Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
KNOCK-DOWN FURNITURE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1991/007894
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Conventionally, substantially rigid parts such as panels and the like, are joined by mechanical fitments or couplers which not only require tools to assemble and disassemble but also create concentrated stress points at the junctions where the fitments or couplers are located. The present device utilizes hook and loop coupling material (19, 22) to detachably secure the parts together and incorporates mechanical location and aligning means (25, 26) between the two parts just prior to the engagement of the hook and loop fastener portions with one another thus facilitating the accurate assembly of the parts. Although designed primarily for use in various types of knock-down furniture and the like, it can of course be adapted for use with other substantially rigid parts.

More Like This:
Inventors:
Mengel, Craig
Application Number:
PCT/US1989/005346
Publication Date:
June 13, 1991
Filing Date:
November 27, 1989
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
Hunt Jr., Ross F.
Mengel, Craig
International Classes:
A47B3/12; A47B13/00; A47B17/00; A47B43/00; A47B47/00; A47B47/03; A47B47/04; A47B95/04; F16B12/00; F16B12/02; F16B12/24; (IPC1-7): A47B43/00
Foreign References:
US4635418A
US4372224A
US4271566A
US2681483A
Other References:
See also references of EP 0502844A1
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. (1) An article of knockdown furniture com¬ prising a plurality of panels joined by hook and loop fastener material with two detachably engageable portions secured to opposed faces of adjacent panels, mechanical alignment means for aligning the panels in a predeter¬ mined alignment, characterized in that the panels are thin panels and the mechanical alignment means comprise dowel means secured to and projecting from one of the opposed faces of adjacent panels and engageable with the other of the opposed faces for preventing engagement of the fastener material portions, and aperture means in the other of the opposed faces for receiving the dowel means when the panels are in the predetermined alignment, whereby the portions of the fastener material are allowe to come into engagement only in the predetermined align ment. (2) An article according to Claim 1 charac terized in that the dowel means comprise two dowels pro jecting perpendicularly from one of the opposed faces, the dowel projecting a distance greater than the thick ness of the strip of fastening material, two apertures i the other of the opposed faces for receiving respectiv ones of the dowels when the panels are arranged in th predetermined alignment.
2. (3) Furniture according to Claim.
3. where said one of the opposed faces comprises an edge face the associated panel and the other of the opposed fac comprises a major surface of the associated panel. (4) Furniture according to Claim 3 where the opposed faces comprise edge faces of the associat panels. (5) An article according to Claim 1 chara terized in that the article is a desk having a pair floor engaging desk pedestals, a rear panel and a de top panel, said hook and loop fastener material portio being secured in matching relationship, firstly on t upper side of said pedestals and on the underside of sa desk top panel and secondly, upon the rear side of sa pedestals and the inner side of said rear panel, sa dowel means also engaging between the upper side of sai pedestal and the under side of said top desk panel an between the rear sides of said pedestal and said re panel. (6) An article according to Claim 5 charac terized in that one portion of said hook and loop fasten er material is secured around the perimeter of the uppe surface of each pedestal and the other portion is secure around a matching area upon the underside surface of sai desk top panel, and at least two dowel and aperture mean spaced apart within the area bounded by said hook an loop fastening material. (7) An article according to Claim 1 charac terized in that the article is a bookcase.
Description:
KNOCK-DOWN FURNITURE

This invention relates to an article of known-down furniture comprising a plurality of panels joined by hook and loop pile fastener material, for example that sold under the Trademark "Velcro" , with the two detachably engageable portions of the fastener material secured to opposed faces of adjacent panels, and mechanical alignment means for aligning the panels in a predetermined alignment.

An article of this type is disclosed in United States patent 4,372,224, of Richard A. Ehrlich, issued February 8, 1983. The Ehrlich patent discloses a knockdown table construction in which a table pedestal is assembled from two leg units and a rail connected by wedging hook connectors, themselves described in Ehrlich's United States patent 4,165,902. The table top is grooved on the underside to receive the tops of the leg units, which provides the mechanical alignment of the parts. According to Ehrlich the grooving of the table top is essential to provide the necessary strength in the table construction. The table top is retained in the assembled position by hook and loop fasteners along the tops of the table legs and the bases of the grooves. To employ the structure taught by Ehrlich, it is necessary

to use a thick table top capable of being grooved as taught without a significant loss of structural strength. This excludes the use of relatively thin, less expensive materials, for example particle board. Likewise, the mechanical hook connectors between the rail and the leg pedestals are unsuitable for use with relatively thin, pressed wood panels.

According to the present invention, an article of knock down furniture of the aforementioned type is characterized in that the panels are relatively thin and the mechanical alignment means comprise dowel means secured to and projecting from one of the opposed faces of adjacent panels and engageable with the other of the opposed faces for preventing engagement of the fastener material portions, and aperture means in the other of the opposed faces for receiving the dowel means when the panels are in the predetermined alignment, whereby the portions of the fastener material are allowed to come into engagement only in the predetermined alignment.

The alignment dowels provide the necessary alignment function without significantly weakening the structure of the thin panels being formed.

Further advantages of the invention include economy of manufacture, ease of storage and transporta-

tion, compatibility and interchangeability of components, and rapid assembly and disassembly of the finished pro¬ duct.

Using as an example a desk assembly with the hook and loop fastening and mechanical alignment system, the following steps are required once a total of four packages are unpacked. These packages may include four pieces, the top or desk panel, the back panel and two pedestals.

First the back panel is placed and engaged with the back of the two pedestals and then the top desk panel is placed on top of the pedestals.

Assembly of such a desk with the hook and loop fastening means takes less than one minute with one assembler as opposed to conventional desks which take up to five to ten minutes with two assemblers. Transporting and unpacking time is also reduced with fewer packages and the disassembly of the desk using the hook and loop fastening means is relatively simple. It is only neces¬ sary to pull off the top and back portions and the desk is ready to move and assemble at a new location and it should be stressed that no tools are necessary in either assembly or disassembly.

Furthermore, the simplicity of the fastening

system overcomes many design problems of knock-down furn¬ iture systems thus resulting in flexibility as there is no need for components to be designed to accommodate a particular mechanical fastening system.

This also simplifies the manufacturing process because there are no fitments or mechanical couplers to be secured to the component surfaces which require pre-drilling, countersinking and attachment.

The hook and loop portions of the fastening material are simply glued or otherwise attached to the component surfaces thus eliminating concentrated stress points normally occurring with other types of coupling devices and because of the lack of concentration of the attaching load, there are no weak areas of the actual joining of two adjacent surfaces.

This of course means that manufacturing is not only more simple but less labour and capital intensive as the proposed system requires fewer manufacturing steps and less sophisticated machinery.

Conventional coupling or joining systems neces¬ sitate the use of particle board of a minimum thickness of 1 inch (2.5 cm) in order to accommodate conventional fitments and in some instances, particle board of 1 1/8 inch (3 cm) in thickness is required.

By contrast, the proposed system can utilize 3/4 inch (2 cm) (or less) particle board which is of a higher density, is less flexible and less prone to rup¬ ture thus reducing material costs by approximately 30% and having a product which is easier to handle and assemble, has less weight thus reducing freight charges and producing a finished product which is stronger and is less prone to warpage.

The most common occurrence of breakage with conventional systems is the breakup of the particle board at the concentrated stress points. These breaks are usually not repairable and therefore require replacement of one or more components. Even when repair is possible, the original strength is not restored to the repaired area. When utilizing hook and loop fastening material as in the present invention, there is no chance of particle board breakout and the system does not require additional components such as cross members or the like, to strengthen the product.

Another advantage of the present invention is that even particle board shrinks or expands with tempera¬ ture and humidity and this can increase stress at concen¬ trated stress points which occur in conventional systems thus causing breakage or looseness of the connecting fit-

ments whereas the hook and loop fastening material allows expansion and contraction thus eliminating this problem.

Any seams between the panels can be hidden or highlighted because the hook and loop material is cur¬ rently available in a wide range of colors and of course additional colors may be ordered if desired.

These seams can form a design feature known as a reveal strip which must otherwise be added as an addi¬ tional step in the manufacturing process.

In the accompanying drawings, which illustrate exemplary embodiments of the present invention:

Figure 1 is a schematic view of a desk assembly showing two pedestals together with a desk top panel shown reversed and ready for installation;

Figure 2 is an exploded side view of the desk;

Figure 3 is an enlarged fragmentary view show¬ ing one part of the mechanical alignment means;

Figure 4 is an enlarged fragmentary cross- sectional view showing the alignment device between two adjacent surfaces;

Figure 5 is a front view of the assembled desk;

Figure 6 is an exploded fragmentary view show¬ ing one method of junction between two adjacent parts;

Figure 7 shows an exploded fragmentary view illustrating an edge to edge connection;

Figure 8 is an exploded fragmentary view show¬ ing an edge to surface junction;

Figure 9 is an exploded fragmentary view show¬ ing an edge to post junction;

Figure 10 is an exploded view of an open front¬ ed cabinet utilizing the invention;

Figure 10A shows an assembled cabinet of Figure 10 but with doors added;

Figure 11 is an end elevation of one of the end panels of Figure 10;

Figure 12 is a top plan view of a secretarial desk without the upper or desk top panels attached;

Figure 13 is an isometric view of the completed desk of Figure 12;

Figure 14 is an isometric view of a bookcase assembly;

Figure 15 is an isometric view of a desk unit with an open front and base;

Figure 16 is an isometric view of divider panels partially exploded;

Figure 17 is a partially exploded view of divider panels and a corner post;

Figure 18 is a top plan view of Figure 17; Figure 19 is an isometric view of one of the

C-clips;

Figure 20 is a front elevation of an alterna¬ tive panel frame; and

Figure 21 is a front elevation of a fabric covered panel which may be attached to the frame of Figure 20.

In the description and drawings, knock-down type office furniture is shown including various compo¬ nents and divider panels but it is to be understood that the same principles of hook and loop material attachment of parts together with the mechanical prealigning of these parts is suitable for use in home furniture and in many other environments depending upon design para¬ meters.

It will also be appreciated that although "Velcro" (TM) is mentioned, other hook and loop fasteners are obtainable from various sources all of which have similar components, namely, a flexible or substantially rigid base upon which rows of Nylon (TM) (or other plas¬ tic materials) hooks are formed on one portion and a similar base for the other portion which supports a mass of loops (formed from similar materials) engageable by

the hooks of the first portion to provide an extremely strong bond therebetween which although readily peelable one from the other, nevertheless supplies sufficient strength for the attachment of the various parts describ¬ ed and claimed herein and is particularly resistant to shear and tension type stresses.

When utilizing relatively long lengths of such hook and loop material to attach panels such as desk top panels and backs, to supporting structures such as pede¬ stals and the like, prealignment of the parts is an essential feature because of the difficulty in accurately positioning such panels upon the supporting structure surfaces. The mechanical alignment means described and illustrated consists of dowels and apertures to receive same in the matching parts.

Proceeding therefore to describe the invention in detail, reference should be made to the attached draw¬ ings which are exemplary only and have been included and described to fully illustrate the principles of this invention, namely, to attach relatively rigid parts to one another utilizing hook and loop fastening material together with prealignment means so that the parts are accurately positioned just prior to the engagement of the fastening materials.

Figures 1 to 5 show the system utilized with an office desk and is illustrative and exemplary only.

The desk shown in Figures 1 and 2 includes a pair of pedestals 10 having planar upper surfaces 11 and planar rear surfaces 12. Drawers and/or doors illustra¬ ted schematically by reference character 13 may be pro¬ vided within the pedestals and construction thereof is conventional.

A desk top panel 14 comprises a substantially rectangular panel having any desired finish on the upper side 15 thereof and shown in Figure 1 with the underside 16 facing uppermost.

Also provided is a substantially rectangular rear panel collectively designated 17 which is also a rectangular panel with any desired finish on the outer surface 18 and which will be positioned against the rear surfaces 12 of the pedestals when assembled.

Around the perimeter of the upper surfaces 11 of the pedestals, is secured, as by adhesive or other means, strips 19 of one portion of hook and loop fasten¬ ing material with corresponding opposite strips of hook and loop material 20 being secured as by adhesive or the like around the areas 21 of the desk top panel which are to be engaged upon the two pedestals when the desk top

panel is assembled thereon.

Similar strips of one portion of hook and loop material 22 are secured around and define the attaching area of the inner surface 23 of the rear panel with the opposite strips of hook and loop material 24 being secured around the perimeters of the rear panels 12 of the two pedestals. Although perimetrical locations are shown for the hook and loop material, other positions and/or configurations of such material may be used.

Mechanical prealigning means are provided between the upper surfaces of the pedestals and the underside of the desk top and between the inner surfaces of the rear panel and the rear surfaces of the pedestals. These prealigning means are all similar form and are illustrated in the fragmentary enlarged views of Figures 3 and 4.

Drilled apertures (preferably blind apertures) 25 are formed in both mating surfaces and in alignment one with the other when the two surfaces are accurately positioned and a dowel 26 is engaged within the aperture 25 of the stationary component and extends perpendicular¬ ly therefrom and the length of these dowels is such that prior to engagement within the matching aperture 25, the mating portions 19 and 20 of the hook and loop materials

are spaced apart and not in engagement with one another.

As an example in the desk shown in Figures 1 through 5, dowels 26 extend from corresponding apertures (not illustrated) in spaced apart relationship from the rear of the pedestals and similar dowels extend upwardly from the upper surfaces 11 of the two pedestals and it will be observed that there are two spaced apart dowels and corresponding apertures in both the upper and rear surfaces of the pedestals which are positioned approxi¬ mately in the desired relationship one from the other.

The rear panel is then offered against the rear surface of one of the pedestals with the dowels extending from the panel, engaging the surface within the area defined by one portion of the hook and loop material. Movement of the rear panel relative to the pedestal per¬ mits the engagement of the dowels with the apertures in the rear panel thus ensuring that the accurate location has been obtained one with the other at which time the panel is pushed fully against the rear surface of the pedestal so that the hook and loop portions engage one with the other in detachable fastening relationship.

The other end of the panel is then positioned in a similar manner against the rear of the other pede¬ stal and moved until the dowels engage the apertures 25

of this second pedestal. It will of course be appreci¬ ated that this second pedestal can be positioned fairly accurately prior to attempting to engage the dowels of the rear panel therewith.

Once the rear panel is attached, the top panel 14 is turned over and rested, by the dowels, upon the upper surface 11 of the two pedestals and moved about until the dowels engage the apertures 25 within the upper surface at which time the two mating surfaces of the hook and loop fastening material engage in detachable sealing relationship one with the other.

This completes the assembly of the desk which is accomplished rapidly and easily and provides the necessary stability due to the strength of the fastening material in both shear and tension and it has been found that vibration or weight during use increases the bonding between the two portions of the hook and loop material. It will also be appreciated at the same time that separa¬ tion of the components is easily undertaken by a peeling action so that movement of the furniture from one loca¬ tion to another is easily accomplished.

In this particular embodiment described, it will be noted that one type of connection or joint has been described, namely, a surface upon a surface and this

type of junction is illustrated in Figure 6 as for exam¬ ple the engagement of the desk top panel 14 with the upper surface 11 of one pedestal 10. Dowel 26 is in alignment with aperture 25 just prior to the engagement of the hook and loop material which in this instance shows the loop material as indicated by reference charac¬ ter 19A and the hook material by reference character 20A although the material portions can of course be reversed if desired.

Figure 7 shows an edge to edge attachment means between, for example, a panel 27 and a further panel 28. In this type of attachment or fastening, dowels 26 extend from the edge 27 of one of the panels 28 engaging within an aperture 25 therein and also engaging within an aper¬ ture 25 in the other panel 27. Once again one portion 20A of the fastening material extends along the edge of panel 27 and the other portion 19A along the edge of the other panel 28 with the length of the dowel 26 extending from the surface being sufficient to engage the opposite surface prior to the alignment of the two panels and to the sealing engagement of the material portions 19A and 20A.

Figure 8 shows a still further type of junction or joining of two parts in which a panel 30 includes one

portion 20A of the hook and loop material secured along the edge of one planar surface 31 of the panel and having an aperture 25 formed perpendicular to this surface 31. The other panel or portion 32 includes one or more aper¬ tures 25 formed in the edge 33 into which dowel 26 may engage and with the other portion 19A being placed along this edge 33 thus forming a right angle junction between two panels or components when engaged as hereinbefore described.

Figure 9 shows a still further type of junction or joint in which a panel 34 is provided with one portion of the hook and loop material 20A on one edge thereof together with an aperture 25 extending perpendicularly from the edge and a support post 35 having the other por¬ tion 19A of the hook and loop material secured along one face 36 thereof and a positioning dowel 26 extending therefrom to engage within the aperture 25 in the panel 34.

In the desk construction described and illu¬ strated in Figures 1 through 5, all of the junctions are similar to that shown in Figure 6.

However with a cabinet such as illustrated in Figures 10 and 10A, all of the junctions are similar to that shown in Figure 8.

In Figure 10, a rectangular base panel 38 is shown having one portion of the hook and loop material 19A secured all around the perimeter of the upper surface 39 together with corresponding dowels 26 extending upwardly from the surface of the panel and in alignment with the other portion 19A of the material.

The rear panel 40 is also provided with one portion of the hook and loop material 20A on the lower edge 41 thereof together with apertures engageable by the dowels 26 extending from the rear edge 42 of the base panel and this rear panel is first located and then en¬ gaged upon the rear edge 42 of the base panel which is provided with the other portion of the hook and loop material (not illustrated) .

The side panels are then engaged one after the other upon the base panel and the rear panel with the apertures in the lower edge 43 being located by and then engaged by dowels 26 extending upwardly from the side edges 44 of the base panel 38, it being understood that the hook and loop portions 19A and 20A are provided along the lower edges 43 of these side panels with similar strips 19A and 20A and dowels 26 extending along the vertical rear edges 44A of the side panels and the edges of the planar surface 45 of the rear panel.

Finally the dowels extending upwardly from the upper edge 46 of the rear panel and the upper edges 47 of the side panels are engaged by the corresponding edges of the top panel 48 prior to the engagement of the matching portions of the hook and loop material secured respec¬ tively to the underside planar surface of the top panel around the perimeter thereof and the upper edges 47 and 46 of the side panels and rear panel respectively. Figure 11 shows the dowel and aperture relationship of one of the end panels 47 and Figure 10A shows a cabinet such as that illustrated in Figure 10 but with doors 49 hinged to the vertical front edges 50 of the side panels.

Figure 12 shows in plan view, the positioning of components for a secretarial desk which includes a pedestal 21, a rear panel 17, a return pedestal 51, a side panel 52, and a return side panel 53 together with a partial front panel 54A. The attachment of the rear panel 17 to the pedestal is similar to that described in Figure 1 and the side panel 52 together with the partial front panel 54 are connected together with a junction similar to that illustrated and described in Figure 8.

The rear panel 53 is secured to pedestal 51 in a manner similar to that of the rear panel 17 to pedestal

21 and the inner end 54 of the rear panel is secured to the edge of the side panel 52 in a manner similar to that shown in Figure 7.

Once assembled to this point, a desk top 55 is positioned on pedestal 21 and to the upper edges of the rear panel 17 and side panel 52 together with the upper edge of the partial front panel 54 all of which use locating dowels and apertures together with the opposite¬ ly coupling portions of the hook and loop material and Figure 13 shows the assembled secretarial desk.

It will of course be appreciated that the return pedestal 51 and return rear panel 53 can be placed on the opposite side in place of pedestal 21 which may be situated on the opposite end of the desk top panel 55, it merely being necessary to disassemble the parts and reas¬ semble in the desired arrangement. A top panel 56 engages the upper side of pedestal 51 and the rear panel 53 of the return and may also engage the lower side of the partial front panel 54, by the inner transverse edge 57 thereof.

Figure 14 shows an example of an open shelved bookcase or the like collectively designated 58 utilizing similar joining principles and prealigning methods here¬ inbefore described and Figure 15 shows an open type

structure collectively designated 59 constructed in a similar manner.

Figure 16 shows the alignment of divider panels 60 by utilizing junctions illustrated in Figure 7 and including the prealigning dowel and aperture system here¬ inbefore described with end caps 61 engaging the free vertical edges in a conventional manner together with top caps 62.

Figure 17 shows these panels in conjunction with a corner post 63 shown in exploded form in Figure 18 with dowels 26 extending from the post and engaging in corresponding apertures within the vertical edges 64 of the panels 60, said edges 64 also having the one portion 19A of the hook and loop material secured thereto with the other portion 20A being secured along the vertical face against which the panels will engage when the dowels have been aligned with apertures within the edges 64 prior to the mating engagement of the hook and loop portions in detachable sealing relationship.

In all cases, C-clips 65 lock the two panels to one another and to the corner post but as such C-clips are conventional, it is not believed necessary to des¬ cribe same further.

The panels 60 shown in Figures 17 and 18 may

either be standard panels or may consist of panel frames as shown in Figure 20 upon which fabric covered panels 65A may be secured together with base caps 65B covering the surface areas 66 of the panel frames 67 shown.

Once again various cap strips such as top caps 62 and end caps 61 may be attached in a conventional manner.

The various types of furniture illustrated are exemplary only and illustrate the flexibility of the hook and loop attaching system together with the mechanical prealigning by means of the dowels 26 and apertures or drillings 25.

The selected furniture pieces also illustrate the potential of interchangeability of parts. For exam¬ ple, the de.sk illustrated in Figures 1 through 5 consists of the four pieces, the upper panel 15, the back panel 17, and two prefabricated pedestals 21.

The dowels 26 are free fitting and their main purpose is to ensure proper alignment and the placement of the two components of the hook and loop material 19A and 20A used on any given surface, is determined by con¬ siderations of compatibility and interchangeability with other system components.

The exact placement of the hook and loop strips

or pads or dowels illustrated is only one configurati of the concept.

The secretarial desk shown in Figures 12 and is adapted from the executive desk and consists of t identical pieces, namely, the upper or top desk panel 1 the rear panel 17, and one pedestal 21 together with t additional pieces such as end panel 52, partial fro panel 54 and the secretarial return 51, 53, and 56.

The secretarial desk shown in Figures 12 and may not only be changed from left to right return but c also be converted into an executive desk by replacing t end panel 52 and partial front panel 54 with a pedest 21 and removing the secretarial return components a vice versa.

Similarly, the various bookcase and cabin structures can all be shipped in a flat package and c be stacked one upon the other or can use one with doo and one without or separate doors for one or more shelv or full length doors and shelf height may also be adjus ed readily. The structure shown in Figure 15 is simil to the structure shown in Figure 10 but without a bas and without a shelf and the storage unit of Figure 10A also readily adapted from the bookcase whether it be t or three shelves in height.

Although the corner post shown in 17 and 18 illustrate a right angled junction between adjacent panels, nevertheless these are readily adapted for a three or four way panel junction or, alternatively, the corner posts may be constructed to effect 45 degrees or other corner angles desired.

The top caps and end caps are optional and offer design potential as do the base panels or caps 65B which cover the surface cavity 66 provided for electri¬ cal, telephonic and other services. These services may be provided continuously through the panel by means of punchouts (not illustrated) at the base of the vertical edge of each panel or by the means of plug units (not illustrated) at the base of the vertical edges of such panels. The punchouts on the base cap covers are pro¬ vided for the installation of service outlets and the principle advantage of the system described is the use of hook and loop material for end to end connection of the panels in combination with the prealignment by mechanical means such as the dowels. This system is completely interchangeable and readily assembled and disassembled and the simplicity of the design lends itself to the incorporation of additional features presently in use with other divider or panel systems.

Since various modifications can be made in m invention as hereinabove described, and many apparentl widely different embodiments of same made within th spirit and scope of the claims without departing fro such spirit and scope, it is intended that all matte contained in the accompanying specification shall b interpreted as illustrative only and not in a limitin sense.




 
Previous Patent: IMPROVED DENTAL APPLIANCE

Next Patent: FLEXIBLY SLATTED BED BASE