directly adjacent to a vertex.

3. The magnetic building block of claim 2, wherein the hexahedron is a cube.

4. The magnetic building block of claim 2, wherein the hexahedron is a cuboid.

5. The magnetic building block of claim 2, wherein the 3D polygon has at least one length of about 1.905 centimeters, each magnetic ball having a diameter of about 5 millimeters.

6. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the holder is a pocket.

7. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the 3D polygon is provided by: two congruent square faces joined transversely along a common edge, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; two rectilinear concave polygon sides each having an area provided by three of the third squares, the rectilinear concave polygon sides joined to the square faces to define a stair profile; and four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces enclosing the stair profile to provide a generally enclosed structure having twelve vertices and six substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

8. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the 3D polygon is provided by: two congruent square faces in parallel vertical alignment as a top and a bottom face, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces attached as side faces between the top and bottom faces to provide a generally enclosed structure having eight vertices and four substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

9. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the 3D polygon is a tetrahedron having four triangular faces, meeting in sets of three to define four vertices and a generally enclosed structure with four internal holders, each directly adjacent to a vertex.

10. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the faces are congruent.

11. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the 3D polygon is selected from the group consisting of: a tetrahedron, a hexahedron, an octahedron, a dodecahedron, and an icosahedron.

12. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein at least one face has a central aperture opening to the generally enclosed space within the 3D polygon.

13. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the 3D polygon is a rectilinear 3D polygon.

14. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the magnetic balls are non-coplanar, at least a first set of the magnetic balls disposed within a first plane and a second set of magnetic balls disposed within a second plane, the second plane intersecting the first plane.

15. The magnetic building block of claim 14, wherein the second plane is normal to the first plane.

16. The magnetic building block of claim 1, wherein the block has a side length of about 1.905 centimeters, each magnetic ball having a diameter of about 5 millimeters.

17. A plurality of magnetic building blocks as in claim 1, wherein the plurality are selected from a group of 3D polygon configurations consisting of: a cube, a cuboid, and a stair block.

18. A magnetic building block, comprising: a cube shaped block of non-magnetic material having six square faces, the faces meeting in sets of three to define eight vertices and a generally enclosed structure; eight internal holders, each directly adjacent to a vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

19. The magnetic building block of claim 18, wherein at least one face has a central aperture opening to the generally enclosed space within the block.

20. The magnetic building block of claim 18, wherein the magnetic balls are non-coplanar, a first set of the magnetic balls disposed within a first plane and a second set of magnetic balls disposed within a second plane, the second plane intersecting the first plane.

21. The magnetic building block of claim 18, wherein the holders are pockets.

22. The magnetic building block of claim 18, wherein the cube is provided by an outer box of material providing the faces and an inner matrix structure providing an internal holder for each magnetic ball adjacent to each vertex of the cube.

23. The magnetic building block of claim 18, wherein the cube has a side length of about 1.905 centimeters, each magnetic ball having a diameter of about 5 millimeters.

24. A magnetic building block, comprising: two congruent square faces joined transversely along a common edge, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; two rectilinear concave polygon sides, each having an area provided by three of the third squares, the rectilinear concave polygon sides joined to the square faces to define a stair profile; and four rectangular faces, each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces enclosing the stair profile to provide a generally enclosed structure having twelve vertices and six substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

25. The magnetic building block of claim 24, wherein at least one face has a central aperture opening to the generally enclosed space within the block.

26. The magnetic building block of claim 24, wherein the block is provided by an outer box of material providing the faces and six external vertices defined at least in part by one or both congruent square faces an inner matrix structure providing an internal holder for each magnetic ball adjacent an external vertex of the block.

27. The magnetic building block of claim 24, wherein each square face has a side length of about 1.905 centimeters, each magnetic ball having a diameter of about 5 millimeters.

28. The magnetic building block of claim 24, wherein the magnetic balls are non-coplanar, a first set of the magnetic balls disposed within a first plane and a second set of magnetic balls disposed within a second plane, the second plane intersecting the first plane.

29. A set of magnetic building blocks, comprising: at least two blocks selected from the group consisting of a cube, a cuboid and a stair block, wherein; the cube is provided by; a cube shaped block of non-magnetic material having six square faces, the faces meeting in sets of three to define eight vertices and a generally enclosed structure; eight internal holders, each directly adjacent to a vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder; the stair block is provided by; a stair shaped block of non-magnetic material having two congruent square faces joined transversely along a common edge, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; two rectilinear concave polygon sides each having an area provided by three of the third squares, the rectilinear concave polygon sides joined to the square faces to define a stair profile; and four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces enclosing the stair profile to provide a generally enclosed structure having twelve vertices and six substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder; and the cuboid is provided by; a cuboid shaped block of non-magnetic material having two congruent square faces in parallel vertical alignment as a top and a bottom face, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces attached as side faces between the top and bottom faces to provide a generally enclosed structure having eight vertices and four substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

30. The magnetic building block of claim 29, wherein at least one block has at least one face having a central aperture opening to the generally enclosed space within the block.

31. The magnetic building block of claim 29, wherein for at least one block the magnetic balls are non-coplanar, a first set of the magnetic balls disposed within a first plane and a second set of magnetic balls disposed within a second plane, the second plane intersecting the first plane.

32. The magnetic building block of claim 29, wherein each cube has at least one side length of about 1.905 centimeters, each magnetic ball having a diameter of about 5 millimeters.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of building blocks for education and or amusement, and more specifically to magnetic building blocks, which may be magnetically connected together without requiring the user to be concerned with the orientation of magnetic fields.

BACKGROUND

Building blocks as toys, entertainment and educational items for people young and old are generally known as they permit a user to build and model different structures. Often it has been desired by the user of building blocks to have some form of connection between the blocks so that the developing structure has at least some degree of temporary cohesion.

Permanent magnets are objects made from materials that have been magnetized so as to produce a magnetic field which pulls on other ferromagnetic materials and which attracts or repels other magnets. Moreover, a magnet is generally considered to have two opposite poles, such as North and South. Opposite poles attract while same poles repel.

Use of magnets has therefore been adopted for many variations of building blocks. Typically magnetic bars or magnetic discs are embedded in the surfaces of the block. In some instances, such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,409,236 to Therrin, the magnetic orientations have been specifically pre-selected so that the blocks form a puzzle—the magnetic fields of the various blocks opposing one another and acting to keep the blocks apart unless or until the user discovers the proper sequence of orientations.

In other configurations, attempts have been made to permit the magnets to re-orient so as to permit a greater degree of possible magnetic coupling between building blocks.

For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,746,638 to Shiraishi teaches magnets such as bar magnetic or disc magnets which are disposed in the centers of surfaces of building blocks. The magnets are polarized to provide poles at opposite ends of the bar magnets, or opposite circumferential edges of the discs. As the surface of one block is brought into contact with the surface of another block, the magnets will rotate about an axis perpendicular to each surface so as to align their poles and permit a magnetic attraction. As the magnets are disposed centrally with respect to each surface, the blocks align to one another and cannot be offset. The central alignment with respect to each surface also insures that, as between any two blocks magnetically coupled, only two magnets are in proximate alignment and providing that magnetic coupling. In addition, the blocks must be specifically aligned to each other—a misalignment, such as to have one block overhang another block can not be an arbitrary desire of the user as the center of one surface must be aligned to the center of another surface else the magnets will not couple.

Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,749,480 to Hunts teaches a device to align the poles of permanent magnets disposed in the surfaces of building block. Again, each surface has one magnet such that as between any two connected blocks, only two magnets are in proximate alignment and providing the magnetic coupling. And again, there is an implosed one to one alignment restriction such that one magnetic block cannot overlap multiple blocks and still properly couple magnetically.

In U.S. Pat. No. 6,024,626 to Mendelsohn, the magnetic building blocks are cube shaped building blocks. Each cube has four cylindrical bar magnets disposed internally along the four respective edges between an upper and lower face of the cube. As the cylindrical bar magnets are fixed in place, the blocks themselves must be oriented to align the magnetic fields and permit magnetic coupling between blocks.

U.S. Pat. No. 8,475,225 to Kretzchmar teaches fixedly disposing precisely aligned magnets, such as cylindrical permanent magnets in the corners of construction elements. Ferromagnetic spheres may also be used in connection with the fixed embedded magnets between construction elements to produce structures, but again, as the embedded magnets are fixed in their magnetic orientation, the user must orient the construction elements to align the magnetic fields and permit magnetic coupling between construction elements.

Moreover, despite the integration of magnets into building blocks, users of such blocks are limited in how they may align the blocks and the resulting structures that they may create. Offsetting rows of blocks and complete freedom for arbitrary orientation of blocks is not presently provided in the prior art.

Hence there is a need for a magnetic building block, and more specifically a set thereof, that is capable of overcoming one or more of the above identified challenges.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Our invention solves the problems of the prior art by providing novel systems and methods for providing magnetic building blocks.

In particular, and by way of example only, according to one embodiment of the present invention, provided is a magnetic building block, including: a 3D polygon of non-magnetic material having at least four faces, the faces meeting in sets of at least three to define at least four vertices and a generally enclosed structure, each face having an outer surface; at least one internal holder adjacent to at least one vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball, the holder positioning the magnetic ball so as to be generally in about equal distance to the outer surface of at least three faces; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

In yet another embodiment, provided is a magnetic building block, including: a cube shaped block of non-magnetic material having six square faces, the faces meeting in sets of three to define eight vertices and a generally enclosed structure; eight internal holders, each directly adjacent to a vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

For another embodiment, provided is a magnetic building block, including: a cuboid shaped block of non-magnetic material having two congruent square faces in parallel vertical alignment as a top and a bottom face, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces attached as side faces between the top and bottom faces to provide a generally enclosed structure having eight vertices and four substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

Further still, in yet another embodiment, provided is a magnetic building block, including: two congruent square faces joined transversely along a common edge, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; two rectilinear concave polygon sides each having an area provided by three of the third squares, the rectilinear concave polygon sides joined to the square faces to define a stair profile; and four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces enclosing the stair profile to provide a generally enclosed structure having twelve vertex and six substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

Still, in yet another embodiment, provided is a set of magnetic building blocks, including: at least two blocks selected from the group consisting of a cube, a cuboid and a stair block, wherein the cube is provided by: a cube shaped block of non-magnetic material having six square faces, the faces meeting in sets of three to define eight vertices and a generally enclosed structure; eight internal holders, each directly adjacent to a vertex, each holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder; the stair block is provided by: a stair shaped block of non-magnetic material having two congruent square faces joined transversely along a common edge, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; two rectilinear concave polygon sides each having an area provided by three of the third squares, the rectilinear concave polygon sides joined to the square faces to define a stair profile; and four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces enclosing the stair profile to provide a generally enclosed structure having twelve vertices and six substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder; and the cuboid is provided by: a cuboid shaped block of non-magnetic material having two congruent square faces in parallel vertical alignment as a top and a bottom face, each square face having an area provided by four equal sized third squares; four rectangular faces each having an area provided by two of the third squares, the four rectangular faces attached as side faces between the top and bottom faces to provide a generally enclosed structure having eight vertices and four substantially similar internal cube volumes, each volume having an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball; and a magnetic ball disposed in each internal holder.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS AND SUPPORTING MATERIALS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view with dotted relief to indicate internal structures of at least one magnetic building block as a cube in accordance with at least one embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a conceptual perspective view illustrating common elements as between a set of magnetic building blocks in accordance with at least one embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view with dotted relief to indicate internal structures of magnetic building blocks as a tetrahedron and square-based pyramid in accordance with at least one embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of components that may be used in varying combinations to provide one or more of the building blocks shown in FIG. 2 in accordance with at least one embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view illustrating both an exploded view and assembled view of at least one magnetic building block as a cube assembled with components shown in FIG. 4 in accordance with at least one embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating both an exploded view and assembled view of at least one magnetic building block as a stair block assembled with components shown in FIG. 4 in accordance with at least one embodiment;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating both an exploded view and assembled view of at least one magnetic building block as a half cube assembled with components shown in FIG. 4 in accordance with at least one embodiment; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating multiple magnetic building blocks being used together in the assembly of a structure in accordance with at least one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before proceeding with the detailed description, it is to be appreciated that the present teaching is by way of example only, not by limitation. The concepts herein are not limited to use or application with a specific system or method for providing one or more magnetic building blocks. Thus, although the instrumentalities described herein are for the convenience of explanation shown and described with respect to exemplary embodiments, it will be understood and appreciated that the principles herein may be applied equally in other types of systems and methods of providing and using magnetic building blocks.

This invention is described with respect to preferred embodiments in the following description with reference to the Figures, in which like numbers represent the same or similar elements. Further, with the respect to the numbering of the same or similar elements, it will be appreciated that the leading values identify the Figure in which the element is first identified and described, e.g., magnetic building block 100 appears in FIG. 1.

Turning now to the drawings, and more specifically FIG. 1, there is shown a conceptual illustration of a magnetic building block (hereinafter “MBB”) 100 in accordance with at least one embodiment. As MBB 100 is intended for use with other MBBs in the development of structures in three dimensions, to facilitate the description of MBB 100, the orientations of MBB 100 as presented in the figures are referenced to the coordinate system with three axes orthogonal to one another as shown in FIGS. 1-8.

The axes intersect mutually at the origin of the coordinate system, which is chosen to locate at the center of MBB 100. The axes are show in all figures as offset from their actual locations, for clarity and ease of illustration.

For at least one embodiment, MBB 100 is a three dimensional (3D) polygon of non-magnetic material having at least four sides or faces 102, the faces 102 meeting in sets of at least three to define at least four vertices 104. In varying embodiments, the 3D polygon is generally a polyhedron, however as is further described below, the 3D polygon is not necessarily a solid structure throughout, the 3D polygon of MBB 100 having internal holders which receive magnetic balls. Further, in accordance with at least one embodiment, one or more of the faces 102 may have a central aperture opening to the generally enclosed space within the MBB 100.

Moreover, in varying embodiments the 3D polygon is selected from the group consisting of a tetrahedron, a hexahedron, an octahedron, a dodecahedron, an icosahedron, or a rectilinear 3D polygon. With respect to the MBB 100 shown in FIG. 1, for at least one embodiment the 3D polygon is a hexahedron. Further, for at least one embodiment, this hexahedron is a cube 106. For at least one alternative embodiment, this hexahedron is a cuboid, such as a half cube discussed below.

As the embodiment of MBB 100 shown in FIG. 1 is a cube 106, it is appreciated that there are six faces 102, of which 102A is the top face, 102B is a first side face and 102C is a second side face. Third side face 102D is parallel to first side face 102B and fourth side face 102E is parallel to second side face 102C. The bottom face 102F is parallel to the top face 102A. These six face 102A-102F meet in sets of three to define eight vertices 104.

As shown, combinations of three sides define vertices in FIG. 1 as follows:

    • sides 102A, 102B and 102C meet to define vertex 104A;
    • sides 102A, 102B and 102E meet to define vertex 104B;
    • sides 102A, 102C and 102D meet to define vertex 104C;
    • sides 102B, 102D and 102E meet to define vertex 104D,
    • sides 102B, 102E and 102F meet to define vertex 104E;
    • sides 102B, 102C and 102F meet to define vertex 104F; and
    • sides 102C, 102D and 102F meet to define vertex 102G.

The perspective of FIG. 1 is such that the vertex defined by sides 102D, 102E and 102F cannot be seen in FIG. 1.

MBB 100 has at least one internal holder 108 adjacent to at least one vertex 104, and each holder 108 is structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball 110 and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball 110. Moreover, each magnetic ball 110 is presented by its respective holder 108 towards an adjacent vertex 104, and is generally about equal distance to the outer surface of the at least three faces 102 defining the vertex 104. In other words, the magnetic ball 100 is not disposed in the center of MBB 100, such that it is about equal distant to all vertices 104.

As used herein, it is understood and appreciated that the holder 108 is a structure or structures adapted to position each magnetic ball 110 as herein shown and described. In varying embodiments, this holder 108 may be a one or more rods or other internal struts which at least tangentially contact magnetic ball 110, one or more structures with a depression, protrucions or an aperture to receive at least a portion of the magnetic ball 110, one or more straight or curved walls, and or other elements which may be understood and appreciated to position the magnetic ball 110 and restrain horizontal and vertical movement while permitting free rotation. Moreover, for at least one embodiment, holders 108 are understood and appreciated to be pockets 108.

With respect to the magnetic balls 110 and their ability to rotate, it is to be understood and appreciated that it is actually the ability to permit the magnetic field to rotate that is of advantageous structure and arrangement for MBB 100. Moreover, as is further discussed below, as additional MBB 100 units are brought into proximate contact for the development of a structure, the advantageous ability of the magnetic fields to re-orient themselves mutually for magnetic coupling without requiring MBB 100 orientation by the user is highly advantageous of the MBBs 110 as herein described.

With respect to MBB 100 as a cube 106, it is appreciated that there are eight holders 108: holder 108A adjacent to vertex 104A, holder 108B adjacent to vertex 104B, holder 108C adjacent to vertex 104C, etc. . . . . Magnetic ball 110A is disposed in and received by holder 108A, magnetic ball 110B is disposed in and received by holder 108B, magnetic ball 110C is disposed in and received by holder 108C, etc. . . . . Moreover, MBB 100 is structured and arranged to enclose the magnetic balls 110 and present each proximate to an outer vertex 104.

The incorporation of magnetic balls 110 is highly advantageous over magnetic bars, magnetic cylinders or magnetic discs. Magnetic balls 110 have opposite poles as is expected with all magnets. However, as spherical structures, the magnetic balls 110 have an advantageous property to adjust their mutual alignment so as to permit magnetic coupling in more than simple sets of two. Indeed, the magnetic balls 110 will adjust their mutual orientations so as to cooperatively magnetically bind with from one to eight additional magnetic balls 110 as may be presented by additional cube 106 embodiments of MBB 100. To achieve such automatic alignment, the user need not specifically orient the additional MBBs 100 as the building project progresses.

As such, and as will become further apparent in the description below and the accompanying figures, the MBBs 100 in accordance with the present invention present unique and advantageous building options not previously enjoyed by previous building blocks.

With respect to cube 106 it is also understood and appreciated that the magnetic balls 110 are not co-planer. At least a first subset of magnetic balls 110, such as magnetic balls 110A, 110B, 110E and 110F are disposed in a first plane 112. A second subset of balls 110, such as magnetic balls 110A, 110C, 110F and 110G, are disposed in a second plane 114, this second plane 114 intersecting the first plane 112. For the embodiment of cube 106, this first plane 112 is normal to the second plane 114. In other words, the magnetic balls 110 of cube 106 do not co-exist in a single plane.

FIG. 2 presents further embodiments for MBB 100, and demonstrates geometric properties that advantageously permit various embodiments to cooperatively interact as building blocks. Each is a 3D polygon of non-magnetic material having at least four faces 102, the faces meeting in sets of at least three to define at least four vertices 104 and a generally enclosed structure containing a plurality of magnetic balls 110, each magnetic ball 110 adjacent to at least one outer vertex 104.

Moreover, in FIG. 2, a cube 106 embodiment of MBB 100 is shown. Of the three faces shown, each is understood and appreciated to be a square 200, having a surface provided by four equal sized third squares 202. Locations of magnetic balls 110 are shown in dotted relief proximate to each illustrated vertices 104 of cube 106.

In other words, cube 106 may also be described as having eight (8) generally equal quadrants or regions bounded by three axes. More specifically, these eight quadrants correlate to:

    • Q1=+Y, +X, +Z;
    • Q2=+Y, −X, +Z;
    • Q3=+Y, +X, −Z;
    • Q4=+Y, −X, −Y;
    • Q5=−Y, +X, +Z;
    • Q6=−Y, −X, +Z;
    • Q7=−Y, +X, −Z; and
    • Q8=−Y, −X, −Y;

Within each quadrant is a magnetic ball 110 contained in such a manner so as to maintain a generally fixed location while permitting free rotation along all axis. This magnetic ball 110 is further oriented towards, and generally proximate to, the distal end of each quadrant, which correlates to the vertices 104. This distal end is also the point of each quadrant that is most distant from all other quadrants comprising the MBB 100.

A second embodiment of MBB 100 is shown to be a cuboid, and more specifically a half cube 204. As with cube 106, for the half cube 204 the top face 206, and corresponding bottom face (not shown) are understood to be square 200, each having a surface provided by four equal-sized third squares 202. The front left face 208 and front right face 210 are each rectangles 212, each rectangle 212 having an area provided by two of the equal sized third squares 202. The locations of the magnetic balls 110 within the half cube 204 are conceptually suggested by dotted relief.

In other words, the half cube 204 may also be described as having four (4) generally equal quadrants or regions bounded by three half axes, and not including regions defined along the Negative-Y axis. More specifically, these four quadrants correlate to:

    • Q1=+Y, +X, +Z;
    • Q2=+Y, −X, +Z;
    • Q3=+Y, +X, −Z; and
    • Q4=+Y, −X, −Z.

Moreover, these four quadrants are the top quadrants of what would otherwise be a cube. Within each quadrant is a magnetic ball 110 contained in such a manner so as to maintain a generally fixed location while permitting free rotation along all axis.

A third embodiment for MBB 100 is shown to be that of a stair block 214. More specifically, stair block 214 has two congruent square faces 216, 218 joined transversely along a common edge 220. Each square face 216, 218 has an area provided by four equal-sized third squares 202.

Stair block 214 is aptly named due to the two rectilinear concave polygon sides joined to the square faces 216, 218 to define a stair profile. Moreover, first rectilinear concave polygon side 222 is shown to have an area provided by three of the third squares 202. The corresponding second rectilinear concave polygon side parallel to the first rectilinear concave polygon side 222 cannot be viewed in this figure.

Four rectangular faces, 224A-224D, each having an area provided by two of the third squares 202 enclose the stair profile to provide a generally enclosed structure having twelve vertices and six substantially similar internal cube volumes. Each internal cube volume has an internal holder structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball 110.

With respect to the stair block 214, vertex 226A and 226B are considered internal vertex in that they are defined by at least two sides (e.g., 224B and 224C) that are converging towards the center of the stair block 214. Vertices 228A-228F are considered external vertices as they are defined by sides which do not converge towards the center point. More specifically, the external vertices are defined at least in part by one or both of the square faces 216, 218. Moreover, for at least one embodiment, the internal holders 108 are structured and arranged to present the magnetic ball 110 disposed therein towards an external vertex.

As with the cube 106, and with respect to the illustration of stair block 214, it is to be understood and appreciated that the magnetic balls 110 within stair block 214 are not co-planer. Indeed, four magnetic balls 110 are disposed adjacent to the first square face 216 and four magnetic balls 110 are disposed adjacent to the second square face 218. As square faces 216 and 218 are transversely joined along common edge 220, the six magnetic balls 110 within stair block 214 do not co-exist in a single plane.

In other words, the half cube 204 may also be described as having four (6) generally equal quadrants or regions bounded by three axes, not including regions defined along the Positive Y AND Positive Z axis. More specifically, these six quadrants correlate to

    • Q1=+Y, +X, −Z;
    • Q2=+Y, −X, −Z;
    • Q3=−Y, +X, +Z;
    • Q4=−Y, −X, +Z;
    • Q5=−Y, −X, +X; and
    • Q6=−Y, −X, −Z

Moreover, these six quadrants are half the top quadrants of a cube disposed on the bottom haft of a cube. Within each quadrant is a magnetic ball 110 contained in such a manner so as to maintain a generally fixed location while permitting free rotation along all axis.

As the cube 106, half cube 204 and stair block 214 are all generally developed from surfaces having areas defined by third squares 202, they are functionally and structurally related in size. As such, the freely rotating magnetic balls 110 within the cube 106, half cube 204 and stair block 214 are generally predisposed to align with magnetic balls 110 within another cube 106, half cube 204 and or stair block 214.

With respect to the cube 106, half cube 204 and stair block 214, it is understood and appreciated that for at least one embodiment as shown, these are each rectilinear structures—polygons where all edges meet at right angles. For at least one alternative embodiment, the MBBs 100 may include parallelepiped, rhombohedron, and or other non-rectilinear structures.

FIG. 3 presents yet further embodiments for MBB 100. Each is a 3D polygon of non-magnetic material having at least four faces 102, the faces meeting in sets of at least three to define at least four vertices 104, and a generally enclosed structure containing a plurality of magnetic balls 110, each magnetic ball 110 adjacent to at least one outer vertex 104.

Moreover, a tetrahedron 300 embodiment is shown having four sides 302A-302D. As shown, combinations of three sides define vertices as follows:

    • sides 302A, 302B and 302C meet to define vertex 304A;
    • sides 302B, 302C and 302D meet to define vertex 304B;
    • sides 302A, 302B and 302D meet to define vertex 304C; and
    • sides 302A, 302C and 302D meet to define vertex 304D.

MBB 100 as tetrahedron 300 has four internal holders 306: holder 306A adjacent to vertex 304A, holder 306B adjacent to vertex 304B, holder 306C adjacent to vertex 304C, and holder 306D adjacent to vertex 304D. Four magnetic balls 110 are disposed within tetrahedron 300, i.e., magnetic ball 308A is disposed in and received by holder 306A, magnetic ball 306B is disposed in and received by holder 308B, magnetic ball 308C is disposed in and received by holder 306C, and magnetic ball 308D is disposed in and received by holder 306D. Moreover, MBB 100 as a tetrahedron 300 is structured and arranged to enclose the magnetic balls 110 and present each proximate to an outer vertex 304.

MBB 100 as a square based pyramid 350 is shown having four triangular sides 352A-352D, and a square bottom side 354. As shown, combinations of three sides define vertices as follows:

    • sides 352A-D meet to define vertex 356A
    • sides 352A, 352B and 354 meet to define vertex 356B; and
    • sides 352A, 352C and 354 meet to define vertex 356C.

The perspective in FIG. 3 is such that the vertex defined by sides 352C, 352D and 354 for square based pyramid 350 cannot be seen in FIG. 3.

MBB 100 as square based pyramid 350 has at least one internal holder 108 adjacent to at least one vertex 104, and each holder 108 is structured and arranged to receive a magnetic ball 110 and permit free rotation of the magnetic ball 110. Moreover, each magnetic ball 110 is presented by its respective holder 108 towards a vertex 104, and is generally in about equal distance to the outer surface of the at least three faces 102 defining the vertex 104.

With respect to MBB 100 configured as a square based pyramid 350, it is appreciated that there are five holders 358: holder 358A adjacent to vertex 356A, holder 358B adjacent to vertex 356B, holder 358C adjacent to vertex 104D, etc. . . . . Five magnetic balls 110, i.e. magnetic ball 360A is disposed in and received by holder 358A, magnetic ball 360B is disposed in and received by holder 358B, magnetic ball 360C is disposed in and received by holder 358C, etc. . . . . Moreover, MBB 100 as a square based pyramid 350 is structured and arranged to enclose the magnetic balls 110 and present each proximate to an outer vertex 104.

FIG. 4 in connection with FIGS. 5-7 further illustrate the basic components for the fabrication of the 3D polygons in accordance with the rectilinear 3D polygon structures of the cube 106, the half cube 204 and the stair block 214 as first introduced above. As shown, for at least one embodiment, the three different rectilinear 3D polygon structures of the cube 106, the half cube 204 and the stair block 214 are provided by various combinations of five basic non-magnetic components 400, i.e., a square base 402 having four internal holders 404 defined by four holder walls 406, a flat top 408, an inner square spacer 410, an inner rectangular spacer 412, and a stair top 414 having two internal holders 416, defined by two holder walls 418.

For at least one embodiment these MBB 100 components are fabricated from one or more non-magnetic materials providing an outer structure and an inner matrix structure providing at least one holder for each magnetic ball. In varying embodiments, the non-magnetic materials are selected from the group consisting of polycarbonate, resin, ceramic, aluminum, copper, glass and or wood. For at least one embodiment, the MBB 100 components are injection molded polycarbonate.

In addition, for at least one embodiment, each of the components 400 has at least one side dimension of about 1.905 centimeters, each magnetic ball having a diameter of about 5 millimeters. Further still, in at least one embodiment the magnetic balls 110 are nickel plated to provide a smooth bearing surface.

As noted, for MBB 100 such as may be provided by components 400, each magnetic ball 110 is permitted to rotate; however, the holder space is structured and arranged such that each magnetic ball 110 does not move significantly horizontally or vertically within an assembled MBB 100. As used herein, significant horizontal or vertical movement is understood and appreciated to be ¼ the diameter of the magnetic ball 110.

To substantially reduce undesired horizontal and vertical movement, flat top 408 has four caps 420 that are structured and arranged to fit snugly upon the tops of the holder walls 406. Likewise, stair top 414 has two caps 422 that are structured and arranged to fit snugly upon the tops of two holder walls 406. Similarly, inner square spacer 410 has two offsets 424 rising generally normally from one side of the inner square spacer 410. These features as well as the use and placement of the inner square spacer 410 and inner rectangular spacer 412 may be more fully appreciate with respect to FIGS. 5-7.

FIG. 5 shows an exploded view of cube 106 with a comparison view of assembled cube 106, in accordance with at least one embodiment. Moreover, cube 106 is provided by two square base elements 402A and 402B, each receiving four magnetic balls 110 into their respective four internal holders 404, equivalent to holders 108 shown in FIG. 1. Two internal square spacers 410A, 410B are aligned to one another with offsets 424A and 414B arranged to hold the two internal square spacers 410A, 410B apart and ensure they fit snugly upon the tops of holder walls 406 in each base element 402A, 402B. The assembled cube 106 is bonded together as is appropriate for the non-magnetic material selected for construction, such as, for example, but not limited to, glue or sonic welding.

As is shown in FIG. 5, the magnetic balls 110 are advantageously confined to each of their respective holders 404, and each is directly adjacent to a corresponding vertices 104. In addition, in accordance with at least one embodiment, as shown the sides of cube 106 each have a central aperture opening 500 to the generally enclosed space within the cube.

FIG. 6 shows an exploded view of the stair block 214 with a comparison view of assembled stair block 214. Moreover, stair block is provided by one square base element 402 receiving four magnetic balls 110 into their respective four internal holders 404. An inner rectangular spacer 412 is disposed over and snugly upon the tops of two holder walls 406. As shown in FIG. 6, inner rectangular spacer 412 for at least one embodiment has a plurality of tabs 600 which are spaced vertically apart in two parallel rows. Rectangular Spacer 412 has been structured and arranged so that the one set of tabs 600 caps two holders 404 in the square base 402A, and the remaining set of tabs will then extend above the top of square base 402A so as to extend into the stair top 414 and cap the two holders 416 therein. Of course, in varying embodiments, inner rectangular spacer 412 could also be a solid rectangle or pair of solid cubes appropriately sized and shaped for the same function.

Two additional magnetic balls 110 are disposed into the two internal holders of a stair top 414 which in turn is snugly fit over the inner rectangular spacer 412 with two caps 420A and 420B snugly fitting upon the two remaining holder walls 406 in the square base element. The assembled stair block 214 is bonded together as is appropriate for the non-magnetic material selected for construction, such as, for example, but not limited to, glue or sonic welding.

FIG. 7 shows an exploded view of the half cube 204 with a comparison view of assembled half cube 204. Moreover, half cube 204 is provided by one square base element 402 receiving four magnetic balls 110 into their respective four internal holders 404. A flat top 408 is positioned over the half cube 204 with the four caps 418A-418D aligned to fit snugly down upon the tops of the holder walls 406 so as to retain and confine the respective magnetic balls nested therein. The assembled half cube 204 is bonded together as is appropriate for the non-magnetic material selected for construction, such as, for example, but not limited to, glue or sonic welding.

The tetrahedron 300 and square based pyramid 350 are similarly assembled from non-magnetic materials retaining and confining their respective magnetic balls 110 as shown and described above.

With respect to the above descriptions for various MBB 100 embodiments, i.e. the cube 106, the half cube 204, the stair block 214, the tetrahedron 300 and the square based pyramid 350, FIG. 8 conceptually illustrates a building 800 established by a plurality of MBBs 100 of these various forms, i.e., a set 802 of MBBs 100. As the dotted relief of the magnetic balls 110 demonstrates along the exposed surfaces, the magnetic balls 110 are coupling in groups of two, four or six—and within the structure, in groups of eight.

As a portion of the third level 804 illustrates, the MBBs 100 may be offset, and still the contained magnetic balls 110 will pair and magnetically couple with the magnetic balls of other MBBs 100. More specifically, exemplary MBB 806 is not seated directly atop exemplary MBB 808, but is rather offset such that half of MBB 808 is exposed. Indeed, one MBB 100 having a square base profile could even be positioned to overlap four (4) coupled MBBs each having a square top profile. In FIG. 8 this is suggested by MBB 810 which as the arrow indicates is to be place generally in accordance with the dotted outpine 812 upon building 800. Moreover, it is to be understood and appreciated that MBBs 100 in accordance with the present invention present unique and advantageous building options not previously enjoyed by previous building blocks.

The magnetic couplings between various MBBs 100 is achieved without requiring specific orientation by the user. Indeed, as the magnetic balls 110 within each MBB 100 self orient, the MBBs 100 advantageously permit the user to assemble them together in whatever order and for whatever design the user can imagine. Even with respect to the tetrahedron 300, the three magnets within any oriented side will align and magnetically couple to the magnetic balls 110 of other MBBs 100.

Changes may be made in the above methods, systems and structures without departing from the scope hereof. It should thus be noted that the matter contained in the above description and/or shown in the accompanying drawings should be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. Indeed, many other embodiments are feasible and possible, as will be evident to one of ordinary skill in the art. The claims that follow are not limited by or to the embodiments discussed herein, but are limited solely by their terms and the Doctrine of Equivalents.





 
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