US 3480154 A
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United States Patent O U.S. Cl. 211-126 9 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This specification describes a multiplicity of filing or sorting trays. The trays are adapted to use in a vertical stack with each tray comprising a body and one or more rods extending vertically therefrom preferably at the rear thereof so as to engage the next successively higher tray and support such in cantilever fashion. The supporting rods of each successively higher tray after the base trays are hollow and telescoped in size with respect to the preceding and succeeding rod. Similarly each successively higher body in the tray stack has slightly smaller dimensions than the next lower body so as to facilitate collapsing of the tray stack for easy storage and movement thereof. A multiplicity of lateral interconnected tray stacks are disclosed each having the attributes of a stack of single trays.
Filing and sorting trays are Well known. In most oflices each desk is equipped with a so called in box and an out box which in many cases are mounted one on .top of the other through the use of spacer rods or bars of one form or another. These same type of tray arrangements have often been used for sorting or collating of documents with the number of trays used corresponding to the number of different documents or groupings being sorted.
While it is celar that the usual desk positioned vertically spaced in and out boxes serve their function well, particularly in that they are sedentary in character, that is they usually remain in one place for relatively long periods of time. In contrast to this, it will .be apparent that collating or sorting devices of this kind are often much longer, more numerous with respect to the number of compartments, bulkier, used less frequently and subject to greater mobility as the need for them varies from place to place in an organization. Further, it will be appreciated that while desk mounted in and out boxes are in substantially constant use, collating and sorting devices are often used intermittently and therefore present a storage problem between such utilizations.
It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a novel collating and sorting apparatus.
It is another object of this invention to provide a novel collating and sorting apparatus which is readily adapted for storage between uses.
Other and additional objects of this invention will become apparent from a considerattion of this entire specication including the drawing and claims thereof.
In accord with and fulfilling these objects, one aspect of this invention resides in a stack of trays comprising a lirst tray having a substantially horizontal tray body and at least one substantially vertical support rod extending therefrom in the direction of the open portion of said tray body; at least one additional tray similarly constructed to said first tray but having tray body outside dimensions slightly smaller than the inside dimensions of the preceding tray body toward said lirst tray and wherein said support rod is hollow having inside dimensions slightly larger than the outside dimensions of the preceding tray support rod and telescoped thereover. A multiplicity of such trays are provided adapted to vertical alignment. The top or last such tray must be constructed lCe and dimenioned as stated above. Alternatively, the top or last tray may be provided with a tray body as previously set forth but without a support rod extending therefrom. In place of this support rod, there may be provided a recess opening downwardly toward the next preceding tray having inside dimensions slightly larger than the out- -side dimensions of the support rod of such preceding tray and telescoped thereon.
Each of the support rods is adapted to iit into the next succeeding support rod in telescoping relation and adapted to support such next succeeding support rod through conventional means such as for example, spring loaded ball bearing means disposed in the smaller rod operatively associated with hole means in the next succeeding larger rod of smaller diameter than the ball diameter and adapted to engage the ball in locking relationship. Where such spring loaded ball bearing locking means are employed, the ball bearing serves the additional function of facilitating movement of the telescoping support rods within each other in a smooth fashion.
The support rods may be positioned on the tray body at any convenient point thereon. It is possible within the scope of this invention to provide any .convenient number of such support rods in combination with each tray body. It has been found however that where a stack of single trays is provided, it is best to use at least two spaced support rods in order to provide lateral movement and pivotal stability. These support rods are preferably positioned at the rear edge of the tray body; where such tray body is rectangular, it is preferred to provide the support rods at each rear corner thereof.
It is another aspect of this invention to utilize the concept described above with a multiplicity of laterally joined tray bodies so `as to provide a .composite structure having a series of laterally displaced trays and a series of vertically displaced trays. In this embodiment of this invention, it has been found to be necessary to provide no more than one support rod per tray body although more such rods can be provided if desired. The simplest arrangement in this embodiment of this invention is to provide one support rod per tray body and to position such relatively centrally along or near the rear edge of the tray body. Thus a multiplicity of support rods is provided corresponding to the number of laterally joined tray bodies and each rod tends to add lateral `and pivotal support to the other rods in order to stabilize the entire structure.
In this embodiment of this invention, the laterally joined tray bodies may be made out of a single sheet of suitable material which has been stamped, molded or cut to appropriate size. Considering for example the situation with two laterally joined trays in each successive vertical stack of trays, the tray bodies have three separate generally parallel side walls together with a continuous back Wall. A front wall may or may not be provided as desired. The furthest apart side walls are of conventional construction, being merely vertical elements joined to the tray body base. Suitably the back wall is constructed and arranged in the same manner. The single wall between the two laterally joined tray bodies however serve as a side wall for both tray bodies and should therefore be symmetrically constructed on both faces thereof.
The outside parallel walls described above are each spaced closer together in successively higher trays in the vertical stackin order to permit the vertical trays to be vertically collapsed and rested. In order to enable this :same function to be accomplished where a multiplicity of laterally joined trays are used, it is necessary to provide the side walls between adjacent joined trays to be constructed in such manner that the effective side walls are successively positioned closer to the opposite tray wall as successively higher trays in the stack are considered and yet maintain the tray joints at these common walls. This is -accomplished by providing each successively higher tray with an annular type common wall construction such that each higher wall has larger inside dimensions than the wall immediately preceding it. These common walls may be triangular or semicircular in crosssection. It has also been found expedient to provide these common Walls rectangular in cross-section. From an appearance point of view, it is preferred to provide these common walls as rectangular at the base and joining in a triangular configuration at the apex.
While the invention has been described in connection with trays arranged so that they have progressively smaller dimensions, it is equally possible to utilize the constructions in which the trays are constructed so that the angle between the side wall and the base is altered as to facilitate stacking. Alternatively, of course, construction in which no side walls at all need be involved are also in the scope of the instant invention.
The support rods described above may have substantially any cross-section desired. Circular cross-section is the simplest, however, rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, semi-circular cross-sectional support rods are all operative andillustrative of the wide range of support rod shapes which are suited for use in this invention.
The support rods are preferably made out of steel or other metal since they carry the entire Weight of this combination. If desired, however, these support rods can be made of plastic or wood. Similarly, the tray bodies can be steel, brass or other metal; plastic such as phenylformaldehyde condensation product, acrylonitrile-butadienestyrene polymers, polyvinyl chloride, polymethyl methacrylate etc.; or wood of substantally any grain, color or hardness. The materials of construction do not form a part of this invention per se, since they are Well known in the art.
Understanding of this invention will be facilitated by reference to the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a stack of single trays according to this invention;
FIG. 2 is a front elevation of a stack of multilateral trays -according to this invention;
FIG. 3 s a top view of the tray stack of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a side view of the tray stack of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the tray stack of FIG. 2 in collapsed form.
Referring now to these drawings and particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, the tray stack according to this invention is illustrated by ve (5) vertically aligned trays. The lowermost tray 1 consists of a tray body 2 having side walls 3 and 4 and a base 5, and two supporting rods 6 and 7 placed at the rear corners of the tray. The next successive tray 8 is constructed identically to the lowermost tray 1 except that its side walls 9 and 10 are closer together 4and its supporting rods 11 and 12 are hollow and larger than the supporting rods 6 and 7 of the lowermost tray 1. These second tray supporting rods 11 and 12 are telescoped over the supporting rods 6 and 7 of the lowermost ltray. The rods 6 and 11 are locked together through a spring loaded ball bearing 13. Similarly, the rods 7 and 12 are locked together through a spring loaded ball bearing 14.
In a similar manner the third and fourth trays 15 and 16 are'likewise mounted through their respective support rods 17 and 18, and 19 and 20. The fth or upper tray 21 is similarly constructed to the second, third and fourth trays 8, 15 and 16 except that it has no support rods thereon but rather is constructed with a recess 22 of the same shape but slightly larger dimensions than the fourth tray support rods 23 and 24 and adapted to have `such rods inserted thereinto both for support and, when the tray stack is collapsed, as for storage or transportation purposes,
Referring now to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 there is shown a tray stack according to this invention wherein each vertically disposed tray as shown in FIG. 1 is replaced by a laterally joined multiplicity of trays. In this embodiment there are shown four tray-s 25, 26, 27 and 28 which are laterally joined and will be hereinafter referred to as a lateral tray row 29. Attached to each of these trays 25, 26, 27 and 28 is a support rod 30, 31, 32 and 33 which is positioned near the rear edge of each tray and side to side centrally positioned. Each of the common walls 34, 35 and 36 between the laterally attached trays is with respect to the lowermost tray row 29, a single substantially vertical wall which is shown to be solid. With respect to each of the successive vertically disposed tray rows 29a, 2912, 29e and 29d, the common walls 34a, 34b, 34C, 34d, 35a, 35h, 35C, 35d, 36a, 36b, 36C and 36d for each of these tray rows and hollow and shaped as an inverted channel. The successively higher tray row common walls are successively wider channels in order to overlap and envelop the next preceding tray row common walls in a telescoping fashion upon collapse of the apparatus as shown in FIG. 5.
As shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, the support rods 30, 31, 32 and 33 are each substantially solid for lmaximum support and weight carrying ability. Each of the successively higher tray rows 29a, 29b and 29C have similarly positioned support rods 30a, 30]), 30e, 31a, 31b, 31e, 32a, 3212, 32C, 33a, 3311 and 33e. It should be noted that the topmost tray row 29d may have similar or identical support rods to the lower adjacent tray row 29C. It may be practical however to provide recesses 37, 38, 39 and 40 on each of the top trays positioned so as to register with the support rod of the next lower tray row so as to provide a decorative finish to the top, exposed tray row. Each of the outside positioned trays 25 and 28 have an outside wall 41 and 42 respectively. Similarly each successively higher tray row 29a, 29h, 29e and 29d has outside Walls on the outside positioned trays thereof. Each of these outside wall pair-s are positioned progressively closer together so as to permit the tray stack to be collapsed and rested. .Spring loaded ball bearings 43 are provided near the top of each support rod to mate with a hole 44 in the next overlapping support rod.
In one specific example of this invention a tray stack having 5 tray rows each containing 4 laterally connected trays is provided. These are `a total of 16 support rods and the top tray row is provided with suitable recesses coincident with the lower support rods. Each tray is nominally 101/2 x 12 inches. Of course, the trays are successively slightly narrower in each of the higher tray rows. This stack has open outside dimensions of 46 X 22 x 12 inches and collapsed outside dimensions of 46 x 71/2 x 12 inches. The support rods are semi-cylindrical with diameters ranging from 5X1 inch to 1% inch in even stepped sequence and are each about 5 inches long.
1. A collapsible tray stack comprising a multiplicity of trays disposed in spaced vertical relationship and at least one support rod extending between said trays in registered relationship to each other; each tray having at least two outside walls disposed generally perpendicular to a tray base; each successively higher tray having two parallel Walls which are spaced successively closer together in ascending order; at least said support rods higher than the lowest thereof being hollow and telescoped upon a next lower support rod in supporting relation thereon; and releasable locking means operatively associated with each ascending pair of support rods adapted to engage said pair of rods thereby holding such in fixed relationship and being adapted to be disengaged from at least one of said rods whereby permitting such rods to collapse and telescope with respect to each other.
2. A collapsible tray stack las claimed in claim 1 wherein tray rows of a multiplicity of laterally connected trays are provided in spaced vertical relationship with each lateral tray in each tray row being connected to its next laterally adjacent tray by a common wall wherein each of said common walls in each of said tray rows has a center line which is in a common plane with the center line of a common wall of the vertically preceding and succeeding tray rows and wherein at least said common walls of said tray rows higher than the lowest thereof being channel shaped and adapted to telescope over the corresponding common wall of the next preceding tray row.
3. A collapsible tray stack as claimed in claim 2 wherein the lowest tray row has substantially solid common walls.
4. A collapsible tray stack as claimed in claim 2 wherein the support rods extending from the lowest tray row are substantially solid.
5. A collapsible tray stack as claimed in claim 2 wherein there are a number of support rods extending from the lowest tray row equal to the number of laterally joined trays in said lowest tray row.
6. A collapsible tray stack as claimed in claim 1 wherein said locking means comprises a spring loaded ball in one end of each of said support rods operatively associated with aperture means in the opposite end of the next adjacent telescoping support rods.
7. A collapsible tray stack as Claimed in claim 2 wherein the highest tray row has recesses associated with each laterally joined tray and registered in telescoping relationship to the support rods of the next lower tray row.
8. A collapsible tray stack as claimed in claim 1 wherein said support rods are semi-cylindrical in cross-section.
9. A collapsible tray stack as claimed in claim 2 wherein said common walls of at least said tray rows higher than the lowest thereof are substantially U-shaped channels.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,788,096 1/1931 Friedemann 108-96 2,615,661 10/1952 Cushman 10S-53 X 3,021,959 2/1962 Katterjohn 211--126 3,207,095 9/ 1965 Hiatt 108-53 NILE C. BYERS, IR., Primary Examiner U.S. Cl. XR. 10S-91