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Title:
CEILING SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/040236
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A ceiling system, a ceiling panel, and a method of covering a ceiling support with a plurality of ceiling panels. In one aspect, the invention may be a ceiling system comprising: a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove; and a plurality of alignment clips, each of the alignment clips comprising a cruciform rib element.

Inventors:
DUSCHL ROBERT A (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2016/048834
Publication Date:
March 09, 2017
Filing Date:
August 26, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ARMSTRONG WORLD IND INC (US)
International Classes:
E04B9/28
Foreign References:
JPH0589637U1993-12-07
US2898640A1959-08-11
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STERNER, Craig M. (Inc.2500 Columbia Avenue,P.O. Box 300, Lancaster Pennsylvania, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A ceiling system comprising: a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove; the ceiling panels mounted to a ceiling support in an interlocked arrangement so that the tongues of the ceiling panels nest within the grooves of adjacent ones of the ceiling panels; and a plurality of alignment clips, each of the alignment clips mounted at an intersection of four of the ceiling panels, each of the alignment clips comprising a cruciform rib element comprising: (1) a first rib section located between the first edge of a first one of the four ceiling panels and the third edge of a second one of the four ceiling panels; (2) a second rib section located between the second edge of the second one of the four ceiling panels and the fourth edge of a third one of the four ceiling panels; (3) a third rib section located between the third edge of the third one of the four ceiling panels and the first edge of a fourth one of the four ceiling panels; and (4) a fourth rib section located between the fourth edge of the fourth one of the four ceiling panels and the second edge of the first one of the four ceiling panels.

2. The ceiling system according to claim 1 wherein the ceiling support comprises a lower surface, each of the ceiling panels mounted to the ceiling support so that the upper face of the ceiling panel is in contact with the lower surface of the ceiling support. The ceiling system according to claim 2 further comprising an adhesive that adheres the upper faces of the ceiling panels to the lower surface of the ceiling support.

The ceiling system according to any one of claims 1 to 3 further comprising: for each of the ceiling panels, each of the first, second, third, and fourth edges comprising a first edge portion adjacent the upper face and a second edge portion below the first edge portion, each of the ceiling panels further comprising: the second edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising the tongue;

the second edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising the groove;

the first edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a first flange that terminates in a distal surface;

the first edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a first recess comprising a first recess wall surface and a first recess floor surface; and wherein in the interlocked arrangement of the ceiling panels, the first flanges nest within the first recesses of the adjacent ones of the ceiling panels so that spaces exist between the distal surfaces of the first flanges and the first recess wall surfaces of the first recesses of the adjacent ones of the ceiling panels; and wherein for each of the alignment clips: (1) the first rib section is located within a first one of the spaces formed between the first recess wall surface of the first recess of the first edge of the first one of the four ceiling panels and the distal surface of the first flange of the third edge of the second one of the four ceiling panels; (2) the second rib section is located within a second one of the spaces formed between the first recess wall surface of the first recess of the second edge of the second one of the four ceiling panels and the distal surface of the first flange of the fourth edge of the third one of the four ceiling panels; (3) the third rib section is located within a third one of the spaces formed between the distal surface of the first flange of the third edge of the third one of the four ceiling panels and the first recess wall surface of the first recess of the first edge of the fourth one of the four ceiling panels; and (4) the fourth rib section is located within a fourth one of the spaces formed between the distal surface of the first flange of the fourth edge of the fourth one of the four ceiling panels and the first recess wall surface of the first recess of the second edge of the first one of the four ceiling panels.

The ceiling system according to claim 4 further comprising: for each of the ceiling panels, each of the first, second, third, and fourth edges comprising a third edge portion adjacent the lower face, the second edge portion located between the first and third edge portions, each of the ceiling panels further comprising: the third edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a second recess comprising a second recess wall surface and a second recess floor surface;

the third edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a second flange that terminates in a distal surface; and wherein in the interlocked arrangement of the ceiling panels, the second flanges nest within the second recesses of the adjacent ones of the ceiling panels so that the distal surfaces of the second flanges abut the second recess wall surfaces of the second recesses.

The ceiling system according to claim 5 wherein, for each of the ceiling panels, each of the grooves is defined by a lower flange surface of the first flange, an upper flange surface of the second flange, and a groove wall surface extending between the upper flange surface of the second flange and the lower flange surface of the first flange, and wherein the first flange has a first length measured from the groove wall surface to the distal surface of the first flange, the second flange has a second length measured from the groove wall surface to the distal surface of the second flange, and the first length being greater than the second length.

The ceiling system according to any one of claims 4 to 6 further comprising: for each of the alignment clips, the first, second, third, and fourth rib sections having a first height; and for each of the ceiling panels, the first recess having a first depth measured from the upper face of the ceiling panel to the first recess floor surface, the first height being less than the first depth.

8. The ceiling system according to any one of claims 1 to 7 wherein, for each of the alignment clips, the first rib section is parallel to the third rib section and perpendicular to each of the second and fourth rib sections.

9. The ceiling system according to any one of claims 1 to 8 wherein, for each of the alignment clips, the cruciform rib element further comprising an intersection point at which the first, second, third, and fourth rib sections intersect.

10. The ceiling system according to any one of claims 1 to 9 wherein each of the alignment clips further comprises a base plate, the first, second, third, and fourth rib section protruding from the base plate.

11. The ceiling system according to claim 10 wherein, for each of the alignment clips, a portion of the base plate is located between the ceiling support and each one of the first, second, third, and fourth ones of the four ceiling panels.

12. A ceiling system comprising: a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove; and a plurality of alignment clips, each of the alignment clips comprising a cruciform rib element.

13. The ceiling system according to claim 12 further comprising: for each of the ceiling panels, each of the first, second, third, and fourth edges comprising a first edge portion adjacent the upper face and a second edge portion below the first edge portion, each of the ceiling panels further comprising: the second edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising the tongue;

the second edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising the groove;

the first edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a first flange that terminates in a distal surface; and

the first edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a first recess comprising a first recess wall surface and a first recess floor surface.

14. The ceiling system according to claim 13 wherein, for each of the ceiling panels, the first recess has a length measured from the first recess wall surface to a distal surface of the tongue and the first flange has a length measured from a groove wall surface of the groove to the distal surface of the first flange, the lengths of the first recess and the first flange being substantially the same.

15. The ceiling system according to claim 13 further comprising: for each of the ceiling panels, each of the first, second, third, and fourth edges comprising a third edge portion adjacent the lower face, the second edge portion located between the first and third edge portions, each of the ceiling panels further comprising: the third edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a second recess comprising a second recess wall surface and a second recess floor surface; and

the third edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a second flange that terminates in a distal surface.

16. The ceiling system according to claim 15 wherein, for each of the ceiling panels, each of the grooves is defined by a lower flange surface of the first flange, an upper flange surface of the second flange, and a groove wall surface extending between the upper flange surface of the second flange and the lower flange surface of the first flange, and wherein the first flange has a length measured from the groove wall surface to the distal surface of the first flange, the second flange has a length measured from the groove wall surface to the distal surface of the second flange, and the length of the first flange is greater than the length of the second flange.

The ceiling system according to any one of claims 13 to 16 further comprising: for each of the alignment clips, the first, second, third, and fourth rib sections having a first height; and for each of the ceiling panels, the first recess having a first depth measured from the upper face of the ceiling panel to the first recess floor surface, the first height being less than the first depth.

The ceiling system according to any one of claims 12 to 17 wherein each of the alignment clips further comprises a base plate, the first, second, third, and fourth rib section protruding from the base plate.

A method of covering a ceiling support with a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising an upper face, a lower face opposite the upper face, a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge, each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue, and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove, the method comprising: a) mounting the ceiling panels to the ceiling support in an interlocked arrangement so that the tongues of the ceiling panels nest within the grooves of adjacent ones of the ceiling panels, the ceiling panels mounted so that the upper faces of the ceiling panels oppose a lower surface of the ceiling support; and

b) during step a), positioning an alignment clip having a cruciform rib element at an intersection of four of the ceiling panels, the cruciform rib element of the alignment clip maintaining the four ceiling panels in orthogonal alignment with one another.

The method according to claim 19 wherein the cruciform rib element comprises: (1) a first rib section located between the first edge of a first one of the four ceiling panels and the third edge of a second one of the four ceiling panels; (2) a second rib section located between the second edge of the second one of the four ceiling panels and the fourth edge of a third one of the four ceiling panels; (3) a third rib section located between the third edge of the third one of the four ceiling panels and the first edge of a fourth one of the four ceiling panels; and (4) a fourth rib section located between the fourth edge of the fourth one of the four ceiling panels and the second edge of the first one of the four ceiling panels.

21. The method according to any one of claims 19 to 20 wherein step b) comprises positioning the alignment clip such that a portion of a base plate of the alignment clip is between the lower face of the ceiling support and the upper face of each of the first, second, third and fourth ones of the four ceiling panels.

22. The method according to any one of claims 19 to 21 wherein step a) comprises adhering and/or fastening the ceiling panels to the ceiling support.

23. A ceiling panel comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first, second, third and fourth edges comprising an upper edge portion adjacent the upper face, a lower edge portion adjacent the lower face, and a middle edge portion between the upper and lower edge portions; the middle edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; the middle edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove configured to receive the tongue; the upper edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a first flange having a lower flange surface that partially defines the groove, the first flange terminating in a distal surface and having a thickness (t) measured from the upper face of the ceiling panel to the lower flange surface of the first flange; the upper edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a first recess comprising a first recess wall surface and a first recess floor surface, the first recess floor surface partially defining the tongue, the first recess having a depth (D) measured from the upper face of the ceiling panel to the first recess floor surface, the first recess configured to receive the first flange; the lower edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a second flange having an upper flange surface that partially defines the groove, the second flange terminating in a distal surface; the lower edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a second recess comprising a second recess wall surface and a second recess floor surface, the second recess floor surface partially defining the tongue, the second recess configured to receive the second flange; and wherein D— t≥ 0.75 millimeters.

The ceiling panel according to claim 23 wherein for each of the third and fourth edges, the groove is defined by the lower flange surface of the first flange, the upper flange surface of the second flange, and a groove wall surface extending between the upper flange surface of the second flange and the lower flange surface of the first flange, and wherein the first flange has a first length measured from the groove wall surface to the distal surface of the first flange, the second flange has a second length measured from the groove wall surface to the distal surface of the second flange, and the first length being greater than the second length.

Description:
CEILING SYSTEM

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a PCT International Application of United States Patent Application No. 14/844,086 filed on September 3, 2015. The disclosure of the above application is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Ceiling panels are added to homes and businesses as a way to add lighting to a room, for acoustic absorption, and for decorative purposes. Regardless of the specific reasoning for adding ceiling panels to an existing drywall ceiling or the like, it is desirable that the ceiling panels be installed and maintained in appropriate alignment so that they are aesthetically pleasing. People tend to find objects that are in alignment more aesthetically pleasing than objects that are misaligned which people often associate with sloppiness and disorganization. Using current ceiling panels and installation techniques, it is difficult to ensure that the ceiling panels are installed in perfect alignment, particularly for a homeowner conducting the installation without professional assistance. Furthermore, even if the ceiling panels are initially installed in perfect alignment, it is not uncommon for adjacent installed ceiling panels to become misaligned over time thereby destroying the symmetry and desired aesthetics. Specifically, very slight movement of the ceiling panels at the corners of the ceiling panels creates a messy and unprofessional aesthetic. A need exists for a ceiling system that ensures alignment during installation and that maintains alignment over time so that the professional appearance of the original installation remains.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0003] The present invention may be directed, in one aspect, to a ceiling system having a plurality of ceiling panels each with an upper face, a lower face, and first, second, third, and fourth edges. The first and second edges may have a tongue and the third and fourth edges may have a groove so that the tongue and groove of adjacent ceiling panels can mate with one another during installation. The ceiling system may also include an alignment clip mounted at the location that four ceiling panels intersect. The alignment clips may include a rib section located between specific edges of each of the adjacent ceiling panels for maintaining of proper alignment among and between the ceiling panels.

[0004] In one aspect, the invention can be ceiling system comprising: a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove; the ceiling panels mounted to a ceiling support substrate in an interlocked manner so that the tongues of the ceiling panels nest within the grooves of adjacent ones of the ceiling panels; and a plurality of alignment clips, each of the alignment clips mounted at an intersection of four of the ceiling panels and comprising a cruciform rib element comprising: (1) a first rib section located between the first edge of a first one of the four ceiling panels and the third edge of a second one of the four ceiling panels; (2) a second rib section located between the second edge of the second one of the four ceiling panels and the fourth edge of a third one of the four ceiling panels; (3) a third rib section located between the third edge of the third one of the four ceiling panels and the first edge of a fourth one of the four ceiling panels; and (4) a fourth rib section located between the fourth edge of the fourth one of the four ceiling panels and the second edge of the first one of the four ceiling panels.

[0005] In another aspect, the invention can be a ceiling system comprising: a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove; and a plurality of alignment clips, each of the alignment clips comprising a cruciform rib element.

[0006] In yet another aspect, the invention can be a method of covering a ceiling support with a plurality of ceiling panels, each of the ceiling panels comprising an upper face, a lower face opposite the upper face, a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge, each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue, and each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove, the method comprising: a) mounting the ceiling panels to the ceiling support in an interlocked arrangement so that the tongues of the ceiling panels nest within the grooves of adjacent ones of the ceiling panels, the ceiling panels mounted so that the upper faces of the ceiling panels oppose a lower surface of the ceiling support; and b) during step a), positioning an alignment clip having a cruciform rib element at an intersection of four of the ceiling panels, the cruciform rib element of the alignment clip maintaining the four ceiling panels in orthogonal alignment with one another.

[0007] In a further aspect, the invention can be a ceiling panel comprising: an upper face; a lower face opposite the upper face; a first edge, a second edge, a third edge opposite the first edge, and a fourth edge opposite the second edge; each of the first, second, third and fourth edges comprising an upper edge portion adjacent the upper face, a lower edge portion adjacent the lower face, and a middle edge portion between the upper and lower edge portions; the middle edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a tongue; the middle edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a groove configured to receive the tongue; the upper edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a first flange having a lower flange surface that partially defines the groove, the first flange terminating in a distal surface and having a thickness (t) measured from the upper face of the ceiling panel to the lower flange surface of the first flange; the upper edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a first recess comprising a first recess wall surface and a first recess floor surface, the first recess wall surface partially defining the tongue, the first recess having a depth (D) measured from the upper face of the ceiling panel to the first recess floor surface, the first recess configured to receive the first flange; the lower edge portion of each of the third and fourth edges comprising a second flange having an upper flange surface that partially defines the groove, the second flange terminating in a distal surface; the lower edge portion of each of the first and second edges comprising a second recess comprising a second recess wall surface and a second recess floor surface, the second recess wall surface partially defining the tongue, the second recess configured to receive the second flange; and wherein D— t≥ 0.75 milimiters.

[0008] Further areas of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating the preferred embodiment of the invention, are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The present invention will become more fully understood from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings, wherein: [0010] Figure 1 is an upper surface perspective view of a ceiling panel in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0011] Figure 2 is a lower surface perspective view of the ceiling panel of FIG. 1;

[0012] Figure 3 is an upper surface view of the ceiling panel of FIG. 1;

[0013] Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line IV-IV of FIG. 3;

[0014] Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line V-V of FIG. 3;

[0015] Figure 6 is a cross-sectional schematic illustrating a first edge of one panel interlocked with a third edge of another panel;

[0016] Figure 7 is a cross-sectional schematic illustrating a second edge of one panel interlocked with a fourth edge of another panel;

[0017] Figure 8 is an upper surface perspective view of an alignment clip in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0018] Figure 9 is a lower surface perspective view of the alignment clip of FIG. 8;

[0019] Figure 10 is a lower surface view of the alignment clip of FIG. 8;

[0020] Figure 11 is a schematic illustration of a plurality of the ceiling panels of FIG. 1 attached to a ceiling support in an interior space;

[0021] Figure 12 is an overhead view of a ceiling system with the alignment clips of FIG. 8 positioned at each intersection of four of the ceiling panels of FIG. 1;

[0022] Figure 13 is a front view of a portion of the ceiling system of FIG. 12 illustrating the intersection of four of the ceiling panels;

[0023] Figure 14 is a cross-sectional view taken along line XIV-XIV of FIG. 13;

[0024] Figure 15 is a cross-sectional view taken along line XV-XV of FIG. 13;

[0025] Figure 16 is a cross-sectional view taken along line XVI- XVI of FIG. 13;

[0026] Figure 17 is a cross-sectional view taken along line XVII- XVII of FIG. 13;

[0027] Figure 18 is an alternative schematic cross-sectional view of the ceiling panel of FIG. 1 illustrating one edge thereof;

[0028] Figure 19 is an alternative schematic cross-sectional view of the ceiling panel of FIG. 1 illustrating another edge thereof;

[0029] Figure 20 is a schematic cross-sectional view illustrating the one edge of the ceiling panel of FIG. 18 interlocked with the another edge of the ceiling panel of FIG. 19. [0030] Figure 21 is an alternative schematic cross-sectional view of the ceiling panel of FIG. 1 illustrating one edge thereof;

[0031] Figure 22 is an alternative schematic cross-sectional view of the ceiling panel of FIG. 1 illustrating another edge thereof;

[0032] Figure 23 is a schematic cross-sectional view illustrating the one edge of the ceiling panel of FIG. 21 interlocked with the another edge of the ceiling panel of FIG. 22.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0033] The following description of the preferred embodiment(s) is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses.

[0034] The description of illustrative embodiments according to principles of the present invention is intended to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings, which are to be considered part of the entire written description. In the description of embodiments of the invention disclosed herein, any reference to direction or orientation is merely intended for convenience of description and is not intended in any way to limit the scope of the present invention. Relative terms such as "lower," "upper," "horizontal," "vertical," "above," "below," "up," "down," "top" and "bottom" as well as derivative thereof (e.g., "horizontally," "downwardly," "upwardly," etc.) should be construed to refer to the orientation as then described or as shown in the drawing under discussion. These relative terms are for convenience of description only and do not require that the apparatus be constructed or operated in a particular orientation unless explicitly indicated as such. Terms such as "attached," "affixed," "connected," "coupled," "interconnected," and similar refer to a relationship wherein structures are secured or attached to one another either directly or indirectly through intervening structures, as well as both movable or rigid attachments or relationships, unless expressly described otherwise. Moreover, the features and benefits of the invention are illustrated by reference to the exemplified embodiments. Accordingly, the invention expressly should not be limited to such exemplary embodiments illustrating some possible non-limiting combination of features that may exist alone or in other combinations of features; the scope of the invention being defined by the claims appended hereto.

[0035] As used throughout, ranges are used as shorthand for describing each and every value that is within the range. Any value within the range can be selected as the terminus of the range. In addition, all references cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties. In the event of a conflict in a definition in the present disclosure and that of a cited reference, the present disclosure controls.

[0036] Referring to Figures 1-3 concurrently, a ceiling panel 100 will be described in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the exemplified embodiment, the ceiling panel 100 is intended to be used in a direct apply or surface mount type ceiling system in which a plurality of the ceiling panels 100 are mounted directly to an existing ceiling support. Specifically, in use a plurality of the ceiling panels 100 are mounted directly to an existing ceiling support such as a drywall ceiling, a plaster ceiling, or the like as opposed to using the ceiling panels 100 in a drop ceiling or suspended ceiling system. The ceiling panels 100 may be mounted directly to an existing ceiling support using adhesives, fasteners, nails, screws, staples, or the like.

[0037] In certain embodiments the ceiling panels 100 may be formed of mineral fiber, mineral wool, fiberboard, fiberglass, rock wool, stone wool, or the like. The ceiling panels 100 may also be metal. Furthermore, the ceiling panels 100 may include decorative lower faces that are exposed and visible within an interior space to enhance the aesthetic effect thereof. Thus, many permutations and variations of the ceiling panels 100 with regard to material, appearance, design, and the like are possible within the scope of the present application.

[0038] The ceiling panels 100 comprise an upper face 101, a lower face 102 opposite the upper face 101, a first edge 103, a second edge, 104, a third edge 105 opposite the first edge 103, and a fourth edge 106 opposite the second edge 104. The first edge 103 is adjacent the second edge 104, the second edge 104 is adjacent the third edge 105, the third edge 105 is adjacent the fourth edge 106, and the fourth edge 106 is adjacent the first edge 103. As described in more detail below, multiple of the ceiling panels 100 are mounted to a ceiling support so that the first edge 103 of one ceiling panel 100 interlocks or mates with the third edge 105 of another ceiling panel 100 and the second edge 104 of one ceiling panel 100 interlocks or mates with the fourth edge 106 of another ceiling panel 100. This interaction will be described in more detail below with reference to FIGS. 13-17.

[0039] Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the first through fourth edges 103-106 of the ceiling panels 100 will be described in more detail. In the exemplified embodiment, the first and second edges 103, 104 have the same structure and appearance and the third and fourth edges 105, 106 have the same structure and appearance. Of course, various modifications are possible so long as the interaction between the edges described herein below remains. Thus, in certain alternative embodiments the first and second edges 103, 104 may have differences relative to one another and the third and fourth edges 105, 106 may have differences relative to one another.

[0040] In the exemplified embodiment the first and second edges 103, 104 comprise a tongue 107a, 107b and the third and fourth edges 105, 106 comprise a groove 108a, 108b. Upon installation, a plurality of the ceiling panels 100 are mounted to a ceiling support in an interlocked arrangement so that the tongues 107a, 107b of the first and second edges 103, 104 of the ceiling panels 100 nest within the grooves 108a, 108b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 of adjacent ones of the ceiling panels 100. More specifically, the tongue 107a of the first edge 103 of one ceiling panel 100 nests within the groove 108a of the third edge 105 of an adjacent ceiling panel 100 and the tongue 107b of the second edge 104 of one ceiling panel 100 nests within the groove 108b of the fourth edge 106 of an adjacent ceiling panel 100.

[0041] As noted above, in the exemplified embodiment the first and second edges 103, 104 have a similar structure and shape and the third and fourth edges 105, 16 have a similar structure and shape. Thus, the details of the first and second edges 103, 104 will be described together below and the details of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 will be described together below. For purposes of describing Figures 4-7, the features of the first and third edges 103, 105 will have the suffix "a" added to the end of the reference numeral denoting the features of those edges and the features of the second and fourth edges 104, 106 will have the suffix "b" added to the end of the reference numeral denoting the features of those edges for clarity in understanding in order to distinguish between the first/second edges 103, 104 and between the third/fourth edges 105, 106. It should be appreciated that similarly numbered features with an "a" or "b" suffix are similar in shape and function except they are on a different edge of the ceiling panel 100.

[0042] The first and second edges 103, 104 each comprise a first edge portion 109a, 109b adjacent to the upper face 101 of the ceiling panel 100, a second edge portion 110a, 110b below the first edge portion 109a, 109b, and a third edge portion 111a, 111b adjacent to the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. The second edge portion 110a of the first edge 103 is located between the first and third edge portions 109a, 111a of the first edge 103. The second edge portion 110b of the second edge 104 is located between the first and third edge portions 109b, 111b of the second edge 104. The first, second, and third edge portions 109a-b, HOa-b, l l la-b are merely portions or sections of the first and second edges 103, 104 that are separately described herein to facilitate proper understanding of the structure. The first, second, and third edge portions 109a, 110a, 111a collectively form the first edge 103 of the ceiling panel 100 and the first, second, and third edge portions 109b, 110b, 111b collectively form the second edge 104 of the ceiling panel 100.

[0043] The first edge portions 109a, 109b of the first and second edges 103, 104 comprise a first recess 112a, 112b comprising or defined by a first recess wall surface 113a, 113b and a first recess floor surface 114a, 114b. The second edge portions 110a, 110b of the first and second edges 103, 104 comprise the tongue 107a, 107b that terminates in a distal surface 129a, 129b. The third edge portions 111a, 111b of the first and second edges 103, 104 comprise a second recess 115a, 115b comprising or defined by a second recess wall surface 116a, 116b and a second recess floor surface 117a, 117b. In the exemplified embodiment the third edge portions 111a, 111b of the first and second edges 103, 104 also comprise a chamfered surface 118a, 118b that extends from the second recess wall surface 116a, 116b to the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. However, as will be discussed in more detail below with specific reference to FIGS. 18-23, this chamfered surface 118a, 118b may not be present in all embodiments and is merely included to achieve a desired aesthetic in some embodiments as it is formed into a portion of the ceiling panel 100 that is visible to a person standing within an interior space within which the ceiling panel 100 is installed.

[0044] Thus, the first and second edges 103, 104 comprise the following surfaces. The first recess wall surface 113a, 113b is a substantially vertical surface extending from the upper face 101 of the ceiling panel 100 to the first recess floor surface 114a, 114b. The first recess floor surface 114a, 114b is a substantially horizontal surface extending from the first recess wall surface 113a, 113b to the distal edge 129a, 129b of the tongue 107a, 107b. The distal surface 129a, 129b of the tongue 107a, 107b extends vertically from the first recess floor surface 114a, 114b to the second recess floor surface 117a, 117b. The second recess floor surface 117a, 117b extends horizontally from the distal surface 129a, 129b of the tongue 107a, 107b to the second recess wall surface 116a, 116b, which extends vertically to the chamfered surface 118a, 118b, which extends at an angle to the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. In the exemplified embodiment, the chamfered surface 118a, 118b forms an oblique, and more specifically obtuse, angle with the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. The above-mentioned surfaces collectively form the profiles of the first and second edges 103, 104 of the ceiling panel 100 in the exemplified embodiment. Of course, it should be appreciated that different edge profiles are possible within the scope of the present application as set forth herein below with particular reference to FIGS. 18-23.

[0045] The third and fourth edges 105, 106 each comprise a first edge portion 119a, 119b adjacent to the upper face 101 of the ceiling panel 100, a second edge portion 120a, 120b below the first edge portion 119a, 119b, and a third edge portion 121a, 121b adjacent to the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. The second edge portion 120a of the third edge 105 is located between the first and third edge portions 119a, 121a of the third edge 105. The second edge portion 120b of the fourth edge 106 is located between the first and third edge portions 119b, 121b of the fourth edge 106. The first, second, and third edge portions 119a-b, 120a-b, 121a-b are portions or sections of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 that are separately described herein to facilitate proper understanding of the structure. The first, second, and third edge portions 119a, 120a, 121a collectively form the third edge 105 of the ceiling panel 100 and the first, second, and third edge portions 119b, 120b, 121b collectively form the fourth edge 105 of the ceiling panel 100.

[0046] The first edge portion 119a, 119b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 comprise a first flange 122a, 122b that terminates in a distal surface 123 a, 123b. The second edge portion 120a, 120b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 comprise the groove 108a, 108b. The third edge portion 121a, 121b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 comprise a second flange 124a, 124b that terminates in a distal surface 125a, 125b. The groove 108a of the third edge 108a is defined by a lower flange surface 126a of the first flange 122a, an upper flange surface 127 a of the second flange 124a, and a groove wall surface 128a extending between the upper flange surface 127a of the second flange 124a and the lower flange surface 126a of the first flange 122a. Similarly, the groove 108b of the fourth edge 108b is defined by a lower flange surface 126b of the first flange 122b, an upper flange surface 127b of the second flange 124b, and a groove wall surface 128b extending between the upper flange surface 127b of the second flange 124b and the lower flange surface 126b of the first flange 122b. The grooves 108a, 108b are recessed into the second and fourth edges 104, 106 of the ceiling panel 100 and exist in the space between the first flanges 122a, 122b and the second flanges 124a, 124b. [0047] In the exemplified embodiment the third edge portions 121a, 121b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 also comprise a chamfered surface 130a, 130b that extends from the second distal surface 125a, 125b of the second flange 124a, 124b to the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. In the exemplified embodiment, the chamfered surface 130a, 130b forms an oblique, and more specifically obtuse, angle with the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100. However, as will be discussed in more detail below with specific reference to FIGS. 18-23, this chamfered surface 130a, 130b may not be present in all embodiments and is merely included to achieve a desired aesthetic in some embodiments as it is formed into a portion of the ceiling panel 100 that is visible to a person standing within an interior space within which the ceiling panel 100 is installed.

[0048] For each of the third and fourth edges 105, 106, the first flange 122a, 122b has a first length LI measured from the groove wall surface 128a, 128b to the distal surface 123a, 123b of the first flange 122a, 122b and the second flange 124a, 124b has a second length L2 measured from the groove wall surface 128 a, 128b to the distal surface 125 a, 125b of the second flange 124a, 124b, the first length LI being greater than the second length L2. This facilitates and better enables the interlocking of adjacent ceiling panels 100 to one another as described herein below with reference to FIGS. 6 and 7.

[0049] The third and fourth edges 105, 106 comprise the following surfaces. The distal surface 123 a, 123b of the first flange 122a, 122b extends vertically from the upper face 101 of the ceiling panel to the lower flange surface 126a, 126b of the first flange 122a, 122b, which extends horizontally to the groove wall surface 128a, 128b, which extends vertically to the upper flange surface 127a, 127b of the second flange 124a, 124b, which extends horizontally to the distal surface 125a, 125b of the second flange 124a, 124b, which extends vertically to the chamfered surface 130a, 130b, which extends at an angle to the lower face 102 of the ceiling panel 100.

[0050] Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the interlocking/mating arrangement between the first and third edges 103, 105 of two adjacent ceiling panels 100 and between the second and fourth edges 104, 106 of two adjacent ceiling panels 100 are depicted and will be described. In order to avoid clutter, only some of the reference numerals described above and provided in FIGS. 4 and 5 are provided in FIGS. 6 and 7. Thus, FIGS. 4 and 5 can be viewed in conjunction with FIGS. 6 and 7 and the description below if desired. [0051] Referring first to FIG. 6, the interlocking arrangement between the first edge 103 of one ceiling panel 100a and the third edge 105 of an adjacent ceiling panel 100b will be described. The same interlocking arrangement occurs between the second edge 104 of the one ceiling panel 100a and the fourth edge 106 of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b (illustrated in FIG. 7). When adjacent ceiling panels 100a, 100b are interlocked together, the first flange 122a of the third edge 105 of the one ceiling panel 100a nests within the first recess 112a of the first edge 103 of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. However, the lower flange surface 126a of the first flange 122a does not contact but instead remains spaced from the first recess floor surface 114a of the first recess 112a. Specifically, the lower flange surface 126a of the first flange 122a is spaced apart from the first recess floor surface 114a of the first recess 112a by a first gap 131a. The first gap 131a is the space formed between the lower flange surface 126a of the first flange 122a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the first recess floor surface 114a of the first recess 112a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. The first gap 131a measures a distance dl of between 0.025 inches and 0.5 inches (0.64 mm and 1.27 mm), more specifically between 0.03 inches and 0.04 inches (0.76 mm and 1.02 mm), and still more specifically between 0.032 inches and 0.035 inches (0.81 mm and 0.89 mm).

[0052] Furthermore, in the interlocked nested arrangement illustrated in FIG. 6 the distal surface 123a of the first flange 122a of the one ceiling panel 100a is spaced apart from the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b by a second gap 132a. The second gap 132a is the space formed between the distal surface 123a of the first flange 122a of the one ceiling panels 100a and the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. The second gap 132a measures a distance d2 of between 0.05 inches and 0.075 inches (1.27 mm and 1.91 mm), more specifically between 0.06 inches and 0.07 inches (1.52 mm and 1.78 mm), and still more specifically approximately 0.062 inches (1.57 mm).

[0053] The tongue 107a of the first edge 103 of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b nests within the groove 108a of the third edge 105 of the one ceiling panel 100a. However the distal surface 129a of the tongue 107a is spaced apart from the groove wall surface 128a of the groove 108a by a third gap 133a having a distance d3 measured between the groove wall surface 128a of the groove 108a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the distal surface 129a of the tongue 107a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. The distance d3 of the third gap 133a measures between 0.05 inches and 0.075 inches (1.27 mm and 1.91 mm), more specifically between 0.06 inches and 0.07 inches (1.52 mm and 1.78 mm), and still more specifically approximately 0.062 inches (1.57 mm). In the nested/interlocked arrangement illustrated in FIG. 6, the second recess floor surface 117a (which is also a lower surface of the tongue 107a) of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b rests atop of the upper flange surface 127a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a.

[0054] Finally, the second flange 124a of the third edge 105 of the one ceiling panel 100a nests within the second recess 115a of the first edge 103 of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b so that the distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a abuts the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a. Thus, in the interlocked/nested arrangement, the distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a is in surface contact with the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. The only surfaces of the one ceiling panel 100a and the adjacent ceiling panel 100b that are in surface contact are the upper flange surface 127a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the second recess floor surface 117a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b and the distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. All other surfaces that face one another or are adjacent are spaced apart as described herein above and illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

[0055] The distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b form a contact surface interface 150 (denoted in FIG. 7) between the one panel 100a and the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. The contact between the distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b creates a stop that results in the formation of the second and second gaps 132a, 133a. This is desirable because it ensures contact between the distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b, which creates the visible contact surface interface 150 of the two ceiling panels 100a, 100b. If the second and second gaps 132a, 133a were omitted it would be possible that interaction of surfaces further up on the ceiling panels 100a, 100b (i.e., interaction between the distal surface 129a of the tongue 107a and the groove wall surface 128a of the groove 108a or interaction between the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a and the distal surface 123a of the first flange 122a) would prevent the distal surface 125a of the second flange 124a of the one ceiling panel 100a and the second recess wall surface 116a of the second recess 115a of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b from coming into direct surface contact. This could result in gaps between the two ceiling panels 100a, 100b within the line of sight of a person standing in a room at the contact surface interface 150, which is an undesired aesthetic.

[0056] As seen in FIGS. 6 and 7, the chamfered surfaces 118a, 130a of the one and adjacent ceiling panels 100a, 100b are aligned to create a "V" shaped profile along the interface formed between the one ceiling panel 100a and the adjacent ceiling panel 100b. Of course, certain embodiments may omit the chamfered surfaces 118a, 130a to achieve a different aesthetic as desired. Thus, the chamfered surfaces 118a, 130a may have different shapes, configurations, orientations, or the like to form any desired profile along the interface of the ceiling panels 100a, 100b, including being vertical surfaces that are continuations of the second recess wall surface 116a and the distal surface 125a. The lower faces 102 of the ceiling panels 100a, 100b may also include ornamentations, decorative features, striations, designs, color, or the like to enhance or achieve a desired aesthetic.

[0057] FIG. 7 illustrates the interlocking arrangement between the second edge 104 of one ceiling panel 100a and the fourth edge 106 of another adjacent ceiling panel 100b. As stated above, this interlocking arrangement is identical to the locking arrangement between the first and third edges 103, 105 of adjacent ceiling panels 100a, 100b and thus will not be described herein in detail, it being understood that the description above with regard to FIG. 6 and the interlocking arrangement between the first and third edges 103, 105 of adjacent ceiling panels 100a, 100b applies.

[0058] Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, but illustrated in particular with reference to FIG. 7, the first flange 122a, 122b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106 has a thickness t measured from the upper face 101 of the one ceiling panel 100a to the lower flange surface 126a, 126b of the first flange 122a, 122b. Furthermore, the first recess 112a, 112b of the first and second edges 103, 104 of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b has a depth D measured from the upper face 101 of the adjacent ceiling panel 100b to the first recess floor surface 114a, 114b of the first recess 112a, 112b. The depth D of the first recess 112b of the second edge 104 (and also of the first recess 112a of the first edge 103) is greater than the thickness t of the first flange 122b of the fourth edge 106 (and also of the first flange 112a of the third edge 105). In certain embodiments, the thickness t is between 0.155 inches and 0.170 inches (3.9 mm and 4.3 mm), more specifically between 0.160 inches and 0.165 inches (4.06 mm and 4.2 mm), and still more specifically approximately 0.162 inches (4.11 mm). In certain embodiments the depth D is between 0.180 inches and 0.21 inches (4.57 mm and 5.44 mm), more specifically between 0.190 inches and 0.20 inches (4.83 mm and 5.08 mm), and still more specifically approximately 0.195 inches (4.95 mm). In certain embodiments D minus t is greater than or equal to 0.75 mm. Thus, the depth D of the first recess 112a, 112b of the first and second edges 103, 104 is at least 0.75 mm greater than the thickness t of the first flange 122a, 122b of the third and fourth edges 105, 106. This difference in thickness t and depth D results in the formation of the first gap 131a described above.

[0059] Referring briefly to FIG. 11, a plurality of the ceiling panels 100 are illustrated mounted to a ceiling support 199 in an interlocked arrangement as described above. Specifically, FIG. 11 illustrates an interior room or space 197 defined between a floor 198 and the ceiling support 199. The ceiling support 199 is a standard ceiling in an interior space 197 such that it may be formed of drywall, plaster, or similar. The ceiling panels 100 are mounted to the ceiling support 199 so that the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100 are in contact with a lower surface 196 of the ceiling support 199 and the lower faces 102 of the ceiling panels 100 are exposed to the interior space 197. The ceiling panels 100 may be mounted to the ceiling support 199 using an adhesive such as a tile or acoustical adhesive known for mounting ceiling panels 100. Thus, the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100 and/or the lower surface 196 of the ceiling support 199 may be coated with an adhesive, and then the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100 are pressed into contact with the lower surface 196 of the ceiling support 199 thereby securing the ceiling panels 100 to the ceiling support 199. Of course, the invention is not to be so limited in all embodiments and in alternative embodiments the ceiling panels 100 may be mounted to the ceiling support 199 using screws, nails, staples, other fastening devices, or the like. Regardless of the technique used for mounting, once installed adjacent ceiling panels 100 are interlocked together by aligning the first and third edges 103, 105 of adjacent panels 100 and by aligning the second and fourth edges 104, 106 of adjacent panels 100, and then interlocking the ceiling panels 100 as described and illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

[0060] When ceiling panels 100 are mounted to the ceiling support 199 in the manner described herein, the corners of four adjacent ceiling panels 100 meet at an intersection point 160. Over a period of time, the ceiling panels 100 may experience an undesirable phenomenon known as pinwheel misalignment wherein the ceiling panels 100 move/rotate relative to one another. Specifically, as a result of pinwheel misalignment that may occur during installation or over the course of time, the intersection point 160 of four ceiling panels 100 may become unsightly as the corners of the adjacent ceiling panels 100 become misaligned. Once installation is complete and the ceiling panels 100 are adhered to the ceiling support 199, this misalignment is very difficult to correct. Therefore, there is a desire to ensure that this misalignment does not occur in the first place.

[0061] Referring to FIGS. 8-10 concurrently, an alignment clip 200 for use during installation of the ceiling panels 100 to ensure maintenance of their alignment during installation and over the course of time will be described. In the exemplified embodiment, the alignment clip 200 generally comprises a base plate 201 and a cruciform rib element 202 extending or protruding from the base plate 201. Of course, the invention is not to be so limited and in certain embodiments the alignment clip 200 may include a cruciform rib element 202 only without also including the base plate 201. It should be appreciated from the description herein below that the cruciform rib element 202 by itself without the base plate 201 may achieve the results desired by the inventive concept described herein (i.e., prevention of pinwheel misalignment). In the exemplified embodiment the alignment clip 200 may be a monolithic component formed of plastic including without limitation thermoplastics such as acrylic, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene and PVC. However, the invention is not to be so limited and the alignment clip 200 may also be formed of metal, cardboard, or the like.

[0062] In the exemplified embodiment the base plate 201 is circular in shape, but the invention is not to be so limited in all embodiments and the base plate 201 may take on other shapes including square, rectangular, or other polygonal shapes as desired and appropriate for a particular use. The cruciform rib 202 comprises a first rib section 203, a second rib section 204, a third rib section 205, and a fourth rib section 206. Other than the cruciform ribs 202, the space within the inner diameter of the base plate 201 is empty. State another way, each of the rib section 203-206 is circumferentially spaced apart from the adjacent rib sections 203-206 by a gap or empty space.

[0063] The base plate 201 comprises an upper surface 207 and a lower surface 208, and the cruciform rib 202 protrudes from the lower surface 208 of the base plate 201. Furthermore, the base plate 201 has an outer surface 211 and an inner surface 212. The inner surface 212 defines an empty space with the exception of the cruciform rib 202 that extends into the empty space. The outer surface 211 of the base plate 201 has a diameter of between 1.0 inches and 1.25 inches (25.4 mm and 31.75 mm), and more specifically approximately 1.125 inches (28.6 mm). The inner surface 212 of the base plate 201 has a diameter of between 0.75 inches and 1.0 inches (19.1 mm and 25.4 mm), and more specifically approximately 0.875 inches (22.2 mm).

[0064] The first rib section 203 is parallel to the third rib section 205, the second rib section 204 is parallel to the fourth rib section 206, and the first and third rib sections 203, 205 are perpendicular to each of the second and fourth rib sections 204, 206. More specifically, the first and third rib sections 203, 205 collectively span the entire outer diameter of the base plate 201 and thus conceptually form a single rib extending across the outer diameter of the base plate 201. Similarly, the second and fourth rib sections 204, 206 collectively span the entire outer diameter of the base plate 201 and thus conceptually form a single rib extending across the outer diameter of the base plate 201. Stated another way, the first and third rib sections 203, 205 are aligned along the same first axis A-A and the second and fourth rib sections 204, 206 are aligned along the same second axis B-B that intersects and is perpendicular to the first axis A-A. The cruciform rib element 202 comprises an intersection point 210 at which the first, second, third, and fourth rib sections 203, 204, 205, 206 intersect. The intersection point 210 is a center point of the base plate 201.

[0065] Each of the rib sections 203-206 has a width W of between 0.05 inches and 0.075 inches (1.27 mm and 1.9 mm), more specifically between 0.06 inches and 0.07 inches (1.5 mm and 1.8 mm), and still more specifically approximately 0.062 inches (1.57 mm). The measurement of the width W of the rib sections 203-206 is substantially the same as the measurement of the second gap 132 formed between the edges of adjacent panels because the rib sections 203-206 are positioned within the second gaps 132 during and after installation to maintain alignment as described herein below. Furthermore, each of the rib sections 203-206 has a height H measured from the lower surface 208 of the base plate 201 to a lower surface 213 of the rib sections 203- 206. The height H of the rib sections 203-206 is between 0.125 inches and 0.175 inches (3.2 mm and 4.4 mm), more specifically between 0.14 inches and 0.16 inches (3.6 mm and 4.1 mm), and still more specifically approximately 0.15 inches (3.8 mm). The thickness of the base plate 201 measured between the upper and lower surfaces 207, 208 of the base plate 201 is approximately 0.04 inches (1 mm). The thickness of the alignment clip 200 measured between the lower surfaces 213 of the rib sections 203-206 to the upper surface 207 of the base plate 201 is approximately 0.19 inches (4.8 mm). Of course, all dimensions provided herein are for the exemplary embodiment only and are not intended to be limiting of the present invention in all embodiments. Therefore, it should be understood that other dimensions are possible for the alignment clip 200 depending on the desired end use. Similarly, other dimensions are possible for the ceiling panels than that which are described herein above in some embodiments.

[0066] Referring briefly to FIG. 12, an overhead view of a ceiling system 300 including a plurality of the ceiling panels 100 and a plurality of the alignment clips 200 is illustrated. The overhead view is a view from above the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100. Specifically, this is not the view a user would have when inside of an interior space with the ceiling panels 100 installed. Rather, this is the opposite view of the ceiling system 300 without the ceiling support illustrated so that the interaction between the alignment clips 200 and the ceiling panels 100 can be readily viewed. As can be seen, one of the alignment clips 200 is positioned at each intersection point 160 where four of the ceiling panels 100 meet. As a result of their positioning, the rib sections 203-206 facilitate and maintain appropriate alignment of the ceiling panels 100 in the ceiling system 300 and prevent the occurrence of the pinwheel misalignment phenomenon described above.

[0067] From this overhead view, the second gaps 132a between adjacent ceiling panels 100 are visible and it can be seen that the rib sections 203-206 of the alignment clips 200 are positioned within these second gaps 132a. In the exemplified embodiment, the second gaps 132a extend along the entirety of each adjacent edge of the adjacent ceiling panels in the ceiling system 300. Of course, the invention is not to be so limited in all embodiments and these second gaps 132a may be located along the edges of the ceiling panels 100 near the intersecting corners of adjacent ceiling panels 100 only in some alternate embodiments. Specifically, in some embodiments the second gaps 132a may only be as elongated as the rib sections 203-206 to permit insertion of the rib sections 203-206 into the second gaps 132a. From a view taken below the ceiling system 100 and within the interior space within which the ceiling system 300 is installed (FIG. 13, for example), a user will not see any gaps between the adjacent ceiling panels 100 due to the contact surface interface 150 as described above with reference to FIGS. 6 and 7. [0068] FIG. 13 illustrates a close-up view of the ceiling system 300 from below the installed ceiling system 300. FIG. 13 illustrates in particular four ceiling panels lOOa-d, referred to herein below as a first ceiling panel 100a, a second ceiling panel 100b, a third ceiling panel 100c, and a fourth ceiling panel lOOd. The first, second, third, and fourth edges 103-106 of the ceiling panels lOOa-d are denoted in the figures with the suffixes a-d to facilitate understanding of which edge corresponds with which ceiling panel. Specifically, for example, the first edge of the third ceiling panel is denoted 103c, the third edge of the second ceiling panel is denoted 105b, the fourth edge of the first ceiling panel is denoted 106a, and the second edge of the fourth ceiling panel is denoted 104d. Thus, with regard to FIGS. 13-17, the suffixes "a" through "d" denoting the specific features of the ceiling panels lOOa-d correspond with the suffixes "a" through "d" of the particular ceiling panel lOOa-d having that feature. Thus, the suffixes "a" through "d" in FIGS. 13-17 do not correspond to a particular edge, but rather to a particular ceiling panel.

[0069] From the view provided in FIG. 13, the chamfered surfaces 118a-b, 130a-b and the contact surface interface 150 are visible along the lower face 102 of the ceiling panels 100. The alignment clip 300 is not visible in this view because it is positioned on the upper face 101 of the ceiling panels 100 between the ceiling panels 100 and the ceiling support 199 (see FIGS. 11 and 12). However, the alignment clips 300 are visible in the cross-sectional views depicted in FIGS. 14-17 to facilitate describing their positioning relative to the ceiling panels 100.

[0070] Referring collectively to FIGS. 13-17, the structural relationship between the ceiling panels lOOa-d and the alignment clips 300 will be described. First, FIGS. 13 and 14 will be described. FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view taken through the first edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b. The interaction between the first edge 103 a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b is identical to that which is illustrated in FIG. 6 and described above and thus certain details of the interlocking arrangement between these edges will not be reiterated herein it being understood that the description of FIG. 6 applies.

[0071] As set forth above, the first and second ceiling panels lOOa-b are interlocked in such a manner that the first flange 122b of the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b nests within the first recess 112a of the first edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100a. Furthermore, in this interlocked arrangement the second gap 132a is formed between the distal surface 123b of the first flange 122b of the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b and the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a of the first edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100b. The second gap 132a extends to the upper surfaces 101a, 101b of the first and second ceiling panels 100a, 100b thereby forming a passageway for insertion of the first rib section 203 into the second gap 132a from the upper surfaces 101a, 101b of the first and second ceiling panels 100a, 100b.

[0072] Either after interlocking between the first and second ceiling panels 100a, 100b is complete or before, the alignment clip 200 is positioned into engagement with the second gap 132a. Specifically, the alignment clip 200 is positioned so that the base plate 201 abuts against the upper surfaces 101a, 101b of the first and second ceiling panels 100a, 100b and so that the first rib section 203 of the cruciform rib element 202 is located between the first edge 103 a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b. More specifically, in the exemplified embodiment the lower surface 208 of the base plate 201 is in surface contact with the upper faces 101a, 101b of the first and second ceiling panels 100a, 100b and the first rib section 203 of the cruciform rib element 202 protrudes into the second gap 132a between the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a of the first edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the distal surface 123b of the first flange 122b of the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b. The measurements of the second gap 132a and the width W of the first rib section 203 described above facilitate and enable this positioning of the first rib section 203. Furthermore, as discussed above the first rib section 203 has a height H and the first recess 112a has a depth D such that the depth D of the first recess 112a is greater than the height H of the first rib section 203. Thus, the first rib section 203 does not extend to the first recess floor surface 114a. Rather, in the exemplified embodiment the first rib section 203 may be spaced from the first recess floor surface 114a by approximately .045 inches (1.14 mm). Furthermore, in the exemplified embodiment the height H of the first rib section 203 is also less than the thickness t of the first flange 122a illustrated in FIG. 7. As a result of the positioning of the first rib section 203 of the alignment clip 200, the second gap 132a is maintained and the alignment of the first and second ceiling panels 100a, 100b is maintained thus avoiding the pinwheel effect noted above.

[0073] An identical interaction occurs between the adjacent edges of each ceiling panel as illustrated in FIGS. 15-17. Specifically, referring next to FIGS. 13 and 15, the interaction between the second edge 104b of the second ceiling panel 100b and the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c will be described. The interaction between the second edge 104b of the second ceiling panel 100b and the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c is identical to that which is illustrated in FIGS. 6, 7, and 14 and described above and thus certain details of the interlocking arrangement between these edges will not be reiterated herein it being understood that the description of FIGS. 6, 7, and 14 applies.

[0074] As illustrated in FIG. 15, the second and third ceiling panels lOOb-c are interlocked in such a manner that the first flange 122c of the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c nests within the first recess 112b of the second edge 103b of the second ceiling panel 100b. Furthermore, in this interlocked arrangement the second gap 132a is formed between the distal surface 123c of the first flange 122c of the fourth edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c and the first recess wall surface 113b of the first recess 112b of the second edge 104b of the second ceiling panel 100b. Furthermore, the alignment clip 200 is positioned so that the second rib section 204 of the cruciform rib element 202 is located between the second edge 104b of the second ceiling panel 100b and the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c. More specifically, the second rib section 204 of the cruciform rib element 202 extends between the first recess wall surface 113b of the first recess 112b of the second edge 104b of the second ceiling panel 100b and the distal surface 123c of the first flange 122c of the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c. The second rib section 204 has a height H and the first recess 112b has a depth D such that the depth D of the first recess 112b is greater than the height H of the second rib section 204. Furthermore, in the exemplified embodiment the height H of the second rib section 204 is also less than the thickness t of the first flange 122c. As a result of the second rib section 204 of the alignment clip 200, the second gap 132a is maintained and the alignment of the second and third ceiling panels 100b, 100c is maintained thus avoiding the pinwheel effect noted above.

[0075] Referring next to FIGS. 13 and 16, the interaction between the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd and the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c will be described. The interaction between the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd and the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c is identical to that which is illustrated in FIGS. 6, 7, 14, and 15 and described above and thus certain details of the interlocking arrangement between these edges will not be reiterated herein it being understood that the description of FIGS. 6, 7, 14, and 15 applies. The third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c is identical to the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c and thus identical numbering using the "c" suffix will be used to describe the similar features on the third and fourth edges 105c, 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c as illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16.

[0076] As illustrated in FIG. 16, the third and fourth ceiling panels lOOc-d are interlocked in such a manner that the first flange 122c of the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c nests within the first recess 112d of the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd. Furthermore, in this interlocked arrangement the second gap 132a is formed between the distal surface 123c of the first flange 122c of the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c and the first recess wall surface 113d of the first recess 112d of the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd. Furthermore, the alignment clip 200 is positioned so that the third rib section 205 of the cruciform rib element 202 is located between the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c and the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd. More specifically, the third rib section 205 of the cruciform rib element 202 is located between the first recess wall surface 113d of the first recess 112d of the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd and the distal surface 123c of the first flange 122c of the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c. The third rib section 205 has a height H and the first recess 112d has a depth D such that the depth D of the first recess 112d is greater than the height H of the third rib section 205. Furthermore, in the exemplified embodiment the height H of the third rib section 205 is also less than the thickness t of the first flange 122c. As a result of the third rib section 205 of the alignment clip 200, the second gap 132a is maintained and the alignment of the third and fourth ceiling panels 100c, lOOd is maintained thus avoiding the pinwheel effect noted above.

[0077] Finally, referring to FIGS. 13 and 17, the interaction between the second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the fourth edge 106d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd will be described. The interaction between the second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the fourth edge 106d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd is identical to that which is illustrated in FIGS. 6, 7, and 14-16 and described above and thus certain details of the interlocking arrangement between these edges will not be reiterated herein it being understood that the description of FIGS. 6, 7, and 14-16 applies. The second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a is identical to the first edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100a and thus identical numbering using the "a" suffix will be used to describe the similar features of the first and second edges 103a, 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a as illustrated in FIGS. 14 and 17. [0078] As illustrated in FIG. 17, the first and fourth ceiling panels 100a, lOOd are interlocked in such a manner that the first flange 122d of the fourth edge 106d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd nests within the first recess 112a of the second edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100a. Furthermore, in this interlocked arrangement the second gap 132a is formed between the distal surface 123d of the first flange 122d of the fourth edge 105d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd and the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a of the second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a. Furthermore, the alignment clip 200 is positioned so that the fourth rib section 206 of the cruciform rib element 202 is located between the second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the fourth edge 106d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd. More specifically, the fourth rib section 206 of the cruciform rib element 202 is located between the first recess wall surface 113a of the first recess 112a of the second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the distal surface 123d of the first flange 122d of the fourth edge 106d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd. The fourth rib section 206 has a height H and the first recess 112a has a depth D such that the depth D of the first recess 112a is greater than the height H of the fourth rib section 206. Furthermore, in the exemplified embodiment the height H of the fourth rib section 206 is also less than the thickness t of the first flange 122d. As a result of the fourth rib section 206 of the alignment clip 200, the second gap 132a is maintained and the alignment of the first and fourth ceiling panels 100a, lOOd is maintained thus avoiding the pinwheel effect noted above.

[0079] Thus, referring collectively to FIGS. 13-17, a single alignment clip 200 is positioned at the intersection 160 of the four ceiling panels lOOa-d and the first, second, third, and fourth rib sections 203-206 of the cruciform rib element 202 extend into the gaps 132a between the edges of each of the adjacent ceiling panels lOOa-d. Specifically, the first rib section 203 extends into the gap 132a between the first edge 103a of the first ceiling panel 100a and the third edge 105b of the second ceiling panel 100b, the second rib section 204 extends into the gap 132a between the second edge 104b of the second ceiling panel 100b and the fourth edge 106c of the third ceiling panel 100c, the third rib section 205 extends into the gap 132a between the third edge 105c of the third ceiling panel 100c and the first edge 103d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd, and the fourth rib section 206 extends into the gap 132a between the fourth edge 106d of the fourth ceiling panel lOOd and the second edge 104a of the first ceiling panel 100a. Thus, a single alignment clip 200 ensures alignment of the four ceiling panels lOOa-d during installation and maintains this alignment after installation is complete. One of the alignment clips 200 may be positioned at every intersection of four adjacent ceiling panels, as illustrated in FIG. 12, to ensure alignment of all of the ceiling panels in the ceiling system 300.

[0080] Although not illustrated in the drawings, it should be appreciated that in the exemplified embodiment, a portion of the base plate 201 of the alignment clip 200 will be located between the ceiling support and each of the first, second, third, and fourth ceiling panels lOOa-d. Thus, when adhesive is used to mount the ceiling panels lOOa-d, the thickness of the adhesive should be sufficient to ensure proper contact between the upper faces lOla-d of the ceiling panels 100a- d and the ceiling support 199. The base plate 201 having a thickness of only 1 mm, as noted above, minimizes the effect that the base plate 201 has on the thickness of the required adhesive or other fastener. Additionally, the adhesive can flow through the spaces between the rib sections 203-206 to provide an additional region of attachment so that the alignment clip 200 does not detract from the contact between the adhesive and the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100. Furthermore, in embodiments that do not include the base plate 201 but rather only a stand-alone cruciform rib element 202, this is a non-issue as the entire alignment clip 200 in such embodiment is inserted within the gaps 132a and no part of the alignment clip 200 is positioned between the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100 and the ceiling support 199.

[0081] Furthermore, it should also be appreciated that the alignment clips 200, due to their placement between the ceiling panels 100 and the ceiling support 199, remain positioned at this location even after installation. Thus, the alignment clips 200 are not simply used during installation and then removed after installation is complete. Rather, the alignment clips 200 remain in place for as long as the ceiling panels 100 remain mounted to the ceiling support 199, thereby ensuring that alignment is maintained for the lifecycle of the ceiling system 300.

[0082] To install the ceiling panels 100, the ceiling panels 100 are mounted to the ceiling support 199 in an interlocked arrangement as discussed above with the upper faces 101 of the ceiling panels 100 opposing the lower surface 196 of the ceiling support 199. Furthermore, during installation of the ceiling panels 100, the alignment clip 200 is positioned at every intersection 160 of four of the ceiling panels 100 (or at select intersections 160 as desired). The alignment clip 200, and more specifically the cruciform rib 202 thereof, maintains the four ceiling panels 100 in orthogonal alignment with one another.

[0083] Referring now to FIGS. 18-20, an alternate ceiling panel 400 is illustrated. The alignment clip 200 described herein above may be used with the ceiling panel 400 to maintain the orthogonal alignment of a plurality of the ceiling panels 400 that are mounted on a ceiling support in much the same manner as described herein above.

[0084] The ceiling panels 400 are identical to the ceiling panels 100 except as described herein below. Specifically, the ceiling panels 400 comprise an upper face 401, a lower face 402, a first edge 403, a second edge 404, a third edge 405, and a fourth edge 406. The first and second edges 403, 404 are identical in structure and the third and fourth edges 405, 406 are identical in structure, and thus the numerals 403, 404 are pointing to the same edge and the numerals 405, 406 are pointing to the same edge.

[0085] The first and second edges 403, 404 comprise a first edge portion 409, a second edge portion 410, and a third edge portion 411. The first and second edge portions 409, 410 are identical to the same structure on the first and second edges 103, 104 of the first ceiling panel 100 described above. Specifically, the first edge portion 409 comprises a recess 412 defined by a recess wall surface 413 and a recess floor surface 414. The second edge portion 410 comprises a tongue 407. However, the third edge portion 411 of the first and second edges 403, 404 of the ceiling panels 400 are different than the same named feature of the ceiling panels 100 described above. Specifically, the third edge portion 411 of the first and second edges 403, 404 of the ceiling panels 400 comprises a single linear wall surface 415 that extends downwardly from the tongue 407 towards the lower face 402 of the ceiling panel 400 and forms an acute angle with the lower face 402 of the ceiling panel 400.

[0086] The third and fourth edges 404, 405 comprise a first edge portion 419, a second edge portion 420, and a third edge portion 421. Again, the first and second edge portions 419, 420 are identical to the same structure on the third and fourth edges 105, 106 of the first ceiling panel 100 described above. Specifically, the first edge portion 419 comprises a first flange 422 and the second edge portion 420 comprises a groove 408. However, the third edge portion 421 of the third and fourth edges 405, 406 of the ceiling panels 400 are different than the same named feature of the ceiling panels 100 described above. Specifically, the third edge portion 421 of the third and fourth edges 405, 406 of the ceiling panels 400 comprise a single linear wall surface 423 that extends downwardly from the groove 408 towards the lower face 402 of the ceiling panel 400 and forms an acute angle with the lower face 402 of the ceiling panel 400.

[0087] Referring to FIG. 20, the interlocking arrangement between either the first edge 403 of a first one of the ceiling panels 400a and a third edge 405 of a second one of the ceiling panels 400b or between the second edge 403 of a first one of the ceiling panels 400a and a fourth edge

406 of a second one of the ceiling panels 400b will be described. When interlocked, the tongue

407 of the first or second edge 403, 404 nests within the groove 408 of the third or fourth edge 405, 406. Furthermore, the linear wall surface 415 of the first or second edge 403, 404 abuts the linear wall surface 423 of the third or fourth edge 405, 406. Due to the orientation of the linear wall surfaces 415, 423, a smooth transition is formed between the first and second ones of the ceiling panels 400a, 400b. This creates a different appearance and structure at the interface than was formed by the chamfered surfaces of the ceiling panels 100 described above. Specifically, the interface of the first and second ones of the ceiling panels 400a, 400b is forms a flush, smooth surface and transition from the lower face 402a of the first one of the ceiling panels 400a and the lower face 402b of the second one of the ceiling panels 400b.

[0088] Notwithstanding the above difference, in this embodiment a gap 432 is still created between the flange 419 of the third or fourth edge 405, 406 and the recess wall surface 413 of the recess 412 of the first or second edge 403, 404. Thus, the alignment clips 200 described above with reference to FIGS. 8-10 can be used to achieve alignment of a plurality of the ceiling panels 400 during installation and to maintain such alignment over the course of time. Specifically, the alignment clips 200 can be positioned so that one of the rib sections 203-206 extends into each one of the gaps 432 between adjacent ceiling panels 400 in the ceiling system. Thus, despite the difference in shape and structure of the ceiling panels 400 relative to the ceiling panels 100, the alignment clips 200 can still be used.

[0089] Referring to FIGS. 21-23, another alternate ceiling panel 500 is illustrated. The alignment clip 200 described herein above may be used with the ceiling panel 500 to maintain the orthogonal alignment of a plurality of the ceiling panels 450 that are mounted on a ceiling support in much the same manner as described herein above.

[0090] The ceiling panels 500 are similar to the ceiling panels 100 described above except the tongue and the groove are omitted. The ceiling panels 500 comprise an upper face 501, a lower face 502, a first edge 503, a second edge 504, a third edge 505, and a fourth edge 506. The first and second edges 503, 504 are identical and the third and fourth edges 505, 506 are identical, and thus only one edge is illustrated to represent the first and second edges 503, 504 and only one edge is used to represent the third and fourth edges 505, 506. [0091] The first and second edges 503, 504 of the ceiling panels 500 comprise a first edge portion 509 and a second edge portion 510. The first edge portion 509 is adjacent to the upper face 501 of the ceiling panel 500 and the second edge portion 510 is adjacent to the lower face 502 of the ceiling panel 500. The first and second edges 503, 504 of the ceiling panels 500 do not also include a third edge portion as with the earlier described ceiling panels 100, 400. The first edge portion 509 of the first and second edges 503, 504 of the ceiling panel 500 comprises a recess 512 comprising a recess wall surface 513 and a recess floor surface 514. The second edge portion 510 of the first and second edges 503, 504 of the ceiling panel 500 comprises a flange 515. In the exemplified embodiment, the first and second edges 503, 504 of the ceiling panel 500 also comprise a chamfered surface 516 that extends from the flange 515 to the lower face 502 of the ceiling panel 500. However, this chamfered surface 516 may be omitted if desired.

[0092] The third and fourth edges 505, 506 of the ceiling panels 500 comprise a first edge portion 519 and a second edge portion 520. The first edge portion 519 is adjacent to the upper face 501 of the ceiling panel 500 and the second edge portion 520 is adjacent to the lower face 502 of the ceiling panel 500. The third and fourth edges 505, 506 of the ceiling panels 500 do not also include a third edge portion as with the earlier described ceiling panels 100, 400. The first edge portion 519 of the third and fourth edges 505, 506 of the ceiling panel 500 comprises a flange 522. The second edge portion 520 of the third and fourth edges 505, 506 of the ceiling panel 500 comprises a recess 523 defined by a recess floor surface 524 and a recess wall surface 525. In the exemplified embodiment, the third and fourth edges 505, 506 of the ceiling panel 500 also comprise a chamfered surface 526 that extends from the recess wall surface 525 to the lower face 502 of the ceiling panel 500. However, this chamfered surface 526 may be omitted if desired.

[0093] Referring to FIG. 23, the interlocking arrangement between either the first edge 503 of a first one of the ceiling panels 500a and a third edge 505 of a second one of the ceiling panels 500b or between the second edge 503 of a first one of the ceiling panels 500a and a fourth edge 506 of a second one of the ceiling panels 500b will be described. When interlocked the flange 522 of the third or fourth edge 505, 506 nests within the recess 512 of the first or second edge 503, 504 and the flange 515 of the first or second edge 503, 504 nests within the recess 523 of the third or fourth edge 505, 506. In this embodiment a distal surface of the flange 515 of the first or second edge 503, 504 abuts against the recess wall surface 525 of the recess 523 of the third or fourth edge 505, 506.

[0094] Furthermore, also in this embodiment, a gap 532 is created between the flange 522 of the third or fourth edge 505, 506 and the recess wall surface 513 of the recess 512 of the first or second edge 503, 504. Thus, the alignment clips 200 described above with reference to FIGS. 8- 10 can be used to achieve alignment of a plurality of the ceiling panels 500 during installation and to maintain such alignment over the course of time. Specifically, the alignment clips 200 can be positioned so that one of the rib sections 203-206 extends into each one of the gaps 532 between adjacent ceiling panels 500 in the ceiling system. Thus, despite the difference in shape and structure of the ceiling panels 500 relative to the ceiling panels 100, 400, the alignment clips 200 can still be used.

[0095] The invention described herein permits the alignment clips 200 described herein to be used to facilitate alignment of a plurality of ceiling panels 100, 400, 500 during installation and to assist in maintaining this alignment over the course of time. Furthermore, the alignment clips 200 are capable of being used with ceiling panels such as those described herein that have a tongue and groove type interactive interlocking structure. Specifically, the ceiling panels 100, 400, 500 and the alignment clips 200 are specifically designed to be capable of being used together in a ceiling system. Furthermore, as noted herein above in certain embodiments the alignment clips 200 may include the cruciform rib element 202 but not also the base plate 201. In such an alternative embodiment of the alignment clips 200, the cruciform rib element 202 of the alignment clips 200 can be entirely inserted within the gaps 132, 432, 532 to achieve the same results that are achieved with the alignment clips 200 described herein and illustrated in the drawings.

[0096] While the invention has been described with respect to specific examples including presently preferred modes of carrying out the invention, those skilled in the art will appreciate that there are numerous variations and permutations of the above described systems and techniques. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural and functional modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. Thus, the spirit and scope of the invention should be construed broadly as set forth in the appended claims.