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Publication numberUS3691709 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 19, 1972
Filing dateApr 17, 1970
Priority dateApr 17, 1970
Also published asCA946579A, CA946579A1
Publication numberUS 3691709 A, US 3691709A, US-A-3691709, US3691709 A, US3691709A
InventorsOstborg Jan Nathan
Original AssigneeSteelcase Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular partition system
US 3691709 A
A panel having a hook extending outwardly from the top thereof and a foot extending inwardly along its bottom. The hook is fitted over the top of a supporting post and is automatically centered thereon, which in turn centers the panel. The supporting post includes a slot near its bottom into which the base of a clip located at the bottom of the panel is fitted. The top edge of the panel includes a longitudinal slot which accommodates the downwardly depending tongue of a decorative top extrusion. This slot is also adapted to accommodate hangers for hanging cabinets or supporting other similar structures.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Ostborg I 1 Sept. 19, 1972 154] MODULAR PARTITION SYSTEM [72] Inventor: Jan Nathan Ostborg, Michigan City,


[73] Assignee: Steelease 1nc., Grand Rapids, Mich.

[221 Filed: April 17, 1970 [21] Appl. No.: 29,619

521 US. Cl ..52/239 [51] Int. Cl ..E04b 2/78, E04b 2/82 [58] Field of Search ..52/238, 241, 495, 497, 239, 52/281, 282, 283, 301

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,398,981 8/1968 Vincens ..287/l89.35 3,027,605 4/1962 Nelsson ..52/242 X 3,194,361 7/1965 Thurman ..52/495 3,228,157 l/l966 Jacobson ..52/239 3,261,625 7/1966 Cripe ..52/239 3,437,362 4/1969 Offenbruich ..52/726 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 630,743 11/1961 Canada ..52/397 1,307,968 9/1962 France ..52/239 1,311,348 10/1962 France ..52/239 1,202,295 7/1959 France ..52/2 82 784,300 10/1957 Great Britain ..52/282 795,714 5/1958 Great Britain ..52/238 824,583 12/1959 Great Britain ..52/238 Primary Examiner-John E. Murtagh Attorney-Price, Heneveld, I-Iuizenga & Cooper 5 7] ABSTRACT A panel having a hook extending outwardly from the top thereof and a foot extending inwardly along its bottom. The hook is fitted over the top of a supporting post and is automatically centered thereon, which in turn centers the panel. The supporting post includes a slot near its bottom into which the base of a clip located at the bottom of the panel is fitted. The top edge of the panel includes a longitudinal slot which I accommodates the downwardly depending tongue of a decorative top extrusion. This slot is also adapted to accommodate hangers for hanging cabinets or supporting other similar structures.

6 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures PKTEN'TEH 19 I912 3.691. 709 "sum 1 or 3 INVENTOR. AW 14 4 77mm area/Pa W Wvw PAIENTEDSEH IM 3.691.709

SHEET 2 BF 3 I I NVENTOR. d4 ,4/4 71/04! 067196196 MODULAR PARTITION SYSTEM BACKGROUND This invention relates to modular partition systems. While such systems are not new in the art, the predecessors of the present invention have all been complicated, clumsy and expensive to manufacture and install.

Generally, such systems include panels which are to be secured to posts. Frequently, these panels must be carefully centered on the posts before being secured. Too often, complicated mechanical fastening means such as nuts and bolts are usually used. The result is that such systems are not only expensive to manufacture, but are extremely time consuming to install.

Furthermore, such systems almost universally lack versatility. If one desires to support only one panel, he uses one type of post. If he desires to support two panels from the same post, he must substitute a second, specially designed post. If he wants to support three panels, he must use still another post, etc. Thus, in

. order to have a completely versatile system, the owner must have a supply of several different types of supporting posts.

Furthermore, if the owner wishes to use some sort of superstructure, such as glass across the top of the panels, he must use yet another specially designed post. In addition, special panels must be used in order to accommodate such superstructure. Frequently, the glass must be built into the panel, and cannot be added on to an existing panel.

Yet another glaring defect in the versatility of existing partition systems is exposed when one desires to secure cabinets or the like to the panels. Again, special panels are almost universally required, or else existing must be especially adapted. The only other alternative in the existing art is simply to drape hangers over the tops of the panels such that they are exposed.

In general then, the current art in modular partition systems is a hodgepodge of complicated, clumsy and expensive equipment. More importantly, most such equipment is lacking in the level of versatility which would be desired.

The present invention includes a support post having an opening in its top. The panel to be supported by the post has a hook protruding from its end which extends over the top edge of the post and downwardly into said opening. An insertion means having a centering recess which accommodates the aforementioned hook is fitted into the opening. Thus, the hook and panel is automatically centered on the support post. Furthermore, the post can have a plurality of sides, the insertion means having a corresponding plurality of sides and centering recesses. This tremendously increases the versatility of a single support post, by allowing one to support either one, two or as many panels as there are sides.

Another feature of the invention is that the support post has a slot near its bottom. A clip means engages said slot and includes means whereby it can be secured to the panel. Thus, the panel can be readily secured at its base to the support post by means of a simple mechanical operation. Furthermore, every side of the support post can include such a slot such that more than one panel can be secured to the same post. Consequently, a system can be changed from a one panel to a two panel system without substituting a second post.

In yet another aspect of the invention, the panel to be supported includes a longitudinal slot in its top edge. This is fitted with an extrusion having a downwardly depending tongue which fits snugly into this longitudinal slot. Consequently, the panel can be economically manufactured by securing two opposite walls without worrying about finishing off the exposed top edge during manufacture. Additionally, the extrusion can be merely decorative or it can be functional. It can be designed to support additional superstructure such as a sheet of glass.

Furthermore, the longitudinal aperture in the top of the panel readily accommodates hanger means to which cabinets and the like can be secured. A U- shaped top member can then be fitted over the top edge of the panel instead of the aforementioned extrusion having a tongue.

Finally,the aforementioned hook can be integrally formed as part of an end rib by means of which the two opposite walls of a panel are fastened together. This achieves yet another economy in manufacturing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective, exploded view of two alternative panel assemblies;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an office work station created by a particular arrangement of applicants modular partition system;

FIG. 3 is a broken, fragmentary side elevation of a partition assembly;

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of a post cap;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation of a post cap;

FIG. 6 is a broken cross-sectional view taken along plane VIVI of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along the plane VII-VII of FIG. 3, with the post cap being replaced by the coupler of a post extension member;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional, top elevation of a post extension with a sheet of glass secured thereto;

FIG. 9 is a broken, cross-sectional end elevation of a panel having a glass panel superstructure;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a cabinet hanger and top cover for a panel when such hangers are used; and

FIG. 11 is a broken, cross-sectional end elevation of a cabinet hung on a panel.

PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Now referring to the figures in more detail, FIG. 1 shows separate support posts 10 to which panels 20 are to be secured. The posts 10 are capped with post caps 30. The panels 20 are supported at their bottom edges by clips 40. In one case, the panel 20 is topped with extrusion member 50. In the other case, the panel 20 is topped with an extension extrusion 60 into which plate glass 3 is to be fitted. This assembly also includes post extension 70. FIGS. 10 and 11 show a hanger for cabinets and a special top member for the panel 20 on which such hanger 80 is used.

Support post 10 includes a leg member 11 which is made of tubular metal of square cross section. Leg 1 l is approximately 10 or 12 inches long. Inserted into and extending upwardly from leg 11 is coupler 12 which is also a tubular metal member of square cross section. It is rigidly secured to leg 11 such that the two form an integral assembly. Trunk I4 is also a tubular metal member of square cross section having dimensions comparable to those of leg 11. Thus, it fits snugly over coupler 12. It can be disassembledif desired. This entire assembly 11, 12 and 14 is supported by a glide and leveler 13 which is inserted into the bottom of leg 11. This can be a glide and leveler of any conventional type. Support post is further characterized by the existence of a slot 15 located horizontally in each of the four sides of coupler 12 (FIG. 3). This slot is located just above the top edge of leg 11. r

Each panel includes two sides 21 made of sheet metal. Sandwiched therebetween is honeycomb cardboard 22 which acts as a sound deadener and which also tends to hold the two sides 21 together since it is applied with adhesive to each side 21. Each side 21 is bent inwardly along its top, then upwardly, and then inwardly again to form a top flange 23 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 9. This flange 23 is shaped somewhat like a Z. The top flanges 23 of opposing sides 21 do not intersect, but rather leave a longitudinal aperture or slot 24 along the top edge of panel 20. The opposite sides of panel 20 are primarily joined together by means of a pair of channel shaped ribs 25, one rib 25 being located at each end of panel 20 (FIG. 3). Each rib 25 includes a back 26 and two sides 27 extending perpendicularly from back 26. Back 26 extends perpendicularly outwardly and then perpendicularly downwardly from the top of the channel shaped portion of rib 25 to form a hook 28 as best seen in FIG. 3. Rib 25 is bent inwardly at its bottom to form a foot 29 which is also channel shaped and includes a pair of threaded holes 29a. The sides 21 of panel'20 are secured as bywelding to the sides 27 of ribs 25. Preferably, the end portions of the panel sides 21 are bent perpendicularly inwardly and secured as by welding to back 26, of rib 25 Post cap 30 is also of a generally square cross section and has a flat decorative top 31. The dimensions of top 31 are comparable to the outside dimensions of trunk 14. Depending from top 31 are four sides 32. Each side 32 is only slightly longer in length to the inside width of a side of trunk 14. Each side 32 includes a recess 34 (FIG. 4). Thus, each side 32 is not flat, but rather is recessed in its central portion. Centered within each recess 34 is a notch 33 (FIG. 5) extending from the base thereof vertically upwardly towards top 31.

Clip 40 is an L-shaped member including a base 41 and a longer leg 42 (FIGS. 1 and 3). Leg 42 has two holes therein which accommodate screws 43 (FIG. 3).

Top extrusion 50 is formed of plastic by an extrusion process. It includes a flat top surface 51, downwardly depending tongue 52 and downwardly depending side walls 54. Tongue 52 depends downwardly from the center of top 51 throughout'its length. Each side of tongue 52 slopes slightly outwardly and then inwardly again as one moves down from top 51. It includes a longitudinal aperture or slit 53 extending upwardly through its center, throughout its length. The width of tongue 52 at its widest point is just slightly larger than the width of the longitudinal aperture 24 in panel 20. At its top and bottom, tongue 52 is comparable in width to the width of aperture 24. However, slit 53 allows tongue 52 to be compressed slightly when being inserted into longitudinal aperture 24. Also, depending downwardly from top 51 are side walls 54, one being located on either side of tongue 52. The distance between side walls 54 is comparable to the distance between the upwardly extending portions of the top flanges 23 of panel sides 21.

Similarly, the extension extrusion 60 includes a top 61, tongue 63, slit 64 and side wall 65. These members are comparable in construction and function to top 51, tongue 52, slit 53, and side walls 54 of top extrusion 50. In addition, extension extrusion 60 includes a pair of channel walls 62 depending upwardly therefrom (FIG. 9). This pair of walls 62 extends the length of extrusion 60 and forms a channel into which plate glass 3 can be fitted.

Post extension 70, shown in FIG. 1, includes a short tubular trunk 74 and a coupler 71 inserted therein. Coupler 71 extends downwardly from the bottom of short trunk 74 and can be fitted snugly inside of trunk 14 of support post 10. Short trunk 74 and trunk 14 have identical cross-sectional dimensions.,Coupler 71 is somewhat X-shaped in cross sectionas can be seen from FIG. 7. Arms 72 are crossed to form an X. Each arm 72 is notched on either side of either end, each notch forming a V and extending from top to bottom of coupler 71. In this fashion, each pair. of adjacent notches of the two different arms 72 forms a recess which is comparable in dimensions and function to recess 34 of cap 30. Post extension also includes an attachment channel 75 into which plate glass 3 can be fitted.

Hanger 80, shown in FIGS. 10 and 11 is designed to facilitate hanging cabinets to a panel 20. It includes a hook portion 81 and an arm 82 which is integral with hook 81 but which juts slightly outwardly and then downwardly from hook 81. Extending through arm 82 is a bolt 83 to which a nut 84 can be threaded.

When hanger is used, a special top is used to cap the top edge of panel 20. Top member 90 includes a flat top surface 91, downwardly depending sides 92 and upwardly and inwardly bent flanges 93. Flanges 93 are actually tabs which would extend downwardly from sides 92, but which are bent upwardly against the inside surfaces of sides 92. These flanges 93 are spaced sufficiently far apart that a hook 81 of a hanger 80 can be fitted in the space between adjacent flanges 93.

Finally, when hanger 80 is used, a reinforcing plate is held in place against the inside wall of a cabinet 4 (FIG. 1 1) and is bolted against that surface by means of the nut and bolt combination 83, 84.

OPERATION In setting up a panel assembly 1 (FIG. 2), one begins with a disassembled post such as is shown in FIG. 1. Actually, the glide and leveler 13 may already be in position. The base of L-shaped clip 40 is inserted into slot 15 in coupler 12. When base 41 is inserted into slot 15 as far as it will go, clip 40 is rotated downwardly until leg 42 is generally horizontal. At this point, base 41 will abut the inside surface of coupler 12 and a portion of leg 42 will abut the top edge of leg 11.

Then, trunk 14 is slipped over coupler 12 and is forced downwardly until it abuts leg 42 of clip 40. A panel 20 is now attached to support post 10 by hooking hook 28 over the top edge of that side of trunk 14 which corresponds to the side of coupler 12 from which clip 40 extends. Cap 30 is then inserted into the top of trunk 14. Because the sides 32 are slightly longer than the inside width of each side of trunk 14, cap 30 has to be forced slightly. This operation is facilitated by the notches 33 which allow sides 34 to compress slightly. The dimensions of recess 34 in each side of cap 30 correspond to the width of that portion of hook 28 which extends downwardly into trunk 14. Thus, hook 28 fits snugly into recess 34 of cap 30. Since recess 34 is centered inside 32 of cap 30, hook 28 is centered with respect to trunk 14 and support post 10. Furthermore, since hook 28 is oriented in the center of the end edge of panel 20, panel 20 is thereby centered with respect to trunk 14 of support post 10.

Next, screws 43 are placed in the holes in the leg 42 of clip 40. Threaded holes 29a in foot 29 of rib 25 now correspond in location to the location of the holes in leg 42. Thus, screws 43 are threaded into holes 29a and foot 29 is thereby secured to clip 40. Correspondingly, panel 20 is firmly secured to post10.

The top edge of panel 20 is then finished off with extrusion 50. Tongue 52 is forced downwardly int'o longitudinal slot 24 in the top edge of panel 20. The tongue 52 starts readily into aperture 24 since its bottom width is comparable to, or preferably slightly less than, the width of aperture 24. Slit 53 allows tongue 52 to compress slightly as it is being forced past its wide midsection and then spring outwardly again once the wide midsection is within the aperture 24. The narrower top portion of tongue 52 then settles comfortably into aperture 24. The side walls 54 fit snugly against the vertical portions of flanges 23 of the opposite sides 21 of panel 20.

In a similar fashion, the other end of panel 20 is secured to a second support post and is thereby supported at both ends. Leveling of the panel assembly can be achieved by means of the leveling glides 13.

If desired, more than one panel can be supported on any given post 10. One merely inserts a second clip 40 into the slot of another side of coupler 12. Since the coupler 12 of every post 10 includes a slot 15 on each of its sides, and since each centering cap 30 has a recess 34 on each of its sides 31, each support post 10 will support as many panels as it has sides in the preferred embodiment, four.

If one desires to add a plate glass extension 3 to a panel assembly, one substitutes extension extrusion 60 for extrusion 50 (FIG. 9). Plate glass 3 fits snugly between the upstanding channel walls 62 of extension 60. Extension extrusion 60 is secured to panel 20 in a manner which is identical to that in which extrusion 50 is secured thereto.

When plate glass extension 3 is used, support post 10 is extended by means of post extension 70. This obviates the necessity of using an entirely different post. First of all, the cap 30 is removed from the top of trunk 14. Then, coupler 71 is inserted into the top of trunk 14 until the bottom edge of short trunk 74 abuts the top edge of trunk 14. The hooks 28 of any panels 20 which are secured to support post 10 are snugly accommodated by a pair of adjacent notches 73 on crossed arms 72. These notches 73 form a recess which acts to center hook 28 in a manner identical to that in which it is centered by the recess 34 in cap 30. Since post 10 has four sides, four such recesses are defined by coupler 71, one for each side of post 10. With post extension 70 in place, plate glass 3 is fitted snugly into attachment channel 75. Post extension 70 is the capped with the same cap 30 which was used in the aforedescribed manner.

If desired, one can additionally hang cabinets 4 and the like from a panel assembly (FIG. 2). Hanger is hooked onto panel 20, by hooking hook 81 into the longitudinal aperture 24 in the top of panel 20 (FIG. 11). Arm 82 juts slightly outwardly from hook 81 before extending downwardly therefrom in order to leave a small space between arm 82 and side 21 of panel 20. This small space accommodates the head of bolt 83. A hole drilled in the back of a cabinet 4 is then fitted over bolt 83. A reinforcing plate 100 may then be fitted over bolt 83, or it can be previously welded or otherwise secured to the back of cabinet 4. This helps reinforce the back of cabinet 84 and prevent it from bending away from nut 84 which is threaded onto bolt 83 to hold cabinet 4 and reinforcement plate 100 in place. The top of panel 20 is then finished off by means of top member 90. The hangers 80 are located such that the hook portions 81 fit between adjacent flanges 93 of top member 90. Flanges 93 are comparable in thickness to the thickness of hanger 81. This creates a small space between side wall 21 of panel 20 and side 92 of top member 90. Since this space is approximately equal to the thickness of hook 81, the latter is nicely accommodated between a side 92 of top member and a side member 21 of panel 20. The opposite sides 92 of top member 90 spring slightly inwardly and thereby exert pressure against the sides 21 of panel 20 to hold top member 90 in place.

In this fashion, a work station as is shown in FIG. 2 can be fabricated using panel assemblies constructed according to this invention. The work station shown in FIG. 2 includes panel assemblies, 1, desk 2, plate glass tops 3, cabinet 4 and a file cabinet 5, the latter being only partially shown. A great variety of different types of work stations can be constructed around the panel assemblies of this invention. Any given panel can be quickly and easily erected and existing panels can be readily altered. One need merely insert a clip 40 into a support post 10, hook a panel 20 over support post 10, and then screw clip 40 to the bottom of panel 20. The panel 20 is automatically centered, either by means of cap 30 having centering recesses 34 or by the coupler portion 71 of post extension 70 having comparable centering recesses.

Tremendous versatility is achieved in that the same post can be used to support either one, two, three or four panels. The panel can then be finished off with a decorative extrusion or with a functional extension extrusion. In a sense, the panel 20 is not actually completely constructed until the extrusion 50 or the extension extrusion 60 is put in place. Thus, the versatility offered by using the longitudinal aperture 24 in the top of panel 20 additionally acts to decrease manufacturing costs since the top edge of panel 20 need not be decoratively finished during manufacture.

Further economies are achieved since the rib 27, hook 28 and foot 29 are integral and can be formed in a single bending operation. In this fashion, the channel shaped rib 25 serves the function of joining opposite sides 21 together and additionally serves the function of supporting panel 20 on post 10.

Finally, the existence of the longitudinal slot 24 further facilitates the versatility of this invention when combined with hanger members 80 to facilitate hanging cabinets and the like from panel assemblies. Thus, the present invention achieves the utmost in versatility and economical construction.

it is understood that the above is merely a preferred embodiment of this invention and that many changes and alterations can be made thereof without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention.

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows.

l. A partition comprising: an open ended support post having at least one side; a panel having a rib adjacent its end and extending approximately the height of said end; said rib extending out from the top and the end of saidpanel and forming a hook; said hook extending over the top edge of said support post; means mounted on said tubular support post, including a centering recess receiving said hook and acting to center said hook in said panel with respect to said support post; said support post including a slot in the lower region thereof; a clip means engaging said slot; said rib also bending inwardly at the bottom of said panel, and v wardly from said leg; said leg extending beneath said foot and being secured thereto.

3. A partition as in claim 1 which is further characterized by: said support post being tubular and having a plurality of sides, each of said sides including one of said slots at the bottom regions thereof; said insertion means having a corresponding plurality of sides, each of said sides including a centering recess such that a panel can be hung and centered on each of said sides of said post.

4. A partition as in claim 2 which is further characterized by: said support post being tubular and having a plurality of sides, each of said sides including one of said slots at the bottom regions thereof; said insertion means having a corresponding plurality of sides, each of said sides including a centering recess such that a panel can be hung and centered on each of said sides of said post.

5. A partition as in claim 1 wherein said panel is further characterized by having a longitudinal recess in the top edge thereof; an extrusion having a downwardly extending tongue extending snugly into said recess and securing said extrusion to the top of said panel.

6. A partition as in claim 4 wherein said panel corn prises two opposite side walls being rigidly secured to each other in spaced apart relationship, with a longitudinal recess being formed by a space between the tops of said side walls; an extrusion having a downwardly extending tongue extending snugly into said recess and securing said extrusion to the top of said panel.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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U.S. Classification52/239
International ClassificationE04B2/74
Cooperative ClassificationE04B2/7435
European ClassificationE04B2/74C3E1