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Title:
MODULAR PANEL INTERLOCKING AND REINFORCING MECHANISM FOR BUILDING ENCLOSURES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/227188
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The modular panel 20 interlocking and reinforcing mechanism for building enclosures pertains to assembling boxes 21 without using accessories. My mechanism joins modular panels 20 by interlocking between grooves 22 and grooves 22 and rods 18 attached to panel edges, thus creating the box 21. The embodiment of my mechanism joins modular panels 20 by interlocking both grooves 22 attached by living hinges 24 on the panel edges, thus creating the box 21. The living hinges 24 allow all the grooves 22 to turn forty five degrees at the corners. Upon interlocking both grooves 22, it completes the ninety degree dihedral angle transition from one panel 20 to another for corners. Another embodiment of present invention is to assemble a box 21 in expanded sizes by interlocking modular panels 20 flat or angled without extra accessories. An additional embodiment of my mechanism includes insertion of rods 18 attached to the panel edges into grooves 22 attached to another panel to form an interlocked rod and groove 60 on box 21. One type of the interlocking groove 22 mentioned above is a rolled sheet type with a smaller span at the opening than parallel spans at main sections in the groove in a cross- sectional view. The interlocked rod and groove 60 attached to panels on living hinges 24 can also serve as posts to take loads above them for a heavy-duty box.

Inventors:
XIA, Qun (2562 Mayfair Ln, Weston, FL, 33327, US)
Application Number:
US2018/036902
Publication Date:
December 13, 2018
Filing Date:
June 11, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
XIA, Qun (2562 Mayfair Ln, Weston, FL, 33327, US)
International Classes:
E04B1/61; E04C2/40; E04D3/362; F16B5/00; F16B5/07; F16S1/02
Foreign References:
US4186539A1980-02-05
US20100130094A12010-05-27
US5664386A1997-09-09
US20080155929A12008-07-03
US5502930A1996-04-02
US4956953A1990-09-18
US6122879A2000-09-26
US20120291375A12012-11-22
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

Accordingly what is claimed is:

1. An interlocking mechanism for panels to interlock for building enclosures comprises of said panels and a continuous or sectional sheet rolled grooves or rods attached along edges on said panels; the span of the opening on said sheet rolled grooves is smaller than parallel spans at main sections in said sheet rolled grooves in a cross sectional view; said sheet rolled grooves are inserted into one another or said rod is inserted to said rolled groove through the process that inner said sheet rolled groove or said rod is squeezed while outer said sheet rolled groove is expanded; inner said sheet rolled groove or said rod is gripped by outer said sheet rolled grooves with said smaller span at said opening. Whereby said panels join each other by said interlocked grooves or interlocked rods and grooves attached to each said panel, thus expanding surface areas or building enclosures.

2. A mechanism of Claim 1, wherein comprising living hinges connecting between said panel edges and said grooves or said rods, allowing said grooves or said rods turning on said living hinges to interlock at a dihedral angle between attached said panels on both sides.

3. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising reinforcing rods or reinforcing grooves of said sheet rolled grooves, embedded in said interlocked sheet rolled grooves to enhance the strength of said enclosure.

4. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising said enclosure assembled by said panels to be disassembled into said panels, which can be reassembled into said enclosure.

5. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising flexible said panel that interlocks sheet rolled grooves or both sheet rolled grooves and rods attached to the same said panel to form said enclosure.

6. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising of creases or hinges connecting said panels to form a bigger composite panel, folding said panels on said creases or said hinges, and interlocking adjacent said sheet rolled grooves attached to said panels or interlocking adjacent said rods to said sheet rolled groove attached to said panels to form an enclosure.

7. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising of said composite panels combining vertically standing posts attached to said panels on crease or hinges interlocked by said sheet rolled grooves to each other or said vertically standing posts attached to said panels interlocked by said rod inserted into said sheet rolled grooves. Said vertically standing posts feature in supporting loads above.

8. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising of said rods in a variety of cross

sectional peripherals that can be gripped by said sheet rolled grooves after interlocking; and said rods having a hollow portion extending throughout its length thus forming hollow rods .

9. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising of said composite panels combining vertically standing posts attached to said panels on said crease or said hinges are interlocked in all mechanical means besides claimed above by portions attached to said panels.

10. A mechanism in Claim 1, wherein comprising of said composite panels with said

panels covering over the top of said enclosures as lids, positioning pins are installed to the down sides of said panels to lock into said hollow posts or pits for the stability and strength of said enclosure.

Description:
MODULAR PANEL INTERLOCKING

AND REINFORCING MECHANISM FOR BUILDING ENCLOSURES

Background - Prior Art

The following is tabulation of some prior art that presently appears relevant:

U.S. Patents

Patent Number Kind Code Issue Date Patentee

2,960,254 220/31 Nov. 15, 1960 Kiba

3, 184,013 189/34 May 18, 1965 Pevlecka 3,203,149 52/593 Aug. 31, 1965 Soddy 3,249,284 229/40 May 3, 1966 Wood 3,597,858 35/16 Aug. 10, 1971 Ogsbury et al. 4,050,604 220/4 F Sep. 27, 1977 Flanders ,083,464 217/13 Apr. 11, 1978 Burnett

,230,227 206/600 Oct. 28, 1980 Kowall et al.,470,647 312/1 11 Sep. 1 1, 1984 Bishoff

,491,231 220/6 Jan. 1, 1985 Heggeland et al.,793,507 217/13 Dec.27, 1988 Delplanque,016,813 229/189 May 21, 1991 Simons

, 123,533 206/386 Jun. 23, 1992 Uitz

,429,259 217/65 Jun. 4, 1995 Robin

,466,058 312/111 Nov. 14, 1995 Chan

,555,989 220/62 Sep. 17, 1996 Moran, Jr.

,632,071 24/573.7 May 27, 1997 Maunder,743,421 220/4.28 Apr. 28, 1998 Gonzalez et al.,749,512 229/199 May 12, 1998 Gingras- Taylor,888,1 14 446/128 Mar. 30, 1999 Slocum et al.,979,693 220/592.2 Nov. 9, 1999 Bane

,648, 159 220/4.28 Nov. 18, 2003 Prutkin et al.,387,856 229/123 Mar. 5, 2013 Lachance et al.,584,858 206/586 Nov. 19, 2013 Golias

,763,81 1 206/584 Jul. 1, 2014 Lantz

,863,473 52/745.2 Oct. 21, 2014 Weber

U.S. Patent Application Publications Publication Nr. Kind Code Publ. Date Applicant

US20020092787 Al 206/459.5 Jul 18, 2002 Cheng

US20020193046A1 446/476 Dec. 19, 2002 Zebersky

US20030098256 206/511 May29, 2003 Lu

US20040232145 Al 220/4.33 Nov. 25, 2004 Antal et al.

US20050223652 Al 52/79.1 Oct. 13, 2005 Mower et al.

US20120175377 Al 220/621 Jul. 12, 2012 Masci

Foreign Patent Documents

Foreign Doc. Nr. Cntry Code Kind Code Pub. Dt App or Patentee

EP0408622 DE E04B1/61 1993-02-17 Thomas Sorensen

05-170261 GB B65D 71/12 1993-07-09 Marie Philippe

05- 201449 JP B65D 6/28 1993-08-10 Ozaki Seiji

06- 064639 GB B65D 5/42 1994-03-08 Milliens Andre 11-222937 JP E04B 1/343 1999-08-17 Kiyono Fumio 2002-065422 JP A47F 5/10 2002-03-05 Hirano Fumiisa CN03225707.4 CN B65D6/24 2004-08-04 Yizhong Chen

CN200820201784.4 CN B65D6/24 2009-08-26 Kaizhi Hong

2010-088624 JP A47B 47/00 2010-04-22 O Keisho

CN201664394U CN A61G17/00 2010.12.08 Yonghai Fei

2142420 EP B62D 29/04 2011 -09-07 Walter Boersma

2013-056686 JP B65D 6/24 2013-03-28 Fujimoto Futoshi 2015-067345 JP B65D 81/38 2015-04-13 Kawakami et al.

AU20150903545 AU E04B1/61 2015-08-31 Parsons et al.

CN201520114229.8 CN B65D6/24 2015-09-16 Ke Yi

2016-132492 JP B65D 6/18 2016-07-25 Shimamoto Satoshi

1020167021115 KR F16B 12/125 2016-09-13 Dereloev et al.

Cardboard boxes have been prevalent in the packaging industry since its patent in 1856 and rose to prominence as a shipping material in the 1870s. Corrugated cardboard boxes are light weight compared to wooden boxes, thus being more convenient to handle and print for packaging and protecting commodities.

For packaging heavy items or stacking heavy items, corrugated cardboard boxes may not be suitable and can become deformed due to their inadequate endurance to mechanical stresses. Cardboard has a number of drawbacks, including one time use, costs, strength in humid conditions and large quantities that cause environmental degradation.

Cardboard is used to ship over 90 percent of all products in the US. More than 100 billion cardboard boxes are produced in the US alone every year, weighing approximately 40 million tons. The fastest-growing contributors to the pile of cardboard are e-commerce companies and the number is only expected to grow as online shopping continues to surge.

Cardboard is the single largest component of municipal solid waste around the world. It is estimated that over 24 million tons of cardboard is discarded each year. When paper decomposes, it emits methane gas which is dozens more toxic than C0 2 .

Each ton of cardboard paper produced consumes 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 7000 gallons of water, 4,000 kWh of energy, and 9 cubic yards of landfill space. Pulp and paper are one of the largest industrial polluters to air, water, and land worldwide.

While recycling cardboard boxes can help, it still requires half the time and energy it takes to make a brand new box, which makes recycling cardboard in bulk a time-consuming and inefficient solution to a more severe problem.

The growing focus and pressing challenge towards sustainability by businesses and consumers are not only the environmental benefits but also the cost advantages. One solution to tackle this environmental issue is to utilize reusable packaging products.

Paper generates 50 times more water pollutants and 70 percent more air pollutants during production than plastics. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy, plastic is preferable to paper and cardboard- it takes 90 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than a pound of paper.

As an alternative to cardboard boxes, reusable boxes are easily cleaned, flattened, and reusable. It is an economically feasible tool that has been used for many years. Due to complex channels in the market, returning reusable boxes to the supplier is getting more complicated. They are not interchangeable, particularly when the boxes are made in a plurality of customized dimensions.

Accordingly, it is an objective of this invention to provide modular panels in standard sizes, assembled to standard-size boxes, and disassembled to flatten for easy reverse logistic and storage. Since all the panels are in modular specifications and standard sizes, the panels can be circulated, stored, cleaned, reused and recycled. For all businesses and individual consumers, the most important benefit in adopting the modular interlocking panel boxes is to significantly reduce packaging costs due to its reuse dozens of times.

Another objective of this interlocking mechanism is to design smooth and sleek surfaces all over the panels. After each usage, if they get dirty, panels can be either rinsed and dried by individual consumers easily, or processed by centralized washing and drying.

My mechanism presents the simplest designs using modular panels to build enclosures or expand surfaces. For example, US patents 8,863,473 (2014), 5,979,693 (1999),

5,743,421(1998), 5,429,259 (1995), 4,470,647 (1984), 4,050,604(1977), 3,597,858(1971) all introduced panel interconnection methods; some designs are limited to creating a single sized box; some mechanism require thick panels to make it interlocked; some designs need panels in a variety of sizes; while others require additional accessories to hold the box together. All the methods and panels mentioned above have limitations for wide usage and circulation in society.

The following US patents 5,888,114 (1999), 5,466,058(1995), 5, 123,533 (1992),

3,203,149(1965), 3, 184,013(1965) are becoming more complicated. The tedious work required for assembling these boxes deters consumers' interest in the packaging. The configurations of panels are so uneven or irregular that they're not fit for easy cleaning.

Another existing major mechanism for reusable boxes is the collapsible. US patents 6,648,159(2003), 5,555,989(1996), 4,793,507(1988), 4,491,231(1985), 3,249,284(1966) are devices that require all major pieces to connect before folding up. The configurations are predetermined before connecting the pieces into an enclosure, therefore limiting the

applications to unitary product transportations. Their blueprints are not as simple and compact as my designs, and the interchangeability in reusing boxes mentioned above is obviously restricted.

None of the methods or devices mentioned above could help consumers use simple modular panels, such as my mechanism, to assemble and dissemble reusable boxes in various dimensions. Additionally, none of the existing methods are suitable for mass production under industrial standards, acceptable for circulation and reuse as an alternative to cardboard boxes in society, or able to mitigate environmental concerns in scale.

Based on the previous shortcomings of assembling and dissembling enclosures or boxes from panels, components, and collapsible devices, my mechanism discloses an innovative and far more efficient and practical alternative. These types of panels and another object of this invention provide novel sets of versatility for building boxes in standardized sizes and dimensions. Furthermore, my interlocking mechanism can extend to a variety of enclosure applications such as furniture, assembly of hollow toys, partitions, disaster relief housings, etc.

Summary

Cardboard boxes are used extensively throughout the package industry; ninety percent of all products are packed using cardboard boxes. Producing cardboard boxes requires enormous amounts of natural resources such as trees, fresh water, and energy. Even though a great percentage of cardboard boxes are recycled, it still takes half the amount of all the resources compared to producing new cardboard. The process of producing cardboard and decomposition in landfills emits harmful pollutants to air, water, and soil. Finding an alternative to cardboard boxes is crucial to becoming more eco-friendly and preserve our habitat.

Predecessors have made many attempts to replace or substitute the hundreds of billions of cardboard boxes produced each year. However, the existing replacements are limited to several business fields, none of which have been successful in establishing their design nationwide. Their products are not versatile and cannot be interchangeable, widely circulated, or reused.

Generally speaking, the ideal alternative to cardboard boxes should be easily assembled and disassembled flat. Consumers should be able to create a box at their own discretion without difficulty. Reusable boxes should be mass produced and packaging equipment friendly.

A primary example of my interlocking mechanism is using one type of panel to build boxes of multiple sizes. Rectangular panels comprise of a sheet rolled groove along each edge. The groove's opening span is smaller than the paralleled inner spans in the main sections of the groove in a cross-sectional view. All the sheet rolled grooves attached along the panel edges have the same or similar configurations. Regarding assembly, two grooves from separate panels can be pressed and inserted into one another. Preferably the sheet rolled grooves are made of resilient materials. The extensions from the groove root increase in flexibility toward the opening end of the grooves, which are sufficiently pliable both laterally outward and inward to permit forcible, but removable insertion into the socket of the outer one. Once interlocked, the inner groove is gripped by the outer groove by the smaller opening span and the resilience of the groove materials.

Another example of the invention is as described above, except converting one

interlocking groove as the insert and the inner groove into a solid rod attached along the panel. The peripheral of the rod at the cross section view can be different or match the groove's inner contour as long as interlock or grip is held firmly by the groove and later removal is easier for separation. Living hinges between the grooves and edges of panels, allow grooves on both panels to interlock by each turning 45 degrees and complete a 90 degree dihedral connection for the box. Right angle interlocked connections among six panels at all 12 corner lines complete a rectangle box construction.

Another assembly type is to allow more flat panels with edge grooves to interlock and connect further in two dimensions, which will result in a larger panel assembly in a variety of bigger shapes and sizes.

One of the advantages of groove interlocking is that both grooves will stay interlocked due to the flexibility and tension. If an independent, similar sized rod is inserted into the interlocked groove, it results in a reinforced and overall more durable structure. Another reinforcing method is simply adding an independent groove onto or into the existing interlocked grooves. In the case of trihedral corners on a box, a universal right angled rod protruding along three dihedral corner lines, can be pressed into the trihedral interlocked groove corners, simultaneously locking into the three directional grooves and reinforcing the box corners.

My interlocking mechanism not only uses panels to build enclosures, but also applies to other variations aside from boxes. Assembly toys, for example, can use the interlocking and reinforcing method to create buildings, vehicles and castles, toy figures, etc. Additionally, my method can be applied to furniture because of its flat surface and dihedral corner compositions. The wood joinery can be replaced with my interlocking methods, as well as extending reinforcing rods downwards as supporting legs to the floor. Other applications that can use my mechanism include crates, containers, makeshift houses, partitions, tents, show booths, rescue shelters, interior decorations, flat surface expansions, and many others.

One major example of the present box invention is to assemble and disassemble a reusable box using a combination of the interlocking devices with living hinges connecting box panels, which means all the panels for a box are jointed into a large composite panel by living hinges. Folding up panels along living hinges on the composite panel reduces the number of interlocking at box corners, simplifying the assembly process to a level that was never seen before.

This novel method of combining present interlocks and living hinges for box assembly generates an additional benefit- vertical interlocked rod and groove connecting adjacent vertical panels form a strong supporting post to bear the load above. Assuming the four corners are all equipped with the same interlocked posts, the entire box can bear heavy duty stack loads which are a common necessity for boxed commodity storage and transportations.

One more practical design derived from the above innovation are vertical posts, interlocking the mechanical ways from each portion attached along either vertical panel edge, that connect adjacent vertical panels. This will serve the purpose of bearing loads stacked on the reusable box.

Drawings - Figures

In the drawings, closely related figures have the same number but different alphabetic suffixes.

FIG.1 A is an elevated view of six identical panels before and after its assembly into a box. Each panel comprises of four sheet rolled grooves and four living hinges along the edges.

FIG. IB is a sectional view of four identical panels before and after assembly into a square enclosure.

FIG.2 is a cross-sectional view of four pairs of grooves connecting to living hinges and panel edges, and one pair of grooves directly attaching to panel edges.

FIG.3 is a before and after cross sectional view of the insertion and interlocking between rods attached to panels and sheet rolled grooves attached to panels.

FIG.4A is a cross-sectional view of the groove interlocking processes. During the insertion, the groove inserted is compressed narrower and the other groove is expanded wider.

FIG.4B is a cross sectional view of both grooves turned on the living hinge at 45 degrees accordingly, forming a right angled dihedral corner for the two panels.

FIG.5 is an elevated view of more boxes in various sizes and dimensions that can be built by a plurality of modular panels.

FIG.6 is an elevated and a cross sectional view of a flexible panel with two grooves on the opposite edges to form a tubular case and an extended tubular case.

FIG.7A is an elevated view of a hinge and groove panel assembled box with additional designs of reinforcement which includes reinforcing rods, a cross rod, and a trihedral corner reinforcing piece.

FIG.7B is a cross section view of the mechanism where the reinforcing rod is embedded in the interlocked grooves and held in place, enhancing the groove structure.

FIG.7C is a cross section view of the mechanism where the additional reinforcing groove is pressed unto the interlocked grooves and held in place, enhancing the groove structure.

FIG.8 is a cross sectional view of an insulated enclosure before and after assembly, and assembled air cushion enclosure by using groove interlocks.

FIG.9 is an elevated view of an assembled closet built with modular panels, further strengthened with reinforcing rods embedded in vertical corner grooves. The reinforcing rods protrude downwards servicing as closet legs on the floor.

FIG.10 is an elevated view of a house built with modular panels that are attached with interlocking grooves.

FIG.11 is an elevated view of an assembled toy vehicle with modular panels attached with interlocking grooves. The reinforcing rods are jointed with toy wheels on both ends. The reinforcing rods are also embedded in interlocked grooves as vehicle wheel shafts.

Fig. l2A, 12B, 12C, 12D, 12E illustrate the assembly process from a flat composite panel to a box based on rods and grooves interlocking portions and living hinges.

Fig.13 A, 13B, 13C illustrate the assembly process from two identical flat composite panels to a box based on rods and grooves interlocking portions and living hinges.

Fig. l4A, 14B, 14C illustrate the assembly process from a flat composite panel to an open top box based on grooves and grooves interlocking portions and living hinges. Fig.15 A, 15B, 15C illustrate the assembly process from a flat composite panel to a heavy duty, open top box based on hollow rods and grooves interlocking portions and living hinges.

Fig.16 A, 16B, 16C illustrate the assembly process from a flat composite panel to a heavy duty box with lids based on hollow rods and grooves interlocking portions and living hinges.

Fig.17 A, 17B, 17C, 17D, 17E, 17F illustrate a variety of key slot interlocked posts in the form of 90 degree angle, rectangle, triangle, and circle respectively, and assembly into a box along with panels on living hinges.

Fig.18 A, 18B, 18C, 18D illustrate an interlocked ribbed rectangle post and sectional insert post and assembly into a box along with panels on living hinges.

Drawings - Reference Numerals

18 rod 19 hollow rod

20 panel 21 box

22 groove 23 triangle groove

24 living hinge 25 rectangle groove

26 interlocked grooves 28 flexible panel

29 tubular case 30 reinforcing rod

32 reinforcing groove 34 cross reinforcing rod

36 trihedral corner reinforcing piece 40 panel with insulation or cushion

42 air cushions 44 panel oval opening or box handle

46 corner piece with grooves 48 toy vehicle wheel

50 key slot interlocked angle post 52 key slot interlocked rectangle post

54 key slot interlocked triangle post 56 key slot interlocked round post 58 ribbed locking rectangle post 59 sectional insert interlocked post

60 interlocked rod and groove 62 panel right angle stopper

64 positioning lock pin

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

One embodiment of the interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 1 A and Fig. IB. One rectangular box 21 comprises of six sides, twelve dihedral corners, and eight trihedral corners. In this case, if each side of the box 21 is taken apart as an individual piece of panel, there are four modular panels 20 in one size and two other modular panels 20 in another size.

Fig. 1 A discloses that these panels 20 are placed accordingly at the top, the front, and the left in a group; the back, the bottom, and the right are in another group before the box assembly 21. Every edge on each panel 20 is attached to an identical groove 22 connected with a living hinge 24. All the panels 20 are also positioned with groove openings facing outward before assembly. Grooves 26 are bent on living hinges 24 at forty five degree angles and interlocked into each other to complete the transition of a ninety degree angle from one panel 20 to another, thus forming a box. Fig. IB is cross sectional view that discloses grooves 22 bent on living hinges 24 at a forty five degree angle from each modular panel 20. This process completes the ninety degree angle transition from one panel 20 to another. By finishing all four corners of interlocking grooves 26, a square enclosure in a cross sectional view is built with modular panels 20.

Another embodiment is illustrated in Fig. 2 in a detailed and close up view on the various groove types and grooves 22 attachments to panels 20 with or without living hinge 24

connections. They appear with certain commonalities: the span at the opening in cross sectional view is smaller than the biggest parallel, inner span somewhere in the grooves 22, either in a round shape, triangular shape, or diamond shape. The interlocking grip is generated by the smaller opening span on the outer groove 22 to the inner groove 22. Fig. 2 discloses a pair of round grooves 22 connect through living hinges 24 to panels 20. The pair of round grooves 22 are identical to each other in configuration. Fig. 2 discloses a pair of identical round grooves 22 that each connects directly to a panel 20. Fig. 2 also discloses a pair of identical triangle grooves 22 that each connect through a living hinge 24 to a panel 20, and a pair of identical diamond grooves 25 that each connect through a living hinge 24 to a panel 20.

Another embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 3. A rod 18 attached to a panel 20 is about inserted into a groove 22 attached to another panel 20 while both panels 20 remain flat. Both panels 20 are connected flat once the rod 18 is interlocked into the groove 22. Fig. 3 also shows a rod 18 attached to a panel 20 that is inserted approximately perpendicular into a groove 22 attached to another panel 20. A right dihedral angle is formed once the rod 18 is interlocked into the groove 22 perpendicularly. Fig. 3 also illustrates a rod 18 attached to a panel 20 in a forty five degree angle is inserted into a groove 22 attached to another panel 20 in a forty five degree angle. A total ninety degree dihedral angle is formed once the rod 18 is interlocked into the groove 22.

Another embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 4 A and Fig. 4B. Once both round grooves interlock, the smaller span at the outer groove opening hold the inner groove 22 in, thus generating the grip for grooves and panels attached. During the process of inserting one groove 22 into another, the inner groove 22 is laterally squeezed while the outer groove 22 is expanded based on the desired resilience of the sheet rolled groove materials.

Fig. 4A discloses that the groove 22 attached to the panel 20 on the right is being pressed into the groove 22 that is attached to the panel 20 on the left. Then the groove 22 on the right is held in the groove 22 on the left. Fig. 4B discloses that the groove 22 turning forty five degrees on the living hinge 24 on the left is pressed into the groove 22 turning forty five degrees on the living hinge 24 on the right. Then the groove 22 on the left is held in the groove 22 on the right, forming the ninety degree dihedral angle between the two panels 20.

Fig. 5 discloses a taller box 21 assembled from ten modular panels 20, either interlocked flat or over right angle corners. A longer box 21 is assembled from ten modular panels 20 either interlocked flat or over right-angle corners. Another box 21 in greater size is assembled from twenty four modular panels 20 either interlocked flat or over right angle corners.

Another embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 6. A flexible panel 28 with a groove attached to opposite edges can be rolled up into a tubular case 29 and fastened in the stable tubular configuration by interlocking the two groves 22 to each other. The width between two grooves 22 on the flexible panel 20 will determine the diameter of the tubular case 29. Several tubular cases 29 can overlap at the ends with interlocked grooves 22 further interlocking and overlapping, extending the length of the tubular case 29.

Fig. 7A discloses reinforcing rods 30 embedded in corner interlocked grooves 26 and flat interlocked grooves 26 to enhance the box strength. A cross reinforcing rod 34 is

simultaneously embedded in four partial interlocking grooves 26 at the cross line joint to enhance the box strength. A trihedral corner reinforcing piece 36 has three self-attached rods located at the three trihedral lines. The three self-attached rods simultaneously get in three trihedral interlocked grooves 26 lined to the corner to enhance the box strength.

Fig. 7B discloses a reinforcing rod 30 in a similar diameter to the round grooves 22, embedded in interlocked grooves 26 and held in the grooves 22 by the smaller opening of the grooves 22 and both sides of the opening pointing inward. The flexibility of the grooves 22, the tight contacts among grooves 22, and the reinforcing rod 30 hold the components tightly together which enhances the box strength. Fig. 7C discloses a reinforcing groove 32 in a similar configuration compared to the interlocked grooves 26, pressed onto the interlocked grooves 26, and held tightly among all three grooves 22 in place, thus enhancing the box strength and durability.

Another embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 8. The panels 20 used for building boxes can come in various forms aside from being rigid and flexible. Panels with insulation or cushion 40 are attached with living hinges 24 and grooves 22 on the edges to form an enclosure that is insulated or cushioned all the way around. Air cushions 42 are attached with living hinges 24 and grooves 22 on the ends to form an air cushion enclosure. An additional embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 9. The closet is assembled by modular panels 20. To further strengthen the structure, reinforcing rods 30 are embedded in interlocked grooves 26. One additional benefit of interlocking the reinforcing rods 30 to the interlocked grooves 26 is that by extending the length of reinforcing rods 30 evenly, all the reinforcing rods 30 become supporting legs for the closet.

A ramification of the above embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 10. A plurality of specific modular panels 20 with interlocked grooves 26 on living hinges 24 are assembled together to construct a house.

Another ramification of the above embodiment of my modular panel interlocking mechanism is illustrated in Fig. 11. A plurality of modular panels 20 with interlocking grooves 22 is assembled into a toy vehicle, a closed enclosure. The toy vehicle includes toy wheels 49 that are connected by reinforcing rods 30 on both ends. The reinforcing rods 30 are embedded in interlocked grooves 26 under the assembled toy vehicle, exposing the toy wheels 49 on both sides of the toy vehicle.

Fig.12A shows a flat composite panel comprising of four panels in a series connected by three living hinges 24, along which the panel's right-angle stoppers are installed. Two other panels are connected by living hinges 24 to the either sides of the leading panel in series. In Fig.12B and Fig.12C, the ending panel in series is pulled over three living hinges 24 to accomplish the interlocked rod and groove 60 between leading and ending panels and form a rectangle enclosure with opens sides. Fig. 12D depicts two side panels being lifted on living hinges 24 and pushed towards the rectangle enclosure, with two motions to close six interlocked rods and grooves 60 on the rectangle enclosure sides and finalize the box assembly as shown in Fig.12E.

Fig.13 A exhibits two identical flat composite panels that each comprise of three panels connected by two living hinges 24 with rods 18 at panel ends and grooves 22 at the panel sides. Fig. l3B illustrates the process of folding one composite panel, inserting the end rod 18 into the groove 22 on the other panel's middle side; then inserting the other end rod 18 into the groove 22 on the other middle side; forming a rectangle enclosure with the sides open. Fig.13C demonstrates the continuation of completing the box building by lifting flat panels over living hinges 24. Each pushing motion on each side panel towards the rectangle enclosure interlocks three corner lines until finishing on the box.

Fig.14A lays out a flat composite panel comprising of one center panel, connecting four other panels at the edges by living hinges 24. Both sides of the four surrounding panels are attached with the same grooves 22 at a forty five degree inward orientation. In Fig. l4B, these four panels are picked up to interlock adjacent grooves 22. Fig. l4C illustrates a completed open top box with four interlocked grooves 26 standing at corners of the box as interlocked posts to take loads above them.

Fig.15A lays out a flat composite panel comprising of one center panel connecting four other panels at edges by living hinges 24. Both sides of the four surrounding panels are attached with either grooves 22 or hollow rods 19 at a forty five degree inward orientation. In Fig.15B, these four panels are picked up to interlock adjacent hollow rods 19 and grooves 22. Fig.15C illustrates a completed open top box with four interlocked hollow rods and grooves 60 standing at the corners of the box as interlocked posts to take loads above them.

Fig.16A lays out a flat composite panel comprising of one center panel connecting four other panels at four edges by living hinges 24 and the further two panels in living hinge 24 connection. Both sides of the four surrounding panels are attached with either grooves 22 or hollow rods 19 at a forty five degree inward orientation. In Fig. l6B, these four panels plus the extra two top panels are picked up to interlock adjacent hollow rods 19 and grooves 22. Fig.16C illustrates a completed open top box with four interlocked hollow rods and grooves 60 standing at corners of the box as interlocked posts to take loads above them. Positioning lock pins are attached to the top panels to lock into the rod hollowness. Fig. l6D illustrates the completion of the box building after closing the top panels as box lids.

Fig. l7A shows an interlocked key slot, an interlocked angle post 50, and its portions. Fig. l7B shows an interlocked key slot, an interlocked rectangle post 52, and its portions. Fig. l7C shows an interlocked key slot, an interlocked triangle post 54, and its portions. Fig. l7D shows an interlocked key slot, an interlocked round post 56, and its portions. Fig.17E shows the above mentioned key slot and interlocked post portions attached to the box's vertical panels for interlocking.

Fig.17F illustrate key slot interlocked posts in the form of a 90 degree angle, rectangle, and triangle, and rounded shape respectively standing at corners of the box along with vertical panels on living hinges.

Fig.18A shows an interlocked ribbed rectangle post 58 and its portions. Fig.18B shows an interlocked sectional insertion post 59 and its portions. Fig. l8C shows the above mentioned key slot interlocked post portions attached to the box's vertical panels for interlocking.

Fig. l8D illustrates interlocked ribbed rectangle posts and sectional insert posts standing at corners of the box along with vertical panels on living hinges.

Advantages a) Panels in a limited number of sizes and designs can be assembled into boxes of various dimensions.

b) Modular panels with grooves, rods, and living hinges allow the panels to interlock into a flat pattern, dihedral pattern, and trihedral angle pattern without using any accessories.

c) The designs of using interlocked posts at corners of a box and its portions attaching box panels on living hinges not only allow them to take an unexpected load above them, but also reach a new high level for the simplicity of reusable box assembly. d) My interlocking mechanism makes box assembly and disassembly simple and user and packaging equipment friendly.

e) As a reusable alternative to cardboard boxes, my interlocking mechanism helps the packaging industry save enormous amounts of natural resources.

f) It helps reuse and circulate boxes in society and businesses, saving millions of acres of trees from being chopped down to produce cardboard boxes.

g) Reusable boxes under my interlocking mechanism are lightweight, strong, sleek inside and out for easy cleaning, significantly reducing costs. h) My design is versatile. The panels can be made of a variety of materials such as insulation, cushions, metals, plastics, composites, etc. Additionally, customized panels can be used to assemble toys, furniture, housings, partitions, etc.

i) As completely novice and practical designs, my interlocking mechanism helps

introduce new product lines and new business models that have never been seen before.

Conclusion, Ramifications, and Scope

Accordingly, the reader will see that the panel interlocking mechanism for building enclosures is simple, convenient, and practical. Replacing cardboard boxes with reusable boxes based on this present invention can cut down pollution and preserve enormous amounts of precious natural resources. It also becomes more economical for consumers and businesses while generating new product lines.

Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the embodiments, but as merely providing illustrations of several embodiments. For instance, the reinforcing rod can be modified to include a cover to smooth out the outer surface of the enclosure. The mechanism allows panels to connect into flat or curved surfaces instead of enclosures at all sides. The sheet rolled grooves are not limited to be identical to each other in configurations for interlocking. The cross-sectional peripherals of rods are not limited to matching the groove contours but can be in a variety of shapes as long as it's being gripped by the grooves to interlock. Likewise, interlocked posts that connect the box's side panels on living hinges are not limited to the portions and interlocking designs as described above but can be in any mechanical means to allow portions attached to panels interlock to posts that support loads above them. Other additions on panels can include cushions, double panels, corrugated panels, multiple layers, construction materials, etc.

Building permanent structures is within reach by using my mechanism and further fastening the grooves together by bolts, glue or one of the many other fastening devices. Modular panels can also be in a variety of geometric shapes such as triangular, circular, circular sector, convex, or many other shapes. They can also be a combination of panels connected by creases or hinges for folding up and building an enclosure by interlocking at key structural points under my mechanism.

The grooves attached to panel edges can also come in various forms or shapes other than continuous. Some possibilities include sectionals along the panel edges, so long as the interlocking mechanism on panels has similar configurations to those mentioned above. Therefore, the scope of the embodiments should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.