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Publication numberUS3515283 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 2, 1970
Filing dateAug 13, 1968
Priority dateAug 13, 1968
Publication numberUS 3515283 A, US 3515283A, US-A-3515283, US3515283 A, US3515283A
InventorsPoteat George A
Original AssigneeEngineered Plastics Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multiple storage tray structure
US 3515283 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 2, 1970 A. POTEAT MULTIPLE STORAGE TRAY STRUCTURE Filed Aug. 13, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR GEORGE A. POTEAT ATTORNEYs June 2, 1970- G; A. POTEAT 3,515,283

MULTIPLE STORAGE TRAY STRUCTURE Filed Aug. 13, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 1 w w u I I I I "208 {10 g 110 i s F 5 g. I I I Z I x TNTOR GEORGE A. POTEAT ".9" 6 evowa amuafl Emu ATToRN E 1 United States Patent O 3,515,283 MULTIPLE STORAGE TRAY STRUCTURE George A. Poteat, Greensboro, NC, assignor to Engineered Plastics, Incorporated, Gibsonville, N.C., a corporation of Delaware Filed Aug. 13, 1968, Ser. No. 752,361 Int. Cl. A4712 7/00 US. Cl. 211-55 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A multiple storage tray structure comprising a plurality of nesting tray elements having flat platform portions for storage of material, such as stationery, thereon. The tray elements are selectively connectable to and disconnectable from each other for assembly and disassembly and for varying the number of tray elements in the structure by integral pivot pin connections that permit relative pivoting of connected tray elements for increased access to the space between platform portions. The platform portions are supported at an inclination to a common support surface and in spaced, parallel relation to each other by the pivot pin connections and by integral abutment flanges that depend from each platform portion to the common support surface.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It is common in office-type equipment to find devices which provide a plurality of shelves or compartments in which general oflice material may be collected for temporary storage in relatively small quantities that are conveniently accessible when needed. Such devices may be placed on a desk top or the like, or may be located within a drawer, the latter use serving to divide the drawer into a plurality of compartments each of which may be used to store a supply of material that differs in some respect from the material in other compartments (i.e., different types or sizes of stationery) whereby such supply is maintained separately yet is readily accessible.

Since it is desirable to provide storage compartments for a substantial variety of material in a given area, these compartments are usually relatively small, and, as a result, users of some prior art devices have encountered difliculty in gaining access to the inner areas of the compartments for general cleaning purposes or for retrieving a small article therefrom.

Another disadvantage often encountered in prior art devices of this type is the inability to vary readily the number of compartments provided thereby either because the device is formed as a rigid, integral unit or because it is confined within a drawer and structurally fixed thereto, and while there are some prior art devices which are designed to permit the number of compartments to be varied, these devices are relatively complex in construction or operation, and they are often somewhat unstable.

The present invention, on the other hand, provides a unique arrangement that permits the number of compartments to be varied readily in a simple manner, and that provides convenient access to the generally enclosed areas of each compartment without any disassembly of parts.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This unique arrangement includes a plurality of nesting tray elements directly connected to one another, without requiring any supplemental support structure, to form a composite tray structure, each tray element including a platform portion for supporting material thereon. Preferably, the tray elements are identically formed and they are connected to one another by a pivotal connection which permits any tray element to be pivoted with respect to an adjacent tray element whereby the normally overlapplng areas of the tray elements are rendered convenlently accessible for cleaning or for retrieving articles which have become located thereat, and each tray element includes an integrally formed supporting portion which cooperates with the pivoted connection arrangement to maintain the platform portion of the tray element in spaced, preferably parallel, relation to the platform portions of adjacent tray elements.

In the disclosed embodiment of the present invention, each tray element includes a rear Wall portion extending upwardly from the back edge of the platform portion in generally perpendicular relation thereto, and a pair of axially aligned pin members projecting outwardly from the side edges of the rear wall portion. Also, each tray element is provided with pivot ears depending from the side edges of the platform portion and being formed with apertures therein. The aforementioned pivotal connection between adjacent tray elements is provided by locating the pin members of a tray element within the apertures in the pivot ears of an adjacent tray element, and, in ac cordance with a further feature of the present invention, these pivot ears have suflicient resiliency to permit outward flexing thereof for clearing the pin member of the adjacent tray element whereby each tray element can be selectively connected to and disconnected from an ad jacent tray element for readily varying the size and storage capacity of the composite tray structure.

Additionally, each tray element is provided with a pair of abutment flanges depending from the front end of the platform portion thereof, and these flanges have a depending extent that maintains the platform portion at an inclined disposition with respect to the common surface on which. the tray elements rest. Preferably, the abutment flanges of the respective tray elements all rest on this common surface and all have an equal depending extent whereby the platform portions of the respective tray elements are disposed in spaced, parallel relation. Also, these abutment flanges have a lateral spacing which exceeds the lateral spacing of the tray element pivot ears so that when a plurality of tray elements are assembled together, the respective abutment flanges thereof will extend over the pivot ears and lie adjacent one another in a common plane to provide partial side walls for the composite tray structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a tray structure according to the present invention disposed within a drawer;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1 but ill-ustrating the tray structure without the drawer;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 2 and illustrating some of the tray elements pivoted to a raised position;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken at line 4-4 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a detail side elevation illustrating the pivot connection between two adjacent tray elements;

FIG. 6 is a detail front elevation of the pivot connection illustrated in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation of one of the tray elements; and

FIG. 8 is a front elevation of the tray element illustrated in FIG. 7.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now in detail to the drawings, FIG. 2 illustrates a tray structure 10 comprising four nesting tray elements 100, 200, 300 and 400, which are identical in construction and which, therefore, have the corresponding components thereof identified by corresponding reference numerals in their respective numerical series whereby the construction of all of the tray elements will be understood from a description of the construction of one of the tray elements.

As best illustrated in FIGS. 2, 7 and 8, the tray element 100, which is preferably formed from a single piece of suitable sheet material (i.e., plastic), includes a flat, generally rectangular platform portion 102, and a rear wall portion 104 extending upwardly in substantially perpendicular relation to the platform portion 102 at the back edge thereof, the rear wall portion 104 being provided with projecting members, such as axially aligned pin members 106 extending in a generally horizontal direction from the respective side edges thereof. A pair of laterally spaced abutment flanges 108 depend vertically from the front portion of the platform portion 102 at the respective side edges thereof, and a pair of laterally spaced pivot ears 110 likewise depend vertically from the respective side edges of the platform portion 102 at a location intermediate the respective abutment flanges 108 and the rear wall portion 104, the pivot ears 110 each being provided with an aperture 112 for-med therein. As best illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 8, it will be noted that the pivot ears 110 have a lateral spacing corresponding to the lateral spacing of the pin members 106, and that the lateral spacing of the abutment flanges 108 exceeds the corresponding spacing of the pivot ears 110 and the pin members 106, all for a purpose to be described in more detail presently.

When in use, the tray element 100 is placed on a supporting surface, such as a table top or a desk drawer bottom, with the back edge of the platform portion 102 and the lower ends of the abutment flanges 108 resting directly on the supporting surface, thereby disposing the platform portion 102 at an inclination with respect to the supporting surface for convenient storage of material, such as stationery, thereon and with the upstanding rear wall portion 104 serving as a stop for the stored material.

To join the several tray elements together as a composite tray structure 10 like that shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, the second tray element 200 is placed generally over the first tray element 100 with the pivot ears 210 of the second tray element 200 disposed adjacent the pin members 106 at the side edges of the rear wall portion 104 of the tray element 100. Then, as best illustrated in FIG. 6, the pivot ears 210 are manually flexed outwardly to clear the pin members 106 until the latter are substantially aligned with the apertures 212, whereupon the pivot ears 210 are released to return to their normal vertical disposition with the pin members 106 received in the apertures 212 to provide a pivotal connection between the tray elements 100 and 200, respectively. It should be noted in this regard that in the disclosed embodiment of the present invention the tray elements are formed from a material (i.e., plastic) which provides the integrally formed pivot ears thereof with suflicient resiliency to permit outward flexing thereof to clear the pin members to which they are to be connected. Also, since the lateral spacing of the pin members and the pivot ears is the same in all of the tray elements as previously described, the pin members will be substantially contained within the apertures of the pivot ears of an adjacent tray element when the pivotal connection has been made.

When the tray elements 100 and 200 have been connected in this manner, they will assume a nesting disposition as seen in FIG. 3 with the abutment flanges 208 lying adjacent the abutment flanges 108 and resting on a common support surface therewith to limit pivoting of the tray element 200 about the pin members 106 so that the platform portion 202 will be disposed in spaced, parallel relation to the platform portion 102. Moreover, the depending extent of the abutment flanges 108, 208 is proportioned to maintain the platform portions 102, 202 at an inclined disposition with respect to the common sur face on which they are supported to facilitate handling of material stored thereon, particularly when the tray structure 10 is placed within a partially enclosed environment, such as a drawer D as illustrated in FIG. 1.

The tray element 300 is joined to the tray element 200 in a similar manner, and the tray element 400 is likewise joined to the tray element 300 to complete the illustrated tray structure 10. Thus, it is apparent that the tray structure 10 of the present invention may have almost any desired size and storage capacity simply by snapping additional tray elements into place, or by unsnapping one or more of the nested tray elements.

Since, as has been previously described, the abutment flanges of the respective tray elements have a lateral spacing which exceeds the lateral spacing of the pivot ears, these abutment flanges of any tray element will fit nicely over the pivot ears of another nested tray element in the tray structure 10 and will lie adjacent the abutment flanges of the juxtaposed tray elements in a common plane so as to form partial side walls for the tray structure 10. For example, it will be seen in FIGS. 2 and 4 that the abutment flanges 308 lie outside the pivot ears 110 and adjacent the abutment flanges 208 and 408 in a common plane therewith.

It will be noted that the spacing between the respective platform portions of the nesting tray elements may be relatively small so that a large number of compartments will be provided to store a variety of different material. However, the unique pivotal connection between the adjacent tray elements renders it possible to gain ready access to the normally enclosed portions of the compartments by simply raising one of the tray elements about its pivotal connection as illustrated in FIG. 3. Thus, these compartments may be easily opened for cleaning, or for retrieving articles in the lowermost portion of a compartment. Moreover, each of the tray elements of the tray structure 10 is directly connected to an adjacent tray element so that no supplemental support structure is required in properly relating the respective tray elements to one another. Further, the unique arrangement of the tray elements provides a tray structure which is compact, sturdy and provides a nice appearance, and which can be quickly and easily adjusted to increase or decrease its size and storage capacity.

This invention has been described above for purposes of illustration only and is not intended to be limited by this description or otherwise except as defined in the appended claims.

I claim:

1. A multiple storage tray structure particularly suitable for use in a drawer or the like, said structure comprising a plurality of nesting tray elements normally resting on a common surface and having platform portions for supporting material for storage thereon, pivotal connection means formed integrally in said tray elements for pivotally connecting adjacent tray elements directly to each other with said platform portions thereof disposed in spaced relation thereat, and means formed integrally in each said tray element cooperating with said pivotal connection means for normally maintaining the platform portions of adjacent tray elements in spaced relation, said cooperating means comprising at least one abutment flange depending from said platform portion of each of said tray elements for contact with said common surface to limit the pivotal movement of its associated tray element with respect to an adjacent tray element to which it is connected.

2. A multiple storage tray structure according to claim 1 and further characterized in that said pivotal connection means is selectively connectable and disconnectable whereby each tray element can be readily attached to and detached from an adjacent tray element.

3. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 1 and further characterized in that said pivotal connection means includes a pair of laterally spaced, axially aligned pin members formed on one of the connected adjacent tray elements, and a pair of laterally spaced apertures formed on the other connected tray element for receiving said pin members.

4. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 3 and further characterized in that said platform portion of each of said tray elements has a generally rectangular shape, in that each of said tray elements includes a rear wall portion extending upwardly from said platform portion adjacent the back edge thereof, said rear wall portion being formed with said pivot pin members projecting from the respective side edges thereof, and in that each of said tray elements includes a pair of pivot ears depending respectively from the side edges of said platform portion for disposition at the side edges of the rear wall portion of an adjacent tray element, said pivot ears each being formed with one of said apertures for receiving a pin member projecting from the rear wall portion of an adjacent tray element.

5. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 4 and further characterized in that said pivot ears have suflicient resiliency to permit outward flexing thereof for clearing the pin members of an adjacent tray element whereby each tray element can be readily connected to and disconnected from an adjacent tray element.

6. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 1 and further characterized in that a depending abutment flange is provided at each side edge of said platform portion of each tray element, in that each tray element includes a rear edge portion spaced from said abutment flanges thereof and arranged to rest on said common surface with said abutment flanges to support said tray element thereat, and in that said abutment flanges have a depending extent proportioned to maintain the platform portion from which they depend at an inclined disposi tion with respect to said common surface and in generally parallel relation to the platform portion of the adjacent tray element.

7. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 6 and further characterized in that the abutment flanges extending from the respective side edges of said tray element platform portions are disposed adjacent one another in a common plane.

8. A tray element for use in forming a multiple storage tray structure, said tray element comprising a generally rectangular platform portion for supporting material for storage, an abutment flange depending from each side edge of said platform portion for normally maintaining said platform portion at an inclined disposition with respect to the surface on which it rests, a rear wall portion extending upwardly from said platform portion adjacent the lowermost edge thereof, said rear wall portion being formed with a pivot pin member projecting from each side edge thereof, and a pivot ear depending from each side edge of said platform portion and being formed with a pin member receiving aperture therein.

9. A tray element as defined in claim 8 and further characterized in that said pivot ears depend from the side edge of said platform portion at a location intermediate said abutment flanges and said pin members, in that the lateral spacing of said pivot ears corresponds to the lateral spacing of said pin members, and in that the lateral spacing of said abutment flanges exceeds said corresponding lateral spacing of said pivot ears and said pin members.

10. A multiple storage tray structure particularly suitable for use in a drawer or the like, said structure comprising a plurality of nesting tray elements resting on a common surface and having platform portions for supporting material for storage thereon, means formed integrally in said tray elements for connecting adjacent tray elements directly to each other with said platform portions thereof disposed in spaced relation thereat and supporting means comprising at least one abutment flange formed integrally in each tray element to depend from said platform portion thereof and contact said common surface for supporting said platform portions in spaced relation to said common surface.

11. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 10 and further characterized in that said connecting means is selectively connectable and disconnectable whereby each tray element can be readily attached to and detached from an adjacent tray element.

12. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 11 and further characterized in that said platform portion of each of said tray elements has a generally rectangular shape, in that each of said tray elements includes a rear wall portion extending upwardly from said platform portion adjacent the back edge thereof, said rear wall portion being formed with projecting members at the respective side edges thereof, and in that each of said tray elements includes a pair of ears depending respectively from the side edges of said platform portion for disposition at the side edges of the rear wall portion of an adjacent tray element, said ears each being formed to engage the projecting member at the adjacently disposed rear wall of an adjacent tray element to provide said connection means.

13. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 12 and further characterized in that said ears have sufficient resiliency to permit outward flexing thereof for clearing the adjacently disposed projecting members of an adjacent tray element whereby each tray element can be readily attached to and detached. from an adjacent tray element.

14. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 10 and further characterized in that a depending abutment flange is provided at each side edge of said platform portion of each tray element, in that each tray element includes a rear edge portion spaced from said abutment flanges thereof and arranged to rest on said common surface, and in that said abutment flanges have a depending extent proportioned to maintain the platform portion from which they depend at an inclined disposition with respect to said common surface and in generally parallel relation to the platform portion of the adjacent tray element.

15. A multiple storage tray structure as defined in claim 14- and further characterized in that the abutment flanges extending from the respective side edges of said tray element platform portions are disposed adjacent one another in a common plane.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 668,727 2/1901 Chapman 211- 1,386,717 8/1921 Luckett et al 2l155 1,449,177 3/1923 Harbaugh et al 21155 2,283,546 5/1942 Fischer 21155 3,198,340 8/1965 Tokash 21155 X JAMES A. LEPPINK, Primary Examiner

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3633759 *Jul 2, 1970Jan 11, 1972Jennings Kenneth JApparatus for storing and displaying carpet samples or the like
US3868019 *Dec 29, 1972Feb 25, 1975Xerox CorpTray apparatus
US3908832 *Jan 14, 1974Sep 30, 1975Marshall JohnDisplay stand
US3971475 *Apr 16, 1975Jul 27, 1976Steelcase, Inc.Tray for a document handling system
US4062452 *Jun 30, 1976Dec 13, 1977Kole Enterprises, Inc.Document filing apparatus
US4312548 *May 7, 1980Jan 26, 1982Patrick PossoDrawer unit for storing cases normally containing magnetic tape cassettes
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US4938367 *May 12, 1989Jul 3, 1990Krapf Business Systems, Inc.Weldment-free document holder
US5101988 *Nov 28, 1988Apr 7, 1992Studio 1712, Inc.Modular storage tray assembly
US5328037 *Jun 8, 1993Jul 12, 1994Glenn FujiiMagazine display rack
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US5823359 *May 30, 1996Oct 20, 1998Sterling Plastics Co.Desktop vertical file assembly
US6092672 *Oct 19, 1998Jul 25, 2000Berol CorporationDesktop modular assembly
US7152351Jul 24, 2003Dec 26, 2006Rubbermaid IncorporatedCascadable file jackets
US7328799Jul 24, 2003Feb 12, 2008Rubbermaid IncorporatedTask trays
US8567618Nov 16, 2010Oct 29, 2013Daniel Brian TanBag dispenser rack
WO2005097517A1 *Apr 1, 2005Oct 20, 2005Gilberto Cavada JrNesting and stacking document sorter
Classifications
U.S. Classification211/55
International ClassificationA47B88/20, B42F17/02, A47B88/00, B42F17/00, A47B63/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B88/20, A47B2088/202, B42F17/02, A47B63/00
European ClassificationB42F17/02, A47B88/20, A47B63/00