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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
INFLATABLE STRUCTURES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1998/049452
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An inflated structure is provided, having two hollow elements interconnected by a hollow connector. At least one of the hollow elements is of flexible material, and is filled with gas such that it is inflated. The hollow elements each have a through-passage to the interior thereof, the through-passages being aligned, with the connector passing through both through-passages. The connector has a projection at its end within the first element, which projection abuts the interior of the first element at the mouth of the corresponding through-passage.

Inventors:
Taylor, David Robert (Holly Tree, Hunger Hill Newton Popplefor, Sidmouth Devon EX10 0BZ, GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB1998/001209
Publication Date:
November 05, 1998
Filing Date:
April 24, 1998
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BOING LIMITED (The Old Malt House, Pennywell Road, Bristol BS5 0TJ, GB)
Taylor, David Robert (Holly Tree, Hunger Hill Newton Popplefor, Sidmouth Devon EX10 0BZ, GB)
International Classes:
A63B9/00; E04H15/22; F16B5/06; (IPC1-7): F16B5/06; A63B9/00; E04H15/22
Foreign References:
US4629182A1986-12-16
GB428342A1935-05-10
DE3402305A11985-08-01
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Calderbank, Roger T. (Mewburn Ellis, York House 23 Kingsway, London WC2B 6HP, GB)
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Claims:
CLAIMS
1. An inflated structure having two hollow elements interconnected by a hollow connector, at least a first one of the hollow elements being of flexible material and being filled with gas such that it is inflated, the hollow elements each having a throughpassage to the interior thereof, the throughpassages being aligned, with the connector passing through both throughpassages, the connector having a projection at its end within the first element, which projection abuts the interior of the first element at the mouth of the corresponding through passage.
2. An inflated structure according to claim 1 wherein the second hollow element is of flexible material, said element being filled with gas such that it is inflated.
3. An inflated structure according to claim 2 wherein said hollow connector has a projection at its end within the second element, which projection abuts the interior of the second element at the mouth of the corresponding throughpassage.
4. An inflated structure according to any of the preceding claims wherein at least one said projection is a rigid flange.
5. An inflated structure according to any of the preceding claims wherein the body of the connector is a flexible, tubular structure of substantially the same diameter(s) as the throughpassage(s).
6. An inflated structure according to any of the preceding claims wherein said throughpassage(s) and said connector define a passageway through which a child can pass.
7. A kit of parts for producing an inflated structure, said kit including two hollow elements and a hollow connector, at least a first one of the elements being of flexible material and being fillable with gas to inflate it, the hollow elements each having a throughpassage to the interior thereof, the throughpassages being alignable and the connector being passable through both throughpassages when they are so aligned, the connector further having a projection at at least one end thereof, which projection is positionable to abut the interior of the first element at the mouth of the corresponding throughpassage when said connector passes therethrough.
8. A hollow connector suitable for interconnecting two hollow elements in an inflated structure, the connector having an elongate tubular body and further having a projection at at least one end thereof, which projection is positionable to abut the interior of a deflated form of one of said elements at the mouth of a throughpassage to the interior of the said element when the connector passes therethrough, the connector further being engageable with the other of said elements at the mouth of a throughpassage to the interior of the said element when the connector passes therethrough, wherein the body of said connector is of substantially the same diameter(s) as the throughpassage(s).
9. A connector according to claim 9 wherein said projection comprises a rigid annulus sandwiched between larger annuli of flexible material.
10. A method of interconnecting an inflatable hollow element of flexible material to a second hollow element, including the steps of aligning a throughpassage to the interior of one of said hollow elements with a through passage to the interior of the other; passing an end of a hollow connector through the throughpassage of said inflatable hollow element when it is deflated, which end has a projection thereon; previously or subsequently engaging the other end of the connector with the through passage of the second element; and inflating the inflatable hollow element; the projection being positioned to abut the interior of the inflatable element at the mouth of the corresponding throughpassage.
Description:
Inflatable structures This invention relates to inflatable structures and to means for connecting elements thereof. It is especially, although not exclusively, concerned with inflatable play areas.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Inflatable play areas, such as "Bouncy Castles", are convenient play units that are both transportable and storable. The units have the useful feature that they can be deflated and packed down into a size that is a fraction of that in the inflated state. However, when the unit is larger than a certain size (about 7m x 7m base dimensions), it is difficult to handle manually in the deflated state, and it is also difficult to manufacture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In one aspect, the present invention provides an inflated structure having a first inflatable element, a second element and a connector, each of said elements having a through-passage, said first inflatable element being inflated and being located adjacent the second element with their through-passages aligned; said connector having an elongate body with an outward projection at one end, and being disposed so that the body extends through said through-passage of the first inflatable element with the outward projection being located outside the through-passage and abutting the first inflated inflatable element around the mouth of the

through-passage, and being engaged with the second element, so as to maintain said elements together.

The second element may also be inflatable, and in this case, the connector may have an outward projection at each end, and may be disposed so that the body extends through the through-passage of the second eiement, with the second outward projection being located outside the through-passage of the second element and abutting the second element around the mouth of the through-passage.

If the second element is rigid, the connector may be engaged with it in a number of ways. The body of the connector may be sealed to the side of the rigid element adjacent the first inflatable element, around the entrance to the through-passage, or the body of the connector may pass through the through passage of the second element and be joined to the opposite side of the element to the first inflatable element. Such joining may be by any known means, such as be using adhesive, or mechanical means, e.g. staples or tacks.

Preferably the or at least one said projection is a rigid flange. Preferably the body of the connector is a flexible, tubular structure, of substantially the same diameter(s) as the through-passages. Preferably the through-passages and connector define a passageway through which a child can pass, e.g. being of minimum

diameter 50cm or more, preferably im or more.

In a second aspect the invention provides a kit of parts for producing an inflated structure according to the first aspect, comprising said first and second elements and a said connector, wherein the end of the connector with the projection can be passed through the through- passage of the inflatable element when it is in a deflated state.

In a third aspect the invention provides a connector for use in a structure or kit according to either of the preceding aspects of the invention, comprising an elongate tubular body of flexible material having at least one end a radially outwardly projecting rigid flange. The flange may comprise a rigid annulus sandwiched between larger annuli of flexible material.

In a fourth aspect the invention provides a method of connecting two elements, at least one of which is inflatable, each having a through-passage, said inflatable element being adapted to be inflated and located adjacent the other element, with their through- passages aligned; said method comprising providing a connector having an elongate body with an outward projection at one end; engaging one end of the connector with the through-passage of the other element ; passing the other end of the connector through the through-

passage of the inflatable element when it is deflated; and inflating said inflatable element.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention will be understood better by reference to the accompanying figures in which: Figure 1 is an axial section through an inflated structure of a first embodiment of the invention; Figure 2 is a detailed view of Figure 1 on a larger scale, showing part of a connector: and Figure 3 is a perspective view of a connector of a first embodiment of the invention; Figure 4 is an axial section through an inflated structure of a second embodiment of the invention; Figure 5 is a perspective view of a connector of a second embodiment of the invention DETAILED DESCRIPTION Figure 1 shows a structure composed of two inflated elements 1, 1' and a connector 2. The inflated elements 1, 1' are shown as being identical, but this is not essential. In a generally conventional way, each has external walls 3, 3' and internal walls 4, 4' of flexible material such as PVC-coated polyester base cloth, and inflation/deflation means (not shown). Each has a port or passageway 5, 5' extending through it. The two elements 1, 1' are located together with their ports 5, 5' in register. A connector 2 extends through the aligned ports and retains the two inflated elements 1, 1' together. The connector has a tubular body 9 of flexible

material, with an outward flange or projection 11 at each end.

Figure 2 shows a detailed view of an outward projection of the connector 2. The projection 11 comprises an annulus 6 of rigid material such as reinforced plastic, wood, or steel, sandwiched between larger annular panels of flexible material 7, 8. The outer panel 8 is connected at its radially inner edge to the body 9, with a seam 10. The inner panel 7 is of smaller radial extent. It is seamed to the outer panel 8 at the radially outer edge thereof, and also at an intermediate region, thus defining an annular pocket which contains the rigid annulus 6. The seams are preferably stitched or stapled.

Figure 3 shows a view of the connector 2 in an erect state. The connector is easily collapsable for storage and handling purposes.

An inflatable structure according to the first embodiment of the present invention can be assembled by passing one end of the connector through the port of one element when it is deflated, passing the other end through the port of the other element, and inflating the elements. Preferably, the units are inflated sequentially.

Figure 4 shows a structure composed of one inflated element 1, a rigid element 21 and a connector 20. The inflated element 1 is identical to that shown in figure 1. The rigid element 21 may be made of any suitable material, such as wood, plastic or metal. The rigid element 21 has a port or passageway 25 extending through it. The two elements 1, 21 are located together with their ports 5, 25 in register. A connector 20 extends through the aligned ports and retains the two elements 1, 21 together. The connector has a tubular body 9 of flexible material, with an outward flange or projection 11 at one end, and a ring of extra material 12 at the other end. The projection 11 and the body of the connector are of the same construction as that of the first embodiment of the invention. The connector 20 is joined to the rigid element 21 by the ring of extra material 12 by adhesion or stapling.

Figure 5 shows a view of the connector 2 in an erect state. The connector is easily collapsable for storage and handling purposes.

An inflatable structure according to the second embodiment of the present invention can be assembled by attaching one end of the connector around the port of the rigid element, passing the other end through the port of the other element while deflated, and then inflating the inflatable element.

For the avoidance of doubt, although the above discussion describes an inflated structure having two elements, it will be understood that three or more elements can be interconnected according to the present invention.