US 20070144604 A1
A polycarbonate material for retrofit or “like item” replacement of a fuel dispenser pump skirt, riser, and/or valance and related methods is described herein. In one embodiment, a substantially clear polycarbonate material is used that is capable of supporting graphics that are printed on the material's second surface (i.e., that surface opposite the first surface that is directly exposed to damage) thereby protecting the graphics from scratching and similar types of damage.
1. A substantially clear polycarbonate material having a first side surface and a second side surface;
wherein the polycarbonate material is constructed for retrofit or replacement of a portion of an existing fuel dispenser.
2. The polycarbonate material of
3. The polycarbonate material of
4. The polycarbonate material of
5. The polycarbonate material of
6. A method for retrofitting or replacing a portion of an existing fuel dispensing, comprising the steps of:
providing the clear polycarbonate material of
retrofitting or replacing a portion of an existing fuel dispenser with the clear polycarbonate material.
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. The method of
11. A replacement cover portion for a gasoline pump, including a polycarbonate element having a first surface and a second surface, said polycarbonate element including connection means to permit attachment to an existing fuel dispenser.
12. A polycarbonate skin element for a fuel dispenser, including a skin element formed from polycarbonate, said skin element being configured to cover at least a portion of the fuel dispenser, said skin element having an exposed first surface configured to form at least a portion of the exterior of the assembly after the skin element is assembled with the fuel dispenser.
13. The skin element of
14. The skin element of
The invention relates generally to a retrofit skin or a “like item” replacement, and specifically to an apparatus and methods for improving a fuel pump dispenser by providing a polycarbonate material retrofit skin or a “like item” replacement for the fuel dispenser pump skirt, riser, and/or valance.
A wide variety of devices for dispensing fuel such as gasoline (regular/unleaded), diesel, and propane exist. Although manufactures typically incorporate into each type of fuel dispensing device features unique for the device's intended purpose or application, generally most fuel dispensing devices are constructed of metal panels with associated graphics that are damaged relatively easily by environmental factors, automobiles, persons dispensing fuel, and vandals. Such damage is unsightly and costly to repair, fix, and/or maintain. Accordingly, such metal fuel dispensing devices can benefit from a design that improves the appearance and durability of the fuel pump dispenser while reducing the cost associated with at least the manufacture, maintenance, and shipping of such devices.
The invention provides for, among other things, improved appearance and durability, as well as a reduced cost associated with at least the manufacture, maintenance, and shipping of the fuel pump dispenser by providing a polycarbonate material retrofit skin or “like item” replacement for a fuel dispenser pump skirt, riser, and/or valance.
In this regard, the polycarbanate material retrofit skin or “like item” replacement is impact resistant and highly impervious to the various types of damage, including denting, scratching, and/or defacing, generally associated with the metal panels typically used on fuel dispensing devices.
Furthermore, in one embodiment, a substantially clear polycarbonate material can support graphics that are printed on the skin's or panel's second surface, i.e., that surface opposite the first surface directly exposed to damage, thereby protecting the graphics from scratching and other types of damage.
A polycarbonate skin may be placed over an existing damaged fuel dispenser panel and utilize at least some of the existing mounting hardware (i.e., screws, fasteners, etc.) to mount to the fuel dispenser in a retrofit design method. In an alternative application, a damaged panel may be removed from the fuel dispenser and exchanged with a “like item” polycarbonate panel in a replacement design method.
For the purpose of summarizing the invention certain objects and advantages have been described herein. It is to be understood that not necessarily all such objects or advantages may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment of the invention. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention may be embodied or carried out in a manner that achieves or optimizes one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other objects or advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.
These and other embodiments will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments having reference to the attached figures, the invention not being limited to any particular preferred embodiment(s) disclosed.
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described with references to the accompanying Figures, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout. The terminology used in the description presented herein is not intended to be interpreted in any limited or restrictive manner, simply because it is being utilized in conjunction with a detailed description of certain embodiments of the invention. Furthermore, various embodiments of the invention (whether or not specifically described herein) may include novel features, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes or which is essential to practicing the invention herein described.
In addition to providing a support or housing function, the metal panels typically provide a surface for the application of color schemes and/or graphics such as the dispensed fuel's brand name, accepted credit cards, fueling instructions, and assorted advertisements, to name a few. Such color schemes are typically powder coated on the metal while the graphics may be applied to the outside of the metal skin (first side surface application) in a variety of ways including being silk-screened directly on the metal surface and/or to the powder coated surface, and baked or ultraviolet cured to facilitate proper adhesion of the graphics to the applied color or metal. Alternatively, the graphics may be applied directly to the metal surface and/or powder coated surface through a peel-and-stick type application.
Within the fueling station surroundings, the metal panels 10, 15, 20 of fuel dispensers 5 are susceptible to many potentially damaging factors. In this regard, environmental factors, automobiles, persons dispensing fuel, and vandals may damage the metal skins relatively easily. Such damage is generally unsightly and costly to repair, fix, and/or maintain.
Historically, repair of the damaged metal panel was facilitated by: (1) replacement application (i.e. removal and exchange of the damaged metal panel with a new “like item” metal part from the manufacturer): or (2) retrofit application, where a thin gauge metal skin with graphics pre-allied was slipped over the original metal panel (like a sleeve) to provide a new clean aesthetically pleasing appearance.
As shown in
In regard to either the fuel dispenser riser or pump skirt, preferably, a polycarbonate skin is placed over the existing damaged fuel dispenser panel and utilizes at least some of the existing mounting hardware (i.e., screws, fasteners, etc.) to mount to the fuel dispenser in a retrofit design method. Alternatively, a damaged valance panel is preferably removed from the fuel dispenser and exchanged with a “like item” polycarbonate panel in a replacement design method. Although preferred applications for the polycarbonate material are indicated above, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the polycarbonate material may be constructed as either a retrofit or replacement application for either the pump skirt, riser, and/ valance.
In a preferred embodiment, the invention utilizes a relatively thin polycarbonate material. Due to its impact resistant nature the material is more difficult to dent than the metal panels typically available on fuel dispensers. In this regard, the polycarbonate material acts much like an automobile bumper bouncing back to its original form after impact to reduce dents and similar types of damage. As indicated above, other materials exhibiting these properties may be used in lieu of polycarbonate.
In one embodiment, a substantially clear polycarbonate material is used that is capable of supporting information such as graphics, texts, etc., that is applied/printed on the material's second side surface (i.e., that surface opposite the first side surface that is directly exposed to damage) thereby protecting the graphics from scratching and similar types of damage. In an alternative embodiment, the graphics may be applied/printed on the substantially clear polycarbonate material's first side surface; however, the scratch resistant benefit of printing on the second side surface would be negated.
Other embodiments (whether clear or substantially clear or transparent or translucent, or even opaque) could provide other of the benefits of the invention, independent of whether graphics or other information is presented on the polycarbonate element. In addition, even “clear” embodiments could be tinted or otherwise treated to provide a desired coloring or other effect to the polycarbonate element. Among those other benefits of the invention are, without limitation, the lower costs for fabrication/shipping, less (and less expensive) maintenance and repair, etc.
The invention also can be utilized in new fuel dispensing units, by simply using the polycarbonate or similar skin elements in lieu of the conventional metal or other skin elements.
Other benefits of using a polycarbonate material as a retrofit or replacement skin/panel material for the fuel dispenser pump skirt, riser, and/or valance include lower manufacturing and shipping costs due to the polycarbonate's lower material cost and weight when compared to traditional metal fuel dispenser panels.
The apparatus and methods of the present invention have been described with some particularity, but the specific designs, constructions and steps disclosed are not to be taken as delimiting of the invention. Obvious modifications will make themselves apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, all of which will not depart from the essence of the invention and all such changes and modifications are intended to be encompassed within the appended claims.