US 3807572 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Luvara et al.
ADJUSTABLE COMPARTMENT SIZE STORAGE UNIT Inventors: Anthony Luvara, Stamford; Thomas J. Mitchell, Darien, both of Conn.
Assignee: Pitney-Bow'es, Inc., Stamford, Conn.
Filed: May 12, 1972 Appl. No.: 252,826
211/148, 211/184, 312/108 Int. Cl B42f 17/12 Field of Search 211/10, 184, 148; 108/107,
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,721,632 10/1955 Surpierre 108/61 X 2,149,603 3/1939 Hamby 108/110 X 3,563,624 2/1971 Stice 312/111 2,797,819 7/1957v Lowmaster 211/184 X 1451 Apr. 30, 1974 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 5,770 3/1911 Great Britain 108/107 Primary Examiner-Roy D. Frazier Attorney, Agent, or Firm-William D. Solow, Jr.; Al-
bert W. Scribner; Robert E. Meyer 57 ABSTRACT An adjustable compartment size storage unit of simple and economic design is described. The units may be divided into vertical and/or horizontal compartments by the use of universally-fitting partitions. In particular, the horizontal partitions are formed so as to be readily assembled or disassembled while still providing a structure that will support a substantial weight placed thereon. The units are designed to be used in conjunction with other similar units to form almost any desired configuration of compartments. The storage units are of particular value for use in sorting mail.
5 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTEDAPR 301914 SHEET 3 [IF 3" ADJUSTABLE COMPARTMENT SIZE STORAGE UNIT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION compartmented storage units are well-known and are used for many utilitarian purposes. Such units are typically box-shaped and contain provisions for the installation of vertical and/or horizontal partitions to divide the original box unit into smaller compartments. These units have been built in many sizes and with many different partition mounting configurations in an effort to provide a unit which is simple to manufacture, is low in cost, and in which the partitions are easily assembled and disassemble to meet the various and changing requirements for storage space. The horizontal partitions and their mounting configurations are particularly important in that they must be rigidenough to support whatever weight is placed on the partition without causing undue deflection of the partition and- /or disengagement of the partition from'its mounting.
In the priorart, these units have typically been made of sheet metal. The box-shaped. housing would have side walls formed with slots or inwardly formed tabs which would accept and support horizontal partitions inserted therein.. These units, when made in. larger sizes, tend to be less rigid than desired becauseof their thin sheet metal construction and should a large weight be placed upon a partition, the weight could cause the partition to deflect, perhaps with the result of the partition disengaging its supporting slot or tab in the sides of the unit. Improvements to these units have included secondary inner side walls formed with slots or inwardly formed tabs which would engage to a greater:
depth the partition supported thereon; Additionally, ribs or bent-over portions were formed on the partitions themselves to give greater strength to the member or perhaps a thicker gauge of sheet metal was used in the construction of the parts. Other designs for these units have provided positive fasteningmeans such as screws to hold each individual partition in place and to provide for a more rigid unit. While this approach solved the disengaging problem, it made assembly and disassembly of the units that much more involved in as much as tools were now required to initially assemble the unit and each time it wasdesired to reposition any of the partitions within the unit. While all of these solutions were efiective, they all suffered the drawback of adding an increased level of manufacturing difficulty, additional cost, and in some cases'weight tothe final product.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the present invention, there is provided an improved type of storage unit which is easily manufactured, low in cost and readily assembled and disassembled. All of the components of the unit are moulded from a suitable plastic material. A minimum number of components are required to construct a single modular unit which can then be joined with other similar units to provide additional compartmented storage space. For example, a singular storage unit is constructed with identical interchangeable pieces being used for the top and bottom walls and a second piece being used for both the right and left side walls. A back wall may be provided, if desired. One standard vertical partition may be used to divide the basic box vertically and a small number of horizontal partitions of different lengths but identical construction are provided to divide the basic box into horizontal compartments between its side walls and/or a side wall and a vertical partition.
More specifically,the invention provides for a storage unit having top, bottom and side walls forming a box-like structure with a series of parallel indentations being formed into the inside surfaces thereof. Vertical and horizontal partitions are provided to divide the basic box structure into smaller compartments. Vertical partitions are placed between the top and bottom walls and retained thereat by a snap fit arrangement be tween thetop and bottom edges of the partition and the indentations in the top and bottom walls. The vertical partition also has a series of parallel indentations formed into its outer surfaces. The horizontal partitions are positioned between the side walls of the box or between one side wall and a vertical partition. The horizontal partition is formed with tabs extending outwardly from each side thereof and spaced closely adjacent and extending parallel to the lower surface of said partition so as to permit flexureof the tab in a downward direction while restricting flexture in an upward direction. The tab is formed at its outer end so as to engage one of the indentations in the said walls and/or the vertical partition.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is an exploded view of the instant invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of six basic storage units joined together to provide a large number of individual storage spaces.
FIG. 3 is a partial front elevational view showing a horizontal partition in the process of being installed into a storage unit. I
FIG. 4 is also a partial front elevational view showing a horizontal partition as assembled into a storage unit.
FIG. 5 shows the horizontal partition of FIG. 3 supporting a weight thereon.
FIG. 6 is another partial front elevational view showing the horizontal partition in the process of being removed from a unit.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION As seen in FIG. 1, the adjustablecompartment size storage unit embodying the instant invention comprises a basically rectangular box-like housing shown generally at 10 having provisions for the insertion therein of vertical and horizontal partitions shown generally at 12. In the present embodiment, the component parts of the box-like housing 10 and the vertical partition 32 are manufactured from high impact polystrene material usinga structural foam molding process while: the horizontal partition 40 is injection moulded from an acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene material. The housing is made 'up of a bottom wall 14, a top wall 16, and side walls 18. The side edges of the bottom wall 14 are formed so as to receive, align and retain the lower edge 22 of side walls 18 in a snap-fitting manner which is well-known in the art and accordingly need not be further described herein. The top wall is also secured to the side walls in a similar manner. In the present embodiment, the top and bottom walls are identical as are the side walls. While this snap-fitting arrangement of the top, bottom and side walls will normally provide sufficient strength and rigidity for the assembled unit, it is also possible to further secure the unit through the use of fasteners of many well known types, such as screws. Alternately, some type of adhesive could be additionally used on these joints to add additional strength. A back wall 24 may also be provided to be assembled in a similar snap-fitting arrangement and/or with the use of fasteners or adhesives as noted above. While not shown in this embodiment, it would also be possible to provide a hinged front panel to act as a door to make the unit into a closed compartment.
Formed into the upper surface 26 of bottom wall 14 are a series of parallel indentations 28. In this embodiment, the indentations are arranged in two parallel rows and in as much as the bottom and top walls are identical, these indentations are also present in the lower surface of the top wall in vertical alignment with the indentations-in the bottom wall. The inner surfaces of the side walls 18 contain a series of parallel indentations identical to those formed in the bottom wall. The indentations 30 can be seen more clearly in FIGS. 3-6 from which it is apparent that these indentations are simply V shaped notches having their sides at an angle of approximately to the inner surface of the side and bottom walls and extending to a depth of approximately half of the thickness of the side and bottom walls. These indentations 28 and 30 serve as the locating and retaining means for both vertical and horizontal partitions which may be installed within the housing 10.
A vertical partition 32 is provided to be inserted into the housing between the top and bottom walls and retained in this position'by the indentations 28 located on the said top and bottom walls. The lower edge 34 of the verticalpartition 32 is formed so as to engage the in dentations 28 in the bottom walll4 while the upper edge 36 of the vertical partition 32 has a pair of vertically extending members 38 integrally formed into the vertical partition 32 in such a manner so as to be deflectable and having a shape so as to engage and be retained by the indentations formed in the inner surface of the top wall. A vertical partition 32 is assembled into the basic housing 10 by placing the partition 32 at an angle inclined from the vertical and inserting it into the housing 10. The tabs 34 on the lower edge of the partition 32 are then placed in the selected indentations 38 in the bottom wall 14. The partition 32 is then pivoted about its lower edge into a vertical position. This pivoting motion will cause the members38 to contact the inner surface of the top wall 16 and further pivoting will cause these members 38 to deflect until a vertical position is reached at which time the members 38 will snap into the indentations in the inner surface of the top wall.
A horizontal partition 40 is provided to be assembled at any one of a number of positions as determined by the number of indentations in the side walls and vertical partition. The horizontal partition 40 is formed with a vertical rib 42 on the underside thereof and extending from the front to rear edge thereof. Affixed to this rib and spaced closely adjacent and extending parallel to the lower surface of the partition 40 are a pair of tabs 44 extending outwardly from the side thereof. The outer end 45 of these tabs 44 is formed at an angle of approximately 45 downwardly from the horizontal so as to correspond to the shape of the indentations formed in theside walls 18 and vertical partition 32. A vertical reinforcing rib 48 is located on the underside of the partition 40 directly above tab 44 to provide additional strength and to restrict the upward flexure of tab 44. These tabs 44 are spaced apart a distance equal to the distance between the indentations 30 so as to provide not only vertical support but also from to rear positioning for the partition 40. This rib and tab construction is also repeated on the opposite side edge of the partition 40.
As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, the horizontal partition 40 is assembled into the housing'10 by placing it at an angle to the horizontal and introducing it into the housing unit. The tabs 44 on one edge of the horizontal partition 40 are then introduced into the selected indentations 30 in either the side wall 18 or the vertical partition 32 if one is used and the opposite end is then rotated upwardly as indicated by arrow 46 in F IG. 3. Due to this upward motion and the dimensions of the parts, the tabs 44 will come into contact with the inner surface of the side wall 18. Further rotation of the partition 40 to a horizontal location will cause the tab 44 to be deflected downwardly until such time as the horizontal position is reached whereat the tab 44 will engage a set of indentations 30 and the partition 40 will be retained in place as shown in F IG. 4. In this position, the horizontal partition 40 is firmly located between the side wall 18 and vertical partition 36 of within the housing 10. The shape and location of the tab 44 and cooperating indentation 30 provides support for the partition and any normal weight placed thereon. However, as seen in FIG. 5, should a substantial weight W be placed on the partition 40, the tabs 44 will begin to deflect under the load. This deflection is restricted almost immediately by the presence of the reinforcing ribs 48 located directly above the tabs 44 which contact the upper surface of the tabs 44. to prevent any further deflection and to fully support the weight W.
The horizontal partition 40 is also easily disassembled as shown in FIG. 6. The assembly process as described above is simple continued in that an upward force, indicated by arrow 50, is again applied to the underside of the partition at the side, causing the tab 44 to deflect downwardly as the partition rises and continuation of this motion will eventually free the tab from the indentations 30.
Thus, it can be seen that this arrangement of the tab 44 on the horizontal partition is such that downward flexure of the tab is permitted to allow the partition to be assembled or disassembled into the unit while the reinforcing ribs 48 and lower surface of partition 40 restrict flexure in an upward direction thereby enabling a substantial weight to be supported on the partition with no possibility of disengagement of the partition from the side walls.
Located in the bottom and top walls 14 and 16 respectively are two counterbored holes 52 and located in the side walls 18 is a single counterbored hole 53 to be used when it is desired to join together a number of basic units to provide additional storage space. A standard fastener of any suitable type (not shown) is inserted through holes 52 or 53 to secure two units together in a top to bottom or side by side arrangement. FIG. 2 shows six basic storage units assembled together in this manner to illustrate the flexibility possible with this type construction. In FIG. 2; unit A is a basic unit with no partitions installed; unit 10B contains only horizontal partitions; unit 10C contains only vertical partitions; and units 10D, 10B and IOP each contain combinations of horizontal and vertical partitions. These configurations as shown in FIG. 2 are purely exemplary and any arrangement of storage units and partitions within the units can, of course, be made to satisfy the requirements for compartmented storage space.
What is claimed is:
1. An adjustable compartment size storage unit comprising:
top and bottom walls;
side walls having a series of parallel V shaped indentations formed into the inside surfaces thereof;
means to secure said side walls to said top and bottom walls; and
at least one' horizontal partition positioned between said side walls and having one side edge supported by one of said side walls and having at least one integrally formed flexible tab extending outwardly from the opposite side edge thereof, said tab being spaced closely adjacent and extending substantially parallel to the lower surface of said partition, said tab being flexible in a downward direction and prevented from flexure in an upward direction by the lower surface of said partition, said tab being formed at its outer end at an angle of approximately 45 downwardly from the horizontal so as to engage one of said indentations in said side walls when said partition is moved in an upward direction causing said tab to flex downwardly until the outer end thereof engages an indentation in said side wall.
2. An adjustable compartment size storage unit comprising:
top and bottom walls having a series of parallel indentations formed into the inside surfaces thereof;
side walls having a series of parallel V shaped indentations formed into the inside surfaces thereof;
means to secure said side walls to said top and bottom walls;
at least one vertical partition having a series of parallel V" shaped indentations formed into the outer surfaces thereof and a lower edge shaped to engage one of said indentations in said bottom wall and an upper edge having formed therein at least one vertically extending deflectable member for engagement with one of said indentations in said top wall whereby said vertical partition is introduced into said storage unit at an angle inclined from the vertical with said lower edge engaged with one of said 6 indentations in said bottom wall and pivoted about said lower edge into a vertical position causing said vertical member on said upper edge to deflect until said vertical position is reached whereat said member engages said indentations in said top wall;
at least one horizontal partition positioned between said side wall and said vertical partition having at least one integrally formed flexible tab extending outwardly from each side thereof, said tab being spaced closely adjacent and extending substantially parallel to the lower surface of said horizontal partition, said tab being flexible in a downward direction and prevented from flexure in an upward direction by the lower surface of said horizontal partition, said tab being formed at its outer end at an angle of approximately 45 downwardly from the horizontal so as to engage one of said indentations in said side wall and said vertical partition when said horizontal partition is moved in an upward, direction causing said tab to 'flex downwardly until the outer end thereof engages said indentations in said side wall and said vertical partition.
3. The storage unit of claim 2 wherein said horizontal partition further comprises vertical reinforcing ribs located on the underside of said partition and above each of said tabs.
4. The storage unit of claim 2 further comprising a back wall and wherein said top, bottom and side walls further comprise means to join together similar top, bottom and side walls of other storage units whereby a multiplicity of basic storage units may be formed.
5. An adjustable compartment sizestorage unit comprising:
A. top and bottom walls;
B. side walls having a series of horizontally spaced parallel indentations formed into the inside surfaces thereof;
C. means to secure said side walls to said top and bot tom walls; and
D. at least one horizontal partition positioned between said side walls and including at least one relatively thin non-compressible flexible tab formed integrally with said partition and adjacent one side edge of said partition, said tab 1. being spaced closely adjacent and extending substantially parallel to the lower surface of said partition,
2. being flexible in a downward direction and prevented from flexure in an upward direction by the lower surface of said partition, and
3. having an outer end projecting beyond and downwardly of said edge of said partition for C0- operative locking engagement with said indentations in said side wall when moved in one direction with respect to said side wall, said outer end being operatively associated with said indentations so as to prevent release therefrom except by movement of said tab with respect to said side wall in said one direction,
whereby said partition is held in locked engagement between said side walls against downward movement thereof and is releasable from its position between said side walls only by upward movement thereof with respect to said side walls.