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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
FOLDABLE TABLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/130826
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A foldable table (10) comprising a height-adjustable support (12), having an upper part (14) and a lower part (16) and a plurality of arms (26) extending from the height-adjustable support (12). A table leaf unit (30) is connected about each arm (26) via hinges. In a first unfurled condition the upper part (14) of the height-adjustable support (12) is raised relative to the lower part (16), the table-top leaves (32, 34) are coplanar, and in a second furled condition whereby the upper part (14) of the height-adjustable support (12) is lowered relative to the lower part (16), the table-top leaves (32, 34) are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support (12). The above foldable table (10) can be utilised to facilitate access beneath a table for cleaning, to reduce the footprint of a table and to protect the upper table-top surface of a table.

Inventors:
PACKMAN, Ronald Keith (42 Shad Thames, Butlers Wharf, London SE1 2YD, SE1 2YD, GB)
Application Number:
GB2018/050059
Publication Date:
July 19, 2018
Filing Date:
January 10, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
PACKMAN, Ronald Keith (42 Shad Thames, Butlers Wharf, London SE1 2YD, SE1 2YD, GB)
International Classes:
A47B3/00; A47B13/06
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015039207A12015-03-26
Foreign References:
US2604932A1952-07-29
GB2264636A1993-09-08
FR2749143A11997-12-05
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOCKING, Adrian et al. (Albright IP Limited, County HouseBayshill Road, Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL50 3BA, GL50 3BA, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A foldable table (10; 110) comprising:

a height-adjustable support (12; 112) having a lower part (16; 116) and an upper part (14) movable relative to the lower part (16; 116);

a plurality of arms (26) extending radially from and hingably attached to the upper part (14) of the height-adjustable support (12; 112);

a plurality of table leaf units (30; 130), each unit comprising first and second table- top leaves (32, 34) hingably connected about each arm (26); and

a plurality of first struts (38) pivotably engaged with a counter linkage which opposes the motion of the upper part of the height-adjustable support (12; 112), and hingably engaging with the arms (26), and a plurality of second struts (40; 140), each second strut (40; 140) being pivotably engaged with the lower part (16; 116) of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) and hingably engaging an outer edge of at least one table leaf unit (30; 130) so that, in a first unfurled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) is raised relative to the lower part (16; 116), the table-top leaves (32, 34) are coplanar, and in a second furled condition whereby the upper part (14) of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) is lowered relative to the lower part (16; 116), the table-top leaves (32, 34) are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support (12; 112).

2. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in claim 1, wherein the counter linkage engagement is via a slidable ring (42) which is slidably receivable around the lower part (16; 116) of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) with the plurality of first struts (38) being pivotably engaged and equiangularly arranged around the slidable ring (42).

3. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein a part of each arm (26) is received within a hub (18) which is situated at or adjacent to the top of the height- adjustable support (12; 112).

4. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the plurality of table leaf units (30; 130) and an uppermost surface of the hub (18) together form a table- top surface.

5. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the table-top surface is polygonal in shape.

6. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the table-top surface is circular in shape.

7. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein each of the table leaf units (30; 130) are identical or substantially identical.

8. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein each of the table leaf units (30; 130) is substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle.

9. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein each of the first and second table-top leaves (32, 34) is substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle.

10. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein there are sixteen table-top leaves (32, 34).

11. A foldable table (10; 110), as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein at least a part of each of the arms (26) is rigid.

12. A foldable table (10; 110), as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 11, wherein each of the arms (26) has a non-uniform longitudinal cross section with a flat or substantially flat uppermost longitudinal edge and a non-flat or substantially non-flat lowermost longitudinal edge.

13. A foldable table (10) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein at least one second strut (40) hingably interengages the outer edges of two adjacent table leaf units (30).

14. A foldable table (10), as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 13, wherein the end of each of the first and second struts (38, 40) are formed of a body element (50) and an engagement element (52) with the engagement element (52) extending from the body element (50) in a bifurcated fashion to form two engagement members.

15. A foldable table (10) as claimed in claim 14, wherein each engagement member of the second strut (40) engages a different table leaf unit (30) and the two engagement members are at least in part movable away from each other to increase a separation of the engagement members.

16. A foldable table (110) as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein a pair of the second struts (140) are pivotably engaged with the lower part (116) of the height- adjustable support (112) at the same or substantially the same point, each second strut (140) of the pair being hingably engaged with different table leaf unit (130).

17. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 16, further comprising a ground support element which extends from the lower part (16; 116) of the height- adjustable support (12; 112).

18. A foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 17, further comprising at least one wheeled element associated with the lower part (16; 116) of the height- adjustable support (12; 112) which is deployable via a mechanical linkage when the height-adjustable support (12; 112) is moved to the lower position.

19. A method of facilitating access beneath a table for cleaning, reducing the footprint of a table and/or protecting the upper table-top surface of a table using a foldable table (10; 110) as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, the method comprising the step of the upper faces of adjacent table-top leaves (32, 34) of adjacent table leaf units (30; 130) being raised towards each other about a central axis and, simultaneously, the upper part (14) of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) being lowered so that the table-top leaves (32, 34) pivot relative to each other to adopt a concertina arrangement.

20. A foldable table (10; 110) comprising:

a height-adjustable support (12; 112) having a lower part (16; 116) and an upper part movable relative to the lower part;

a plurality of table leaf units (30; 130), each unit comprising first and second table- top leaves (32, 34) hingably attached to the upper part of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) allowing rotation of each table-top leaf (32, 34) of a unit towards (30; 130) each other and allowing each table-top leaf (32, 34) to pivot about the point of attachment so that it is substantially parallel with the height-adjustable support (12; 112); and

a plurality of first struts (38) pivotably engaged with a counter linkage which opposes the motion of the upper part of the height-adjustable support (12; 112), and hingably engaging with the inner edges of the table-top leaves (32, 34) of a table leaf unit (30; 130), and a plurality of second struts (40; 140), each second strut (40; 140) being pivotably engaged with the lower part (16; 116) of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) and hingably engaging an outer edge of at least one table leaf unit (30; 130) so that, in a first unfurled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support (12; 112) is raised relative to the lower part (16; 116), the table-top leaves (32, 34) are coplanar, and in a second furled condition whereby the upper part of the height- adjustable support (12; 112) is lowered relative to the lower part (16; 116), the table-top leaves (32, 34) are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support (12; 112).

Description:
Foldable Table

The present invention relates to a foldable table. The present invention also relates to a method of facilitating access beneath, reducing the footprint of, and protecting the upper surface of a table. Tables are used to provide a surface to support objects in a variety of situations including dining in restaurants, cafes or bars; at events, such as weddings; or for the purpose of gaming, such as playing card games. However, tables in these situations would not necessarily be in use at all times, such as when an establishment closes to customers or when an establishment has fewer customers at certain times of the day. In these situations it is useful to facilitate access beneath a table for cleaning purposes, which can be restricted by the large area of the table-top, or to reduce the footprint, or plan area, of a table so as to allow more space for other activities.

A solution to this is to use a table which can be in an extended, unfolded or unfurled, condition when in use or in a compact, reduced, retracted, folded or furled, condition when it is being stored. One example is an extendable table in which, in an extended condition, two coplanar end leaves are slid away from each other, in a common plane, on sliding mechanisms and a supplementary leaf is inserted between them. The process is reversed to return the table to a compact condition. Whilst being able to provide a reduced footprint, this type of known table may not be substantially easier to clean underneath due to the table typically only being reduced in size in a longitudinal dimension. Additionally, changing between the extended and compact condition can be time consuming and the supplementary leaf may be required to be stored externally from the table, thereby taking up additional space.

Another example of a conventional folding table is a drop leaf table where outer sections of the table are hinged and are able to pivot about the hinges so that they are either parallel with the ground when in an extended in-use condition, or dropped down and perpendicular with the ground when in a reduced, compact storage condition. A disadvantage of this conventional folding table is that the outer sections which are dropped down obstruct the area underneath the table, thereby making it difficult to clean beneath. Furthermore, the outer sections have their, in- use, upper surfaces facing outwards which could result in these surfaces becoming scratched or otherwise damaged, since they are exposed to potential hazards. The present invention seeks to provide a solution to these problems. According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a foldable table comprising a height-adjustable support having a lower part and an upper part movable relative to the lower part; a plurality of arms extending radially from and hingably attached to the upper part of the height-adjustable support; a plurality of table leaf units, each unit comprising first and second table-top leaves hingably connected about each arm; and a plurality of first struts pivotably engaged with a counter linkage which opposes the motion of the upper part of the height- adjustable support, and hingably engaging with the arms, and a plurality of second struts, each second strut pivotably engaged with the lower part of the height-adjustable support and hingably engaging an outer edge of at least one table leaf units so that, in a first unfurled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support is raised relative to the lower part, the table-top leaves are coplanar, and in a second furled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support is lowered relative to the lower part, the table-top leaves are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support.

By providing a foldable table which is able to fold so that the table-top leaves are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support, access beneath the table for cleaning is more easily facilitated or improved when compared to conventional expandable and contractable tables. A wide table top of a conventional slidably expandable table or a drop-leaf table can obstruct the access of cleaning equipment, such as brooms or mops, to the area directly beneath the table top. In the present invention, the table-top leaves can be folded upwards in an in use vertical direction whilst pivoting about a radial axis towards each other, thereby preventing or reducing obstruction to such cleaning equipment.

Furthermore, pivotable and foldable table-leaf units allow the table to be folded easily and without consuming an extended amount of time, as would be the case in a conventional extendable table where a supplementary leaf would need be inserted or removed, or in the case of a drop-leaf table where linearly slidably extendable and retractable support arms beneath the table top are required to support the leaves in their raised conditions.

An additional advantage of the table-leaf units being raisable in a vertical direction and foldable inwardly towards each other is that the in use upper surfaces face inwards and so are less likely to be scratched or otherwise damaged than would occur if they were facing outwards. Preferably, the counter linkage engagement is via a slidable ring which is slidably receivable around the lower part of the height-adjustable support with the plurality of first struts being pivotably engaged and equiangularly arranged around the slidable ring.

Since the first struts are all attached to the slidable ring, and thereby rise synchronously with the slidable ring, all of the struts rise synchronously with one another. This in turn ensures that the arms move synchronously with one another, and so there is less opportunity for the folding mechanism to be disrupted, such as through jams, by elements acting asynchronously.

Beneficially, a part of each arm is received within a hub which is situated at or adjacent to the top of the height-adjustable support. Having a part of the arm accommodated within a hub allows for the hinges, which connect the arm to the height-adjustable support, to be protected from damage and/or the ingress of particular matter causing undue wear over time and unsightliness.

In a preferable embodiment, the plurality of table leaf units and an uppermost surface of the hub together form a table-top surface, which in this case is the upper or user-facing table-top surface of the table.

Having the table leaf units and an uppermost surface of the hub to be arranged in this way allows for a table-top surface where dining or gaming can take place, amongst other activities.

In a preferable embodiment, the table-top surface is polygonal in shape.

A polygonal shaped table-top surface allows for a more efficient spatial arrangement of tables, in an unfurled condition, than could be achieved with a table-top surface with rounded edges.

Beneficially, the table-top surface may be circular in shape.

A circular table-top surface allows for better conversational interengagement of users situated around the foldable table than in alternative arrangement, such as a rectangular table. The leaves of the table can also be substantially identical, thereby reducing manufacturing or production costs.

Preferably, each of the table leaf units are identical or substantially identical.

The table leaf units being identical or substantially identical allows for a more symmetrical arrangement of the foldable table than if the table leaf units were not identical. Therefore the foldable table, especially whilst in the furled condition, would look more aesthetically appealing. Beneficially, each of the table leaf units may be substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle.

By providing each of the table leaf units to be substantially part-circular allows for the expanded table top surface, which is formed by the arrangement of the table leaf units, to be circular in shape when unfurled. This then provides the advantage of a circular table-top surface as previously described.

Advantageously, each of the first and second table-top leaves may also be substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle.

By providing each of the table-top leaves to be substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle allows for the table leaf unit to be substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle. This thereby provides the advantage of each of the table leaf units being substantially in the shape of a sector of a circle as previously described.

Optionally, there may be sixteen table-top leaves.

A greater number of table-top leaves allows for a more spatially efficient arrangement of table- top leaves about the longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support, than if fewer were used. Fewer table-top leaves result in fewer mechanical moving parts and so less chance of malfunction of any one of the mechanical moving parts than if a greater number of table-top leaves were used. Sixteen table-top leaves results in a favourable compromise between these two factors.

The table-top leaves may optionally be substantially transparent instead of opaque. In this case, transparent or light-transmissible table-top leaves provide the advantage of the foldable tables causing less shade and obstructing less light than if the table-top leaves were opaque. This results in a lighter environment in establishments, when the tables are used both in the unfurled and furled condition.

Advantageously, at least a part of each of the arms is rigid. In this case, the rigidity of the arms enables a more positive support of the table-top leaves, along with an improved and positive guiding of the leaves as they are raised and lowered. Although preferably fully rigid along at least a majority of their longitudinal extents, the arms may be at least in part flexible, jointed or articulable as necessity dictates. Beneficially, each of the arms may have a non-uniform longitudinal cross section with a flat or substantially flat uppermost longitudinal edge and a non-flat or substantially non-flat lowermost longitudinal edge.

This cross-section improves the rigidity of the arm, particularly at a region of interconnection with an associated support strut.

Preferably, at least one second strut hingably interengages the outer edges of two adjacent table leaf units. A singular second strut supporting two table leaf units reduces the number of second struts required and therefore prevents or limits second struts from clashing with each other.

In a preferable embodiment, the end of each of the first and second struts are formed of a body element and an engagement element with the engagement element extending from the body element in a bifurcated fashion to form two engagement members.

Whilst in the furled or compact condition, the laterally extended portion of the arm can be accommodated within the space between the bifurcated parts of the engagement element. This gives a wider range of angles that each arm can make with each strut, whilst also enabling a maximum lateral extent of each arm to be increased to support greater weights and/or to improve structural rigidity.

Advantageously, each engagement member engages a different table leaf unit and the two engagement members are at least in part movable away from each other to increase a separation of the engagement members. Increasing a separation of adjacent table leaf units prevents or limits the table leaf units from clashing with each other and/or crashing into each other.

Beneficially, a pair of the second struts are pivotably engaged with the lower part of the height- adjustable support at the same or substantially the same point and each second strut of the pair is hingably engaged with different table leaf unit. Providing two second struts, which may be independently movable allows for the separation of adjacent table leaf units to increase, thus providing the same advantage as given above.

Preferably, a ground support element extends from the lower part of the height-adjustable support.

Providing a ground support element or base extending from the lower part of the height- adjustable support not only improves stability, but also enables incorporation of other elements at the base, potentially through a mechanism housed within the base. In a preferable embodiment, there is at least one wheeled element associated with the lower part of the height-adjustable support which is deployable via a mechanical linkage when the height- adjustable support is moved to the lower position.

Providing at least one wheeled element, such as a castor or roller, that can be extended from the height-adjustable support improves manoeuvrability. Significantly, a system which automatically lowers or drops the or each wheeled element simultaneously with the raising of the table-top leaves simplifies a user's task when required to relocate the table.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a methodology of facilitating access beneath a table for cleaning using a foldable table, the methodology comprising the step of the upper faces of adjacent table-top leaves of adjacent table leaf units being raised towards each other about a central axis and, simultaneously, the upper part of the height-adjustable support being lowered so that the table-top leaves pivot relative to each other to adopt a concertina arrangement.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a methodology of reducing the footprint of a table using a foldable table, the methodology comprising the step of the upper faces of adjacent table-top leaves of adjacent table leaf units being raised towards each other about a central axis and, simultaneously, the upper part of the height-adjustable support being lowered so that the table-top leaves pivot relative to each other to adopt a concertina arrangement.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a methodology of protecting the upper surface of a table using a foldable table, the methodology comprising the step of the upper faces of adjacent table-top leaves of adjacent table leaf units being raised towards each other about a central axis and, simultaneously, the upper part of the height- adjustable support being lowered so that the table-top leaves pivot relative to each other to adopt a concertina arrangement. According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a foldable table comprising a height-adjustable support having a lower part and an upper part movable relative to the lower part; a plurality of table leaf units, each unit comprising first and second table-top leaves hingably attached to the upper part of the height-adjustable support allowing rotation of each table-top leaf of a unit towards each other and allowing each table-top leaf to pivot about the point of attachment so that it is substantially parallel with the height-adjustable support; and a plurality of first struts pivotably engaged with a counter linkage which opposes the motion of the upper part of the height-adjustable support, and hingably engaging with the inner edges of the table-top leaves of a table leaf unit, and a plurality of second struts, each second strut pivotably engaged with the lower part of the height-adjustable support and hingably engaging an outer edge of at least one table leaf units so that, in a first unfurled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support is raised relative to the lower part, the table-top leaves are coplanar, and in a second furled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support is lowered relative to the lower part, the table-top leaves are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support.

Each of the table-top leaves being hingably attached to the upper part of the height-adjustable support allows for rotation of each table-top leaf of a unit towards each other and allows for each table-top leaf to pivot about the point of attachment. In this way, although a potentially more complex universal-type of joint may be required, the above-mentioned support arms may be dispensed with. Not having arms in turn provides the advantage of less material being used and, in the instance where the table-top leaves may be substantially transparent, less of the foldable table would be opaque thus improving the aesthetics.

The invention will now be more particularly described by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 shows a perspective representation of a first embodiment of a foldable table in which the table top is in an unfurled or expanded condition and in accordance with the first aspect of the invention;

Figure 2 shows a perspective representation of the foldable table, shown in Figure 1 and in which the table top is in a furled, compact or storage condition;

Figure 3 shows an enlarged perspective representation of a portion of the foldable table, as shown in Figures 1 and 2, in which the table top is in a furled, compact or storage condition, and focussing on the slidable ring and associated elements;

Figure 4 shows an enlarged perspective representation of another portion of the foldable table, as shown in Figures 1 to 3, in which the table top is in an unfurled or expanded condition, focussing on a supporting arm of the table-top leaves; and Figure 5 shows a perspective representation from below of part of a second embodiment of a foldable table in accordance with the first aspect of the present invention with dashed lines showing the position of adjacent table top leaves of a table leaf unit and the remainder of the foldable table omitted for clarity. Referring to Figure 1 there is shown an embodiment of a foldable table 10, or folding table, in an unfurled or expanded condition. The foldable table 10 has a height-adjustable support 12, or support adapted to adjust in height, having an upper part 14 and a lower part 16. The upper part 14 and lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12 preferably take the form of elongate cylindrical elements, preferably both being tubular, and preferably the diameter of the lower part 16 is greater than that of the upper part 14 to improve overall stability and rigidity. Although cylindrical tubes are suggested, other lateral non-circular cross-sections can be considered, such as triangular, square or rectangular.

The upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12 is able to be lowered and raised with respect to the lower part 16. In this embodiment, the upper part 14 is telescopically received within the lower part 16, and in the unfurled condition shown in Figure 1, the upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12 is raised with respect to the lower part 16.

A hub 18 is preferably fixed to a top surface of the upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12. The hub 18 preferably takes the form of a hollow disc.

There is a central hub aperture 20 at the centre of a bottom planar face of the hub 18, through which the height-adjustable support 12 is receivable or received within and engaged with a bottom of an upper planar face of the hub 18. The hub may alternatively be attached to the height-adjustable support 12 by being engaged with a bottom of the bottom planar face of the hub 18.

In a preferably curved side wall or face 22 of the hub 18 may be provided a plurality of, and preferably eight, arm accommodating apertures 24 equiangularly spaced apart and within which at least part of an arm 26 is received. The arm accommodating apertures 24 also extend to the upper planar face of the hub 18 so as to allow pivotable, or pivoting, movement of the arm 26 upwards.

Extending through each of these arm accommodating apertures 24 is the arm 26. The arm 26 is attached to the upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12 via an arm hinge, not shown, which extends through the hub 18. In this unfurled or extended condition, the longitudinal axis of each arm 26 extends substantially radially relative to the upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12.

Each arm 26 is preferably rigid and may preferably be in or substantially in the shape of a strip. Each arm 26 is elongate and extends in a radial direction relative to the hub 18. Each arm 26 has a non-uniform longitudinal cross section with a flat or substantially flat uppermost longitudinal edge and a non-flat or substantially non-flat lowermost longitudinal edge. This lowermost longitudinal edge is defined by a substantially straight portion which extends from the hub and a further substantially straight portion which extends from the end of the arm distal to the hub. These two straight portions meet at a nadir, or lowermost point. A protrusion 28 which also resembles a strip, projects from the nadir. Although the lowermost longitudinal edge is described as being two straight portions, it may alternatively be convexly curved with the protrusion projecting from the nadir, or a lowermost point, of the convex curve. Although preferably fully rigid along at least a majority of their longitudinal extents, the arms may be at least in part flexible, jointed or articulable as necessity dictates.

Each arm 26 has an associated table leaf unit 30 comprising a first table-top leaf 32 and a second table-top leaf 34. Each table-top leaf 32, 34 is identical in size and is preferably substantially in the shape of a sector or truncated sector of a circle, wherein in the latter case, the radially innermost vertex has been removed. The first and second table-top leaves 32, 34 are connected about an associated arm 26 via an inner leaf hinge 36, comprising a rod 36a, about which the table-top leaves pivot, and four brackets 36b which attach the first and second table-top leaves 32, 34 to the rod. Although the inner leaf hinge is described as having four brackets, any number of brackets could be used. The table top leaves are attached to the inner leaf hinge along a straight, longitudinal radial edge of each leaf so that, in this unfurled condition, the two leaves are planar with one another and preferably with the upper face of the hub 18. In this way, in this unfurled condition, each table leaf unit 30 is or is substantially in the shape of a sector or truncated sector of a circle, wherein, as above, in the latter case the radially innermost vertex has been removed. The dimensions of the table leaf unit 30 and the spacing of the associated arms 26 is such that each table leaf unit 30 has a further table leaf unit 30 adjacent either side of the outer straight radial edges of the table leaf unit 30. Therefore, the collection of table leaf units 30 in this formation forms or substantially forms a circle with an aperture in the middle. The aperture is mostly filled by the upper surface of the hub 18. These table-top leaves 32, 34 may preferably be substantially transparent. As such, the leaves 32, 34 may conveniently be formed of at least in part glass or plastics, such as Perspex RTM. Alternatively, the table-top leaves may preferably be opaque and as such may preferably be formed at least in part from one or a combination of opaque plastics, wood or metal such as steel or aluminium.

The foldable table 10 further comprises first struts 38 and second struts 40, and in this embodiment eight first struts 38 and eight second struts 40 are utilised. The first struts 38 are pivotably engaged with and equiangularly arranged around a slidable ring 42 or a slidable collar. This slidable ring 42 is slidably received around the lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12 and is counter linked with the upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12 so that it opposes the motion of the upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12 and is able to be moved upwards and downwards along a longitudinal axis of the lower part 16 of the height- adjustable support 12. The second struts 40 are pivotably engaged with and equiangularly arranged around the lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12.

Each of the first struts 38 is rigid or substantially rigid, of fixed length, and comprises a first strut body portion 44 and an arm engagement portion 46. The arm engagement portion 46 extends from the end of the first strut body portion 44 in a bifurcated fashion and engages the protrusion 28 of the arm 26 via a first strut hinge 48. Each of the second struts 40 is similarly rigid or substantially rigid, of fixed length and comprises a second strut body portion or element 50 and a leaf engagement portion or element 52. The leaf engagement portion 52 extends from the end of the second strut body portion 50 in a bifurcated fashion and engages the outer edges of adjacent leaf units via a second strut hinge 54. Although, there is described a single second strut which supports the outer edges of two adjacent leaf units through a suitable pivotable connector, there may be a pair of associated second struts, whereby each second strut of a pair supports the outer opposing edges of each leaf unit.

The bifurcated second strut 40 forms two engagement members and each engagement member engages a different table leaf unit 30. The two engagement members are preferably at least in part movable, or adapted to move, away from each other to increase a separation of the engagement members. This movement away may be caused by each engagement member deflecting away from each other. To deflect away from each other the engagement members may be attached to the second strut body portion via ball joint or another universal joint. Alternatively each engagement member may have one or more sliding portions, for example telescopic sliding portions, to facilitate extension in a lateral or circumferential direction of the table top.

Whilst the second strut leaf engagement portion is here shown to extend from the second strut body portion at a point proximal to the table leaf unit, it will be appreciated that the leaf engagement portion may in fact extend from the second strut body portion at a point proximal, at or adjacent to the lower part of the height adjustable support.

Fixed to the lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12, below an engagement point or region of the first and second struts 38, 40 with the height-adjustable support 12, is preferably a ground support element, not shown. This ground support element may preferably take the form of four legs which extend radially from the height-adjustable support 12 and which may preferably be equiangularly spaced apart around the height-adjustable support 12. In this case, each leg contacts the ground preferably in at least one position towards the end of the leg in order to provide stability so that the table does not or is less likely to topple over. Although the ground support element of this embodiment is described as having preferably four legs, any number of legs greater than one could be used to provide improved stability to the foldable table, such as three or more than four. As an alternative, a single base element may be utilised instead of legs, the base element may for example be circular or non-circular, planar, domed or any other suitable configuration. The height-adjustable column, each of the arms, the hub and each of the first and second struts may be formed of at least in part of a steel alloy or an aluminium alloy.

There may preferably be at least one wheeled element, such as at least one caster which may be a swivel caster or rigid caster or any other type of caster, not shown, fixed to the bottom of the lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12. In this unfurled condition, the wheeled elements may be receivable within cavities within the height-adjustable support 12. These wheeled elements may be connected via a mechanical linkage to the height-adjustable support 12, thus forming an extension and retraction mechanism whereby the wheeled elements may be deployed or retracted based on a condition of the height-adjustable support 12. Although the wheeled element is suggested as being a castor, any other suitable rotational element for transportation or movement can be considered, such as a roller. To change the condition of the foldable table 10 from the furled or extended condition to the unfurled or retracted condition, each arm 26 can be pivoted upwards about its arm hinge, not shown, connecting it to the height-adjustable support 12. The first struts 38 are able to rise upwardly with each associated arm 26 because the slidable ring 42, which the first struts 38 are fixed to, is able to rise upwards. The edges of each table-top leaf 32, 34 of a table leaf unit 30 which are hingably attached to an associated arm 26 at their neighbouring or opposing longitudinal edges are caused to rise upwards due to being attached to the upwardly rising associated arm 26. With the second struts 40 fixed to the lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12 and engaged to the outer edges of adjacent leaf units 30, the outer edges of adjacent leaf units 30 are anchored in place and thus unable to rise. The upper part 14 of the height- adjustable support 12 lowers with respect to the lower part 16 and is telescopically received within the lower part 16 or vice versa. The table-top leaves 32, 34, thus pivot from their previously described unfurled coplanar arrangement, the pivoting taking place in two mutually perpendicular directions. As such, each first and second table-top leaf 32, 34 of a table leaf unit 30 pivots about Axis A, as labelled in Figure 1, on its leaf hinge 36 on its associated arm 26 so as to bring the bottom face of each first and second table-top leaf 32, 34 towards each other. This has the effect of the adjacent table-top leaves 32, 34 of adjacent table leaf units 30 pivoting about Axis B, as labelled in Figure 1, on the second strut hinge 54 which connects them, so as to bring the upper faces of the adjacent table-top leaves 32, 34 towards each other. The result is that the longitudinal axis of the arms 26 are substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the height- adjustable support 12 and that the table-top leaves 32, 34 adopt a concertinaed arrangement about the longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support 12. This concertinaed arrangement may alternatively be described or thought of as a zigzag or corrugated arrangement.

In use, to facilitate access beneath the foldable table 10 for cleaning, to reduce the footprint of the foldable table 10 and to protect the upper table-top surface of the foldable table 10, the foldable table 20 can be changed from an unfurled condition to a furled condition. To do so, each arm 26 can be pivoted upwards about its arm hinge, not shown, connecting it to the height- adjustable support 12. The first struts 38 are able to rise upwardly with each associated arm 26 because the slidable ring 42, which the first struts 38 are fixed to, is able to rise upwards. The edges of each table-top leaf 32, 34 of a table leaf unit 30 which are hingably attached to an associated arm 26 at their neighbouring or opposing longitudinal edges are caused to rise upwards due to being attached to the upwardly rising associated arm 26. With the second struts 40 fixed to the lower part 16 of the height-adjustable support 12 and engaged to the outer edges of adjacent leaf units 30, the outer edges of adjacent leaf units 30 are anchored in place and thus unable to rise. The upper part 14 of the height-adjustable support 12 lowers with respect to the lower part 16 and is telescopically received within the lower part 16 or vice versa. The table-top leaves 32, 34 thus pivot from their previously described unfurled coplanar arrangement, the pivoting taking place in two mutually perpendicular directions. As such, each first and second table-top leaf 32, 34 of a table leaf unit 30 pivots about Axis A, as labelled in Figure 1, on its leaf hinge 36 on its associated arm 26 so as to bring the bottom face of each first and second table-top leaf 32, 34 towards each other. This has the effect of the adjacent table-top leaves 32, 34 of adjacent table leaf units 30 pivoting about Axis B, as labelled in Figure 1, on the second strut hinge 54 which connects them, so as to bring the upper faces of the adjacent table-top leaves 32, 34 towards each other. The result is that the longitudinal axis of the arms 26 are substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support 12 and that the table-top leaves 32, 34 adopt a concertinaed arrangement about the longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support 12. This has the result that the table-top surface no longer obstructs cleaning equipment, has a reduced footprint and has a protected upper table-top surface.

Referring to Figure 5, there is shown a second embodiment of a foldable table 110 wherein the plurality of second struts 140 are organised into pairs, each second strut 140 of each pair supporting an outer opposing edge of each leaf unit 130. Elements which are similar or identical to those of the initial embodiment are denoted by the same or similar reference numbers with a prefix of Ί ' and further detailed description is omitted.

Each second strut 140 may be pivotably engaged with the lower part 116 of the height-adjustable support 112. This pivotable engagement may be at the same point, substantially at the same point or at separate points which are positioned adjacent to each other. Therefore, each second strut 140 may be attached to the height adjustable support 112 via the same hinge and/or joint or by adjacent hinges and/or joints. Each second strut 140 engages the outer edge of each individual leaf unit 130 via a second strut hinge 154. This alternative arrangement can provide the advantage that each table leaf unit may not be joined together and so, when the foldable table is moved to the furled condition, the outer edges of each table leaf unit are able to move away from one another and thereby prevent or limit clashing. This may provide a neater and more compact furled arrangement. Whilst the above foldable table is described as having arms, it is appreciated that arms may not be necessary for the foldable table to function. The table may instead have table-top leaves which are directly hinged to the height-adjustable support using preferably a universal ball joint. Other hinges or joints may also be considered, such as a spherical rolling joint. Instead of the first struts engaging the arm via the first strut hinge, the first struts would engage the inner edges of a first and second table-top leaf of a table leaf unit via a first strut hinge. When changing the condition of the foldable table from the furled condition to the unfurled condition this arrangement would allow the first and second table-top leaves to pivot about its first strut hinge so as to bring the bottom face of each first and second table-top leaf towards each other. All other components of this embodiment are the same as the previously described embodiment and this embodiment is able to function in the same way as the previously described embodiment.

Whilst the initially described invention is described as having a counter linkage mechanism via a slidable, or sliding, ring such that the first struts are able to rise with the slidable ring and thereby allow the inner edges of the table top leaves to rise, it is appreciated that the inner edges of the table top leaves could be allowed to rise by alternative methods. For example, the first struts could be extendable instead of being of fixed length and be attached to the stationary lower part of the height-adjustable support instead of the slidable ring. The extendable first struts would be in a contracted condition when the table is in the furled condition but would extend with the rising arms to an extended condition, allowing the inner edges of the table top leaves to also rise. This would allow the foldable table to change between the furled and unfurled condition as in the initially described invention.

Whilst the above described invention embodiments provide for table leaf units which are radially fixed or substantially fixed at their radially innermost points or edges, the table leaf units may be able to move in a radial direction away from and back towards the hub. This may be achieved by the presence of a cam within the hub which may be operatively connected to the plurality of radially extending support arms. In use, when the table is in the unfurled condition, the plurality of arms may be rotated around the vertical axis of the height-adjustable support, thus enabling the cam to cause the arms to move in a radial direction away from the hub by 5-20 mm. This would result in each table leaf unit, one of which is attached to each arm, to likewise move in a radial direction away from the hub by 5-20 mm. This radial motion provides additional space between each table leaf unit. When the foldable table is being changed from the unfurled to the furled condition, the outer edges of each table leaf unit are thus prevented or limited from clashing with the adjacent table leaf unit. This may provide a neater and more compact furled arrangement. When the foldable table is in use returned to the unfurled or expanded condition, the plurality of arms may be rotated around the vertical axis of the height-adjustable support in the opposite direction as previously rotated and the cam may cause the arms to move in a radial direction towards the hub by 5-20 mm.

Whilst the initially described foldable table is described as having table-top leaves which form a table-top surface which is or is substantially a circle, it is appreciated that by changing the shape of the leaves, other shapes of the table-top surface that the table-top leaves form can be achieved. For example, in the above described foldable table, by changing the shape of the table-top leaves from a sector of a circle to a triangle, truncated triangle or trapezium, an octagonal perimeter edge can be achieved. Therefore, it is appreciated that any number of polygonal, curved or hybrid polygonal-curved shaped surfaces could be achieved by changing the outline of the shape of the table-top leaves. The upper table top surface formed by the unfurled, extended or deployed foldable table could, non-exclusively, be rectangular, elliptical or triangular. Although the initially described foldable table is described as having wheeled elements, which may be casters, it is appreciated that the table would function without wheels.

Although no locking element is described in the foldable table, a locking element may be located on the height-adjustable support. The locking element, when engaged, may prevent or limit unintentional changing of the unfurled/furled condition when the table is in use or in storage. This locking element may take the form of a pin and an aperture on the upper part of the height- adjustable support. To engage the locking element, the pin is placed through the aperture. This pin, when in position, would prevent the upper part of the height-adjustable support being lowered relative to the lower part of the height-adjustable support. Therefore, the foldable table would be unable to furl/unfurl. Additionally or alternatively, the locking element may utilise a cam locking arrangement or detent. For example, the locking element may take the form of at least one groove on the lower part of the height-adjustable support and at least one protrusion on the inside surface of the slidable ring or vice versa. The longitudinal extent of the groove may initially be parallel to the longitudinal extent of the lower part of the height-adjustable support and the length of the groove may be limited to the vertical range of motion of the slidable ring. At the uppermost point and lowermost point of the vertical range of motion of the slidable ring, which corresponds to the foldable table being in the furled and unfurled condition respectively, the longitudinal extent of the groove may be parallel to the circumferential extent of the lower part of the height-adjustable support. The protrusion may be slidably received within the groove. Thus the slidable ring may be able to slide along the longitudinal extent of the lower part of the height-adjustable support, changing the position of the foldable table from the unfurled to furled position or vice versa, with the protrusion sliding along the extent of the groove which is parallel to the longitudinal extent of the height-adjustable support. At the uppermost point or lowermost point of the vertical range of motion of the slidable ring, with the foldable table being in the furled and unfurled position respectively, the slidable ring may be able to be rotated about the vertical axis of the lower part of the height-adjustable support such that the protrusion slides along the extent of the groove which is parallel to the circumferential extent of the lower part of the height-adjustable support. If this is done, the slidable ring is unable to move in a direction parallel to the longitudinal extent of the lower part of the height-adjustable support without first being rotated about the vertical axis of the lower part of the height-adjustable support in the opposite direction. Therefore, the foldable table may be prevented or limited from being unintentionally moved from the unfurled to furled positioned.

It is therefore possible to provide a foldable table comprising a height-adjustable support having two parts with a plurality of arms hingably attached to the support. Attached about each arm via hinges is a table leaf unit. Hingably engaging each arm and interengaging outer edges of a table leaf unit are struts which are also attached to or adjacent to the lower part of the height- adjustable support. This foldable table is movable between an unfurled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support is raised relative to the lower part and the table-top leaves are coplanar, and a furled condition whereby the upper part of the height-adjustable support is lowered relative to the lower part and the table-top leaves are raised to adopt a concertinaed arrangement about a longitudinal axis of the height-adjustable support. An extremely compact table can thus be realised for storage, cleaning and/or relocation.

It is also possible to provide simpler access beneath the foldable table for cleaning, to reduce the footprint of the foldable table and to protect the upper table-top surface of the foldable table, by changing the condition of the foldable table from an unfurled to a furled condition. The words 'comprises/comprising' and the words 'having/including' when used herein with reference to the present invention are used to specify the presence of stated features, integers, steps or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps, components or groups thereof.

It is appreciated that certain features of the invention, which are, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable sub-combination.

The embodiments described above are provided by way of examples only, and various other modifications will be apparent to persons skilled in the field without departing from the scope of the invention as defined herein.