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Publication numberUS3388490 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 18, 1968
Filing dateNov 17, 1965
Priority dateNov 28, 1964
Also published asDE1447440A1
Publication numberUS 3388490 A, US 3388490A, US-A-3388490, US3388490 A, US3388490A
InventorsErnst Stechemesser
Original AssigneeGatag Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sign with colored fluid
US 3388490 A
Abstract  available in
Images(3)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 18, 1968 E. STECHEMESSER 3,388,490

' SIGN WITH COLORED FLUID Filed Nov. 1'7, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 FIG. 4

l INVENTOR.

lh. savsr JTECAIMIJQ 4/: Arraea/e June 18, 1968 E. STECHEMESSER 3,388,490

SIGN WITH COLORED FLUID Filed Nov. 1'7, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 FIG-2 BY 3M4! 5.64%

June 1968 E. STECHEMESSER 8, 9

SIGN WITH COLORED FLUID Filed Nov. 17, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 INVBNTOR. 59047 1 55496444316 BY .c 4%

United States Patent 3,388,490 SIGN WITH COLORED FLUID Ernst Stechemesser, Gottingen, Germany, assignor to Gatag Limited, Zug, Switzerland Filed Nov. 17, 1965, Ser. No. 508,241 Claims priority, application Germany, Nov. 28, 1964,

16 Claims. (Cl: 40-40621) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates to signs in general, and more particularly to improvements in signs of the type wherein a liquid, gaseous or comminuted solid colored material is conveyed and/ or distributed in such a Way that it represents numerals, letters, words, sentences, silhouettes, pictures or other types of symbols. Such signs may be used in advertising, in regulation of traffic, in sports arenas, hospitals, stores, schools and many other establishments.

It is already known to provide an illuminated advertising or commercial sign wherein the symbols (normally letters) are represented by suitably shaped glass tubes which are filled with a colored liquid and are placed against an illuminated background. Such glass tubes are quite expensive and are likely to break. Also, a, sign which utilizes glass tubes cannot be converted to present a different symbol or a different set of symbols excepting, of course, by resorting to the tedious, expensive and timeconsuming task of exchanging the tubes.

Accordingly, it is an important object of the present invention to provide a simple, compact, relatively inexpensive and rugged sign which may be conveniently and rapidly converted to present any one of two or more diiferent symbols or sets of symbols, and to construct the sign in such a way that it may be used against or without illuminated background, either indoors or outdoors.

Another object of the invention is to provide a sign of the just outlined characteristics wherein two or more superimposed symbols or sets of symbols may be made visible at the same time, wherein a selected symbol or a selected set of symbols may be made visible or invisible at the will of the personnel in charge, which comprises a minimal number of moving parts, and wherein a single source of light sufiices to illuminate symbols which can be observed from two or more different directions.

A further object of the invention is to provide a sign wherein the paths in which a fiowable colored material flows can be sealed in a very simple and space-saving manner.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a novel material displacing unit which may be used in a sign of the above outlined characteristics and to construct the sign in such a way that each of the various paths for flowable colored material is invariably filled when the operator so desires so that each detail of each symbol is readily observable.

A concomitant object of the invention is to provide a sign wherein the various symbols or sets of symbols may be made visible intermittently at regular or irregular intervals, wherein the symbol or symbols may be made visible for any desired period of time, and wherein such symbol or symbols can represent very simple indicia (such ice as individual letters or numerals) or complicated combinations of letters, numerals, pictures and/or others.

An ancillary object of the invention is to provide a novel package of light transmitting panels which may be used in a sign of the above outlined character.

Briefly stated, one feature of my present invention resides in the provision of a sign which comprises a package of adjacent transparent panels each having at least one sealed channel representing a symbol, a portion of a symbol or a set of symbols, at least one source of flowable colored material connected with the channels, and material displacing means for conveying colored material from the source into the channels. The source may comprise a separate tank for each channel, and each such tank may accommodate a differently colored' comminuted solid, liquid or gaseous material. -I further prefer to provide one or more overflow receptacles which are preferably located at a level above the channels and communicate therewith so as to receive such colored material which is being delivered by the displacing means after the respective channels are filled. The provision of one or more overflow receptacles insures that each channel is completely filled so that each detail of the respective symbol or set of symbols is fully visible.

A source of light may be placed adjacent to one side of the package so that the symbols are visible against an illuminated background.

The connection between the source and the channels preferably comprises one or more valved supply conduits, and the valves in such conduits may be operated by r mote control so that the personnel in charge can select that symbol or that set or group of symbols which are to be made visible on .a certain occasion or at a predetermined time.

The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The improved sign itself, however, both as to its construction and the mode of assembling and operating the same, together with additional features and advantages thereof, will be best understood upon perusal of the following detailed description of certain specific embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a somewhat schematic front elevational view of a portion of a sign which is constructed and assembled in accordance with a first embodiment of my invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary transverse vertical section substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line II-lI of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear elevational view of a portion of the sign, substantially as seen in the direction of the arrow III in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a schematic front elevational view of a portion of a modified sign;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary transverse vertical section, substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line VV of FIG, 4;

FIG. 6 illustrates in partial section a material displacing device which may be used in the sign of FIG. 1 or 4; and

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary diagrammatic perspective view of a third sign wherein a single light source serves to provide illuminated background for several packages of light transmitting panels.

Referring first to FIGS. 1 to 3, there is shown a sign which comprises a housing 1 having a front side provided with a window 1a located in front of a package 3 including three closely adjacent transparent panels 4 made of glass or synthetic plastic. The package 3 is accommodated in a frame 2 and further includes a transparent front plate 7, a translucent rear plate 8 which may consist of frosted glass or a plastic material of similar translucency,and

two transparent sealing sheets or layers 6 which are disposed between the adjoining panels 4. Each panel is formed with a channel which extends all the way therethrough and is configurated in such a way that it resembles a symbol, e.g., a capital letter, see FIG. 1. The letter B may but need not be located between the letters A and C, i.e., the sequence in which the panels 4 are assembled in package 3 is optional.

Each of the three channels 5 communicates with the discharge end of a relatively thin supply conduit 9, and each of these supply conduits contains an adjustable valve 11, preferably a solenoid valve. The intake ends of the supply conduits 9 are connected to three separate tanks 10' which together constitute a source of fiowable colored material, e.g., a liquid medium. The means for displacing such colored materials from the respective tanks 10 comprises three separate pumps 20 which may be operated independently of each other and can be connected in the circuits of the respective valves 11 in such a way that they begin to deliver colored materials into the respective conduits 9 when the valves open for the first time but do not deliver when the valves open the next time.

Each channel 5 is further connected with a feed conduit 12 which discharges into one of three overflow receptacles 13 located at a level above the respective channels 5.

The housing 1 is mounted on a hollow base 16 which can accommodate a control unit 16a provided with levers, pushbuttons or otherwise configurated actuating elements serving to regulate the How of colored materials in a desired and variable sequence and/or at desired intervals and for desired periods of time. The base 16 can further accommodate batteries or is provided with a plug for connection to a suitable outside source of electrical energy.

The sign further comprises an illuminating device including three vertically extending neon tubes 15 whose ends are mounted in sockets 14. The tubes 15 are connected in an electric circuit which is not shown in the drawings and which further includes a master switch provided in the base 16 or elsewhere.

Each of the tanks 10 is assumed to contain a supply of differently colored fiowable material. If the operator desires to make the letter A visible, he opens the corresponding valve 11 so that the corresponding pump 20 is started and conveys material into the channel 5 of the respective panel 4. The selected pump 20 preferably continues to operate after the corresponding channel 5 is filled so that some colored material enters the associated feed conduit 12 and flows into the corresponding overflow receptacle 13. This insures that the channel 5 is completely filled and that all details of the letter A are plainly visible. The material filling that channel 5 which resembles the letter A is preferably of such composition that it can be seen against or without illuminated background, i.e., the illuminating device including the tubes 15 may but need not be turned on when the operator decides to start one or more pumps 20. If the operator wishes to erase the letter A, the corresponding pump 20 is arrested but the assocaited valve 11 remains open so that the colored material may return into the respective tank 10 by gravity fiow.

Two or all of the pumps 20 may be operated at the same time so that two or more symbols are visible simultaneously. Also, and in order to produce special effects, the pumps may be started and arrested at such intervals that the materials will flow up and down at a regular or irregular rate and that the symbols will gradually appear or disappear in a manner similar to the operations known in photography as fade-in and fade-out. It is further clear that the package 3 may comprise only two or more than three panels 4, depending on the desired combination of symbols. Furthermore, the symbols may be rather complicated and may consist of several individual symbols,

i.e., each of the panels 4 may be provided with two or more separate or interconnected channels. If the volume of a channel 5 is rather large and if it is desired to rapidly fill or evacuate the channels, each panel 4 may be connected with two or more supply conduits 9 and with two or more feed conduits 12. The housing 1 constitutes a weatherproof or dustproof enclosure for the package 3, for the illuminating device, for the tanks 10 and for the pumps 20. However, it is equally within the scope of my invention to mount the parts 10, 11, 13 and 20 at a point which is distant from the housing 1 and to lengthen the conduits 9 and 12 accordingly. The sign may be made to rotate or to perform other movements so as to draw attention to the symbols which are visible through the Window 1a.

If the symbols should remain visible for longer periods of time, the pumps 20 are started and the valves 11 are opened so that the channels 5 are filled and that some colored material overflows into the receptacles 13. The pumps 20 are then arrested and the valves 11 are closed for as long as desired. In other words, if a given symbol or set of symbols should remain visible for a longer period of time, the pump or pumps 20 must be operated only for a short interval to fill the respective channels but remain idle for the remainder of the selected period. This results in a very economic operation of the sign.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate a modified sign which comprises a package 3 of three transparent panels 17. The channels 18 are constituted by grooves and/or depressions which are formed in the rear faces of the respective panels 17. Therefore, the sealing sheets or layers 6 of FIG. 2 may be dispensed with, together with the front plate 7. The panels 17 are maintained in face-to-face abutment with each other to seal the respective channels or grooves 18. The rear plate 8' corresponds to the plate 8 of FIG. 8 and is located in front of a suitable illuminating device, not shown. The frame 2 keeps the panels 17 in sealing contact with each other and further insures that the plate 8' seals the channel 18 in the adjoinmg rearmost panel 17. The housing 1' may be mounted on a base (not shown) in the same way as described in connection with FIGS. l-3. The feed conduits 12' lead to individual overflow receptacles which are not shown in FIG. 5. Of course, and this holds true for each embodiment of my invention, a single tank and a single overflow receptacle will sufiice if the channels in the package 3 or 3' are to be filled with the same colored material. However, even in such simplified signs, each panel 4 or 17 is preferably supplied with colored material by a separate pump so that the various symbols may be made visible individually or in any desired combination with each other. FIG. 4 shows that the symbols represented by the channels 18 in the panels 17 are more complicated by representing complete words and the picture of a toy.

The material displacing device which is shown in FIG. 6 may be used as a substitute for the pumps 20 of FIGS. 2 or 3. This material displacing device cooperates with a deformable tank 23 which resembles a bellows and may be deformed by the reciprocable armature 21a of an electromagnet 21 through the intermediary of a resilient element here shown as a helical spring 22. When the electromagnet 21 is energized (or deenergized) so that the armature 21a performs a downward stroke, as viewed in FIG. 6, the spring 22 deforms the tank 23 whereby the latter discharges colored material through an outlet 23a which is connected to a. supply conduit, not shown, at a rate determined by the cross-sectional area of the supply conduit. When the armature 21a is retracted, the tank 23 can expand and may actually suck the colored material from the corresponding channel or channels. In signs which utilize the tank 23 of FIG. 6, the overflow receptacle or receptacles 13 need not be located at a level above the corresponding channels.

Referring finally to FIG. 7, there is shown a housing 101 which accommodates four packages 103 of stacked panels. The four packages 103 form a hollow rectangle and surround a single illuminating device 114. The means for supplying colored materials to the panels of the individual packages 103 may be constructed in the same way as described in connection with FIGS. 1 to 3. It is obvious that the sign of FIG. 7 may be modified by omitting two packages 103 and by placing the other two packages at the opposite sides of the source 114 (this would be tantamount to providing a second package 3 to the right of the illuminating device shown in FIG. 2), by arranging three packages 103 in the form of a triangle, or by using five or more packages to form another polygonal structure.

As a rule, the improved sign will contain one or more tanks each of which contains a supply of liquid colored material. However, and particularly when the sign is to be utilized in very hot or very cold climates, the tanks may contain a gaseous or a comminuted solid colored material. It was found that the symbol represented by the channel, depression or groove in the rearmost panel 4 or 17 can be readily seen with or without background illumination, as long as the number of panels in a package 3, 3 or 103 is not excessive and as long as the panels 4, 17, the sealing layers 6, and the front plates 7 consist of strongly transparent vitreous or synthetic plastic material. The illuminating device will be turned on at night, when the sign is used indoors, and/or when the sign is used outdoors on a foggy or cloudy day.

When the source or sources contain a liquid colored material, it is advisable to select a liquid substance which does not tend to cling to the surfaces surrounding the respective channels, i.e., a non-wetting liquid such as alcohol. The colored material may contain fluorescent and/ or light-reflecting ingredients. For use in outdoor signs, the liquid coloring material should be selected in such a way that it can stand substantial fluctuations in temperature without undergoing undesirable changes in volume and/or viscosity. Silicon oil has been found to be very satisfactory for use in outdoor signs.

As stated before, the improved sign may be used indoors and outdoors, with or without background illumination. Experiments have shown that the sign is particularly practical in advertising, in regulation of traffic on roads, in railroad stations and other terminals, in hospitals, schools, signal stations, sports areas and many other institutions. For example, a series of such signs may be installed at short intervals along turnpikes or other large highways. All such signs are then connected to a control station and may be operated by remote control to provide signals indicating traffic conditions and other information such as accidents, the presence of fog, rain, sleet, ice or snow, exits from the main highway, and others. A very important advantage of the sign is that it requires little or no maintenance because it comprises a minimum of moving parts and can operate properly without resorting to electric motors, clutches, couplings, transmissions and similar complicated, costly and sensitive components. The symbols may be made visible or erased at any desired intervals, either in rapid sequence or for longer periods of time, as well as simultaneously or in a selected sequence.

The channels in two or more panels may be configurated in such a way that they together represent a symbol, i.e., the channel in each panel need not by itself constitute a complete, independently understandable symbol.

Without further analysis, the foregoing will be fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapte it for various applications without omitting features which fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic and specific aspects of my contribution to the art and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the following claims.

What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is:

1. A sign comprising, in combination, transparent panel means having a front face and a rear face and being between the faces provided with a plurality of separate sealed channels each representing a symbol; a plurality of sources of flowable colored material each of said sources adapted to deliver a differently colored flowable colored material; a plurality of passage means each connecting one of said sources of colored material with the respective one of said channels, each of said passage means including a passage portion extending at least from the respective channel to said rear face of said panel means substantially normal to the latter; and material displacing means cooperating with said channels for feeding colored material from each of said sources through the respective passage means into the channel connected thereto for making the respective symbol visible and for discharging the colored material from the respective channel for making the symbol invisible.

2. A sign as set forth in claim 1, further compris ng at least one overflow receptacle connected with said channels to receive such colored material which is conveyed from said source subsequent to filling of said channels.

3. A sign as set forth in claim 1, wherein said colored material contains fluorescent ingredients.

4. A sign as set forth in claim 1, wherein said colored material contains light reflecting ingredients.

5. A sign as set forth in claim 1, wherein said source comprises a deformable tank and said displacing means comprises an electromagnet having a reciprocable armature and resilient means interposed between said armature and said tank so that said resilient means deforms the tank to thereby expel colored material therefrom when the armature moves in one direction.

6. A sign as set forth in claim 1, wherein said panel means comprises a package of adjacent superimposed transparent panels each provided with at least one sealed channel representing a symbol and wherein said source comprises a plurality of tanks each of which contains a differently colored material and each of which is connected with at least one of said channels, said displacing means comprising a separate pump for each of said tanks.

7. A sign as set forth in claim 6, further comprising a separate overflow receptacle for each of said channels, each of said receptacles being connected to and being located at a level above the respective channel to receive such material which is being displaced from said source subsequent to filling of the respective channel.

8. A sign as set forth in claim 6 and further comprising illuminating means disposed adjacent to the rear face of said panel means and arranged to direct light through said superimposed panels to the front face of said panel means.

9. A sign as set forth in claim 1, wherein said panel means comprises a package of adjacent transparent panels, each provided with at least one sealed channel representing a symbol.

10. A sign as set forth in claim 9 further comprising illuminating means disposed at one side of said package and arranged to direct light rays through said panels and to the other side of said package.

11. A sign as set forth in claim 10, wherein each of said channels extends through the respective panel, said package further comprising sealing layers interposed between said panels, a transparent front plate at said other side of said package, and a translucent rear plate at sa d other side of said package.

12. A sign as set forth in claim 10, wherein each of said channels is constituted by a groove provided in that side of the respective panel which faces said illuminating means and said panels are disposed in face-to-face abutment with each other, said package further comprising a translucent plate disposed at said one side of the package and overlying the groove in the adjoining panel.

13. A sign as set forth in claim 10, further comprising at least one additional package of channeled panels, said illuminating means being disposed between said packages.

14. A sign as set forth in claim 9, further comprising solenoid valves provided in each of said conduits.

15. A sign as set forth in claim 1, wherein each of said passage means includes a conduit projecting through a region rearwardly of said rear face substantially normal to the latter, and including illuminating means located in said region.

16. A sign as set forth in claim '15, wherein said illuminating means comprises a plurality of elongated light sources respectively arranged laterally of said condu ts and substantially parallel to said rear face.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 903,719 11/1908 Herrmann 25l--57 X 3,172,221 3/1965 Ochs et al. 40-28 3,200,525 8/1965 Francis 40130 3,225,470 12/1965 Schwab et al. 40130 10 3,249,302 5/1966 Bowles 40-10622 X EUGENE R. CAPOZIO, Primary Examiner.

W. J. CONTRERAS, Examiner.

Patent Citations
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US903719 *Sep 12, 1907Nov 10, 1908Oscar HerrmannDanger-signal for automobiles.
US3172221 *Sep 12, 1962Mar 9, 1965Honeywell IncElectrical apparatus
US3200525 *May 13, 1963Aug 17, 1965Francis AssociatesFluid read-out device
US3225470 *Mar 6, 1964Dec 28, 1965Ncr CoLight-reactant display devices
US3249302 *Jan 21, 1963May 3, 1966Bowles Romald EVisual readout device
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3638342 *Oct 13, 1969Feb 1, 1972Winslow Frank TDisplay apparatus
US3731412 *Feb 8, 1971May 8, 1973Stanish RDisplay apparatus
US3748764 *Sep 29, 1971Jul 31, 1973Contraves AgPneumatic display
US3964194 *Jan 22, 1975Jun 22, 1976Gugeler William GChangeable color display device
US4044519 *May 7, 1976Aug 30, 1977Morin Wilfred FInsulated double glass window assembly
US4144663 *Apr 11, 1977Mar 20, 1979Norlux A/SSwitchable sign
US4584501 *Jun 27, 1984Apr 22, 1986Cocks Franklin HFlat plate luminous display device
US4953315 *Dec 27, 1988Sep 4, 1990Romaine Richard ADisplay device for vehicles
US5156283 *Aug 6, 1991Oct 20, 1992Sampson Susan RWooden stein with responsive emblem
US6259864Nov 19, 1999Jul 10, 2001Eastman Kodak CompanyExposure count indicator for camera
US6263166Nov 19, 1999Jul 17, 2001Eastman Kodak CompanyExposure count indicator for camera
US9280921Jan 23, 2013Mar 8, 2016Lsa AsDisplay device for displaying information, commercials, and traffic signs
US20150133230 *Nov 14, 2014May 14, 2015Nelson AlcazarPool cue with graphic display
CN104205197A *Jan 23, 2013Dec 10, 2014Lsa公司显示装置
WO2013110646A1 *Jan 23, 2013Aug 1, 2013Lsa AsDisplay device
WO2015150910A3 *Apr 7, 2015Aug 4, 2016Preciflex SaSystems and methods for absorption/expansion/contraction/movement of a liquid in a transparent cavity
Classifications
U.S. Classification40/406, 359/886, 40/452, 40/446
International ClassificationG09F13/00, G09F13/24
Cooperative ClassificationG09F13/24
European ClassificationG09F13/24