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Title:
METHOD FOR MAKING AND JOINING PANELS, IN PARTICULAR FOR FURNITURE OR TROLLEYS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/075609
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention refers to a method for making a panel or a movable front element, in particular for pieces of furniture or holding trolleys, that includes a core (1) comprising at least one portion (2) of lightweight material, comprising the steps of shaping a metal plate by bending the peripheral edges to obtain a metallic half-shell (4) provided with at least two raised edges (5) having an extension essentially equal to the extension of the core (1); before or after the shaping step, drilling the metallic plate of half-shell (4) in positions corresponding to predetermined points for inserting coupling pins and/or mounting accessories; forming a sub-assembly comprising at least the core (1) and a closing sheet coupled to one face of the core; inserting and coupling the subassembly comprising the core (1) and the closing sheet inside the metallic half-shell (4) so that the core (1) is encased in and in contact with at least two raised edges (5).

Inventors:
AMBROSI FRANCO (IT)
AMBROSI MARCO (IT)
GAIARIN FRANCO (IT)
ILLOTTI CARLO (IT)
Application Number:
IB2015/058638
Publication Date:
May 19, 2016
Filing Date:
November 09, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
I L V E S P A IND LAVORAZIONE VENETA ELETTRODOMESTICI SPA (IT)
International Classes:
A47B96/20; A61G12/00; B32B15/00; E06B3/00; F16B12/04; F16B12/50; E06B1/18
Foreign References:
EP2039841A12009-03-25
US2911274A1959-11-03
US5792541A1998-08-11
US5212355A1993-05-18
US3676279A1972-07-11
GB2480230A2011-11-16
US3676279A1972-07-11
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GONELLA, Mario et al. (PROPRIA S.r.l, Via della Colonna 35, Pordenone, I-33170, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Method for making a panel or a movable front member, particularly for furniture or trolleys, including a core (1 ) comprising at least a portion (2) of a lightweight material, characterized in that it comprises the following steps:

a. shaping a metallic plate by bending at least two peripheral edges so as to obtain a metallic half-shell (4) provided with at least two raised edges (5), said metallic half- shell (4) having an extension essentially equal to the extension of said core (1 );

b. after or before said step (a) drilling said metallic plate or said metallic half-shell (4) at preset regions for inserting coupling pins and/or mounting accessories;

c. forming a sub-assembly comprising at least said core (1 ) and a closing sheet coupled to a surface of said core (1 );

d. inserting and coupling said sub-assembly comprising at least said core (1 ) and said closing sheet into said metallic half-shell (4) such that said core (1 ) is encased and into contact with said at least two raised edges (5).

2. Method as in claim 1 , wherein said core (1 ) comprises said portion (2) of lightweight material and two or more strips (3) coupled at respective opposed side edges of said portion (2) of lightweight material, said strips (3) being adapted to provide a load- resistance section adapted to engage with fastening members, a first non-metallic sheet (7) and a second non-metallic sheet (8) being coupled by gluing at opposed surfaces of said core (1 ) to mutually join said portion (2) of lightweight material and said strips (3).

3. Method as in claim 2, wherein said metallic half-shell (4) provided with at least two raised edges (5) is joined to said core (1 ) formed by said portion (2) of lightweight material and by said strips (3) such that said portion (2) of lightweight material is encased and into contact with said raised edges (5), said first non-metallic sheet (7) being interposed between said metallic half-shell (4) and said core (1 ) and said second non-metallic sheet (8) forming said closing sheet.

4. Method as in claim 3, wherein a second metallic half-shell (10) is coupled to said second non-metallic sheet (8), said metallic half-shell (10) forming said closing sheet.

5. Method as in claim 1 , wherein said core (1 ) is only formed by said portion (2) of lightweight material provided with one or more recesses (12) at least one of its edges, a first metallic half-shell (4) provided with at least two raised edges (5) and one or more holes (9) made in advance at said step (b) being joined to said portion (2) of lightweight material such that said recesses (12) are respectively arranged facing said holes (9) to enable insertion of suitable mounting accessories.

6. Method as in claim 5, wherein a second half-shell (10) is joined to said portion (2) of lightweight material at a surface opposite to said first metallic half-shell (4), said second metallic half-shell (10) forming said closing sheet.

7. Method as in claim 5, wherein said first metallic half-shell (4) is joined to said portion (2) of lightweight material through the interposition of a first non-metallic sheet (7), a second non-metallic sheet (8) being coupled to said portion (2) of lightweight material at a surface opposite to said first metallic half-shell (4), said first non-metallic sheet (7) and said second non-metallic sheet (8) enabling the fixation of protective splines (14) onto the peripheral edges of said portion (2) of lightweight material, said second non-metallic sheet (8) forming said closing sheet.

8. Method as any of the preceding claims, wherein said lightweight material is an alveolar material.

9. Panel comprising at least a metallic surface, particularly for furniture or trolleys, made according to the method as any of claims 1 to 4.

10. Movable front member, such a door or a drawer for furniture or trolleys, comprising at least a metallic surface and made according to the method as any of claims 1 and 5 to 8.

11. Method of joining panels, in particular for pieces of furniture or holding trolleys, comprising at least one portion of lightweight material (102, 109) and at least one metallic half-shell (103, 1 10), characterized by making of a first panel (101 ) provided with a plurality of pins (107) arranged perpendicularly to said first panel (101 ) and having at least one threaded portion, and a second panel (108) provided with a plurality of cavities (1 14) obtained, in use, in positions corresponding to said plurality of pins

(107) ; filling said plurality of cavities (1 14) with a suitable glue, joining said first panel (101 ) to said second panel (108) at orthogonal planes by inserting said pins (107) into said cavities (1 14), permanently fastening said first panel (101 ) to said second panel

(108) through the solidification and gripping of said glue on the threaded portion of said plurality of pins (107) and on the portions surrounding said cavity (1 14).

12. Method of joining panels as in claim 1 1 , wherein said lightweight material is a material having an alveolar structure.

13. Method of joining panels as in claim 12, comprising the steps of:

e. shaping a first flat metallic plate by bending two or more peripheral edges to obtain a first metallic half-shell (103) provided with two or more raised edges (104);

f. before or after said step (a), drilling said first plate or said first metallic half-shell (103) to obtain prearranged first holes (106);

g. coupling a first closing sheet (105) to a face of a first portion of alveolar material (102);

h. inserting and coupling the sub-assembly formed by said first portion of lightweight material (102) and by said first closing sheet (105) inside the surface of said first half- shell (103) so that said sub-assembly is encased in and in contact with at least two of said raised edges (104);

i. fastening said pins (107) having at least a threaded portion inside said first holes (106) to obtain said first panel (101 );

j. shaping a second flat metal plate by bending two or more peripheral edges to obtain a second metallic half-shell (1 10) provided with two or more raised edges (1 12);

k. before or after said step (f), drilling said second plate or said second metallic half- shell (1 10) to obtain prearranged second holes (1 13);

I. coupling a second closing sheet (1 1 1 ) on one face of a second portion of alveolar material (109);

m. inserting and coupling the sub-assembly formed by said second portion of alveolar material (109) and by said second closing sheet (1 1 1 ) inside the surface of said second half-shell (1 10) so that said sub-assembly is encased between and in contact with at least two of said raised edges (1 12);

n. drilling the edge of said second portion of alveolar material (109) in positions corresponding to said second holes (1 13) so as to obtain said cavities (1 14);

o. filling said cavities (1 14) and the portions surrounding said cavities (1 14) with a suitable glue;

p. joining at planes perpendicular to each other said first panel (101 ) and said second panel (108) by inserting said threaded pins (107) inside said cavities (1 14) in positions corresponding to said second holes (1 13);

q. permanently fixing the joining of said first panel (101 ) to said second panel (108), through the solidification and gripping of said glue inside said cavities (1 14) in positions corresponding to the threads of said threaded pins (107) and of the portions surrounding said cavities (1 14).

14. Panels, in particular for furniture pieces or holding trolleys, obtained and joined according to the method of claim 1 1 .

15. Furniture piece or holding trolley comprising panels obtained and joined according to the method of claim 1 1 .

16. Method of joining a first panel (101 ) to a second panel (108) at reciprocally orthogonal planes, characterized in comprising the steps of:

forming a first panel (101 ) comprising at least a first portion of lightweight material (102) and at least a first metallic half-shell (103), said panel being provided with a plurality of pins (107) arranged perpendicularly to said first panel (101 ) and having at least one threaded portion;

forming a second panel (108) comprising at least one second portion of lightweight material (109) and at least a second metallic half-shell (1 10) provided with two or more raised edges (1 12) on which are drilled prearranged holes (1 13);

drilling the edge of said second portion of lightweight material (109) at points corresponding to said holes (1 13) so as to obtain a plurality of cavities (1 14);

filling said plurality of cavities (1 14) and the portions surrounding said cavities (1 14) with a suitable glue;

joining said first panel (101 ) to said second panel (108) by inserting said pins (107) into said cavities (1 14);

achieving the permanent fastening of said first panel (101 ) to said second panel (108) through the solidification and gripping of said glue inside said cavities (1 14) on the threaded surface of said plurality of pins (107) and on the portions surrounding said cavities (1 14).

17. Method of joining panels as in claim 16, wherein said lightweight material is an alveolar structure.

18. Use of a method for forming and joining panels as in claims 1 1 or 16.

Description:
"METHOD FOR MAKING AND JOINING PANELS, IN PARTICULAR FOR

FURNITURE OR TROLLEYS"

DESCRIPTION TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[001] The present invention refers to a method for making a panel or a movable front element, such as a door or a drawer, particularly designed to be used in pieces of furniture, in the home or professional catering field, in the health and hospital fields, as well as in the furnishing of ships and means of transportation, such as recreational vehicles and travel trailers, permanently furnished so as to provide to the needs of their occupants. The invention can also be applied to holding trolleys used in the above fields, for example for carrying food, beverages, medical articles or medicines.

PRIOR ART

[002] The use of multilayer panels to form the structure of furniture pieces or containers is well known in the production of furniture or container elements in general.

[003] GB 2480230 discloses an example of construction of a panel consisting of a flat core of alveolar material made of polymeric material to which are associated external "skins" of a material, for example metal of plastic, chosen on the basis of the intended final use of the panel. Between the external "skins" and the alveolar core can be provided an intermediate layer formed by a porous membrane.

[004] US 3,676,279 describes a multilayer structure for a worktop for office furniture pieces, such as desks or tables, comprising a lower plate of painted steel provided with raised edges bent so as to form flanges, a cellular core glued to the lower plate having a perimetric dimension smaller than the plate so as to leave a space between the edge of the core and the raised edge of the plate, an upper plate also made of painted steel and glued to the core, and finishing sheets of melamine laminate glued to the upper plate and to the sides defined by the raised edges of the lower plate.

[005] In the professional field, as for example in large-scale catering, or in health, hospital or welfare services, there is a steadily increasing use of furniture or trolleys with metal panels or doors, mainly stainless steel; the metal structure, which by nature is not porous or absorbent, lends to the furniture piece or trolley characteristics of high mechanical strength and flame resistance, easy cleaning, water repellence, and especially the capacity of being exempt from attack from corrosive or biologically infective substances. [006] The tendency to use metal components on furniture articles or trolleys is also increasing in the domestic field, due both to the above intrinsic characteristics of the material and to reasons of fashion and design.

[007] One drawback in the use of existing solutions, such as those described in the above-mentioned documents, stems mainly from the high weight of the metal panel, which does not allow the use of standard components and accessories, such as hinges, guides, lifting arms, etc., that are normally used in the home furniture industry; such components and accessories are in fact dimensioned for coupling and/or supporting panels or doors that are much lighter, being generally made of wood or laminate.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[008] The main objective of the present invention is to devise a method for making a panel or a movable front member such as a door or a drawer, particularly for furniture pieces or trolleys, capable of overcoming the shortcomings of the state of the art mentioned above.

[009] In the scope of the above objective, one purpose of the present invention is to design a method that makes it possible to considerably lighten a panel comprising one or more metal elements so as to allow the use of standard components and accessories used in the home furnishings field.

[0010] Another purpose is to make a panel that includes one or more metal elements that is easy to carry and assemble, both with other panels of conventional type and with panels made with the method of the present invention, for the purpose of easily assembling the furniture piece or the trolley, even at the chosen place of destination.

[0011] Yet another purpose is to offer a panel provided with methods of assembly to compose furniture or finished trolleys substantially identical to those already existing in the home field, such as to also allow, in addition to the use of standard components and accessories, the total interchangeability with conventional panels, doors or drawers already existing in the home furnishings field.

[0012]One not minor purpose is to devise a method for making a panel or a movable front member, in particular for furniture pieces or trolleys, that achieves the above objective and purposes at competitive costs and that can be carried out with conventional known machinery and equipment.

[0013]The above objective and purposes, and others that will be more evident below, are achieved through a method for making a panel or a movable front member, in particular for furniture pieces or trolleys, as defined in claim 1 and through a method for joining said panels as defined in the independent claims 1 1 and 16. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] Further characteristics and advantages of a method for making a panel or door, in particular for furniture pieces or trolleys, according to the present invention will become more evident from the following description of a particular, but not exclusive, embodiment illustrated purely by way of a non-limiting example with reference to the enclosed figures, wherein:

- figure 1 schematically illustrates, in an exploded view, a first embodiment of the method according to the present invention, in particular for making a panel;

- figure 2 shows, in a view similar to the preceding view, a second embodiment of the method for making a panel;

- figure 3 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, a third embodiment of the method for making a panel;

- figure 4 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, a fourth embodiment of the method according to the present invention, in particular for making a door or a drawer;

- figure 5 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, a fifth embodiment of the method for making a door or a drawer;

- figure 5A is a side view of the door of figure 5 in the assembled state;

- figure 6 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, a sixth embodiment of the method for making a door or a drawer;

- figure 7 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, a seventh embodiment of the method for making a door or a drawer;

- figure 7A is a side view of the door of figure 7 in the assembled state;

- figure 8 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, an eighth embodiment of the method for making a door or a drawer;

- figure 9 illustrates, in a view similar to the preceding ones, a ninth embodiment of the method for making a door or a drawer;

- figures 10 and 1 1 schematically illustrate, in an exploded view and an assembly view respectively, an embodiment of a joining method according to the present invention, in particular for making panels to be coupled to form the base and sides or back of a piece of furniture or a trolley;

- figures 12 and 13 illustrate, in views similar to the preceding ones, the joining method applied to the production of panels to be coupled to form the base and the sides or back of a wall unit;

- figures 14 and 15 illustrate, in views similar to the preceding ones, the joining method applied to the production of panels to be coupled to form the top and the sides or back of a wall unit;

- figures 16 and 17 show a cross section of the panels before and after they are joined to each other.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0015] With reference to the enclosed figures, a panel of either a movable front element such as a door or a drawer, in particular for furniture pieces or holding trolleys, made according to the method of the present invention includes a central core 1 that comprises at least one portion of alveolar material 2 or other lightweight material such as, for example, a foamed plastic material.

[0016] According to a preferred embodiment, the alveolar material consists, for example, of a layer of alveolar polypropylene commercially known as LITEXTM, made by the ForliteTM firm.

[0017]The core 1 may also include one or more strips 3, preferably of plastic material, such as for example polypropylene, or of phenol or wood multilayer, arranged at one or more of the sides of the portion of alveolar material 2, whose function will be better explained later.

[0018]The method according to the present invention comprises essentially the following steps:

a. shaping of a flat metal plate, preferably of stainless steel, by bending two or more peripheral edges so as to obtain a metal half-shell 4 provided with two or more raised edges 5; said half-shell 4 has a surface area essentially equal to the surface extension of the core 1 , which can be formed exclusively by the portion of alveolar material 2 or also be provided complete with the strips 3;

b. drilling of the flat metal plate before bending it, or drilling of the half-shell 4, if drilling is carried out after bending, at predetermined points for inserting, in the furniture or trolley assembling step, coupling pins and/or mounting accessories, such as hinges, guides, lifting arms, etc., normally used in the home furnishings field; the sequence of the bending and drilling steps is irrelevant with regards to the method, since they are mutually independent; however, it would be preferable to first carry out the drilling step and then the bending step by means of a punch or other tool on one flat plate instead of drilling the holes on different planes as would be the case if the process is carried out on the half-shell;

c. coupling, for example by gluing on a press or a clamp, a closing sheet on one surface of the core 1 so as to form a sub-assembly composed of the core 1 and the closing sheet; the closing sheet can consist, for example, of a second metal plate or a sheet made of laminate, wood of other suitable material;

d. inserting and coupling the sub-assembly formed by the core 1 and the closing sheet into the surface of the half-shell 4 defined by the raised edges 5, for example by gluing on a press or a clamp, so that the core 1 is encased in and into contact with at least two raised edges 5.

[0019]The above method is particularly suitable for making a door or a drawer, as will be better described hereinbelow.

[0020]The process of making a panel, where it is necessary to have strong lateral cross sections to support fastening elements, such as pins or screws, connecting with the other panels forming the furniture piece or trolley, comprises advantageously the coupling, at respective two or more lateral edges opposite the portion of alveolar material 2, of one or more strips 3 that provide sufficient holding strength for supporting connecting pins or screws, such as would not be possible with the alveolar material alone due to its insufficiently resistant structure.

[0021] In this case, the joining of the portion of lightweight material 2 and the strips 3, that cannot be glued or fastened to each other due to the insufficient strength of the alveolar material, is achieved by means of two sheets of non-metallic material, preferably laminate, glued one on each side to the portion of alveolar material 2 and to the strips 3. One of the two non-metallic sheets can form the above-mentioned closing sheet.

[0022] Figure 1 schematically illustrates a panel obtained according to the method described above and forming, for example, the base of a furniture piece or a trolley.

[0023]The panel comprises a core 1 consisting of the portion of alveolar material 2 to which are joined, at two opposite side edges, respective strips 3. As already mentioned, the strips 3 are necessary for assembling on the base panel the panels that form the sides of the wall unit, so as to provide a strong support for inserting the fastening means, such as pins or screws, since the structure of the portion of alveolar material 2 does not have a sufficiently strong cross section to perform this function. The fastening means are inserted into first holes 6, preferably drilled into the short edge of the strips 3 after the completion of the panel.

[0024]The core 1 formed in this manner is held together by gluing, on opposite surfaces, a first sheet 7 and a second laminate sheet 8 so as form a sandwich-like subassembly, which is then joined to the metallic half-shell 4, that was previously shaped by bending the raised edges 5 on the sides where the strips 3 are not present and that was previously provided with second holes 9 for inserting fastening means for coupling to the back of the wall unit.

[0025] In the form exemplified in figure 1 , the second sheet 8 of laminate material forms the closing sheet of the panel, arranged on the opposite surface with respect to the metallic half-shell 4.

[0026] In this manner, the core 1 is encased, on one side, by the metallic half-shell 4 and is in contact with the raised edges 5 through the portion of alveolar material 2 and, at the ends of the raised edges 5, through the end portions of the strips 3; on the opposite side, the core is enclosed by the second sheet 8 forming the closing sheet.

[0027]The different components can be joined, as is already customary in the home furniture field, by gluing in a clamp; advantageously, the glues used can be of polypropylene type for cold application, with characteristics of resistance to changes in temperature and substantially free of harmful emission, in particular if the panel is to be used for pieces of furniture or trolleys in health or nursing care facilities.

[0028] Figure 2 illustrates a second embodiment of the panel, in this case forming a side of a piece of furniture or trolley. The structure is similar to the previous embodiment, with a core 1 formed by a portion of alveolar material 2 and by strips 3 provided with first holes 6 for inserting fastening means, drilled in a position corresponding to the long edge of the strips 3, held by a first sheet 7 and by a second laminate sheet 8, to which is joined a metallic half-shell 4 provided with second holes 9. The second sheet 8 acts as a closing sheet.

[0029] Figure 3 illustrates a third embodiment of the panel, in which a second metallic half-shell 10 is coupled, for example by gluing, to the second laminate sheet 8, for example for using the panel as the base of a wall unit; the second metallic half-shell 10 acts in this case as a closing sheet.

[0030] Figure 4 illustrates a fourth embodiment, relative to a furniture door or to a trolley in which, as in the previous embodiment, a metallic half-shell is coupled to both faces of the core 1 . In this case, the core 1 consists of only one portion of alveolar material 2 provided, on at least one of the edges, with one or more recesses 12. The core 1 is joined to a first metallic half-shell 4 provided with raised edges 5 and with second holes

9 arranged, in use, facing the recesses 12 for the application of mounting accessories such as door opening hinges. On the opposite side is joined a second metallic half shell

10 provided with raised edges 13 that encase the resulting structure so that the edges of the portion of alveolar material 2 are, in use, in contact with the raised edges 5 and 13 respectively of the first and the second half-shell 4, 10. [0031 ]The method described above refers for simplicity of explanation to a door, but it is equally applicable, in general, to a movable opening front element of a furniture piece or trolley, such as doors or drawers. The same applies for the further embodiments described below with reference to figures 5 to 9.

[0032] Figures 5 and 5A show a fifth embodiment of a door or a drawer having a construction similar to the previous one, and thus comprises a portion of alveolar material 2, a first metallic half-shell 4 and a second metallic half-shell 10. A first portion 5A of one of the raised edges 5 of the first half-shell 4 is inclined at an angle smaller than 90 ° with respect to the surface of the half-shell and a second portion 5B is further bent inward so as to form a gripping means, such as a handle, for opening the door.

[0033] Figure 6 illustrates a sixth embodiment, relative to a door or a drawer of a furniture piece or trolley in which one of the external faces is metal and the other is metal or laminate or other suitable material. As in the embodiments of figures 4 and 5, the core 1 consists only of a portion of alveolar material 2 provided, at the edges, with one or more recesses 12. The core 1 is sandwiched between a first sheet 7 and a second sheet 8 of non-metallic material, such as wood or laminate, to allow the fastening of protective splines 14, preferably made of wood or laminate, for closing and protecting the edges of the door; the assembly thus obtained is then joined to the metallic half-shell 4 provided with raised edges 5 and with second holes 9 arranged, in use, facing the recesses 12 for applying the hinges. The closing sheet consists of the second sheet 8, made of wood or laminate.

[0034] Figures 7 and 7A illustrate a seventh embodiment of a door or a drawer having a construction similar to the previous one, and thus comprises a portion of alveolar material 2, a first and a second sheet 7, 8 of wood or laminate, protective splines 14 at the edges and a metallic half-shell 4 comprising, similarly to the embodiment of figure 5, a first portion 5A of one of the raised edges 5 inclined at an angle smaller than 90 ° with respect to the surface of the half-shell 4 and a second portion 5B is further bent inward so as to form gripping means for opening the door.

[0035] Figure 8 illustrates an eighth embodiment, relative to a door or drawer for furniture or trolleys provided with a channel serving as gripping means, such as an opening handle, in which, similarly to the embodiment of fig. 4, both external faces are of metallic material. In this case, too, the core 1 is formed only with a portion of alveolar material 2 provided, at the edges, with one or more recesses 12. To this core is joined a first metallic half-shell 4 provided with raised edges 5 and second holes 9 arranged, in use, facing the recesses 12 for applying the door opening hinges. One of the raised edges 5C of the half-shell is bent further inwardly of the half-shell. On the opposite side of the core is joined a second metallic half-shell 10 provided with raised edges 13 and an edge 13A shaped further to form a channel suitable to couple with the raised and bent edge 5C of the first half-shell 4.

[0036] Figure 9 illustrates a ninth embodiment, relative to a furniture door or trolley drawer provided with a channel serving as a gripping means, such as an opening handle, in which, similarly to the embodiment of fig. 6, is comprised a portion of alveolar material 2, a first and a second sheet 7, 8 of wood or laminate material, protective splines 14 at the edges and a metallic half-shell 4 provided with raised edges 5 and second holes 9 arranged, in use, facing the recesses 12 for applying the hinges; one of the raised edges 5C is further bent inwardly on the half-shell 4 to be coupled to a metallic element 15 shaped as a channel and serving as a gripping means.

[0037] From the above disclosure it is evident how the present invention achieves the initially anticipated purposes and advantages: in fact, herein is disclosed a method for making a panel or a movable front element, in particular for furniture pieces or holding trolleys, capable of overcoming the shortcomings of the state of the art mentioned above.

[0038] In particular, the method described above makes it possible to considerably lighten a panel or a movable front element, such as a door or a drawer, comprising one or more metallic elements such as to allow the use of standard components and accessories already employed in the home furniture field.

[0039] It is also evident that the method of the present invention is extremely flexible, enabling the production of substantially all the structural elements of a furniture piece or a trolley, such as bottom or top panels, side and back panels, doors or drawers with or without built-in handles, with metal/metal, metal/wood, or metal/laminate finishes. Such elements can be carried disassembled, thus making their transportation easy and economically convenient, thanks to the reduced space they take up. The assembling step can be carried out at the place of destination, thanks to the ease of mounting on the furniture or trolley other panels of conventional type or panels made with the method according to the present invention.

[0040]A further and not minor advantage lies in the manner of assembling the panels, doors or drawers forming the furniture piece or trolley, which are substantially identical to those already in use in the domestic field, so as to also allow, in addition to the use of standard components and accessories, the total interchangeability with conventional panels or doors already existing in the home furnishing field. [0041] Figures from 10 to 17 illustrate a method of joining panels made as described above.

[0042]The purpose of the method is to obtain a first panel, making up for example a side or the back of a furniture piece or a trolley, provided with a plurality of pins, preferably made of steel, arranged perpendicularly to the panel and having at least one threaded portion; the pins are arc-welded to the panel by means of a capacitor discharge spot welder or equivalent methods and/or equipment. The method also entails the production of a second panel, forming for example the base or the top of the furniture or of the container, provided with a plurality of holes drilled in positions corresponding to the pins on the first panel.

[0043]The first panel is then joined orthogonally to the second panel by means of a suitable clamp, generally employed in coupling conventional panels in the construction of pieces of furniture. Before joining the second panel with the first panel, the holes of the second panel are filled with special glues, preferably of polypropylenic type for hot or cold application having characteristics of resistance to changes in temperature and substantially free of harmful emissions or migrations of any type, in particular if the panel is to be used for furniture or trolleys in the health or hospital fields.

[0044]The insertion of the threaded pins of the first panel into the glue-filled holes of the second panel guarantees a permanent and dependable fastening, since the gripping force between the two panels is provided by the engagement of the threaded portion of the pins and the glue that penetrated and subsequently hardened between the threads and the inside of the holes.

[0045] Referring to the enclosed figures 10 and 1 1 , a first panel 101 , in particular for the sides or backs of furniture pieces or holding trolleys, includes at least one portion of alveolar material 102 or other suitable lightweight material such as, for example, a foamed plastic material, to which are coupled, from opposite sides, a metallic half-shell 103 and a closing sheet 105.

[0046]Similarly, a second panel 108, couplable to the first panel 101 and forming the base of a furniture piece or a trolley, includes at least one second portion of alveolar material 109 to which are coupled, from opposite sides, a second metallic half-shell 1 10 and a second closing sheet 1 1 1 .

[0047]According to a preferred embodiment, the alveolar material consists for example of a layer of alveolar polypropylene commercially known by the name LITEXTM marketed by the ForliteTM firm. [0048]The method according to the present invention comprises essentially the following steps:

e. construction of the first panel 101 by shaping a first flat metal plate, preferably stainless steel, by bending one or more peripheral edges so as to obtain a metallic half-shell 103 provided with two or more raised edges 104; the half-shell 103 thus obtained has a surface extension essentially equal to the extension of the portion of alveolar material 102;

f. drilling of the first flat metal plate before bending, or drilling of the half-shell 103, if drilling if carried out after bending, to obtain prearranged first holes 106 for the subsequent fastening of the threaded pins; the sequence of the bending and drilling steps is irrelevant with regards to the method, since they are independent of each other; however, it would be preferable to first carry out the drilling and then the bending step to operate with the punch or other tool on a flat plate instead of drilling holes on different planes as would be the case if working on the half-shell;

g. coupling of a closing sheet 105 on one face of the portion of alveolar material 102; the closing sheet may be formed, for example, by a further metal plate, or by a sheet of laminate, wood or other suitable material;

h. insertion and coupling of the sub-assembly formed by the portion of alveolar material 102 and by the closing sheet 105 inside the surface of the half-shell 103 defined by the raised edges 104, so that said sub-assembly is encased between and in contact with at least two raised edges 104;

i. fastening, by arc welding or equivalent processes, of the threaded pins 107 inside the first holes 106 and final attainment of the first panel 101 ;

j. production of the second panel 108 by bending two or more peripheral edges of a second flat metal plate, preferably of stainless steel, so as to obtain a second metallic half-shell 1 10 provided with two or more raised edges 1 12 and having a surface extension essentially equal to the extension of the portion of alveolar material 109;

k. drilling of the second metallic flat plate before bending, or of the half-shell 1 10 after bending, as already described for the first plate at point (b), to obtain prearranged second holes 1 13;

I. coupling of a second closing sheet 1 1 1 on one face of the second portion of alveolar material 109;

m. inserting and coupling the sub-assembly formed by the second portion of alveolar material 109 and by the second closing sheet 1 1 1 inside the surface of the second half-shell 1 10 defined by the raised edges 1 12, so as to obtain the second panel 108 in which said sub-assembly is encased between and in contact with at least two raised edges 1 12;

n. drilling the edge of the second portion of alveolar material 109 in positions corresponding to the second holes 1 13 previously drilled on the raised edges 1 12 of the second half-shell 1 10 so as to obtain cavities 1 14; the drilling of the alveolar material involves the collapsing of the alveolar structure surrounding the hole, that is, the crushing of the alveoli adjacent to the drilling zone. In figures from 10 to 15, the cavities 1 14 are shown for clarity as made before the completion of the second panel 108, but it remains understood that such cavities are made after the completion of the second panel 108;

o. filling of the cavities 14 with a suitable glue, which also fills the alveoli that were crushed during the previous drilling, and thus are no longer closed cells (fig. 16); p. joining of the first panel 101 to the second panel 108 by inserting the threaded pins 107 inside the cavities 1 14 in positions corresponding to the second holes 1 13 (fig. 17);

q. permanently fixing the connection of the first panel 101 to the second panel 108, preferably through the cold-setting of the glue and gripping of the same inside the cavity 1 14 in position corresponding to the threads on the threaded pins 107 and to the portions of alveolar structure no longer with closed cells surrounding the cavity 1 14. In this manner, the solidification of the glue inside the cavity 1 14 re-establishes a strong structure on the edges of the alveolar material, which guarantees the solid and permanent bonding of the two panels.

[0049]The joining of the different components of the first panel 101 and of the second panel 108, can be achieved, as already widely used in the home furniture field, by means of gluing on a press or a clamp; advantageously, the glues used can be of polypropylenic type for cold or hot application with characteristics of resistance to temperature changes and substantially free of harmful emissions, in particular if the panel is used for furniture pieces or trolleys intended to be used in health or hospital facilities.

[0050] Further, as already mentioned above, the joining of the first panel 101 to the second panel 108 can also be carried out in a clamp.

[0051]Figures 12 and 13 illustrate the construction, with the same method described above, of a first panel 101 forming a side or the back of a wall unit couplable to a second panel 108 forming the base of the wall unit. [0052] Figures 14 and 15 illustrate the construction, with the same method described above, of a first panel 101 , forming a side or the back of a furniture piece or of a wall unit or a holding trolley, couplable to a second panel 108 forming the top of the furniture piece or of the wall unit or of the holding trolley.

[0053] Figures 16 and 17 show, respectively, according to a cross section along a plane of the panels 101 and 108 comprising the threaded pins 107 and the holes 1 13, the step preceding the joining, in which the cavity 1 14 was filled with glue, and the step following the joining, in which the pin 107 was inserted into the cavity 1 14 and the glue re-establishes the portions of alveolar structure crushed during drilling.

[0054]The method of joining two panels as described above is considerably simplified, guaranteeing a permanent and dependable connection without requiring the use of screws or bolts, which could be difficult to access inside the furniture piece.

[0055] Further, also from the aesthetic point of view, the connection of the panels according to the method described above is visually appealing, making it possible to have the external surfaces of the panels clean and free of holes or closing plugs.

[0056] Naturally, the present invention is amenable to numerous applications, modifications and variants without departing from the scope of patent protection as defined by the independent claims 1 , 1 1 and 16. Moreover, the materials and equipment used for implementing the present invention, as well as the shapes and dimensions of the individual components, can be the most suitable to meet the specific requirements.