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Publication numberUS20050167428 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/063,091
Publication dateAug 4, 2005
Filing dateFeb 22, 2005
Priority dateJul 1, 1998
Also published asUS20090114648
Publication number063091, 11063091, US 2005/0167428 A1, US 2005/167428 A1, US 20050167428 A1, US 20050167428A1, US 2005167428 A1, US 2005167428A1, US-A1-20050167428, US-A1-2005167428, US2005/0167428A1, US2005/167428A1, US20050167428 A1, US20050167428A1, US2005167428 A1, US2005167428A1
InventorsMichael Kellogg, Dean Krotts
Original AssigneeBajer Design & Marketing, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Collapsible structure
US 20050167428 A1
Abstract
A collapsible structure having a top panel, bottom panel, side panels, a front panel, and a rear panel releasibly attached and forming an enclosure having a door. Each top, bottom, and side panel comprises a two-ply web of material and a removably seated continuous loop frame. One or more handles may be attached to the structure or formed within one or more of the panels. A method of making and collapsing the structure is also disclosed.
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Claims(20)
1. A collapsible structure comprising:
a plurality of adjacent body panels, each one of said plurality of adjacent body panels being releasibly attached to adjacent ones of said plurality of adjacent body panels, each one of said plurality of body panels having a first layer and a second layer, the first layer comprising a non-interrupted web and the second layer comprising a web having an opening formed therein;
a plurality of looped flexible frame members, each one of said plurality of frame members being respectively removably positioned in a pocket formed between said first layer and said second layer of a selected one of said plurality of body panels and forming a body panel having a front side, a back side, and two lateral sides;
a rear panel having a plurality of sides, each one of said plurality of sides being releasibly attached to a respective body panel rear side; and
a front panel having a plurality of sides and an opening formed therein, each one of said plurality of sides being releasibly attached to a respective body panel front side.
2. The collapsible structure of claim 1 further including frame stitching, said frame stitching extending through said first layer and said second layer and being substantially parallel to and located adjacent to said frame member.
3. The collapsible structure of claim 1 further including a pair of substantially parallel lines of stitching, said lines of stitching extending through said first layer and said second layer and being substantially parallel to said frame member, the frame member being located between each member of said pair of parallel lines of stitching.
4. The collapsible structure of claim 1 further comprising at least one handle member, said handle member being secured to at least one of said body panels.
5. The collapsible structure of claim 1 wherein said looped frame forms a continuous loop.
6. The collapsible structure of claim 1 wherein at least one of said second layer includes a cover hingedly attached, wherein said cover covers said opening formed therein.
7. The collapsible structure of claim 1 wherein said opening in said front panel comprises a door for ingress and egress.
8. A collapsible enclosure comprising:
a plurality of adjacent body panels, each one of said plurality of adjacent body panels being releasibly connected to adjacent ones of said plurality of adjacent body panels, each body panel including a two-ply web, and a looped frame;
the two-ply web including a first layer and a second layer forming a pocket, the first layer comprising a non-interrupted web and the second layer comprising a web having an opening formed therein;
the frame being positioned in a pocket between the first layer and the second layer of the web; and
a rear panel and a front panel releasibly connected to said body panels, said front panel having an opening formed therein.
9. The collapsible enclosure of claim 8 further including frame stitching, said frame stitching extending through said first layer and said second layer and being substantially parallel to and located adjacent to said frame member.
10. The collapsible enclosure of claim 8 further including a pair of substantially parallel lines of stitching, said lines of stitching extending through said first layer and said second layer and being substantially parallel to said frame member, the frame member being located between each member of said pair of parallel lines of stitching.
11. The collapsible enclosure of claim 8 further comprising at least one handle member, said handle member being secured to at least one of said body panels.
12. The collapsible enclosure of claim 8 wherein said looped frame forms a continuous loop.
13. The collapsible enclosure of claim 8 wherein said opening in said front panel comprises a door for ingress and egress.
14. A collapsible structure comprising:
a plurality of adjacent body panels, each one of said plurality of body panels having a first layer and a second layer, the first layer having an edge and the second layer having an edge, the first layer comprising a non-interrupted web and the second layer comprising a web having an opening formed therein;
each one of said plurality of adjacent body panels is attached to adjacent ones of said plurality of adjacent body panels, wherein said edge of said first layer and said edge of said second layer of one of said plurality of body panels overlays said edge of said first layer and said edge of said second layer of an adjacent one of said plurality of body panels, said overlaying edges being covered with a covering web, and a stitching applied to connect the said overlaying edges and said covering web;
a plurality of looped flexible frame members, each one of said plurality of frame members being respectively removably positioned in a pocket formed between said first layer and said second layer of a selected one of said plurality of body panels and forming a body panel having a front side, a back side, and two lateral sides;
a rear panel having a plurality of sides, each one of said plurality of sides being releasibly attached to a respective body panel rear side; and
a front panel having a plurality of sides and an opening formed therein, each one of said plurality of sides being releasibly attached to a respective body panel front side.
15. The collapsible structure of claim 14 further including frame stitching, said frame stitching extending through said first layer and said second layer and being substantially parallel to and located adjacent to said frame member.
16. The collapsible structure of claim 14 further including a pair of substantially parallel lines of stitching, said lines of stitching extending through said first layer and said second layer and being substantially parallel to said frame member, the frame member being located between each member of said pair of parallel lines of stitching.
17. The collapsible structure of claim 14 further comprising at least one handle member, said handle member being secured to at least one of said body panels.
18. The collapsible structure of claim 14 wherein said looped frame forms a continuous loop.
19. The collapsible structure of claim 14 wherein at least one of said second layer includes a cover hingedly attached, wherein said cover covers said opening formed therein.
20. The collapsible structure of claim 14 wherein said opening in said front panel comprises a door for ingress and egress.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a continuation-in-part patent application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/413,925 filed 15 Apr. 2003 now pending and not abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/834,437 filed 13 Apr. 2001 now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/698,674 filed on 27 Oct. 2000 that has since issued to U.S. Pat. No. 6,494,335, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/393,956 filed on 10 Sep. 1999 now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent Parent application Ser. No. 09/108,521 filed on 1 Jul. 1998 that has since issued to U.S. Pat. No. 5,971,188, now RE37,924 issued 10 Dec. 2002; the pending application and the issued patents are commonly owned by the assignee hereof.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to collapsible structures and specifically to a collapsible container for convenient storage and transportation of items.

The present invention has numerous applications including container, play structure, and shelter. A typical household often encounters the need for temporary storage of garments prior to washing or cleaning. Regardless of the place where laundry or cleaning is done, either at home or in a commercial setting, soiled garments need to be sorted, stored, and eventually transported to a designated place. The present invention can be utilized for garment sorting, storage and transportation. The present invention can also be utilized as an organizer for various objects. For example, the present invention may be used to organize objects normally found in the trunk of a car. Alternatively, the present invention can also be used for other purposes, such as the storage or transportation of toys or other objects. Further yet, the present invention could be used as a child's play structure or pet den structure. Accordingly, its use is multipurpose as both a container and structure.

Numerous devices are known in the art to provide effective storage of soiled garments, for example laundry baskets, conventional hampers, or clothing bags. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 2,625,973 to Weldon et al. teaches a laundry hamper comprising a rectangular frame having upper and lower portions that telescope within one another in a detachable manner. The lower portion includes a base frame, while the upper portion comprises a top frame. A cover is secured by a hinge to the top frame and an outer bag surrounds the rectangular frame. A plurality of small inner bags are provided within the outer bag. U.S. Pat. No. 1,581,888 to Thomas discloses a collapsible receptacle comprising two rectangular wire frames, hingedly secured together, means for holding the frames to form a triangularly shaped structure, and a fabric portion covering the frames and providing an enclosure.

However, all these prior art devices are voluminous in their expanded state, are uneasy to fold or collapse, are still relatively voluminous in their collapsed state, and are difficult to manipulate. The present invention solves the above-mentioned shortcomings and provides a convenient, easy to manipulate, and ergonomic means for storing or transporting garments or other objects.

Other devices are known in the art to be collapsible structures. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,560,385 to Zheng teaches a collapsible play structure. This device forms a large cubicle that children can crawl through. However, each cube of the Zheng device utilizes three (3) frame members, preferably four members, to achieve structural integrity. The present invention may be practiced with as few as two frame members.

Additionally, devices are known in the art to provide an enclosure or structure for temporarily containing or for transporting a pet or other objects. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,539,895 to Hoagland teaches a portable pet carrier having a top portion, a middle section and a bottom portion made primarily from a molded synthetic material, with the top portion having a handle-like structure for carrying the assembled pet carrier and the middle portion having holes for ventilation and a door or window-like structure for placing a pet in or removing a pet from the carrier. Other pet enclosures are known in the art to be collapsible. These devices commonly have a square footprint and a domed configuration, which creates a pet enclosure that is larger than necessary because of unutilized space. As the size of the enclosure increases, its cost increases and its integrity decreases.

All these prior art pet enclosures are voluminous in their expanded state, are either non-collapsible or are uneasy to fold or collapse, are still relatively voluminous in their collapsed state, and are difficult to manipulate. These configurations require more space, consume more materials, and require stronger collapsible framing than are necessary to efficiently contain or transport a pet or other objects. The present invention solves the above-mentioned shortcomings and provides a convenient, easy to manipulate, and more efficiently sized ergonomic enclosure for containing and transporting pets or other objects, and is adaptable for use in most weather conditions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a collapsible structure and specifically to a collapsible structure for storing articles or forming a child's toy and method of making and using the same.

According to the present invention, the foregoing and other advantages are obtained by providing a collapsible structure comprising a plurality of side panels and a floor panel forming an enclosure having an open top. In the preferred embodiment, each side panel comprises a flexible continuous loop frame, a web of material, and an edging material. The edging envelops the frame and is coupled to the periphery of the web. The floor panel is attached to the bottom side of each side panel thus forming the structure.

In an alternative embodiment, each side panel is attached to a side panel separator, which in turn is connected to the next adjacent side panel. The floor panel is attached to both the bottom side of each side panel and to the side panel separators, thus providing means for holding articles within the structure and for supporting the structure in its expanded state.

In another alternative embodiment, a single frame member forms the frame structure for two side panels. Each side panel comprises a web of material and an edging material. The edging material is attached to portions of the web. The edging partially envelops the frame and is coupled to predetermined portions of the periphery of the web. The floor panel is attached to the bottom side of each side panel, thus forming the structure.

In accordance with an aspect of the invention, at least one handle member is coupled to opposite side panels at the open top of the structure. Alternatively, the handle may be coupled to only one side panel or may be an aperture formed within one or more of the side panels. In yet another variation, the edging may be attached to portions of the frame and the handle may be coupled to or looped around the frame at a portion not including edging.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, an optional storage pouch may be coupled to one of the side panels at the open top of the structure. The present invention is easily collapsed into a compact state and the pouch allows storage of the structure in its collapsed, compact state.

In another alternative embodiment, the collapsible structure further comprises a divider panel, the divided panel being attached to diagonally opposite edgings of the side panels. In yet another alternative embodiment, the collapsible structure further comprises at least two divider panels, preferably arranged substantially parallel to each other and being coupled to opposite side panels to create at least three separate compartments within the structure.

In yet another embodiment, each side panel comprises a flexible, continuous loop frame, and a two-ply web of material. The loop frame is captured between the two layers of web material comprising the two-ply web. The floor panel is attached to the bottom side of each side panel, thus forming the structure. Similarly to previously mentioned embodiments, at least one handle member may be coupled to opposite side panels at the open top of the structure. Alternatively, the handle may be coupled to only one side panel or may be an aperture formed within one or more of the side panels. Further, and as discussed in conjunction with previously mentioned embodiments, the two-ply embodiment may further include an optional storage pouch for receiving the structure in the collapsed state for storage.

A preferred method of manufacturing the collapsible structure includes the steps of attaching each handle member to a side of two opposite webs. The edging is next coupled to each web such that the edging surrounds the perimeter of the web and forms a channel or pocket through which the frame will later be inserted. After the requisite number of side panels has been formed, each side of the floor panel is attached to the bottom side of each side panel. Next, a side of each side panel is connected with a side of an adjacent side panel. The frame for each side panel is inserted through the channel formed by each edging. The ends of each frame member are connected, preferably using a crimped butt connector, to give the collapsible structure its ability to freely stand in a rigid, expanded, upright state. Optionally, the edging may be non-continuous to allow the handle members to be attached to or looped around the frame member at a non-continuous gap in the edging.

An alternative method of manufacturing the collapsible structure includes the steps of supplying two attached webs of material. Next, edging is coupled to each web such that the edging substantially surrounds the perimeter of each web and forms a channel or pocket through which the frame will later be inserted. An opening in the edging is left along the respective sides where the two webs are contiguous. A two-web side panel is thus formed. After a pair of two-web side panels have been formed, a single frame is inserted through the channel formed by the edging of each two-web side panel. Each frame first is threaded through the edging surrounding one web and then is threaded through the edging surrounding the second, contiguous web. The ends of each frame member are connected, preferably using a crimped butt connector, in a “figure eight” configuration to give the collapsible structure its ability to freely stand in a rigid, expanded, upright state. The second two-web side panel is completed by the same steps. The pair of two-web side panels are connected together and a floor panel is attached along the lower edge of each side panel.

Yet another alternative method of manufacturing the collapsible structure includes the steps of attaching each handle member to a side of two opposite webs. Coupling the edging to each web such that the edging surrounds the perimeter of the web and forms a channel or pocket through which the frame will later be inserted. After the requisite number of side panels has been formed, each corner of the floor panel is attached to one end of each side panel separator. Next each side panel is connected with one side of the floor panel and with two adjacent side panel separators. The frame for each side panel is inserted through the channel formed by each edging. The ends of each frame member are connected, preferably using a crimped butt connector, to give the collapsible structure its ability to freely stand in a rigid, expanded, upright state. Optionally, the edging may be non-continuous to allow the handle members to be attached to or looped around the frame at a non-continuous gap in the edging.

Yet another alternative method of manufacturing the collapsible structure includes the step of first joining two webs together leaving a small opening for receiving the continuous loop frame member. This forms a side panel. The requisite number of side panels are formed and attached along their side edges. Next, each side of a floor panel is attached to the bottom side of each side panel. The frame for each side panel is inserted through the small opening. Finally the opening is closed. Optionally, one or more handles may be attached to or formed in the side panel, frame or both.

In the alternative embodiment where the first web is continuous and non-interrupted and the second web has an annular configuration, the first step comprises attaching the first web to the second web along their outer peripheries to form a side panel. Next, the requisite number of side panels are formed and attached along their side edges. Next each side of a floor panel is attached to the bottom side of each side panel. The frame for each side panel is inserted into the peripheral opening formed between the first and second webs. Again optionally, one or more handles may be attached to or formed in the side panel, frame or both.

From the expanded state, the structure can be folded and collapsed for storage or transportation. The preferred steps of collapsing the structure include grasping opposite corners of the floor panel and biasing one corner toward the other until all side panels are adjacent and overlay each other. The structure is now partially collapsed but each side panel is still in an expanded state. Next, the optional handle members and the floor panel are inserted in between any two of the adjacent overlaying side panels. By rotating two opposite corners of the flattened, overlaying side panels in opposite directions while biasing the two corners toward each other, the structure will form three overlaying circular loops folded adjacently. Finally, the three overlaying loops may be placed into an optional storage pouch. The pouch prevents the structure from springing back into its fully expanded condition. Alternatively, the three overlaying loops may be maintained in the collapsed state by way of an elastic band or other retaining device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION (WITH SLEEVES)

In yet another embodiment, the collapsible structure is preferably an enclosure being rectangular in shape and comprises a top panel, a bottom panel, two side panels, a front panel having a door, and a rear panel. The top panel, bottom panel, two side panels, front panel, and rear panel are connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular enclosure having the door for ingress and egress. The top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels each comprises a flexible, continuous loop frame, a web of material, and an edging material. The edging envelops the frame and is coupled to the periphery of the web. The top and bottom web preferably comprises a web being continuous and non-interrupted. Each side panel web preferably comprises a web being a continuous and non-interrupted mesh material. The front panel is attached to the front side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. The door is preferably a square shaped cutout in the front panel, and includes a hinged edge and a zipper, although other shapes and other conventional securing means may be used. The rear panel is attached to the rear side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels, thus forming the enclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION (W/SLEEVE AND SEPARATORS)

In an alternative embodiment, each of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels are attached to a side panel separator, which in turn is connected to the next adjacent panel. The front panel is attached to both the front side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels, and to the side panel separators. The rear panel is attached to both the rear side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels, and to the side panel separators, thus providing means for holding pets or other objects within the enclosure and for supporting the enclosure in its expanded state.

Similarly to previously mentioned embodiments, at least one handle member may be coupled to an edge or edges of the top panel or side panels. Alternatively, the handle may be coupled to only one side panel or may be an aperture formed within one or more of the side panels or top panel. In yet another variation, the edging may be attached to portions of the frame and the handle may be coupled to or looped around the frame at a portion not including edging. However, it should be noted handle members are not required to practice the present invention. Further, and as discussed in conjunction with previously mentioned embodiments, these embodiments may further include an optional storage pouch for receiving the enclosure in the collapsed state for storage.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

(2 Ply Closed and 2 Ply Stitched)

In yet another embodiment, each of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels comprises a flexible, continuous loop frame, and a two-ply web of material. The loop frame is captured between the two layers of web material comprising the two-ply web. The front panel is attached to the front side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. The rear panel is attached to the rear side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels, thus forming the enclosure

The top and bottom two-ply web preferably include a first layer and a second layer being continuous and non-interrupted. Each side panel two-ply web preferably includes a first layer and a second layer being a continuous and non-interrupted mesh material. The loop frame is captured between the two layers of web material comprising the two-ply web.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION (2 PLY WITH OPENINGS)

In yet another embodiment, the collapsible enclosure is preferably rectangular in shape and comprises a top panel, a bottom panel, two side panels, a front panel having a door, and a rear panel. The top panel, bottom panel, two side panels, front panel, and rear panel are releasibly connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular enclosure having the door for ingress and egress. The top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels each comprises a flexible, continuous loop frame, and a two-ply web of material. The top and bottom two-ply web preferably include a first layer being continuous and non-interrupted and having a closable opening sized for insertion and removal of the loop frame, and a second layer being continuous and non-interrupted. Each side panel two-ply web preferably includes a first layer being annular in shape having a closable opening and a second web being a continuous and non-interrupted mesh material. The loop frame is releasibly captured between the two layers of web material comprising the two-ply web. The front panel is attached to the front side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. The door is preferably a square shaped cutout in the front panel, and includes a hinged edge and a zipper, although other conventional securing means may be used. The rear panel is attached to the rear side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels, thus forming the enclosure.

Similarly to the previously mentioned embodiments, at least one handle member may be coupled to an edge or edges of the top panel or side panels. Alternatively, the handle may be coupled to only one side panel or may be an aperture formed within one or more of the side panels or top panel, by way of non-limiting example. However, it should be noted handle members are not required to practice the present invention. Further, and as discussed in conjunction with previously mentioned embodiments, the two-ply embodiments may further include an optional storage pouch for receiving the enclosure in the collapsed state for storage.

Summary Methods

Method W/Sleeve

A preferred method of manufacturing the collapsible enclosure includes the steps of attaching each handle member to a side of two opposite webs. The edging is next coupled to each web such that the edging surrounds the perimeter of the web and forms a channel or pocket through which the frame will later be inserted. After the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels have been formed, each side of the rear panel is releasibly attached to the rear side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. Next, a side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels is releasibly connected with a side of each adjacent panel. Next, each side of the front panel is releasibly attached to the front side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. The frame for the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels is inserted through the channel formed by each edging. The ends of each frame member are connected, preferably using a crimped butt connector, to give the collapsible enclosure its ability to freely stand in a rigid, expanded, upright state. Optionally, the edging may be non-continuous to allow the handle members to be attached to or looped around the frame member at a non-continuous gap in the edging. Additionally, an optional storage pouch for receiving the enclosure in the collapsed state for storage may be releasibly attached to any of the panels.

Method W/Separators

Yet another alternative method of manufacturing the collapsible enclosure includes the steps of attaching each handle member to a side of two opposite webs. Coupling the edging to each web such that the edging surrounds the perimeter of the web and forms a channel or pocket through which the frame will later be inserted. After the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels have been formed, each corner of the rear panel is releasibly attached to the rear end of each side panel separator. Next, each of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels are releasibly connected with one side of the rear panel and with two adjacent side panel separators. Next, each corner of the front panel is releasibly attached to the front end of each side panel separator. Next, the front side of each of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels are releasibly connected with the front side of the front panel and with two adjacent side panel separators. The frame for the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels are each inserted through the channel formed by each edging. The ends of each frame member are connected, preferably using a crimped butt connector, to give the collapsible enclosure its ability to freely stand in a rigid, expanded, upright state. Optionally, the edging may be non-continuous to allow the handle members to be attached to or looped around the frame at a non-continuous gap in the edging. Additionally, an optional storage pouch for receiving the enclosure in the collapsed state for storage may be releasibly attached to any of the panels.

Method 2 Ply Closed

Yet another alternative method of manufacturing the collapsible structure includes the step of first joining two webs together leaving a small opening for receiving the continuous loop frame member. This forms one of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. The requisite number of panels are formed and attached along their side edges. Next, each side of a rear panel is attached to the rear side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. Next, a side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels is releasibly connected with a side of each adjacent panel. Next, each side of a front panel is attached to the front side of the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels. The frame for the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels are inserted through the small opening. Finally the opening is closed. Optionally, one or more handles may be attached to or formed in any of the top panel, side panels, or frame, or any combination. Additionally, an optional storage pouch for receiving the enclosure in the collapsed state for storage may be releasibly attached to any of the panels.

In an additional alternative step, frame stitching may be applied preferably substantially parallel to the frame and may comprise a pair of substantially parallel stitch lines.

Method 2 Ply w/Openings

In the alternative embodiment where the top and bottom two-ply web preferably include a first layer being continuous and non-interrupted and having a closable opening sized for insertion and removal of the loop frame, and a second layer being continuous and non-interrupted, and each side panel two-ply web preferably includes a first layer being annular in shape having a closable opening and a second layer being a continuous and non-interrupted mesh material, the first step comprises attaching the first layer to the second layer along their outer peripheries to form each panel. Next, the requisite number of panels are formed and releasibly attached along their side edges. Next each side of a front panel is releasibly attached to the front side of the top and bottom panels and each side panel. Next each side of a rear panel is releasibly attached to the rear side of the top and bottom panels and each side panel. The frame for each panel is releasibly inserted into the peripheral opening formed between the first and second layers. Again optionally, one or more handles may be attached to or formed in any of the top panel, side panels, and frame. Additionally, an optional storage pouch for receiving the enclosure in the collapsed state for storage may be releasibly attached to any of the panels.

Summary Steps of Collapsing

From the expanded state, the enclosure can be folded and collapsed for storage or transportation. The preferred steps of collapsing the enclosure include grasping opposite corners of the rear panel or front panel and biasing one corner toward the other until the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels are adjacent and overlay each other. The enclosure is now partially collapsed but the top panel, bottom panel, and two side panels each are still in an expanded state. Next, the optional handle members and the rear panel and front panel are inserted in between any two of the adjacent overlaying expanded panels. By rotating two opposite corners of the flattened, overlaying panels in opposite directions while biasing the two corners toward each other, the enclosure will form three overlaying circular loops folded adjacently. Finally, the three overlaying loops may be placed into an optional storage pouch. The pouch prevents the enclosure from springing back into its fully expanded condition. Alternatively, the three overlaying loops may be maintained in the collapsed state by way of an elastic band or other retaining device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front plan view of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 2 is a side plan view of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 5 is a front plan view of the preferred embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 6A is a side plan view of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 6B is a partially cut-away view from FIG. 6A showing the frame member 22.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the collapsible structure.

FIGS. 9-12 depict four alternative embodiments of the collapsible structure, namely showing different handle configurations.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the collapsible structure including a storage pouch.

FIG. 14 is a front plan view of a fifth embodiment of the collapsible structure, namely a two-compartment structure.

FIG. 15 is a side plan view of a fifth embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 16 is a top plan view of a fifth embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 18 is a front plan view of a sixth embodiment of the collapsible structure, namely a three-compartment structure.

FIG. 19 is a side plan view of a sixth embodiment of a fifth embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 20 is a top plan view of a sixth embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a sixth embodiment of the collapsible structure.

FIGS. 22A through 30 depict the preferred method of manufacturing the collapsible structure.

FIGS. 31 through 36 depict the method of collapsing the collapsible structure.

FIG. 37 is a front plan view of a seventh embodiment of the collapsible structure, namely a structure having two frame members.

FIG. 38 is a side plan view of the collapsible structure seen in FIG. 37.

FIG. 39 is a top plan view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 37.

FIG. 40 is a perspective view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 37.

FIG. 41 is a front plan view of another alternative embodiment of the collapsible, two-frame structure showing seam covers over the frame insertion points.

FIG. 42 is a side plan view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 41.

FIG. 43 is a perspective view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 41.

FIG. 44 is a side plan view of a pair of side panels.

FIG. 45 is a side plan view of the side panels with the edging partially attached.

FIG. 46 is a side plan view of the side panels with the edging attached.

FIG. 47 is a side plan view of the side panels and edging with the frame member being partially inserted.

FIG. 48 is a side plan view of the side panels and edging with the frame member completely around one side panel and partially inserted around the other side panel.

FIG. 49 is a side plan view of the side panels and edging with the frame member ends connected.

FIG. 50 is a perspective view of two side panel pairs with the panels inverted to show placement of the floor panel 50.

FIG. 51 is an inverted perspective view of two side panel pairs, attached to one another and with the floor panel in place.

FIG. 51 b is an inverted perspective view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 51, but including an optional storage pouch 70.

FIG. 52 is an enlarged view of the area 52 shown in FIG. 49, and showing the helical spring section of the frame member.

FIG. 53 a is a view of the helical section of the frame member.

FIG. 53 b is a cross sectional view of the frame member.

FIG. 54 a is a view of the helical section of an alternative frame member.

FIG. 54 b is a cross sectional view of the alternative frame member.

FIG. 55 is a cross sectional view taken along lines 55-55 of FIG. 46 and showing the frame member in the edging.

FIG. 56 is a side plan view of four contiguous side panels.

FIG. 57 is a side plan view of the four contiguous side panels seen in FIG. 56, but with the edging attached.

FIG. 58 is a side plan view of the four contiguous side panels seen in FIG. 57, with a frame member completely around two side panels and a second frame member partially inserted around the two remaining side panels.

FIG. 59 is a perspective view of the four contiguous side panels seen in FIG. 58, but in inverted position to show placement of the floor panel 50.

FIG. 60 is an inverted perspective view of four contiguous side panels with free ends attached to one another and the floor panel in place.

FIG. 60 a is an inverted perspective view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 60, but including an optional storage pouch 70.

FIG. 61 is a view showing the position of two frames around a four panel collapsible structure.

FIGS. 62-67 depict the method of collapsing the collapsible structure, but using a flexible band to hold the collapsed bag in collapsed state.

FIG. 68 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment collapsible structure and showing the handle members looped around the frame.

FIG. 69 is a fragmentary, enlarged view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 68, with a handle member looped around the frame.

FIG. 70 a-70 c, inclusive, depict the method by which the handle shown in FIG. 69 is looped around the frame.

FIG. 71 is a perspective view of another alternative embodiment collapsible structure having two-ply side panels.

FIG. 72 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the area 300 shown in FIG. 71, and showing the continuous loop frame captured between the two layers of web material.

FIG. 73 is a side plan view of the collapsible structure shown in FIG. 71.

FIG. 74 is a front plan view of the collapsible structure shown in FIGS. 71 and 73.

FIG. 75 is a top plan view of the collapsible structure shown in FIGS. 71, 73 and 74.

FIG. 76 is a bottom view of the structure shown in FIGS. 71, and 73-75.

FIG. 77 is a perspective view, similar to that of FIG. 71, but showing the two layers of web material being stitched together around the loop frame.

FIG. 78 is a perspective view of yet another alternative embodiment collapsible structure having two-ply side panels.

FIG. 79 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the area 500 shown in FIG. 78, and showing the continuous loop frame captured between the two layers of web material.

FIG. 80 is a cross sectional view taken along line 80-80 of FIG. 78.

FIGS. 81A-81C are perspective views of another alternative embodiment showing a collapsible enclosure having two-ply top, bottom, and side panels, and also including a rear panel and a front panel with a door.

FIG. 82 is a front plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 81A.

FIG. 83 is a side plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 81A.

FIG. 84 is a top plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 81A.

FIG. 85 is a bottom plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 81A.

FIG. 86 is a rear plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 81A.

FIG. 87 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the collapsible enclosure.

FIG. 88 is a side plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 87.

FIG. 89 is a partially cut-away view from FIG. 88 showing the frame member 22.

FIG. 90 is a front plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 87.

FIG. 91 is a top plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 87.

FIG. 92 is a bottom plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 87.

FIG. 93 is a rear plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 87.

FIGS. 94-97 depict four alternative embodiments of the collapsible enclosure, namely showing different handle configurations.

FIG. 98 is a perspective view of an additional alternative embodiment of the collapsible enclosure having two-ply side panels.

FIG. 99 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the area 99 shown in FIG. 98, and showing the continuous loop frame captured between the two layers of web material.

FIG. 100 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the area 100 shown in FIG. 98, and showing the continuous loop frame captured between the two layers of web material.

FIG. 101 is a side plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 98.

FIG. 102 is a front plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 98.

FIG. 103 is a top plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 98.

FIG. 104 is a bottom plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 98.

FIG. 105 is a rear plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 98.

FIG. 106 is a perspective view, similar to that of FIG. 98, but showing the two layers of web material being stitched together around the loop frame.

FIGS. 107A-107C are perspective views of yet another alternative embodiment showing a collapsible enclosure having two-ply top, bottom, and side panels, and also including a rear panel and a front panel with a door, wherein the frame is releasibly captured between each layer of the two ply web.

FIG. 108 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the area 108 shown in FIG. 107A, and showing the continuous loop frame releasibly captured between the two layers of web material.

FIG. 109 is an enlarged, fragmentary view of the area 109 shown in FIG. 107A, and showing the continuous loop frame releasibly captured between the two layers of web material.

FIG. 110A is a cross sectional view taken along line 110A-110A of FIG. 107A.

FIG. 110B is a cross sectional view taken along line 110B-110B of FIG. 107A.

FIG. 111 is a top plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 107A.

FIG. 112 is a bottom plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 107A.

FIG. 113 is a rear plan view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 107A.

FIG. 114 is a front view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 107A.

FIG. 115 is a front view of the collapsible enclosure shown in FIG. 107A, and showing the door in an open position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Although the disclosure hereof is detailed and exact to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, the physical embodiments herein disclosed merely exemplify the invention that may be embodied in other specific structure. While the preferred embodiment has been described, the details may be changed without departing from the invention, which is defined by the claims.

The present invention, a collapsible structure 10, is illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4.

As shown in FIG. 4, the structure 10 comprises four rectangular side panels 20, a floor panel 50, and two handles 60 and 62. The side and floor panels 20 and 50 are connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular structure having an open top 16.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, each side panel 20 further comprises a frame 22, a web 24, and an edging 26. The frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff yet resilient material such as spring steel wire or plastic, and is contained within the channel or pocket 25 formed by the edging 26 (best seen in FIGS. 6 b and 24 b). The frame 22 forms a continuous loop. Preferably, the frame 22 has a rectangular cross-section, but a material with a different geometric cross-section can be used. The web 24 is a flexible foldable material, such as nylon cloth or nylon mesh, but can be any suitably flexible material. The nylon, or other flexible material, may be solid or perforated. The perimeter of the web 24 is stitched to the edging 26 such that the edging 26 forms a pocket 25 about the periphery of the web 24. The edging 26 is a foldable, but stretch-resistant material capable of housing the frame 22 within its pocket 25. The edging 26 has two ends 27 and 29.

A seam cover 28, also made out of a foldable stretch-resistant material, may be provided to cover the ends 27 and 29 of the edging 26, thereby protecting the frame 22 from escaping out of the edging 26. As shown in FIG. 1, the seam cover 28 is also stitched to the web 24.

As shown in FIG. 3, the floor panel 50 is also a foldable web of material and has a generally rectangular shape. The floor panel 50 has four corner sections 52, 54, 56, 58 and is attached to four substantially perpendicular sides 51, 53, 55, 57 of each side panel 20. The floor panel 50 provides means for holding the garments or other objects (not shown) within the structure 10 and for supporting the structure 10 in its expanded state.

Referring now to FIGS. 5-8, one embodiment of the collapsible structure 10 is shown. This embodiment includes side panel separators 40 located between each side panel 20. However, it should be noted that the side panel separators 40 are not required to practice the present invention. The side panel separators 40 are shown to be substantially longitudinal, each including an end 42 attached preferably by means of stitching to one of the corner sections 52, 54, 56, 58 of the floor panel 50. The other end 44 of each separator 40 corresponds to the open top 16 of the structure 10. The side panel separators 40 are preferably formed from a stretch-resistant material similar to the material used for the seam covers 28 or the edging 26.

As shown in FIG. 6A, each rectangularly-shaped side panel 20 includes a top side 32 corresponding to the open top 16 of the structure 10, a floor side 34 attached to one of the sides 51, 53, 55, 57 of the floor panel 50, and two lateral sides 36 and 38. Referring just to FIG. 6A, each lateral side 36 and 38 is attached to a side panel separator 40 adjacent to the side panel 20.

As depicted in FIGS. 4 and 8, the handles 60 and 62 have both ends connected to the top side 32 of two opposing side panels 20. The handles 60 and 62 are formed from a stretch-resistant material having a mesh web that extends between a portion of each strap side. The handles for the present invention are not limited to the particular type shown in FIGS. 4 and 8. Several alternative embodiments are shown in FIGS. 9 through 12, illustrating different handle members. In FIG. 9, the handle members 60 and 62 are straps stitched to opposite side panels. FIG. 10 depicts an alternative embodiment wherein the handle members 60 and 62 are apertures or openings formed in the webs 24 of two opposite side panels 20. In FIG. 11, one handle member 60 is shown as a strap coupled to diagonally opposed side seam separators 40. In FIG. 12, the handles 60 and 62 are preferably stitched directly to the webs 24 of two opposite side panels 20.

As shown in FIG. 13, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and stitched to the side 32 of one of the side panels 20. The storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the structure 10 in its collapsed state as later described.

Although stitching is presented as the preferred means for attaching or connecting the elements of the structure 10 and permitting relatively convenient folding of the structure 10, it is to be understood that other methods of attachment can be used in this invention. Such other methods may include heat sealing, gluing and the like. Accordingly, construction of the collapsible structure should not be limited to stitching alone.

FIGS. 14 through 17 depict an alternative embodiment of the collapsible structure 12. The structure 12 further includes a divider panel 80. Divider panel 80 is connected to opposite side seam separators 40 thereby dividing the interior of the structure 12 into two separate chambers.

FIGS. 18 to 21 show a second alternative embodiment of the collapsible structure 14. The structure 14 comprises six side panels 20 and two divider panels 80 and 82. The divider panels 80 and 82 are arranged substantially parallel to one another. Each divider panel 80 and 82 is made out of a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and has two sides 86 and 88 stitched to webs 24 of two opposite side panels 20. The divider panels 80 and 82 separate the interior of the structure 14 into three separate compartments for improved sorting and storage of objects.

FIGS. 22 to 30 show various stages in the manufacturing process of the preferred embodiment of collapsible structure 10. Referring to FIGS. 22A and 22B, the step of stitching the handle 60 to the top side 32 of two (2) of the webs 24 is shown. Specifically, the stitching is shown at 90.

In FIG. 23, a seam cover 28 is partially stitched to side 21 of each of the four (4) webs 24. In the two (2) webs having handles 60 or 62, the seam cover 28 is placed and sewn opposite to the handle 60 or 62. Each seam cover 28 is preferably placed in the middle of the side 21 and includes a flap or unstitched portion, but it is to be understood that it could be placed anywhere on any side of each of the webs 24. Referring now to FIG. 24B, the edging 26 is then folded in a channel-like fashion around the periphery of the web 24 and stitched to the web 24, surrounding the perimeter of the web 24. The stitching is shown at 30. The stitched edging 26 forms a pocket 25 around the periphery of each web 24. In the preferred embodiment, each structure 10 requires four (4) webs 20. The two (2) sides including the web 24, edging 26 and seam cover 28 are shown in FIG. 24 a and the two (2) sides including the handle 60, web 24, edging 26 and seam cover 28 are shown in FIG. 25. Stitching of each edging 26 starts and ends at the seam cover 28, thereby leaving a small space between ends 27 and 29 of each edging 26.

In FIGS. 26A and 26B, the next step involves stitching each corner section 52, 54, 56, 58 of the floor panel 50 to the end 42 of each side panel separator 40. The stitching is shown at 46. Now referring to FIGS. 27 and 28, the step of attaching each of the four side panels 20 by means of stitching to the floor panel 50 and the side panel separators 40 is shown. The two (2) side panels 20 containing the handles 60 and 62 should be positioned opposite each other with the handles 60 and 62 facing inwardly toward each other. First, the floor side 34 of each of the side panels 20 is stitched to one of the sides 51, 53, 55, 57 of the floor panel 50 as shown in FIG. 23. Still referring to FIG. 23, next the lateral sides 36 of each of the side panels 20 is stitched to the corresponding adjacent side panel separator 40. As shown in FIG. 28, once the first lateral side 36 of a side panel separator 40 is stitched on one side, the second lateral side 38 of another side panel separator 40 is stitched to the other side. The resulting enclosure 92 is shown in FIG. 29.

As discussed previously, the structure 10 may be constructed without the side panel separators 40. In constructing the embodiment without side panel separators 40, the two (2) side panels 20 containing the handles 60 and 62 are positioned opposite each other with their handles 60 and 62 facing inwardly toward each other. The floor side 34 of each of the side panels 20 is stitched to one of the sides 51, 53, 55, 57 of the floor panel 50. Next the lateral sides 36, 38 of each of the side panels 20 are stitched to an adjacent side panel 20 thus forming the structure 10 having an open top 16.

The final steps of the manufacturing process of the present invention involve inserting the frame 22 in one of the open ends 27 or 29 of each of the edgings 26 as shown in FIG. 30. The frame 22 is passed through the edging 26 and around the periphery of each of the side panels 20. The ends of the frame 22 are joined together such that the frame 22 forms a continuous loop. In the preferred embodiment, the frame ends are connected by inserting each end into a butt connector and crimping the connector. Finally, the unstitched portion of each seam cover 28 is stitched to side 21 of each web 24 and over the ends 27 and 29 of each edging 26, thereby protecting the frame 22 from escaping the edgings 26.

From the expanded state, the structure 10 may be folded into a collapsed state for storage and transportation. FIGS. 31 to 36 show various steps for collapsing the structure 10. Referring to FIG. 31, the first step requires grasping opposite sides of the structure 10 and biasing one toward the other until all side panels 20 are adjacent and overlay each other. The next step includes inserting the handle members 60 and 62 and the floor panel 50 in between any two of the adjacent overlaying side panels 20 is shown in FIG. 32. It is important to make sure that the storage pouch 70 remains outside of the collapsed side panels 20. In the preferred embodiment, the resulting partially collapsed structure 10 is a stack of four side panels 20. FIGS. 33 and 34 show the next step of rotating two opposite corners 101 and 103 of the partially collapsed structure 10 in opposite directions while biasing the corners 101, 103 toward each other. The structure 10 will first twist and then will rotate to form three overlaying circular loops 150 situated adjacently as shown in FIG. 35. The final step, shown in FIG. 36, is the insertion of the collapsed structure 10 into the storage pouch 70.

When the collapsed structure 10 is removed from the storage pouch 70, the frame members 22 will bias the structure 10 into its fully expanded state. Again, the fully expanded state of the embodiment is that shown in FIG. 4.

Referring now to FIGS. 37-40, the preferred embodiment of the collapsible structure is shown as reference numeral 100. The structure 100 includes four side panels 20 and a floor panel 50. The side panels 20 and floor panel 50 are connected to one another to form the structure 100 having an open top 16. Two side panels 20 are connected to form a pair 84 of side panels 20. Two pair 84 of side panels 20 are preferably used to form the structure 100. The preferred embodiment in these views includes a single modified frame 22′ for each pair 84 of side panels 20. Each side panel 20 further comprises a web 24 and an edging 26. As in the previous embodiments, the web 24 is a flexible foldable material, such as nylon cloth or nylon mesh, but any suitable material may be used. The material may be solid or perforated, as desired. The frame 22′ is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff yet resilient material such as spring steel wire or plastic, and similarly to the previously described embodiments, is contained within the channel or pocket 25 (seen in FIG. 55) formed by the edging 26. The edging 26 is a foldable, but stretch-resistant material capable of housing the modified frame 22′ within its pocket 25. The edging 26 has two ends, 27 and 29. The frames 22′ are each formed in a “figure eight” configuration as will be discussed in more detail. As shown in FIG. 53 b, the frame 22′ has a rectangular cross-section, but a material with a different geometric cross-section may be used. For purposes of example only, an alternative cross-section, seen as circular, is shown in FIG. 54 b.

FIGS. 41-43 illustrate another embodiment of the two frame structure 100. In this embodiment, a seam cover 28 is stitched to each web 24 and over the open ends 27 and 29 of each edging 26, thereby protecting the frame 22′ from escaping the edging 26. Each seam cover 28 includes a flap or unstitched portion, and it is to be understood that it could be placed anywhere on any side of each of the webs 24, depending on the insertion point of the frame 22′ defined by the open ends 27 and 29.

FIGS. 44-49 illustrate the various stages in the manufacturing process of the two-frame structure 100 shown in FIGS. 37-40. To form the first pair 84 of contiguous side panels 20, two integrally formed, contiguous webs 24 seen in FIG. 44, are provided. Edging material 26 is then attached to the web 24 perimeter and a portion of the contiguous border 72, as shown in FIG. 45. The edging 26 is folded in a channel-like fashion around the periphery of the web 24 and stitched to the web 24 with stitching 30. The folded and stitched edging 26 forms a pocket 25 (seen best in FIG. 55) around the periphery of the web 24. Stitching of each edging 26 starts and ends at the open ends 27 and 29, preferably located at the contiguous border 72.

The next steps of the manufacturing process of the present invention involve inserting the frame 22′ in one of the open ends 27 or 29 of the edging 26 as shown in FIG. 47. The frame 22′ is passed through the edging 26 and around the periphery of each of the side panels 20. As the frame 20′ completes its circuit around the first side panel 20, it crosses over itself at open end 27, 29 to form a “figure eight” as it enters the edging 26 of the second panel 20. When the frame 22′ is completely inserted in the pocket 25 surrounding both panels 20, the ends of the frame 22′ are joined together at a helical portion 68 such that the frame 22′ forms a continuous loop. In the preferred embodiment, the frame ends are connected by inserting each end into a butt connector 64 and crimping the connector 64 (see in particular FIG. 52). The steps shown in FIG. 44-49 are completed a second time to form a second pair 84 of contiguous side panels 20. As illustrated in FIGS. 50 51 b, the first and second pair 84 of contiguous side panels 20 are positioned to form the structure 100. The floor panel 50 is attached to the floor side 34 of panels 20, as shown particularly in FIG. 50, and the first and second pair 84 of contiguous side panels 20 are attached to one another along the edging 26 of lateral sides 36, 38 of panels 20. As shown in FIG. 51 b, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and stitched to the top side 32 of one of the panels 20. The storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the structure 100 in its collapsed state, as will be described.

As will be observed in FIGS. 52-54 b, the frame 22′ includes a helical portion 68, 68′. The helical portion 68 has a relatively flat cross section whereas the portion 68′ may be formed with a circular cross section. The helical portions 68, 68′ provide a means for expansion and contraction of the frame 22′ which allows facile folding and unfolding of each individual pair 84 of panels 20, as will be later described.

FIGS. 56-60 b illustrate an alternative manufacturing process of the two-frame structure 100. Seen particularly in FIG. 56, four integrally formed, contiguous webs 24 are provided. As shown in FIG. 57, edging material 26 is then attached to the web 24 perimeter and a portion of the contiguous border 72, leaving insertion areas 74 defined by open ends 27 and 29. Similarly to the previous embodiments, the edging 26 is folded in a channel-like fashion around the periphery of the web 24 and stitched to the web 24 with stitching 30. As seen in FIG. 55, the folded and stitched edging 26 forms a pocket 25. Stitching of each edging 26 starts and ends at open ends 27 and 29.

The next step in the alternative manufacturing process involves inserting a frame 22′ at each insertion area 74, in an open end 27 or 29 of the edging 26. As described with reference to FIG. 46, each frame 20′ of the embodiment shown in FIG. 58 completes its circuit around a panel 20, crosses over itself at insertion area 74, and enters a second panel 20 in open end 27 or 29. After the frame 22′ is completely inserted in the pocket 25 surrounding two adjacent panels 20, the ends of the frame 22′ are joined together to form a continues loop. A crimped butt connector 64 retains the ends. The alternative method of manufacture is completed as seen in FIGS. 59 and 60 in a manner similar to that described with reference to FIGS. 50 and 51. The method may optionally include a storage pouch 70, as seen in FIG. 60 b.

As discussed in reference to the primarily described embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-30, the two frame structure 100 of FIGS. 37-61 may, from the expanded state, be folded into a collapsed state for storage and transportation. FIGS. 31 to 36 show various steps for collapsing the structure 10, and the two frame structure 100 is similarly collapsed, as shown in FIGS. 62-67. Referring to FIG. 62, the first step requires grasping opposite sides of the structure 100 and biasing one toward the other until all side panels 20 are adjacent and overlay each other. The next step includes inserting the handle members 60 and 62, if provided, and the floor panel 50 in between any two of the adjacent overlaying side panels 20 is shown in FIG. 63. It is important to make sure that the storage pouch 70, if provided, remains outside of the collapsed side panels 20 (as shown in FIG. 33). The resulting partially collapsed structure 100 is a stack of four side panels 20. FIGS. 64 and 65 show the next step of rotating two opposite corners 101 and 103 of the partially collapsed structure 100 in opposite directions while biasing the corners 101, 103 toward each other. The structure 100 will first twist and then will rotate to form three overlaying circular loops 150 situated adjacently as shown in FIG. 66. The final step, shown with reference to structure 10 in FIG. 36, is the insertion of the collapsed structure 10, 100 into the storage pouch 70, if provided.

When the collapsed structure 100 is removed from the storage pouch 70, the frame members 22 will bias the structure 100 into its fully expanded state.

An alternative folding step may be seen in FIG. 67 wherein the two frame structure 100 may be finally secured in the collapsed state by way of an elastic flexible band 66.

FIGS. 68-70 c, inclusive, illustrate a further embodiment of the collapsible structure 10. Each side panel 20 comprises a frame 22, a web 24, and an edging 26. As in the previously mentioned embodiments, the frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff yet resilient material such as spring steel wire or plastic, and is contained within the channel or pocket 25 formed by the edging 26 (as seen in FIG. 6 b). The perimeter of the web 24 is stitched to the edging 26 such that the edging 26 forms a pocket 25 substantially about the periphery of the web 24. At least one of the webs 24 includes edging 26 having a non-continuous gapped portion 48. The gap 48 defines an area wherein the frame 22 is exposed. As illustrated in FIGS. 70 a-70 c, a handle 60 may be inserted in the gap 48 between edging ends 27 and 29. After insertion in gap 48, the handle 60 is looped around the frame 22. As seen particularly in FIG. 70 c, the handle 60 may be stitched at 78 for securement after insertion in gap 48. Alternatively, the handle 60 may be affixed to itself or the frame member with adhesive or another securement means. Both handles 60 and 62 may be attached in this manner.

It is to be understood that although not specifically illustrated in the Figures, handles 60 and 62 may be secured by looping around the frame 22 of any of the foregoing embodiments.

FIGS. 71-77, inclusive, illustrate a further embodiment of the collapsible structure 200. The structure 200 preferably includes four side panels 20 and a floor panel 50. The side panels 20 and floor panel 50 are connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular structure having an open top 16.

Referring to FIGS. 71 and 72 it may be seen that each side panel 20 comprises a frame 22 and a two-ply web 124. As in the previously mentioned embodiments, the frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff, yet resilient, material such as spring steel wire or plastic. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 71-77, and as seen particularly in FIG. 72, the frame 22 is captured between the two layers 202, 204 of the two-ply web 124. The frame 22 forms a loop. The looped frame 22 may or may not be continuous. Preferably, and similarly to the previously described embodiments, the frame 22 has a rectangular cross-section, however material having a different geometric cross-section may be used. The two layers 202, 204 of the web 124 may be made from any flexible, foldable material, including but not limited to nylon or cotton cloth. The nylon or other flexible material is preferably solid, rather than perforated to more easily retain the frame 22 between the layers 202, 204 of the web 124; however a suitably perforated material may be used.

The top 206 and bottom 208 perimeter of the two-ply web 124 is preferably stitched to seam cover 128 such that the bottom 208 perimeter is thereby attached to the floor panel 50. The seam cover 128 is preferably made from a foldable stretch-resistant material.

As may be seen particularly in FIGS. 71 and 73, handles 60 and 62 may be attached to the top side 206 of two opposing side panels 20. As discussed with regard to previous embodiments, the handles 60 and 62 are formed from a stretch-resistant material having a mesh web that extends between a portion of each strap side. It is to be understood that the handles for the present invention are not limited to the particular type shown in FIGS. 71-77, but may include other designs as previously illustrated in FIGS. 9-12, by way of example.

As may be seen in FIGS. 71, 73-76, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and stitched to the side of one of the panels 20. As in the previously described embodiments, the storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the structure 200 in its collapsed state.

Although stitching is presented as the preferred means for attaching or connecting the elements of the structure and permitting relatively convenient folding of the structure 200, it is to be understood that other attachment means may be used in this invention.

FIG. 77 depicts a variation of the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 71-76. In this view, the structure 200 further includes frame stitching 210. The frame stitching 210 preferably extends through the two layers 202,204 of the two-ply web 124. The frame stitching 210 is preferably substantially parallel to the frame member 22 and, as shown, may comprise a pair of substantially parallel stitch lines 212, 214. When the frame stitching 210 is presented as a pair of stitch lines 212, 214, the frame member 22 is preferably positioned between the stitch lines 212, 214 such that the frame 22 is captured within a stitch channel 216. This arrangement more positively positions the frame 22 between layers 202, 204. It is to be understood that while the Figures illustrate continuous stitch lines 212, 214 of frame stitching 210, the invention may be practiced using a non-continuous or interrupted stitch line as well.

FIGS. 78-80 illustrate another embodiment of the collapsible structure 400. The structure 400 preferably includes four side panels 20 and a floor panel 50. The side panels 20 and floor panel 50 are connected to one another for form a substantially rectangular structure having an open top 16.

Referring to FIGS. 78 and 79, it may be seen that each side panel 20 comprises a frame 22 and a two-ply web 124. As in the previously discussed embodiments, the frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff, yet resilient, material such as spring steel wire or plastic. In this embodiment, and as seen particularly in FIG. 79, the frame 22 is captured between the two layers 402 and 404 of the two-ply web 124. The frame 22 forms a continuous loop. Preferably, and similarly to the previously described embodiments, the frame 22 has a rectangular cross-section; however material having a different geometric cross-section may be used. The two layers 402 and 404 of the web 124 may be made from any flexible, foldable material including but not limited to nylon or cotton cloth. The nylon or other flexible material is preferably solid, rather than perforated to more easily retain the frame 22 between the layers 402 and 404 of the web 124; however a suitable perforated material may be used. In this embodiment, layer 402 is a continuous, non-interrupted web of material. Layer 404 is annular in shape having an opening 406 in its central region. The opening 406 can be of any shape and size. If desired, an edging 408 may be stitched around the inner perimeter of the opening 406.

The top 410 and bottom 412 perimeter of the two-ply web 124 is preferably stitched to seam cover 128 such that the bottom perimeter is thereby attached to the floor panel 50. The seam cover 128 is preferably made from a foldable stretch-resistant material.

As best shown in FIG. 80, frame 22 is captured between the layers 402 and 404. In this embodiment, each frame member 22 may be easily removed from the collapsible structure. This allows the structure to be, for example, washed, by hand or in a machine. The frame 22 can then be reinstalled between the layers 402 and 404.

As may be seen particularly in FIG. 78, handles 60 and 62 may be attached to the top side 410 of two opposing side panels 20. As discussed with regard to previous embodiments, the handles 60 and 62 are formed from a stretch-resistant material having a mesh web that extends between a portion of each strap side. It is to be understood that the handles for the present invention are not limited to the particular type shown in FIG. 78, but may include other designs as previously illustrated in FIGS. 9-12, by way of example.

As may be seen in FIG. 78, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and stitched to the side of one of the panels 20. As in the previously described embodiments, the storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the structure 400 in its collapsed state.

Although stitching is presented as the preferred means for attaching or connecting the elements of the structure and permitting relatively convenient folding of the structure 400, it is to be understood that other attachment means may be used in this invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION (W/SLEEVE)

As shown in FIGS. 81A-81C, yet another embodiment of the collapsible enclosure 600 comprises a top panel 602, a bottom panel 604, two side panels 606, 608, a front panel 610 having a door 614, and a rear panel 612. The top panel 602, bottom panel 604, two side panels 606, 608, front panel 610, and rear panel 612 are releasibly connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular enclosure 600 having the door 614 for ingress and egress.

Referring to FIGS. 82-85, it may be seen that the top panel 602 and bottom panel 604 each comprises a frame 22, a web 625, and an edging 26, and each side panel 606, 608 comprises a frame 22, a web 624, and an edging 26. The frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff yet resilient material such as spring steel wire or plastic, and is contained within the channel or pocket 25 formed by the edging 26 (best seen in FIG. 89). The frame 22 preferably forms a loop. The looped frame 22 may or may not be continuous. Preferably, the frame 22 has a rectangular cross-section, but a material with a different geometric cross-section can be used. The webs 624 and 625 are a flexible foldable material, such as nylon cloth or nylon mesh, but can be any suitably flexible material. The nylon, or other flexible material, may be solid or perforated. The perimeter of the web 624, 625 is stitched to the edging 26 such that the edging 26 forms a pocket 25 about the periphery of the web 624, 625. The edging 26 is a foldable, but stretch-resistant material capable of housing the frame 22 within its pocket 25. The edging 26 has two ends 27 and 29.

A seam cover 28, also made out of a foldable stretch-resistant material, may be provided to cover the ends 27 and 29 of the edging 26, thereby protecting the frame 22 from escaping out of the edging 26. As shown in FIGS. 83 and 84, the seam cover 28 may also be stitched to the web 624, 625.

In this embodiment, and as best seen in FIGS. 81A-81C, the top and bottom web 625 preferably comprises a continuous and non-interrupted foldable material. Each side panel web 624 preferably comprises a continuous and non-interrupted mesh material. A cover 680 for each side panel 606, 608 may also be included to protect the contents of the enclosure 600 from adverse weather conditions. The cover 680 preferably includes a hinged edge 682 and a zipper 684, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The cover 680 may be flipped to an open position such as that shown in FIG. 81B and held in place by mating Velcro tabs 686 or other conventional securing means. The cover 680 is preferably made from any non-mesh material, and may be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

Referring now to FIG. 82, the front panel 610 is also a foldable web of material and has a generally rectangular shape. The front panel 610 has four corner sections 642, 644, 646, 648 and is attached to four substantially perpendicular sides 641, 643, 645, 647 of the top, bottom, and each side panels 602, 604, 606, 608. A door 614 is preferably positioned within the front panel 610 and provides ingress and egress for the enclosure 600. As can be seen in FIGS. 81B and 81C, a cover 690 for the door 614 may also be included to protect the contents of the enclosure from adverse weather conditions. The cover 690 preferably includes a hinged edge 692 and a zipper 694, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The cover 690 is preferably made from any non-mesh material, and may be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

As shown in FIG. 86, the rear panel 612 is also a foldable web of material and has a generally rectangular shape. The rear panel 612 has four corner sections 652, 654, 656, 658 and is attached to four substantially perpendicular sides 651, 653, 655, 657 of the top, bottom, and each side panels 602, 604, 606, 608.

As depicted in FIGS. 81A-81C, and by way of non-limiting examples, the handles 60 and 62 have both ends connected to lateral sides 636 and 638 of the top panel 602. The handles 60 and 62 are preferably formed from a stretch-resistant material. The handles for the present invention are neither limited to the particular type nor placement shown in FIGS. 81A-81C. Several alternative embodiments are shown in FIGS. 94 through 97, illustrating different handle members. In FIG. 94, the handle members 60 and 62 are straps stitched to the top panel 602. FIG. 95 depicts an alternative embodiment wherein the handle members 60 and 62 are apertures or openings formed in the webs 624 of two opposite side panels 606, 608. In FIG. 96, one handle member 60 is shown as a strap coupled to diagonally opposed portions of the top panel 602. In FIG. 97, the handles 60 and 62 are preferably stitched directly to the webs 624 of two opposite side panels 606, 608.

As shown in FIG. 86, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and releasibly attached to the rear side 634 of any of the panels 602, 604, 606, 608, although the storage pouch 70 may be releasibly attached to any of the panels 602 through 612. The storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the enclosure 600 in its collapsed state as later described.

A plurality of tabs 696 having an aperture 698 may be attached to the bottom panel 604 or side panels 606, 608, to provide additional means to secure the enclosure 600 to a surface.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION (WITH SLEEVE AND SEPARATOR)

Referring now to FIGS. 87-93, one embodiment of the collapsible enclosure 600 is shown. This embodiment includes side panel separators 640 located between the top, bottom, and side panels 602, 604, 606, 608. However, it should be noted that the side panel separators 640 are not required to practice the present invention. Referring particularly to FIGS. 90-93, the side panel separators 640 are shown to be substantially latitudinal, each including an end 42 attached preferably by means of stitching to one of the corner sections 652, 654, 656, 658 of the rear panel 612. The other end 44 of each separator 640 is attached to one of the corner sections 642, 644, 646, 648 of the front panel 610. The side panel separators 640 are preferably formed from a stretch-resistant material similar to the material used for the seam covers 28 or the edging 26.

As shown in FIG. 88, each rectangularly-shaped top, bottom, and side panel 602, 604, 606, 608 includes a front side 632 corresponding to the front panel 610 of the enclosure 600, a rear side 634 corresponding to the rear panel 612, and two lateral sides 636 and 638. Each lateral side 636 and 638 is attached to a side panel separator 640 adjacent to each panel 602, 604, 606, 608.

As depicted in FIG. 87, and by way of non-limiting examples, handle 60 has both ends connected to the front panel 610, and handle 62 has both ends connected to the rear panel 612. The handles 60 and 62 are preferably formed from a stretch-resistant material. The handles for the present invention are neither limited to the particular type nor location shown in FIG. 87. Several alternative embodiments are shown in FIGS. 94 through 97, illustrating different handle members.

As shown in FIG. 93, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and releasibly attached to the rear side 634 of any of the panels 602, 604, 606, 608, although the storage pouch 70 may be releasibly attached to any of the panels 602 through 612. The storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the enclosure 600 in its collapsed state as later described.

As shown in FIGS. 81A-86, a plurality of tabs 696 having an aperture 698 may be attached to the bottom panel 604 or side panels 606, 608, to provide additional means to secure the enclosure 600 to a surface.

Although stitching is presented as the preferred means for releasibly attaching or connecting the elements of the enclosure 600 and permitting relatively convenient folding of the enclosure 600, it is to be understood that other conventional releasibly attachable means may be used in this invention. Other conventional attachment mechanisms such as but are not limited to heat sealing, gluing, hooks, fasteners, buttons, snap-fit engagements, loops, snap buckles, zippers, and ties, can also be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, construction of the collapsible enclosure 600 should not be limited to stitching alone.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION (2-PLY CLOSED)

FIGS. 98-105, inclusive, illustrate a further embodiment of the collapsible enclosure 700. The enclosure 700 preferably includes a top panel 702, a bottom panel 704, two side panels 706, 708, a front panel 710 having a door 714, and a rear panel 712. The top panel 702, bottom panel 704, two side panels 706, 708, front panel 710, and rear panel 712 are releasibly connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular enclosure 700 having the door 714 for ingress and egress.

Referring to FIGS. 99 and 100, it may be seen that the top panel 702 and bottom panel 704 each comprises a frame 22 and a two-ply web 725, and each side panel 706, 708 comprises a frame 22 and a two-ply web 724. As in the previously mentioned embodiments, the frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff, yet resilient, material such as spring steel wire or plastic.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 98-105, and as seen particularly in FIG. 99, the top and bottom two-ply web 725 preferably include a first layer 762 and a second layer 764, each being a continuous and non-interrupted web of foldable material. As seen particularly in FIG. 100, each side panel two-ply web 724 preferably includes a first layer 766 and a second layer 768, each being a continuous and non-interrupted mesh material. The frame 22 is captured between the two layers 762, 764 of the two-ply web 725, and layers 766, 768 of the two-ply web 724. The frame 22 forms a loop. The looped frame 22 may or may not be continuous. Preferably, and similarly to the previously described embodiments, the frame 22 has a rectangular cross-section, however material having a different geometric cross-section may be used. Additionally, the frame 22 may be moveably encapsulated inside a protective covering 23. The layers 762, 764, and 766, 768 of the webs 725, 724, may be made from any flexible, foldable material, including but not limited to nylon or cotton cloth. The nylon or other flexible material may be solid, rather than perforated to more easily retain the frame 22 between the layers 762, 764, and 766, 768, of the two-ply webs 725, 724; however a suitably perforated material may be used.

The perimeter of each two-ply web 724, 725 is preferably coupled to seam cover 128 such that the front panel 710 is thereby attached to the seam cover 128, and the rear panel 712 is thereby attached to the seam cover 128. The seam cover 128 is preferably made from a foldable stretch-resistant material.

As can be seen in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 81B and 81C, a cover 680 for each side panel 706, 708 may also be included to protect the contents of the enclosure 700 from adverse weather conditions. The cover 680 preferably includes a hinged edge 682 and a zipper 684, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The cover 680 may be flipped to an open position such as that shown in FIG. 81B and held in place by mating Velcro tabs 686 or other conventional securing means. The cover 680 is preferably made from any non-mesh material, and may be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

Referring to FIG. 102, the door 714 is essentially a square shaped cutout in the front panel 710. The door preferably includes a hinged edge 716 and a zipper 718, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The door 714 may be flipped to an open position such as that shown in FIG. 115 and held in place by mating Velcro tabs 720 or other conventional securing means. The door 714 is preferably made from a mesh material. A cover 790 for the door 714 may also be included (see FIG. 106). The cover 790 preferably includes a hinged edge 792 and a zipper 794, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example.

As may be seen particularly in FIGS. 101-103, handles 60 and 62 may be attached to lateral sides 736, 738 of the top panel 702. As discussed with regard to previous embodiments, the handles 60 and 62 are preferably formed from a stretch-resistant material, and may have a mesh web that extends between a portion of each strap side. It is to be understood that the handles for the present invention are neither limited to the particular type nor locations shown in FIGS. 98-105, but may include other designs as previously illustrated in FIGS. 94-97, by way of example.

As may be seen in FIGS. 103-105, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and releasibly attached to the rear side 734 of one of the panels 702, 704, 706, 708, although the storage pouch 70 may be releasibly attached to any of the panels 702 through 712. As in the previously described embodiments, the storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the enclosure 700 in its collapsed state.

As referenced to the enclosure 600 shown in FIGS. 81A-86, a plurality of tabs 696 having an aperture 698 may be attached to the bottom panel 704 or side panels 706, 708, to provide additional means to secure the enclosure 700 to the surface it is positioned on.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION (2-PLY CLOSED WITH STITCHING)

FIG. 106 depicts a variation of the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 98-105. In this view, the enclosure 700 further includes frame stitching 210. The frame stitching 210 preferably extends through the two layers 762, 764 of the two-ply web 725 and layers 766, 768 of the two-ply web 724. The frame stitching 210 is preferably substantially parallel to the frame member 22 and, as shown, may comprise a pair of substantially parallel stitch lines 212, 214. When the frame stitching 210 is presented as a pair of stitch lines 212, 214, the frame member 22 is preferably positioned between the stitch lines 212, 214 such that the frame 22 is captured within a stitch channel 216. This arrangement more positively positions the frame 22 between layers 762, 764, and 766, 768. It is to be understood that while FIG. 106 illustrates continuous stitch lines 212, 214 of frame stitching 210, the invention may be practiced using a non-continuous or interrupted stitch line as well.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION (2-PLY W/OPENING)

FIGS. 107A-115 illustrate yet another embodiment of the collapsible enclosure 800. The enclosure 800 preferably includes a top panel 802, a bottom panel 804, two side panels 806, 808, a front panel 810 having a door 814, and a rear panel 812. The top panel 802, bottom panel 804, two side panels 806, 808, front panel 810, and rear panel 812 are releasibly connected to one another to form a substantially rectangular enclosure 800 having the door 814 for ingress and egress.

Referring to FIGS. 108 and 109, it may be seen that the top panel 802 and bottom panel 804 each comprises a frame 22 and a two-ply web 825, and each side panel 806, 808 comprises a frame 22 and a two-ply web 824. As in the previously discussed embodiments, the frame 22 is flexible, preferably formed from a sufficiently stiff, yet resilient, material such as spring steel wire or plastic. The frame 22 forms a loop. The loop may or may not be continuous. In this embodiment, and as seen particularly in FIGS. 108-110B, the frame 22 is removably captured between the two layers 862 and 864 of the two-ply web 825, and between the two layers 866 and 868 of the two-ply web 824. Additionally, to aid in removably securing the frame 22 between the two layers 866 and 868, securing means such as mating Velcro pads 867 (shown in phantom), ties, or hooks, may be positioned between the two layers 866, 868 adjacent the periphery of the side panels 806, 808. Preferably, and similarly to the previously described embodiments, the frame 22 has a rectangular cross-section; however material having a different geometric cross-section may be used. Additionally, the frame 22 may be moveably encapsulated inside a protective covering 23. The two layers of the webs 824, 825 may be made from any flexible, foldable solid or mesh material including but not limited to nylon or cotton cloth. The nylon or other flexible materials may be solid, rather than perforated to more easily retain the frame 22 between the layers 862, 864, and 866, 868 of the webs 825, 824; however a suitable perforated material may be used.

Referring to FIGS. 107B and 107C, in this embodiment, layer 866 is a solid material and preferably is annular in shape having a closable opening 870 in its central region. Layer 868 is a continuous, non-interrupted web of mesh material, which allows for ventilation. The opening 870 can be of any shape and size. If desired, an edging 872 may be stitched around the inner perimeter of the opening 870. A cover 880 for the opening 870 may also be included to protect the contents of the enclosure from adverse weather conditions. The cover 880 preferably includes a hinged edge 882 and a zipper 884, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The cover 880 may be flipped to an open position such as that shown in FIG. 107B and held in place by mating Velcro tabs 886 or other conventional securing means. The cover 880 is preferably made from any non-mesh flexible material, and may be transparent (as seen in FIG. 107C), translucent, or opaque.

As can be seen in FIGS. 108, 111, and 112, layer 862 is a continuous, non-interrupted web of flexible material having a closable opening 873 sized for insertion and removal of the frame 22. Layer 864 is also a continuous, non-interrupted web of flexible material. Opening 873 preferably includes a zipper (not shown), although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. If desired, an edging 876 may be stitched around the inner perimeter of the opening 873.

A plurality of tabs 896 having an aperture 898 may be attached to the bottom panel 804 or side panels 806, 808, to provide additional means to secure the enclosure 800 to a surface.

Referring to FIGS. 113 and 114, the perimeter of each two-ply web 824, 825 is preferably coupled to seam cover 128, such that the front panel 810 is thereby attached to the seam cover 128, and the rear panel 812 is thereby attached to the seam cover 128. The seam cover 128 is preferably made from a foldable stretch-resistant material.

The door 814 is essentially a square shaped cutout in the front panel 810. The door preferably includes a hinged edge 816 and a zipper 818, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The door 814 may be flipped to an open position such as that shown in FIG. 115 and held in place by mating Velcro tabs 820 or other conventional securing means. The door 814 is preferably made from a mesh material. As can be seen in FIGS. 107B and 107C, a cover 890 for the door 814 may also be included. The cover 890 preferably includes a hinged edge 892 and a zipper 894, although other securing means may be used such as mating Velcro tabs or ties, by way of non-limiting example. The cover 890 is preferably made from any non-mesh flexible material, and may be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

As best shown in FIGS. 108-110B, frame 22 is captured between the layers 862 and 864, and the layers 866, 868. In this embodiment, each frame member 22 may be easily removed from the collapsible enclosure 800. This allows the enclosure 800 to be, for example, washed, by hand or in a machine. The frame 22 can then be reinstalled between the layers 862 and 864, and 866 and 868.

Referring to specifically to FIG. 110A, the perimeter of each two-ply web 824, 825 is preferably coupled to seam cover 128, by way of stitching, as a non-limiting example, such that the layers 862 and 864, and the layers 866 and 868 are thereby attached to the seam cover 128. The seam cover 128 is preferably made from a foldable stretch-resistant material.

As may be seen particularly in FIG. 107A, handles 60 and 62 may be attached to an edge or edges of the top panel 802 or side panels 806, 808. As discussed with regard to previous embodiments, the handles 60 and 62 are preferably formed from a stretch-resistant material, and may have a mesh web that extends between portions of each strap side. It is to be understood that the handles for the present invention are neither limited to the particular type nor location shown in FIG. 107A, but may include other designs as previously illustrated in FIGS. 94-97, by way of non-limiting example.

As may be seen in FIGS. 111-113, an optional storage pouch 70 may be formed from a foldable material, such as nylon mesh, and releasibly coupled to the rear side 834 of any one of the panels 802, 804, 806, 808, although the storage pouch 70 may be attached to any of the panels 802-812. As in the previously described embodiments, the storage pouch 70 is dimensioned to accommodate the enclosure 800 in its collapsed state.

Although stitching is presented as the preferred means for releasibly attaching or connecting the elements of the enclosure 800 and permitting relatively convenient folding of the enclosure 800, it is to be understood that other conventional releasibly attachable means may be used in this invention. Other conventional attachment mechanisms, such as but not limited to heat sealing, gluing, hooks, fasteners, buttons, snap-fit engagements, loops, snap buckles, zippers and ties, can also be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

As discussed in reference to the described embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-30, the enclosures 600, 700, 800 of FIGS. 81A-115 may, from the expanded state, be folded into a collapsed state for storage and transportation. FIGS. 31 to 36 show various steps for collapsing the structure 10, and the enclosures 600, 700, 800 are similarly collapsed. Referring to FIG. 31, the first step requires grasping opposite sides of the enclosure 600, 700, 800 and biasing one toward the other until the top, bottom, and side panels are adjacent and overlay each other. The next step includes inserting the handle members 60 and 62, if provided, and the front panel 610, 710, 810 and the rear panel 612, 712, 812 in between any two of the adjacent overlaying panels, and is shown in FIG. 32. It is important to make sure that the storage pouch 70, if provided, remains outside of the collapsed panels (as shown in FIG. 33). The resulting partially collapsed enclosure 600, 700, 800 is a stack of the top, bottom, and side panels. FIGS. 33 and 34 show the next step of rotating two opposite corners 101 and 103 of the partially collapsed enclosure 600, 700, 800 in opposite directions while biasing the corners 101, 103 toward each other. The enclosure 600, 700, 800 will first twist and then will rotate to form three overlaying circular loops 150 situated adjacently as shown in FIG. 35. The final step, shown with reference to structure 10 in FIG. 36, is the insertion of the collapsed enclosure 600, 700, 800 into the storage pouch 70, if provided.

When the collapsed enclosure 600, 700, 800 is removed from the storage pouch 70, the frame members 22 will bias the enclosure 600, 700, 800 into its fully expanded state.

An alternative folding step may be seen in FIG. 67 wherein the enclosure 600, 700, 800 may be finally secured in the collapsed state by way of an elastic flexible band 66.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Furthermore, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described. While the preferred embodiment has been described, the details may be changed without departing from the invention, which is defined by the claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7717125May 16, 2007May 18, 2010Patent Category Corp.Collapsible panel assembly
US7987865May 7, 2010Aug 2, 2011Patent Category Corp.Collapsible panel assembly
US8177431 *Dec 1, 2008May 15, 2012S.C. Johnson Home Storage, Inc.Flexible container
US20100236953 *May 13, 2008Sep 23, 2010Good Sense Design, Llc.Foldable carrying case
WO2008143808A2 *May 9, 2008Nov 27, 2008Patent Category CorpCollapsible panel assembly
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/9.4
International ClassificationB65D6/20, B65D6/18, D06F95/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F95/004
European ClassificationD06F95/00B2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 14, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: SPORTPET DESIGNS, INC., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BAJER DESIGN & MARKETING, INC.;REEL/FRAME:016068/0841
Effective date: 20050412
Feb 22, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: BAJER DESIGN & MARKETING, INC., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KELLOGG, MICHAEL S.;KROTTS, DEAN B.;REEL/FRAME:016308/0983
Effective date: 20050216