|Publication number||US3703307 A|
|Publication date||Nov 21, 1972|
|Filing date||Oct 16, 1970|
|Priority date||Oct 16, 1970|
|Also published as||CA958515A, CA958515A1|
|Publication number||US 3703307 A, US 3703307A, US-A-3703307, US3703307 A, US3703307A|
|Inventors||Curtis Rolando T|
|Original Assignee||Integrated Ceilings Inc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (30), Classifications (10)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent Curtis  CONNECTOR STRUCTURE FOR SUSPENDED CEILINGS AND THE LIKE  inventor: Rolando T. Curtis, Los Angeles,
 Assignee: Integrated Ceilings, Inc., Los, An-
 Filed: Oct. 16, 1970  Appl. No.: 81,398
 US. Cl ..287/l89.36 R, 52/488, 52/665  Int. Cl ..Fl6b 7/04  Field of Search 52/495, 488, 669, 665,660, 52/656, 639, 81, 80, 280; 287/20, 92 C, 92
A, 54 A, 54 B, 189, 36 B, 189.36 H, 189.36
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,323,820 6/1967 Braccini ..52/81 X 2,931,467 4/ 1960 Fentiman ..287/189.36 R 3,186,522 6/1965 McCauley ..52/81 X 3,389,929 6/1968 Williams ..287/l89.36 R
[451 Nov. 21, 1972 3,486,278 12/1969 woods ..52/8l Primary Examiner-Price C. Faw, Jr. Attorney-Bernard Kriegel and Kendrick, Subkow &
Kriegel  ABSTRACT A connector structure for joining a plurality of support bars (e. g., T-bars) of a suspended ceiling or the like in a desired pattern. The connector structure comprises a generally cup-shaped connector member having an outer peripheral wall provided with a plurality of upwardly opening slots. Connecting clips, which are designed to engage and retain the support bars forming the grid structure of the suspended ceiling, are inserted into the slots in the peripheral wall. The clips are maintained in place by an inner peripheral wall spaced radially inwardly from the outer peripheral wall of the connector member, and by a cover member releasably secured over the upper edge of the outer wall. Each connecting clip is provided with a tab designed to fit through a slot in the end of a ceiling panel support bar to join the support bar to the connector member.
8 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTEDNMZI m2 3.703.307
SHEEI 1 IJF 3 INVENTOR BUM/V00 2' 66/8775 avwvaewpumwm A TTOEA/f VS CONNECTOR STRUCTURE FOR SUSPENDED CEILINGS AND THE LIKE The present invention relates generally to suspended ceiling structures and the like. More particularly, the invention is directed to an improved connector structure for joining the support members (e. g., T-bars) of suspended ceilings into an infinite variety of designs.
In recent years, suspended ceiling structures have become increasingly popular. A suspended ceiling structure typically comprises a network or grid of support bars joined to one another to form a plurality of rectangular openings. Rectangular ceiling panels are held in the openings by the support bars.
A support bar is typically shaped in the form of an inverted T, in cross-section, with the horizontal arms of the inverted T engaging and supporting the edges of the ceiling panels. Other support bars are shaped like an I or an I-l" in cross section. The support bars are connected to one another to form the rectangular openings by inserting a tab on one end of each bar into a vertical slot in an adjacent bar, and bending the tab to secure the two bars together.
Suspended ceiling structures of the type described above are shown, for example, in U. S. Pats. Nos. 3,303,338; 3,336,471 and 3,378,980, all of which are assigned to the assignee of the present invention.
Heretofore, it has been extremely difficult to assemble the grid structures for suspended ceilings in nonrectangular or non-planar configurations. Where a non-planar or non-rectangular network has been desired, it has been necessary to custom fabricate the support bars in the shop (i. e., by cutting and joining the bars to form acute or obtuse angles), and transport the finished grid structures to the job site. Of course, the required custom fabrication in the shop, rather than on the job site, has severely limited the sizes and shapes of the grids to those which could be readily transported to the job site.
The improved connector structure of the present invention facilitates on-the-job construction of a variety of complex grid designs by ordinary laymen having no special skills. The improved structure comprises a novel connector member to which a plurality of ceiling panel support bars are connected to form a desired pattern, rectangular or non-rectangular, planar or non-' planar (e. g., hemispherical, pyramidical, etc.).
Other advantages of the connector structure of the present invention will become apparent from a consideration of the following description of a preferred embodiment. This embodiment is shown in the drawings which accompany and form part of the present specification. It is to be understood that the preferred embodiment is shown and described only for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention. Numerous modifications and variations may be made to the preferred embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is an exploded isometric view illustrating the improved connector structure of the present invention and the manner in which the connector is employed to join a plurality of T-bars.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the improved connector structure of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a sectional elevation view taken along the line 3 3 ofFIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged top plan view of the connector structure shown in FIG. 2, with portions of the cover member broken away to reveal portions of the interior of the connector.
FIG. 5 is a side elevation view, similar to FIG. 3, illustrating the manner in which the connector structure of the present invention may be employed to form a nonplanar network of ceiling panel support bars.
FIG. 6 is atop plan view of pyramid-shaped grid configuration which may be assembled using the improved connector structure of the present invention.
FIG. 7 is a sectional side elevation view of the pyramid-shaped grid design shown in FIG. 6, taken along the line 7 7 of FIG. 6.
FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a generally hemispherical dome shaped grid structure which may be assembled using the improved connector structure of the present invention.
FIG. 9 is a sectional side elevation view of the domeshaped grid design shown in FIG. 8, taken along the line 9 9 ofFIG. 8.
FIG. 10 is a sectional side elevation view of yet another complex grid design which may be assembled using the improved connector structure of the present invention, wherein a series of erect and inverted pyramid sections are interconnected.
Referring now to the drawings, and particularly to FIGS. 1 5 thereof, the improved connector structure of the present invention is seen to comprise a connector member 20, a detachable cover plate 22 for the connector member, and a plurality of connecting clips 24 adapted to secure a plurality of T-bar type support members 26 to the connector member. It will be noted that each T-bar 26 has an inverted T shape, in cross section. The horizontal arms of the inverted T serve as ledges for supporting the edges of ceiling panels (not shown).
As best shown in FIG. 1, the connector member 20 comprises a bottom plate 28 having an upstanding outer peripheral wall 30 mounted thereon. Also upstanding from the bottom plate 28 is an inner peripheral wall 32 which is spaced radially inwardly from the outer wall 30. The bottom plate is octagonal, and has an upstanding skirt portion 33 formed on its peripheral edge.
The outer peripheral wall 30 is provided with a plurality of circumferentially spaced, upwardly opening, substantially vertical slots 34 for receiving the connecting clips 24.
A pair of mounting ears 36, 36 are provided on opposite sides of the outer wall 30 for securing the connector member 20 to two T-bar support members 26', 26' to which the connector member is to be joined. Each of the mounting cars 36 is provided with a plurality of holes 38 for receiving bolts 40 or other suitable fasteners (e. g., rivets or screws) for attaching the ear to one of the T-bars 26'. Each mounting ear is also provided with a groove 42 defining an overhanging lip 44 for retaining the cover member 22 over the top of the connector member 20, in a manner described in detail below.
Each of the connector clips 24 includes two metal pieces welded or otherwise suitably joined face-to-face, as shown at 48, 48 in FIG. 1. The clip 24 includes a central body portion 50, a tab 52 which is bent to form a right angle with the body portion, a pair of outwardly extending bottom flanges 54, 54 connected to the body portion 50 for engaging the bottom plate 28 of the connector member 20 between the outer peripheral wall 30 and the upstanding skirt portion 33, and a pair of outwardly extending side flanges 56, 56 connected to the body portion and adapted to be received in the annular space 58 formed between the inner and outer peripheral walls 30 and 32 (see FIG. 4).
The annular cover member or lock ring 22 is adapted to be detachably secured over the upper edge of the outer peripheral wall 30 of the connector member 20 to lock the connector clips 24 in the slots 34. As best shown in FIG. 1, the cover member 22 is provided with diametrically opposed, stepped slots 59 in its outer peripheral edge. The longer portions of the slots 59 are adapted to align with and receive the overhanging lips 44 on the mounting cars 36 when the cover is placed on top of the outer wall 30. When the cover is thereafter rotated in a clockwise direction (as viewed in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4), the step portion 61 of each slot 59 will enter the groove 42 and lock the cover in place beneath the lip 44.
The inner peripheral edge 60 of the cover member 22 is providedwith a pair of downwardly struck segments 62, 62 which engage the upper interior edge of the outer peripheral wall 30 to prevent the cover member from sliding on the upper edge of the peripheral wall when the cover member is locked beneath the lips 44, 44 (see FIG. 3).
It will be noted that the improved connector structure illustrated in the drawings is particularly designed to receive up to eight T-bars. Each of the eight sides of the skirt 33 on the bottom plate 28 is adapted to engage the lower horizontal edge 66 of one of the T-bars to be joined. Since two T-bars 26, 26' are bolted to the mounting cars 36, 36 on the connector member, only six clip-receiving slots 34 need be provided. Each clipreceiving slot 34 is aligned with the approximate middle of one of the eight sides of the octagonal skirt 33. Each of the mounting ears 36 is also aligned with the middle of one side of the skirt 33.
The outer peripheral edge of the'cover member 22 is further provided with a plurality of circumferentially spaced notches 70, each of which aligns with one of the clip-receiving slots 34 when the cover member is in place. These notches 70 receive the upper portions of the vertical edges 72 of the T-bars to be joined.
To assemble a T-bar grid using the improved connec tor structure of the present invention, the connector member 20 is first bolted or otherwise suitably attached to two T-bars 26', 26', via the mounting cars 36, 36.
Thereafter, a number of connecting clips 24, corresponding to the number of other T-bars 26 to be joined to the connector member 20, are inserted into the slots 34 in the outer peripheral wall 30 of the connector member. As best shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the central body portion 50 of each clip 24 extends through its associated slot 34 to restrain lateral movement of the clip. The bottom flanges 54, 54 of each clip engage the bottom plate 28 between the outer peripheral wall 30 and the peripheral skirt 33 on the bottom plate to restrain downward movement and radial movement of the clip, and the side flanges 56, 56 of each clip fit in the annular slot 58 between the inner wall 32 and the outer wall 30 to further restrain radial movement of the clip.
Next, the cover member 22 is positioned over the top edge of the outer peripheral wall 30 so that the longer portions of the stepped slots 59, 59 are aligned with and receive the overhanging lips 44, 44 of the mounting cars 36, 36. With the cover member 22 so positioned, it is then turned clockwise (as viewed in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4) a few degrees until the step portions 61, 61 of the slots enter the grooves 42, 42 in the mounting ears 36, 36. This will lock the cover member 22 beneath the lips 44, 44 to prevent upward movement of the cover member.
The T-bars 26 to be joined to the connector member 20 are then attached to the connecting clips 24. This is accomplished by bringing one end of each T-bar 26 adjacent a connecting clip 24, and inserting the tab 52 on the connecting clip into the slot 74 in the vertical web 76 of the T-bar. The tab 52 of the connecting clip is then bent back approximately 90 (see FIG. 4) to secure the T-bar to the connector member. As best shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the lower, horizontal edge 66 of each T-bar 26 fits flush with one side of the octagonal skirt 33 on thebottom plate 28 of the connector member 20, and the upper portion of the vertical edge 72 of each T-bar fits into the associated notch 70 in the outer peripheral edge of the cover member 22 to lock the cover member against counter-clockwise rotation.
This construction assures a good, tight joint between each T-bar and the connector member to which it is joined.
When a non-rectangular grid configuration is desired, one or more of the T-bars 26 to be joined must be disposed at an acute or obtuse angle relative to the segment of the peripheral skirt 33 against which the lower edge 66 of the T-bar is to engage. See, e. g., the T-bar 26 joined to the left side of the connector member 20 in FIG. 4, which is not aligned with the center of the bottom plate 28. Accordingly,the lower, horizontal edge 66 of such a T-bar must be cut on an angle such that the edge 66 fits flush with its associated segment of the peripheral skirt 33 (as shown in FIG. 4). It will further be noted that the center portion 50 of the clip 24 joining such a T-bar 26 to the connector member 20 must be bent somewhat so that the bentover tab portion 52 of that clip is parallel to the vertical web 76 of the T-bar.
In a non-planar grid construction, one or more of the T-bars 26 extends at an angle relative to the horizontal bottom plate 28 (see, c. g.,-FIG. 5). In this case, the edge 72 of the vertical edge of each T-bar 26 and the clip receiving slot 74 therein should be cut at an angle such that the edge 72 and the slot 74 will be substantially vertical when the T-bar is joined to the connector member 20 (see FIG. 5).
Numerous non-planar and/or non-rectangular grid designs may be assembled using the improved connector structure of the present invention. Three of such grid designs are illustrated in FIGS. 6 10.
A pyramid-shaped grid structure which incorporates a plurality of the improved connector structures of the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.
In FIGS. 8 and 9, a generally hemispherical dome design (e. g., for a rotunda effect) is shown. Again, a plurality of the improved connector structures of the present invention are employed.
FIG. 10 illustrates the manner in which a plurality of alternately upright and inverted pyramid sections may be connected in series.
Of course, countless grid designs other than those shown in the drawings may be made employing the improved connector structure of this invention.
The center section 80 (FIGS. 3 and 4) of the flat bottom plate 28 of the connector member may readily be removed (in the factory or in the field) to receive a sprinkler head, a socket for an incandescent light bulb, conduit for electrical wires entering partitions or walls, thru-posts for partitions, or other structures. Concentric circular grooves 82 (FIGS. 3 and 4) may be provided in the center section 80 to facilitate cutting a hole of desired size in the bottom plate.
The improved connector structure of the present invention may, of course, be employed with ceiling panel support bars other than the T-bars 26 shown in the drawings. For example, H-bars or I-bars may be used.
From the foregoing, it will readily be appreciated that the improved connector structure of the present invention facilitates the assembly of relatively complex, appealing, suspended ceiling structures by laymen or ordinary tradesmen having no special skills. The components of the grid structure may be economically manufactured and cut in the factory, and shipped to various job sites where the ceiling structures can be assembled without any cutting. Of course, grid structures incorporating the improved connector structure of this invention may be employed in conjunction with any type of ceiling panel (e. g., luminous, opaque, colored, surface finished, etc.
The preferred embodiments shown in the drawings and described above may be modified and varied in numerous ways without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of the present invention be limited only by the appended claims.
1. An improved connector structure for joining a plurality of ceiling panel support members in a desired pattern; said improved connector structure comprising: a connector member, and means for connecting the ends of a plurality of ceiling panel support members to said connector member, wherein said connector member comprises a wall member provided with a plurality of space, upwardly opening slots, and wherein said connecting means comprise a plurality of connecting clips releasably retained in said slots in said wall member for securing the ends of ceiling panel support members to said connector member; and further comprising a cover member adapted to be placed over the upper edge of said wall member to prevent accidental removal of said connector clips from said slots; said cover member having a peripheral edge provided with a plurality of circumferentially spaced notches; each of said notches being adapted to receive an edge portion of a ceiling panel support bar which is attached to said connector member; whereby the engagement of the edge of the support bar with one of said notches in said peripheral edge of said cover member will prevent rotation of said cover member relative to said connector member.
2. An improved connector structure for joining a plurality of ceiling panel support bars in a desired pattern, comprising:
a generally flat plate having an outer peripheral edge;
an upstanding skirt portion on said outer peripheral edge of said flat bottom plate; said upstanding skirt portion comprising a plurality of substantially straight segments joined end-to-end; an upstanding cylindrical outer wall mounted on said flat bottom plate; said outer cylindrical wall having a plurality of upwardly opening, circumferentially spaced slots therein;
a cylindrical inner wall spaced radially inward from said outer cylindrical wall;
a plurality of clips disposed in said slots in said outer cylindrical wall for connecting a plurality of ceiling panel support bars to said outer cylindrical wall; each of said clip means comprising tab means for engaging the slotted end of a ceiling panel support bar, bottom flange means adapted to engage said flat bottom plate between said upstanding skirt portion and said outer peripheral wall; and side flange means adapted to fit in the annular space defined between said inner and outer cylindrical walls;
a pair of mounting ears attached to said outer cylindrical wall and extending radially outward therefrom;
each of said mounting ears including a groove and an overhanging lip above the upper edge of said outer cylindrical wall; and
an annular cover member for covering the upper edge of said outer cylindrical wall; said cover member including a pair of circumferentially spaced slots adapted to receive said overhanging lips on said mounting ears; each of said slots in said cover member being stepped and including a step portion adapted to fit within the groove in one of said mounting ears, under said overhanging lip, to lock the cover member on the top of said outer cylindrical wall; said cover member further comprising a plurality of circumferentially spaced notches in its outer peripheral edge for receiving the vertical end edges ceiling panel support bars to be joined.
3. In a connector structure for joining a plurality of support members: the combination therewith of a connector member comprising a wall member having a plurality of spaced slots; a plurality of connecting clips separate from said support members and received in said slots in said wall member, said clips being affixed to the ends of said support members to secure said support members to said connector member; said wall member comprising an outer peripheral member; said connector member further comprising an inner peripheral wall member spaced inwardly from said outer peripheral member to define a generally annular space between said wall members receiving and confining said clips radially of said connector member; each of said clips including oppositely directed side flanges disposed insaid annular space between said wall members.
4. In a connector structure as defined in claim 3; said connector member including an upstanding peripheral skirt spaced laterally outwardly from said outer peripheral member; each of said connecting clips further including flange means disposed between said outer peripheral member and peripheral skirt.
5. In a connector structure for joining a plurality of support members: the combination therewith of a connector member comprising a wall member having a plurality of spaced slots; a plurality of connecting clips separate from said support members and received in said slots in said wall member, said clips being affixed to the ends of said support members to secure said support members to said connector member; said support members having end slots; each of said clips including tab means extending in an end slot of a support member for securing said support member to said connector member.
6. In a connector structure: a plurality of ceiling panel support members having vertical slots in their end portions; a connector member comprising a bottom portion and a wall member extending upwardly from said bottom portion and having a plurality of spaced slots; a plurality of connecting clips separate from said support members and received in said slots in said wall member; the vertical slots of said support members receiving said clips to affix said support memv bers to said connector member; the ends of said support members bearing against the periphery of said bottom portion.
7. In a connector structure as defined in claim 6; saidperiphery of said bottom portion having a plurality of straight segments; the end of each of said support members engaging one of said straight segments.
8. In a connector structure as defined in claim 6; said wall member being substantially cylindrical and said plurality of spaced slots opening upwardly through said wall member for downward positioning of said connecting clips therein.
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|U.S. Classification||403/173, 52/665, 52/506.7|
|International Classification||E04B9/06, E04B9/14, F16B7/04|
|Cooperative Classification||E04B9/14, F16B7/0486|
|European Classification||F16B7/04D4E, E04B9/14|