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Publication numberUS20060108899 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/199,771
Publication dateMay 25, 2006
Filing dateAug 9, 2005
Priority dateAug 9, 2004
Publication number11199771, 199771, US 2006/0108899 A1, US 2006/108899 A1, US 20060108899 A1, US 20060108899A1, US 2006108899 A1, US 2006108899A1, US-A1-20060108899, US-A1-2006108899, US2006/0108899A1, US2006/108899A1, US20060108899 A1, US20060108899A1, US2006108899 A1, US2006108899A1
InventorsJu-Young Jin
Original AssigneeJu-Young Jin
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Storage enclosure
US 20060108899 A1
Abstract
A storage enclosure may include a number of components, such as floor panels, wall panels and roof panels, which may be interconnected to form a structure such as a storage cabinet. The storage enclosure may include wall panels with outwardly extending projections that are sized and configured to allow the wall panels to be connected to floor panels and roof panels. The storage enclosure may also include one or more living hinges, which may facilitate storage and/or shipping of the storage enclosure.
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Claims(15)
1. A storage enclosure comprising:
a first panel comprising:
a first portion constructed from blow-molded plastic;
a second portion constructed from blow-molded plastic; and
a living hinge connecting the first portion and the second portion, the first portion, the second portion and the living hinge being integrally formed during the blow-molding process as part of a unitary, one-piece construction, the living hinge being sized and configured to allow the first and second portions to be disposed in a first position to facilitate shipping of the storage enclosure, the living hinge being sized and configured to allow the first and second portions to be disposed in a second position to form a first corner for the storage enclosure; and
a second panel connected to the first panel, the second corner comprising:
a first portion constructed from blow-molded plastic;
a second portion constructed from blow-molded plastic; and
a living hinge connecting the first portion and the second portion, the first portion, the second portion and the living hinge being integrally formed during the blow-molding process as part of a unitary, one-piece construction, the living hinge being sized and configured to allow the first and second portions to be disposed in a first position to facilitate shipping of the storage enclosure, the living hinge being sized and configured to allow the first and second portions to be disposed in a second position to form a second corner for the storage enclosure;
wherein when the first panel is in the first position and the second panel is in the first position, the first panel can be generally aligned with the second panel to facilitate shipping of the storage enclosure.
2. The storage enclosure as in claim 1, wherein the first portion of the first panel forms at least a portion of a first outer wall of the storage enclosure and the second portion of the first panel forms at least a portion of a second outer wall of the storage enclosure.
3. The storage enclosure as in claim 1, wherein the first portion of the first panel forms at least a portion of a first outer wall of the storage enclosure and the second portion of the first panel forms at least a portion of a second outer wall of the storage enclosure; and wherein the first portion of the second panel forms at least a portion of the second outer wall of the storage enclosure and the second portion of the second panel forms at least a portion of a third outer wall of the storage enclosure.
4. The storage enclosure as in claim 1, wherein the first portion of the first panel has a height and a width that is approximately the same as a height and a width of the second portion of the first panel; and wherein the first portion of the second panel has a height and a width that is approximately the same as a height and a width of the second portion of the second panel.
5. The storage enclosure as in claim 1, wherein the living hinge extends substantially from a first end of the first portion of the first panel to a second end of the first portion of the first panel; and wherein the living hinge extends substantially from a first end of the first portion of the second panel to a second end of the first portion of the second panel.
6. The storage enclosure as in claim 1, wherein at least a portion of an outer periphery of the first panel abuts at least a portion of an outer periphery of the second panel when the first and second corners are connected.
7. A storage enclosure comprising:
a roof panel constructed from blow-molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion integrally formed during the molding process;
a wall panel constructed from blow-molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion integrally formed during the molding process;
a floor panel constructed from blow-molded plastic and including a hollow interior portion integrally formed during the molding process;
one or more alignment members formed in the floor panel; and
one or more alignment members formed in the roof panel;
wherein the alignment members formed in the floor panel and the alignment members formed in the roof panel are sized and configured to allow the storage enclosure to be connected to another storage enclosure.
8. The storage enclosure as in claim 7, wherein the alignment members are integrally formed in the floor panel as part of a unitary, one-piece construction; and wherein the alignment members are integrally formed in the roof panel as part of a unitary, one-piece construction.
9. The storage enclosure as in claim 7, wherein the alignment members formed in the floor panel include at least one outwardly extending portion; and wherein the alignment members formed in the roof panel include at least one inwardly extending portion.
10. The storage enclosure as in claim 7, wherein the alignment members formed in the floor panel include a generally rectangular shaped, outwardly extending portion; and wherein the alignment members formed in the roof panel includes a generally rectangular shaped, inwardly extending portion.
11. A storage enclosure comprising:
a roof panel constructed from plastic and including a hollow interior portion integrally formed during a molding process, the roof panel including one or more receiving portions;
a floor panel constructed from plastic and including a hollow interior portion integrally formed during a molding process, the floor panel including one or more receiving portions; and
a wall panel constructed from plastic and including a hollow interior portion integrally formed during a molding process, the wall panel including one or more first projections and one or more second projections;
wherein the first projections of the wall panel are at least partially received within the receiving portions in the roof panel when the wall panel is connected to the roof; and
wherein the second projections of the wall panel are at least partially received within the receiving portions in the floor panel when the wall panel is connected to the floor.
12. The storage enclosure as in claim 11, wherein the wall panel further includes a first section including an upper portion and a lower portion, a second section including an upper portion and a lower portion and a living hinge interconnecting the first section and second section.
13. The storage enclosure as in claim 12, wherein at least one of the first projections is disposed in the upper portion of the first section of the wall panel, and at least one of the first projections is disposed in the upper portion of the second section of the wall panel; and wherein at least one of the second projections is disposed in the lower portion of the first section of the wall panel, and at least one of the second projections is disposed in the lower portion of the second section of the wall panel.
14. A storage enclosure comprising:
a roof panel including a generally hollow interior portion integrally formed via a blow molding process, the roof panel including a first plurality of receiving portions;
a floor panel including a generally hollow interior portion integrally formed via a blow molding process, the floor panel including a second plurality receiving portions; and
a wall panel including a generally hollow interior portion integrally formed via a blow molding process, the wall panel including a first plurality of projections positioned proximate an upper portion of the wall panel and a second plurality of projections positioned proximate a lower portion of the wall panel;
wherein the first plurality of receiving portions are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of each of the first plurality of projections, and the first plurality of receiving portions are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of each of the second plurality of projections; and
wherein the first plurality of receiving portions are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of each of the first plurality of projections, and the first plurality of receiving portions are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of each of the second plurality of projections.
15. The storage enclosure as in claim 14, wherein the wall panel further includes:
a first section including an upper portion and a lower portion;
a second section including an upper portion and a lower portion; and
a living hinge interconnecting the first section and second section.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/600,243, filed Aug. 9, 2004 and entitled STORAGE CABINET, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention generally relates to enclosures and, in particular, to storage enclosures.

2. Description of Related Art

Many types of enclosures are used for storing various items such as tools, machines, lawn care equipment, recreational equipment, athletic equipment, supplies, provisions and the like. Conventional storage enclosures often include walls, a door, a floor and a roof. The walls, door, floor and roof of typical storage enclosures often include one or more parts that are interconnected and these various components may be attached to form the enclosure.

A well known type of storage enclosure is a shed. Conventional sheds are typically relatively small structures that may be either freestanding or attached to another structure, and sheds are often used for storage, shelter and/or to protect items from the weather or elements. Disadvantageously, conventional sheds often require a substantial amount of time, labor, skill and effort to build and construct. In addition, many conventional sheds are difficult to repair, modify, change or rearrange because the sheds may be difficult or impossible to disassemble or dismantle. Accordingly, it is often impractical or unfeasible to move or reconfigure many conventional sheds.

Conventional sheds may include one or more windows or vents to allow light and air to enter the shed. The windows and vents of many conventional sheds, however, are often constructed from a number of interconnected components and may be difficult to manufacture and install. For example, conventional sheds may require substantial construction and/or modification of the shed to install the windows or vents, which may require a significant amount of time. In addition, the windows and vents of many conventional sheds may undesirably allow water and/or other materials to enter the shed.

Conventional sheds are often constructed from wood. Wooden sheds, however, are relatively heavy and require a large amount of time to construct and assemble. In particular, wooden sheds are frequently constructed from a large number of support beams, trusses, sidewalls and roof panels that are connected by a large number of screws or bolts. These numerous parts typically increase the costs of the shed and require a large amount of time and effort to construct the shed. In addition, wooden sheds typically deteriorate over time and often require continual maintenance. For example, conventional wooden sheds may be damaged by rotting or otherwise deteriorating when exposed to the elements. In addition, the wood may warp or decay over time. In order to help protect the wood from being damaged, conventional sheds must be periodically painted, stained or otherwise finished. Undesirably, this may result in significant maintenance costs.

Known sheds may also be constructed from metal. For example, the roof and walls of conventional metal sheds may be constructed from sheet metal. Disadvantageously, the sheet metal is often flexible and easily damaged. In particular, the sheet metal walls may be damaged by forces being applied to either the inner or outer walls of the shed. In particular, this may cause the walls to undesirably bow inwardly or outwardly and, in some circumstances, may create an opening in the wall. Significantly, the damaged sheet metal may be more susceptible to rust or corrosion and the damaged sheet metal may be very difficult to repair or replace. In addition, conventional metal sheds often require a plurality of screws or bolts to assemble the shed, which may increase manufacturing costs and the time required to assemble the shed. Moreover, metal sheds often have a tendency to rust and deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to the elements. Thus, metal sheds may have to be painted or otherwise protected from rusting or oxidation.

The materials used to construct conventional sheds are often heavy and bulky. For example, many conventional sheds have a length of 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.7 meters), and a width of 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.7 meters). In particular, known sheds are often 8 feet by 8 feet (2.4 by 2.4 meters), 8 feet by 10 feet (2.4 by 3 meters), 8 feet by 12 feet (2.4 by 3.7 meters), 10 feet by 12 feet (3 by 3.7 meters) or 12 feet by 12 feet (3.7 by 3.7 meters). Thus, the components used to constructed these sheds are often elongated and may have a length of 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more and a width of 2 feet (0.6 meters) or greater. Accordingly, many of the components are large and bulky. In addition, if these components are constructed from wood or metal, then the components may be very heavy. Thus, the components of conventional sheds may be large, awkward, heavy and generally unwieldy.

Many conventional sheds are shipped in an unassembled configuration because of their large size in the assembled configuration. The weight of the components, however, may result in significant shipping expenses and those expenses may be compounded every time the shed is transported or shipped. For example, there may be significant costs when the manufacturer ships the shed to the retailer. In addition, it may be very difficult for many consumers to transport the shed from the retailer to their home or other location because of its large size and weight. Thus, many consumers may have to pay extra to have the shed delivered from the retailer. On the other hand, some consumers may be unwilling to pay extra to have the shed delivered and they may have no practical way of taking the shed home. Therefore, instead of renting or borrowing equipment such as a truck or forklift, some consumers will simply not purchase a conventional shed. Further, even when the shed is delivered to the consumer, the large, heavy and bulky components, such as the roof or walls, may prevent some consumers from assembling the shed. Accordingly, the large transportation costs, difficulties in moving the shed and/or problems in assembling the shed may discourage many potential consumers from purchasing conventional sheds.

In addition to conventional sheds being constructed from large, heavy and bulky materials and components, conventional sheds are often shipped in very large and heavy boxes. These gigantic shipping boxes often will not fit in a typical retail consumer's vehicle. Accordingly, the consumer may have to rent or borrow a vehicle, such as a truck, to take the shed home.

For example, a conventional shed having a width of 10 feet (3 meters), a length of 8 feet (2.4 meters) and a height of 7 feet (2.1 meters) that is constructed from polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastic may be shipped in a box having a length of 96 inches (2.4 meters), a width of 48 inches (1.2 meters) and a height of 36 inches (0.9 meters). Thus, the packaging for this known shed has a volume of 96 cubic feet (2.7 cubic meters). Another known shed, which is constructed from blow-molded and injection-molded plastic, has a width of 7 feet (2.1 meters), a length of 7 feet (2.1 meters) and a height of 8 feet (2.4 meters). This shed is shipped in a box with a length of 78 inches (2 meters), a width of 48 inches (1.2 meters) and a height of 32 inches (0.8 meters). Therefore, the packaging for this shed has a volume of 69.3 cubic feet (2 cubic meters). Still another known shed, which is constructed from roto-molded plastic and plastic coated aluminum, has a width of 7 feet (2.1 meters), a length of 7 feet (2.1 meters) and a height of 8 feet, 8 inches (2.6 meters) is shipped in a box that has a length of 100 inches (2.5 meters), a width of 55 inches (1.4 meters) and a height of 50 inches (1.27 meters). The packaging for this shed has a volume of 159.1 cubic feet (4.5 cubic meters) and a weight of 540 pounds (245 kilograms) including the packaging. Still yet another known shed, which is constructed from injection-molded plastic, has a width of 7 feet (2.1 meters), a length of 7 feet (2.1 meters) and a height of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) is shipped in a box that has a length of 96 inches (2.4 meters), a width of 48 inches (1.2 meters) and a height of 46 inches (1.17 meters). This packaging has a volume of about 69.3 cubic feet (1.9 cubic meters) and a weight of 350 pounds (159 kilograms) including the packaging. A further known shed that is constructed from blow-molded plastic has a width of 7 feet (2.1 meters), a length of 15.5 feet (4.7 meters) and a height of 6.5 feet (2 meters) is shipped in a box that has a length of 96 inches (2.4 meters), a width of 48 inches (1.2 meters) and a height of 48 inches (1.2 meters), and this packaging has a volume of 128 cubic feet (3.6 cubic meters) and a weight of 548 pounds (249 kilograms) including the packaging. Another conventional shed is constructed from roto-molded plastic and it has a width of 5.5 feet (1.7 meters), a length of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and a height of 6.5 feet (2 meters). This known shed is shipped in packaging having a length of 77 inches (1.96 meters), a width of 38 inches (0.96 meters), a height of 12 inches (0.3 meters) and a weight of 248 pounds (112 kilograms). Still another conventional shed is constructed from extruded polypropylene and it has a width of 8 feet (2.4 meters), a length of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and a height of 7 feet (2.1 meters). This shed is shipped in packaging having a length of 78 inches (2 meters), a width of 30 inches (0.76 meters), a height of 33 inches (0.84 meters) and a weight of 318 pounds (144 kilograms). Yet another conventional shed is constructed from thermo-formed ABS plastic and it has a width of 8 feet (2.4 meters), a length of 8 feet (2.4 meters) and a height of 6 feet (1.8 meters). This shed is shipped in packaging having a length of 66 inches (1.68 meters), a width of 39.5 inches (1 meter), a height of 15 inches (0.38 meters) and a weight of 325 pounds (147 kilograms). Accordingly, the size and weight of many known sheds is substantial, which may greatly complicate and increase the costs of shipping.

Because conventional sheds are shipped in boxes that have such a large size and volume, fewer sheds may be shipped in standard shipping containers or in commercial trailers. Accordingly, the shipping costs per shed (such as, from a supplier to a retailer) can be significantly increased. Also, because these packaged sheds are so large and heavy, many shippers may find it difficult to efficiently deliver the sheds and may refuse to ship the sheds. In addition, because many conventional packaged sheds are so large and heavy, they typically must be shipped to consumers using freight shippers, which may charge even more for these heavy, large and awkward boxes. In some instances, this cost may be simply too large for a customer to justify the purchase.

Known storage sheds are also typically constructed of a variety of awkwardly shaped components, which can be difficult to ship and can be susceptible to damage if shipped. In order to ship and protect these awkwardly shaped components, large amounts of packaging materials may be required. The packing material, however, takes additional space in the packaging and the packing material increases the shipping costs. In addition, because the components may be awkwardly shaped, custom packing materials may be required and the packing material may be irreparably damaged during shipping. Thus, the packing material may not be reusable and may create a significant amount of waste. Further, it may require a significant amount of time to prepare these awkward components for shipping, and this may increase labor costs and decrease manufacturing efficiency. Finally, the awkwardly shaped components often consume a large amount of area, which may increase the overall volume required to ship the shed and that may correspondingly increasing shipping costs.

Conventional sheds are also often constructed from a variety of interconnected components that form a number of joints or seams. Disadvantageously, these seams or joints are often susceptible to leaks. For example, the seams or joints may allow water to enter the shed and the water can damage whatever is stored within the shed.

In addition, many conventional sheds are subjected to a variety of adverse weather conditions and some conventional sheds may be damaged by the weather if they are constructed from weak materials or poorly assembled. For example, conventional sheds may be damaged by heavy winds, significant amounts of rain or large accumulations of snow.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A need therefore exists for an enclosure that eliminates or diminishes the above-described disadvantages and problems.

One aspect is an enclosure that may be constructed from a number of components. At least some of the components may be interchangeable and the enclosure may be a modular enclosure.

Another aspect is an enclosure that may be part of a kit. The kit, for example, may include a number of components that may be interchangeable and/or interconnected. The components may also be part of a group and/or be available individually or separately.

Still another aspect is an enclosure that may include one or more components that may be interconnected. For example, the enclosure may include walls, roof, floor, etc. and these components can be interconnected. Preferably, the components can be relatively quickly and easily connected and disconnected. Advantageously, this may allow the components to be easily reconfigured, repaired and/or replaced. In addition, this may allow the structure to be easily moved, reused and the like.

Yet another aspect is an enclosure that may be used in a variety of different situations and environments. For instance, the enclosure may be used for storage and/or to protect items from the elements. In particular, the enclosure may be a storage cabinet, but it will be appreciated that the enclosure may have a much wider applicability and may be used for a number of different purposes. Thus, while the enclosure may be illustrated and described in connection with items such as a storage cabinet, the enclosure could have other suitable arrangements, configurations, designs, purposes and the like.

A further aspect is an enclosure that may be at least partially constructed from relatively lightweight materials such as blow-molded plastic. The blow-molded plastic components may be constructed from polyethylene with ultraviolet (UV) additives or inhibitors, if desired, but other suitable plastics and materials may be used to construct the storage cabinet. Advantageously, the blow-molded plastic components may provide superior weathering and durability because, for example, the blow-molded plastic may be able to withstand the elements and it is generally impact resistant. In addition, the blow-molded plastic components may be easy to clean and virtually maintenance free. For example, painting and finishing of the blow-molded plastic is generally not required. Further, the blow-molded plastic may include two walls that are separated by a distance. The double walls may create air pockets that help insulate the storage cabinet. Further, blow-molded plastic generally does not rust or otherwise deteriorate over time, and the blow-molded plastic is generally rodent and insect resistant. Thus, constructing at least a portion of the enclosure from blow-molded plastic may allow the enclosure to be used in a wide variety of situations and environments.

Another aspect is an enclosure that may be constructed from lightweight materials so that the enclosure can be easily transported and shipped. In addition, the enclosure is preferably constructed from lightweight materials so that a consumer can easily transport and assemble the enclosure.

Yet another aspect is an enclosure that may be sized and configured to be shipped and transported in relatively small sized packaging. Desirably, the components of the enclosure are sized and configured to fit within a limited area so that the size of the packaging is decreased or minimized. For example, the enclosure may be a storage cabinet with a width of about 3 feet (0.9 meters), a depth of about 1.5 feet (0.46 meters) and a height of about 3 feet (0.9 meters) that is preferably sized and configured to fit within a package that is about 3 feet (0.9 meters) by about 1.7 feet (0.51 meters) by about 0.7 feet (0.21 meters).

Still another aspect is an enclosure that may include components constructed from plastic, such as high density polyethylene. Advantageously, the plastic components may provide sufficient strength and rigidity to allow a strong and sturdy structure to be created. For example, the enclosure could be constructed from components manufactured from blow-molded plastic, but some or all of the components may be constructed from other processes such as injection molding, rotary molding, compression molding and the like. Advantageously, the plastic components may be designed to create rigid, high-strength structures that are capable of withstanding repeated use and wear. In addition, the plastic components may be easily manufactured and formed into the desired size and shape. The plastic components can also form structural elements, if desired, and the plastic components may be easily interconnected and disconnected. It will be appreciated that the various components may also be constructed from other materials and processes. It will also be appreciated that frames, braces, other support members, fasteners and the like may also be used to construct the enclosure, if desired.

Advantageously, the enclosure may be relatively simple to manufacture because one or more of the components constructed from blow-molded plastic. In addition, any suitable number of features of the components may be integrally formed in the blow-molded plastic components. The blow-molded plastic components may by strong and lightweight because the components may include two opposing walls that are spaced apart by a relatively small distance. In addition, the blow-molded plastic components may include one or more depressions, connections or tack-offs that may interconnect the opposing surfaces and these depressions may further increase the strength of the components. Further, the blow-molded plastic components can desirably be formed in various shapes, sizes, configurations and designs, which may allow an attractive and functional enclosure that is available in a variety of configurations and sizes to be constructed.

Another aspect is an enclosure that may be quickly and easily assembled, which may reduce manufacturing and labor costs. For example, this may allow the manufacturer to quickly and easily assemble the enclosure. In addition, this may allow the manufacturer to ship the enclosure in an unassembled configuration and the consumer may quickly and easily assemble the enclosure. Advantageously, shipping the enclosure in the unassembled configuration may reduce manufacturing and shipping costs.

Yet another aspect is an enclosure that may contain one or more different types of connections between various components. For example, one or more of the walls may include a living hinge and that may allow the corners of the enclosure to be formed. In addition, other components of the enclosure may include one or more living hinges. Advantageously, the living hinges may allow the enclosure to be quickly and easily assembled. In addition, the living hinges allow these components to be moved between a generally flat or planar position, a folded or angled position, and/or a collapsed position. Significantly, these components may be efficiently packed and shipped in the collapsed configuration, which may significantly decrease the size of the packaging. The living hinges are also generally resistant to the elements, such as wind or rain, which may increase the potential uses of the enclosure. Further, the living hinges may increase the strength and/or rigidity of the structure and/or the connection of the various components.

A further aspect is an enclosure that may include one or more doors. The doors may include one or more pivot portions to provide an upper and lower pivot point. Advantageously, the all or a portion of the pivot portions may be integrally formed as part of the doors. The doors may include a handle that allows the door to be more easily opened and closed. Advantageously, the handle may be integrally formed as part of the doors during the manufacturing process.

Another aspect is an enclosure that may include a plurality of panels that are interconnected. Preferably, the panels are connected to adjacent panels with one or more overlapping portions to help securely connect the panels. In particular, the panels may include one or more extensions, flanges, projections, protrusions, etc., that extend outwardly from one panel and overlap with one or more receiving portions, notches, grooves, openings, etc. in the adjacent panel. The overlapping portions may be connected by fasteners, such as screws or bolts, or adhesives to help secure the panels together. Significantly, the overlapping portions may help prevent rain, snow, sunlight, foreign objects and the like from undesirably entering the enclosure.

A further aspect is an enclosure that may include sidewalls that are directly connected to the floor. For example, the sidewalls may contain one of more protrusions or projections and the floor may include one or more openings or receiving portions. The projections may be inserted into the receiving portions to securely connect the sidewalls to the floor. Advantageously, this may allow the sidewalls to be connected to the floor by a friction, interference and/or snap fit connection, if desired. The sidewalls and floor may also be connected by one or more fasteners, such as screws or bolts, if desired.

A still further aspect is an enclosure that may include sidewalls that are directly connected to the roof. For example, the sidewalls may contain one of more protrusions or projections and the roof may include one or more openings or receiving portions. The projections may be inserted into the receiving portions to securely connect the sidewalls to the roof. Advantageously, this may allow the sidewalls to be connected to the roof by a friction, interference and/or snap fit connection, if desired. The sidewalls and roof may also be connected by one or more fasteners, such as screws or bolts, if desired.

Yet another aspect is an enclosure that may include interchangeable components. For example, the enclosure may include a floor and a roof that are at least partially interchangeable. The enclosure may also include other interchangeable components such as wall panels and/or door panels. Advantageously, because one or more of the components may be interchangeable, a manufacturer may require less manufacturing equipment, such as different molds. The interchangeable components may also allow for simpler, more efficient storage because fewer types of components may be stored. In addition, the interchangeable components may allow the enclosure to be more quickly and/or easily assembled.

Another aspect is an enclosure that may include one or more shelves. For example, a shelf may be attached to the rear wall of the enclosure and the shelf may extend from one sidewall to the opposing sidewall. Advantageously, if the shelf extends from one sidewall to the opposing sidewall, then the shelf may be connected to the sidewalls and/or the rear wall, which may increase the strength and/or rigidity of the enclosure. A shelf may also be connected to a corner, and that may further increase the strength and/or rigidity of the enclosure. The shelves, however, could be attached to any desired portion of the enclosure. In addition, the shelves may include living hinges that allow the shelves to be securely attached to the enclosure.

Another aspect is a packaging system for an enclosure that may include a container and at least two wall panels. The wall panels may include a living hinge that allows the wall panels to be moved between a collapsed position and an angled position. Advantageously, a corner of the enclosure may be formed when the wall panels are in the angled position. In addition, the wall panels are preferably capable of being stacked within the container to facilitate packaging of the enclosure when the wall panels are in the collapsed position. Desirably, the wall panels are constructed from blow-molded plastic; and the living hinge is integrally formed with the wall panels as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during the blow-molding process.

Still another aspect is a packaging system for an enclosure that may include a container, a wall panel constructed from blow-molded plastic that is sized and configured to be disposed within the container and a cavity formed in the wall panel that is sized and configured to receive other components of the enclosure when the wall panel is disposed within the container in order to minimize the size of the container.

A further aspect is a packaging system for an enclosure that may include a container, a first panel and a second panel. The first panel is preferably an elongated panel that forms an exterior portion of the enclosure. The first panel is also preferably constructed from blow-molded plastic and includes an alignment member that is integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece construction. In addition, the first panel is preferably sized and configured to be disposed within the container. Similarly, the second panel is preferably an elongated panel that forms an exterior portion of the enclosure. The second panel is also preferably constructed from blow-molded plastic and includes an alignment member that is integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece construction. In addition, the second panel is preferably sized and configured to be disposed within the container. The alignment member of the first panel and the alignment member of the second panel are preferably sized and configured to be aligned when the first panel and the second panel are disposed within the container.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of the invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the invention. It will be appreciated that these drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limit its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of an enclosure, illustrating the enclosure as a storage enclosure;

FIG. 2 is another front perspective view of the storage enclosure, illustrating the doors in an open position;

FIG. 3 is an exploded, front perspective view of the storage enclosure;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the storage enclosure in an unassembled configuration, illustrating an exemplary arrangement for packaging the storage enclosure within a container;

FIG. 5 is another perspective view of the storage enclosure in an unassembled configuration, illustrating an exemplary arrangement for packaging the storage enclosure within a container;

FIG. 6 is a side view of a portion of the storage enclosure, illustrating an exemplary arrangement for molding various components of the enclosure;

FIG. 7 is another side view of a portion of the storage enclosure, illustrating an exemplary arrangement for molding various components of the enclosure;

FIG. 8 is yet another side view of a portion of the storage enclosure, illustrating an exemplary arrangement for molding various components of the enclosure; and

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of two exemplary storage enclosures in a stacked arrangement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Before describing preferred and other exemplary embodiments of the invention in greater detail, several introductory comments regarding the general applicability and scope of the invention may be helpful.

First, the following detailed description is generally directed towards an enclosure such as a storage enclosure. It will be appreciated that the storage enclosure may be used to temporarily and/or permanently store a variety of items, objects, devices and the like. The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to storage enclosures and the disclosed invention can be used in connection with other types of structures such as storage devices, boxes, bins, containers, recreational equipment enclosures, and the like.

Second, it will be appreciated that the enclosures can have a variety of suitable shapes, arrangements, configurations and the like. In addition, the enclosures can be used for a variety of different functions, purposes and/or uses. Further, the sizes and dimensions of the enclosures can be varied depending, for example, upon the intended use and/or desired purpose of the enclosure.

Third, the particular materials and processes used to construct the enclosures are for illustrative purposes. For example, as discussed in greater detail below, blow-molded plastic is preferably used to construct various portions of the enclosure. It will be understood, however, that other materials can also be used, such as thermoplastics, resins, polymers, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyurethane, nylon, composites and the like. It will also be understood that other suitable processes may be used to construct these various components, such as extrusion molding, injection molding, vacuum molding, rotational molding and the like. Further, it will be understood that these and other components of the enclosure can be constructed from other materials such as metal (including steel, aluminum, etc.), wood and the like.

Further, to assist in the description of the enclosure, words such as upper, lower, top, bottom, front, back, right and left are used to describe the accompanying figures. It will be appreciated, however, that the enclosure can be located in a variety of desired positions, angles and orientations. A detailed description of the enclosure now follows.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, an exemplary embodiment of the enclosure is a storage enclosure or cabinet 10 that includes a front wall 12, a rear wall 14, a left sidewall 16 and a right sidewall 18. The storage cabinet 10 also includes a roof 20 and a floor 22. As shown in the accompanying figures, the front wall 12 may include one or more doors 24, 26.

As discussed in greater detail below, the storage cabinet 10 may be a modular structure with a number of connected and/or interlocking components. The components, for example, may be connected by a snap-fit, interference and/or friction fit; and the components may be connected by one or more connectors or fasteners, such as screws and bolts. In addition, the storage cabinet 10 may include interchangeable components and the same components to be used to form different parts of the storage cabinet, if desired. For example, the walls 12, 14, 16, 18; roof 20 and/or floor 22 may be formed from panels and one or more of the panels may be interchangeable. This may allow the storage cabinet 10 to be more easily constructed and it may reduce the number of molds required to make the components. Advantageously, this may also allow the storage cabinet 10 to be quickly and easily assembled without a large number of parts or tools.

The storage cabinet 10 may also provide a relatively inexpensive enclosure that may be efficiently manufactured, shipped, stored, displayed, transported and the like. The storage cabinet 10 may also be sold as a kit or as an assembled structure. In addition, the storage cabinet 10 may include components that are sold separately, which may allow a consumer to repair, replace, reconfigure and/or modify the storage cabinet.

Significantly, the various components may allow the storage cabinet 10 to be relatively quickly and easily assembled. This may allow, for example, the manufacturing costs of the storage cabinet 10 to be decreased. This may also allow the storage cabinet 10 to be shipped in an unassembled configuration and the consumer may be able to quickly and easily assemble the storage cabinet. Advantageously, shipping the storage cabinet 10 in an unassembled configuration may reduce shipping costs and increase the potential uses of the storage cabinet. In addition, the components of the storage cabinet 10 are preferably generally lightweight and that may also reduce shipping costs and facilitate transportation or shipping of the storage cabinet. Further, various components of the storage cabinet 10 may be sized and configured to minimize the size and shape of the packaging. This may greatly decrease the size of the packaging, which may considerably decrease shipping costs and allow, for example, the consumer to readily transport the storage cabinet 10.

Further, while the storage cabinet 10 may be shown in the accompanying drawings as having a particular size and configuration, it will be appreciated that the storage cabinet may be larger, smaller or have other suitable dimensions. In addition, the length and/or width of the storage cabinet 10 may be increased or decreased, which may significantly expand the potential uses and functionality of the storage cabinet.

Various exemplary features and aspects of the storage cabinet 10 will now be discussed in more detail. It will be appreciated that the storage cabinet 10 does not require all or any of these exemplary features and aspects, and the storage cabinet could have other suitable features and aspects depending, for example, upon the intended design, use or purpose of the storage cabinet.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the walls 12, 14, 16, 18 may include panels that are interconnected. In particular, the walls 12, 14, 16, 18 may include one or more modular panels and one or more of these modular panels may be interchangeable. For example, the walls 14, 16, 18 may be constructed from wall panels 28, 30, which may be used to construct a storage cabinet with a generally rectangular configuration. It will be appreciated, however, that the storage cabinet 10 could have other suitable configurations such as square, polygonal, triangular, circular and the like.

In greater detail, the rear wall 14, the left sidewall 16 and the right sidewall 18 may have a generally similar construction in that they may be primarily constructed from the wall panels 28, 30. In particular, the left sidewall 16 may be formed form a portion of the wall panel 28; the rear wall 14 may be formed from another portion of the wall panel 28 and a portion of wall panel 30; and the right sidewall 18 may be formed from another portion of the wall panel 30.

Each of the wall panels 28, 30 preferably have the same general configuration, which may help create a modular structure. For example, the wall panels 28, 30 preferably has a generally rectangular configuration with a width of about 3 feet (0.9 meters) and a height of about 3 feet (0.9 meters) to create a storage cabinet 10 with a width of about 3 feet (0.9 meters), a depth of about 1.5 feet (0.46 meters) and a height of about 3 feet (0.9 meters). Advantageously, manufacturing and assembly of the storage cabinet 10 may be greatly simplified because the wall panels 28, 30 may have the same size and configuration. It will be appreciated, however, that the wall panels 28, 30 could have other suitable sizes and configurations depending, for example, upon the size and/or intended use of the storage cabinet 10. The storage cabinet 10 could also include additional or fewer panels depending upon the intended size of the storage cabinet.

The wall panels 28, 30 desirably include a first portion that is separated by a second portion by a living hinge, such as living hinges 32, 34. Preferably, the living hinge extends from the top to the bottom of the wall panels 28, 30 and it allows the first and second portions to move relative to each other. For example, the living hinge may allow the wall panels 28, 30 to be positioned in a generally collapsed configuration, which may facilitate shipping. The living hinge may also allow the wall panels 28, 30 to be disposed at an angle to form, for example, a corner of the storage cabinet 10. In particular, the living hinges preferably divides the wall panels 28, 30 in half and allows the wall panels to form a ninety degree or right angle. Also, the living hinges preferably allow the wall panels 28, 30 to be positioned in a flat, generally planar configuration as shown in FIGS. 6-7, which may facilitate molding the wall panels. Significantly, if the living hinges extend the entire length of the wall panels 28, 30, that may help prevent water and foreign objects from undesirably entering the storage cabinet 10. In addition, the living hinges may allow a strong and sturdy connection of the wall panels 28, 30 to be created. It will be appreciated that the wall panels 28, 30 may include one or more living hinges, which may extend along all or just a portion of the length of the wall panels, and the wall panels could be disposed at other suitable angles. It will also be appreciated that the wall panels 28, 30 do not require living hinges and the wall panels may have other suitable configurations, arrangements, connections and the like.

The wall panels 28, 30 preferably are securely connected to allow a strong and sturdy storage cabinet 10 to be constructed. Advantageously, the secure connection of the wall panels 28, 30 may help prevent inadvertent separation of the panels and may enhance the structural integrity of the storage cabinet 10. In addition, a tight-fit between the wall panels 28, 30 may help prevent water and/or air from undesirably entering the storage cabinet 10. Further, the secure connection of the wall panels 24, 26 may prevent undesirable movement of the panels and other portions of the storage cabinet 10.

As shown in FIG. 3, the connection of the wall panels 28, 30 may include one or more overlapping portions and/or one or more interlocking portions. The overlapping portions and the interlocking portions may extend along all or just a portion of the connection between the wall panels 28, 30, and the panels may be connected by one or more overlapping portions and/or interlocking portions. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that this type of connection does not have to connect the wall panels 28, 30 and that other suitable types of connections and connectors may also be used.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the wall panels 28, 30 may be connected to the roof 20 and the floor 22. In particular, as shown in FIG. 3, the wall panels 28, 30 may include outwardly extending protrusions 36, which may be used to help connect the wall panels to the roof 20 and/or the floor 22. The protrusions 36 may be located in an upper portion, a lower portion, and/or in other suitable portions of the wall panels 28, 30. The protrusions 36 are preferably at least partially disposed within receiving portions 38 formed in the roof 20 and the floor 22. The receiving portions 38 are preferably sized and configured to receive and/or retain all or at least a portion of one or more of the protrusions 36 using a snap, interference or friction fit. The protrusions 36 and receiving portions 38 may be sized and configured so that, as a protrusion is inserted into a receiving portion, at least a portion of the protrusion and/or at least a portion of the receiving portion may move, deform or deflect slightly to allow the protrusion to be inserted into the receiving portion.

As shown in FIG. 3, the doors 24, 26 may be connected the roof 20 and the floor 22. In particular, the doors 24, 26 may include one or more projections or pivot portions 40 to provide an upper and lower pivot point for the doors. The pivot portions 40 are at least partially disposed within the receiving portions 42 formed in the roof 20 and the floor 22. Advantageously, the pivot portions 40 and the receiving portions 42 may allow the doors 24, 26 to pivot or move between an opened and closed position.

As shown in FIG. 1, the doors 24, 26 may include one or more handles 44, which may include a gripping portion 46 and a recessed portion 48 that may facilitate easier access to the gripping portion. As shown in FIGS. 2, 6 and 7, the doors 24, 26 may include a portion 50 that is generally aligned with the recessed portion 48 on opposing sides of the doors. The portion 50 may be sized and configured to facilitate the recessed portion 48, but it is not required.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the storage cabinet 10 may include a shelf 52. The shelf 52 may be attached to the rear wall 14 of the storage cabinet 10 and the shelf may extend from the left wall 16 to the right wall 18. Advantageously, if the shelf 52 extends from the left wall 16 to the right wall 18, then the shelf may be connected to the left wall 16, the right wall 18 and the rear wall 14, which may increase the strength and/or rigidity of the storage cabinet 10. One or more shelves may also be connected to corners or desired portion of the storage cabinet 10.

In addition, the shelf 52 may include one or more living hinges that may be moved between collapsed and extended positions. For example, the shelf 52 may include a first portion that is separated by a second portion by a living hinge 54. Preferably, the living hinge 54 extends along the length of the shelf 52 and it allows the first and second portions to move relative to each other. For example, the living hinge 54 may allow the shelf 52 to be positioned in a collapsed configuration as shown in FIGS. 4-5, which may facilitate shipping. The living hinge 54 may also allow the shelf 52 to be disposed in a generally flat or planar configuration as shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 8, which may facilitate molding the shelf and/or shipping. It will be appreciated that the living hinges may extend along all or just a portion of the length of the shelf 52, and the shelf could be disposed at other suitable angles or positions. It will also be appreciated that the shelf 52 does not require living hinges, and the shelf may have other suitable configurations, arrangements, connections and the like.

As shown in FIG. 9, one or more storage cabinets 10 may be stacked upon each other. To help align the storage cabinets 10, the storage cabinets may include one or more alignment members that are preferably sized and configured to align the storage cabinets in a desired relative position. For example, as shown in FIG. 8, the roof 20 may include an alignment member 56, and the floor 22 may include an alignment member 58. The alignment member 58 of the floor 22 preferably includes at least one generally inwardly extending portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of at least one generally outwardly extending portion of the alignment member 56 of the roof 20. The alignment member 56 preferably includes a generally rectangular outwardly extending portion, and the alignment member 58 preferably includes a generally rectangular inwardly extending portion. It will be appreciated that the alignment members 56, 58 may each include one or more outwardly extending portions, inwardly extending portions, and/or other suitable features having any other suitable shape. It will also be appreciated that the roof 20 and the floor 22 do not require any alignment members.

Advantageously, one or more of the components of the storage cabinet 10 may be interchangeable. For example, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the doors 24, 26 may be interchangeable and the wall panels 28, 30 may be interchangeable. Likewise, if desired, the roof 20 and the floor 22 may be interchangeable. Advantageously, because some or all of these components may be interchangeable, the storage cabinet 10 may be more easily manufactured and/or assembled. For example, the storage cabinet 10 may be manufactured with fewer molds. Further, the interchangeable components may allow for simpler, more efficient storage because fewer types of components may have to be stored. It will be appreciated, however, that these components need not be interchangeable.

Significantly, the various components of the storage cabinet 10 may be sized and configured to be compactly packaged in one or more shipping boxes or other containers. For example, many of the components may have generally similar dimensions to facilitate packaging. In addition, some of the components may include one or more cavities or recesses in which at least a portion of other components of the storage cabinet 10 may be disposed. A number of the components may also be sized and configured to permit the components to be packaged in substantially uniform layers. For instance, many of the components may have substantially the same height, width and/or thickness to facilitate packaging of the storage cabinet 10.

As discussed above, various components of the storage cabinet 10 may also include one or more living hinges that allow the components to be stored or packed in a generally collapsed configuration. Significantly, this may minimize the size of the required packaging. In addition, the relatively small size of the packaging may allow the storage cabinet 10 to be more easily transported and stored. The relatively small size packaging may also facilitate the consumer transporting and moving the storage cabinet 10, such as from the store to the person's home or office

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the storage cabinet 10 is preferably sized and configured to be packaged within a package that includes various components arranged in layers. In particular, the door 26 may be stacked upon the floor 22 and the wall panel 30 may be stacked upon the door 26. Also, the wall panel 28 may be stacked upon the wall panel 30 and the door 24 may be stacked upon the wall panel 28. Finally, the roof 20 may be stacked upon the door 24 and the shelf 52 may abut the edges of the wall panels 28, 30; the roof 20; the floor 22 and the doors 24, 26 to provide a compact shipping configuration. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the order and sequencing of the layers may be varied. In addition, the storage cabinet 10 may also be packaged in other suitable arrangements and configurations.

To facilitate packaging, the wall panels 28, 30 may include one or more cavities or recesses in which at least a portion of other components of the storage cabinet 10 may be disposed, such as recessed portions 60. In particular, the recessed portion 60 of the wall panel 30 may receive all or at least a portion of the outwardly extending portion 50 of the door 26; and the recessed portion 60 of the wall panel 28 may receive all or at least a portion of the outwardly extending portion 50 of the door 24. Advantageously, the outwardly extending portions 50 and the recessed portions 60 may help align the wall panels 28, 30 and the doors 24, 26 in a desired packaging position. Further, because the recessed portions 60 may receive all or at least a portion of the outwardly extending portions 50, the overall packaging size may be reduced.

The storage cabinet 10 is preferably sized and configured to facilitate shipping and transportation. For example, the storage cabinet 10 preferably has a width of about 3 feet (0.9 meters), a depth of about 1.5 feet (0.46 meters) and a height of about 3 feet (0.9 meters). The storage cabinet 10 is preferably sized and configured to fit within a space that is about 3 feet (0.9 meters) in width by about 1.7 feet (0.51 meters) in width by about 0.7 feet (0.21 meters) in height, which may significantly decrease the size of the packaging. It will be appreciated, however, that the storage cabinet 10 may be larger or smaller; and may fit within larger or smaller spaces depending, for example, upon the particular size and configuration of the storage cabinet.

As mentioned above, the components of the storage cabinet 10 may be formed via a molding process, such as blow molding. As shown in FIG. 6, a set 62 of components including the wall panel 28 and the door 24 may be molded using a first mold; a set 64 of components including the wall panel 30 and the door 26 may be molded using a second mold; and a set 66 of components including the roof 20, the shelf 52 and the floor 22 may be molded using a third mold. It will be appreciated that, where the wall panels and doors are interchangeable, a single mold may be used to mold the sets 62, 64. It will also be appreciated that the various components could be molded individually or in other suitable groups or combinations.

The wall panels 28, 30 are preferably constructed from a lightweight material such as plastic. In addition, other portions of the storage cabinet 10 may also be constructed from a lightweight material such as plastic. In particular, these components may be constructed from high density polyethylene and these components are desirably formed by a blow-molding process. The blow-molding may allow strong, lightweight, rigid and sturdy components to be quickly and easily manufactured. The blow-molded components may also include a hollow interior portion that is formed during the blow-molding process, which may allow a lightweight component to be manufactured. Advantageously, this may allow the storage cabinet 10 to have significantly lighter weight than conventional storage cabinets constructed from wood or metal. In addition, constructing the storage cabinet 10 from blow-molded plastic may allow the storage cabinet to be constructed from less plastic than conventional plastic storage cabinet, which may save manufacturing costs and reduce consumer costs. The blow-molded plastic may also include ultraviolet (UV) inhibitors that help prevent the plastic from deteriorating when exposed to sunlight. It will be appreciated that other suitable plastic, materials and/or processes may also be used to construct these and other components depending, for example, upon the particular design and use of the storage cabinet 10.

The storage cabinet 10 may also be constructed from blow-molded plastic because this may allow the storage cabinet to be economically manufactured. In addition, the blow-molded plastic may allow the storage cabinet 10 to be readily produced because, among other reasons, the components may be quickly manufactured and the blow-molded plastic components may be created with a variety of suitable shapes, sizes, designs and/or colors depending, for example, upon the intended use of the storage cabinet. Further, the blow-molded plastic components may be durable, weather resistant, generally temperature insensitive, corrosion resistant, rust resistant and generally do not deteriorate over time. Thus, the blow-molded plastic may allow a long-lasting and durable storage cabinet 10 to be constructed.

The blow-molded plastic components of the storage cabinet 10 may also include one or more depressions, indentations or the like, and these depressions may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the component. These depressions, which may also be known as “tack-offs,” preferably cover at least a substantial portion of the components and the depressions may be arranged into a predetermined pattern. The depressions, for example, may be formed in one surface and extend towards an opposing surface. The ends of the depressions may contact or engage the opposing surface and/or the ends of the depressions may be spaced apart from the opposing surface. Advantageously, the depressions may help support the opposing surface and/or increase the structural integrity of the component. In addition, the depressions may be closely spaced in order to increase the strength and/or structural integrity of the component. Further, the depressions may be spaced or positioned into a generally regular or constant pattern so that the component has generally consistent properties. It will be appreciated that the depressions may have a variety of suitable configurations and arrangements. For instance, additional information regarding other suitable configurations and arrangements of the depressions is disclosed in Assignee's co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/490,000, entitled HIGH STRENGTH, LIGHT WEIGHT BLOW-MOLDED PLASTIC STRUCTURES, which was filed on Apr. 8, 2003; and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/659,982, entitled HIGH-STRENGTH, LIGHTWEIGHT BLOW-MOLDED PLASTIC STRUCTURES, which was filed on Mar. 9, 2005. These applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties.

The depressions may also be positioned on opposing surfaces of various components of the storage cabinet 10, if desired. For example, one or more depressions may be formed on a first surface and these depressions may extend towards the second, opposing surface. In addition, one or more depressions may be formed on the second surface and these depressions may extend towards the first surface. These depressions on the first and second surfaces may be generally aligned and the ends of the opposing depressions may touch or engage. Significantly, this may create depressions that may contact and support the opposing surface, but the depressions have a smaller size and/or height than conventional depressions because the depressions do not span the entire distance between the opposing surfaces. In contrast, the depressions on the opposing surfaces only span a portion of the distance separating the opposing surfaces.

One skilled in the art, however, will appreciate that the components do not have to be constructed from blow-molded plastic and other suitable materials and/or processes can be used to construct the various components depending, for example, upon the intended use of the storage cabinet 10. Thus, some or all of the components could also be constructed from other materials with suitable characteristics, such as wood, metal and other types of plastic. Additionally, all the components do not have to be constructed from blow-molded plastic and some or all of the components could be constructed from injection molded plastic, extrusion molded plastic, and the like.

Various components of the storage cabinet 10 may also include reinforcements that may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the storage cabinet. For example, the walls 12, 14, 16, 18, which are preferably constructed from blow-molded plastic panels, may include reinforcements to increase their strength and/or rigidity. In particular, the blow-molded plastic panels may include one or more reinforcing members that have different capabilities or characteristics than the panels. For instance, the reinforcing members may have different strength, resilience, compression and/or tension capabilities that the panels, which may allow the panel to be reinforced. Advantageously, the reinforced panel may have greater strength, rigidity, impact resistance, resilience and/or ability to prevent deformation. In addition, the reinforcing members may be arranged or configured to maximize the strengths or characteristics of the reinforcing members. The reinforcing member is preferably an elongated member that is constructed from metal. Advantageously, the reinforcing member may be a thin, flat, generally planar metal strip, such as a sheet metal strip, that is relatively simple to cut and form. It will be appreciated that the reinforcing member could also have other suitable configurations such as cylindrical, tubular, T-shaped, L-shaped, V-shaped, corrugated and the like. The reinforcing member 41 may also be constructed from other materials with suitable characteristics such as other types of metals, plastics, composites, wood, etc. Additional information regarding structures constructed from blow-molded plastic and reinforcing members for blow-molded plastic structures is disclosed in Assignee's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 10/890,601, entitled PARTITION SYSTEM, which was filed on Jul. 14, 2004, and is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is intended to be defined only by the claims which follow.

Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification312/257.1, 312/107
International ClassificationA47B43/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B47/042, A47B43/00
European ClassificationA47B43/00, A47B47/04A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 27, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: LIFETIME PRODUCTS, INC., UTAH
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:JIN, JU-YOUNG;REEL/FRAME:017218/0472
Effective date: 20051108