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Publication numberUS3826206 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 30, 1974
Filing dateOct 12, 1972
Priority dateOct 12, 1972
Also published asDE2324697A1
Publication numberUS 3826206 A, US 3826206A, US-A-3826206, US3826206 A, US3826206A
InventorsK Ruggles
Original AssigneeDirectional Ind Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Modular furniture or like articles and modular units therefor
US 3826206 A
Abstract
The invention provides modular structural units of various sizes and shapes for assembling into knockdown structures. Each unit is hollow and has at least one end edge corresponding in size and shape with an end edge of each of the others. The units are assembled corresponding end to corresponding end. The corresponding ends of the units are closed by a wall in which are set inwardly extending sockets for receiving the ends of rigid coupling members. Each socket and each end of each coupling member is provided with cooperating means for forming a snap engagement between them and for limiting the inward movement of the coupling member into the socket past the snap engagement.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Ruggles [111 3,826,206 July 30, 1974 MODULAR FURNITURE OR LIKE ARTICLES AND MODULAR UNITS THEREFOR Kay Ruggles, Salt Lake City, Utah Directional Industries Incorporated, New York, N.Y.

Filed: Oct. 12, 1972 Appl. No.: 297,056

Inventor:

Assignee:

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS ll/l950 Rudolph 24/214 X l/l952 McMurtrie 312/11] X 7/1959 Rapata 85/8.8

3/1962 Anderson ct a1, 297/248 3,563,624 2/1971 Stice 312/111 Primary Examiner-Bobby R. Gay

Assistant Examiner-Willizim E. Lyddane Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Gottlieb, Rackman, Reisman & Kirsch [5 7] ABSTRACT The invention provides modular structural units of various sizes and shapes for assembling into knockdown structures. Each unit is hollow and has at least one end edge corresponding in size and shape with an end edge of each of the others. The units are assembled corresponding end to corresponding end. The corresponding ends of the units are closed by a wall in which are set inwardly extending sockets for receiving the ends of rigid coupling members. Each socket and each end of each coupling member is provided with cooperating means for forming a snap engagement between them and for limiting the inward movement of the coupling member into the socket past the snap engagement.

10 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTED JUL 3 01974 SHEEI 20F 3 MODULAR FURNITURE OR LIKE ARTICLES AND MODULAR UNITS THEREFOR The present invention relates to knockdown articles of furniture, or like structures, formed of modular units and to the modular units from which such articles may be formed; and more particularly, to the molded synthetic plastic modules for forming such knockdown articles of furniture, or like structures.

Knockdown structures formed of synthetic plastic modular units have heretofore been known. However, the modular units of the prior art have generally been useful for the assembly of a limited type, size or shape of structure for which such modules were specifically formed. Also, such modular units of the prior art were generally assembled with unsightly coupling means, most usually of non-plastic material that required the use of tools for effecting connection and disconnection of the modules and often also required the processing of the modules to receive the connecting means, as by being bored for that purpose. The present invention is directed to the provision of structural modules, of the character described, a limited number of shapes and sizes of which may be utilized to construct articles of many and various forms, sizes and shapes.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide modular units, of the character described, which, when disassembled from an original structure, may be utilized to form a structure of a different size and shape either by the elimination of some of the modules or by their combination with additional modules of like character.

It is another object of the present invention to provide modules, of the character described, which may be connected by means invisible from the exterior of the structure formed, to thereby provide assembled structures of clean and neat appearance.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide modular units, of the character described, having connecting elements that may be utilized to connect the modules without processing the same and without the use of any tools and may be disconnected, to disassemble the structure formed by them, in the same manner.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide modular units of the character described which have a bulky appearance and are yet of light weight and therefore economical in the use of the synthetic plastic material.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide modular units of the character described which may be easily fabricated from discrete elements or parts, at least one of which may be utilized in all modules of the same end dimensions though of varying and different shapes. I

It is a further object of the present invention to provide modular units, of the character described, and connecting elements therefor, which may be readily and easily assembled and as readily and easily separated from one another and yet provide, when assembled, a strong, sturdy and rigid structure that will remain in an assembled position and is safe against inadvertent disassembly.

It is yet a further object of the'present invention to provide modular units of the character described forming, when assembled, structures of highly pleasing and attractive appearance.

The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the modular units of the present invention and the structures formed therewith will become more readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the embodiments thereof shown in the accompanying drawings and from the description following them. It is to be understood that such embodiments are shown by way of illustration only, to make the principles and practice of the inventions more readily comprehensible and without any intention of limiting the invention to the specific details therein shown.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an article of furniture, in the form of a ring-shaped table, formed from modular units embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective, blown view, on an enlarged scale, of a pair of modular units in position for assembly with one another, with a coupling member set into one of the units, with both of the units shown with their top sections removed;

FIG. 3 is a view similar to that of FIG. 2, showing the units in juxtaposed, connected position, with the top section of one of the units removed and the other unit in full;

FIG. 4 is a section taken on line 44 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary, perspective, blown view of a pair of modular units and a coupling member shown in position for assembly; one of the units being a cap for providing a smooth finish forthe connecting end of the other unit of an assembled article; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another article of furniture assembled from modular units of the type forming the article of FIG. 1.

Generally stated, the invention provides modular units for the construction of knockdown articles of furniture or like structures which are in the form of differently shaped, flat panels that are of hollow construction; each panel having at least one flat end edge that is co-equal with at least one flat end edge of each of the other panels. The co-equal ends are each provided with two or moreinwardly extending sockets equal in size and shape with the sockets of the other panels. The panels are connected edge to edge by their co-equal end edges by means of coupling rods whose ends extend into the sockets of adjacent panels and are snap engaged therein; the snap engagement means also providing for limiting the inward movement of the coupling rod end into the socket.

The panels are each preferably formed of two or more trough-shaped sections each having offset flanges on at least two or not more than three sides thereof and are connected by the edges of their offset flanges to form a hollow panel having at least one open end into which is set a closure plug in which the sockets are formed; the open ends of all the panels being co-equal in size and shape so that a single-sized plug may fit in all of them.

Referring now in greater detail to the embodiments of the invention illustrated in the drawings, FIGS. 1 and 6 show articles of furniture in the form of a table and settee, respectively, that are formed of a number of diverse modular units of the present invention, some common to both of the articles and others different in the two articles.

Thus, the table of FIG. 1 is shown to be formed of four T-shaped panels, generally designated at 10, whose leg sections, 12, form the legs of the table and whose cross-piece sections, 14, form portions of the table surface. Panels have their connecting ends, 16, at opposing ends of their crosspieces l4 and at the free ends of legs 12 and they are connected by L-shaped panels, generally designated at 18, whose sides lie in a common plane and whose connecting ends are disposed at substantial right angles to one another and are connected to the ends 16 of the crosspiece 14 of panel 10, to complete the table top.

The settee of FIG. 6 utilizes a pair of T-shaped panels 10 one of which 10a rests on its leg 12a with the cross piece 140 forming part of the surface of the settee. The other of the T-shaped panels 10b rests on one edge 16b of its crosspiece 14b with its leg 12b forming part of the surface of the settee; the portion of the crosspiece 14b above leg 12b forming an arm for the settee. The end edge 16b of leg 12b is connected to an edge 16a of the crosspiece 14a of panel 10a through the means of an intermediate panel of rectangular shape, generally designated as 24, one of whose opposed edges, 26, being connected to the edge 16b of leg 14b of panel 10b and the other being connected to the edge 16a of the crosspiece 14a of panel 10a.

The other end edge 16a of the crosspiece 14a ,of panel 10a is connected to an end edge, 26, of a second panel generally designated as 24, whose opposed end edge, 26, is shown as connected to the end edge, 28 of an L-shaped panel, generally designated as 30, whose legs are disposed at right angles to one another, with one of the legs, as 32, forming part of the surface of the settee and the other leg, 34, disposed in dependent re lation and forming an additional leg for the settee.

The third end edge 160 of the crosspiece 14b of panel 10b has mounted thereover, for purposes of forming a smooth, finished edge, a short end or cover panel, generally designated as 36, formed with a rounded top for comfort as well as for neat appearance.

Referring to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 of the drawings, they illustrate a preferred construction for the panels of the invention, with particular reference to their connecting ends which may be common to panels of any shape of any group having a common width, such as any of the panels illustrated in the drawings, as well as of other shapes that will readily suggest themselves to anyone skilled in the art. It will be seen that each panel which, for purposes of illustration, may be taken as that of the simplest form, namely panel 24, is shown to comprise a plurality of congruous sections, each comprising a straight or angular flat wall or plate, 38, as is the case in panel 10, having upstanding flanges, 40, along at least two of its opposed edges, which are integral with the wall 38 and connected thereto, preferably on a radius, to form a curvedly bevelled edge. The panel members are preferably molded of a high-impact, synthetic plastic material. The panel-forming sections are connected to one another by the edges of their flanges 40, as by cementing or by high frequency induction heat, to form a flat, hollow panel having at least one open end 42. It will be apparent that panels, such as 10, are formed of three sections, one straight and two angular or L-shaped ones, to form the leg and crosspiece of a T-shaped panel, the leg of which is open at one end and the crosspiece at its two opposed ends; while a panel such as 18 and 24 is formed of two sections and is closed at its two sides and open at its other two sides; whereas, a panel such as 36, is formed of two sections and is closed on three sides and has only one open end.

Set into each open end 42 of each of the modular panels of the present invention is a closure or plug member, generally designated as 44. Each plug member 44 comprises a flat wall or end face, 46, of a size and shape to fit closely within an opening 42 and is provided with a peripheral flange 48 that extends inwardly into the hollow of the panel and serves to brace the panel sides. Peripheral flange 42 may in turn have its opposed, longer sides braced by connecting pieces 48. Formed in each plug wall 46 is a plurality of circular openings 49, preferably two, each preferably adjacent to one of the ends of plug wall 46, which are defined on the interior of the panel by a cylindrical, tubular socket, 52, for receiving one end of a closely fitting connecting member, generally designated as 54. Each socket 52 may be reinforced for the purpose of rigidifying it against bending or twisting out of its position or normality to the wall 46 of plug member 44, as by a plurality, such as three, vanes or ribs 56 that are integrally molded with the wall of the socket 52, longitudinally thereof, and with wall 46 and flange 48 of the plug member 44.

As clearly shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, plug member 44 also includes projections 45 which project slightly outwardly from plug wall 46. Desirably, each member 44 has two projections 45, each near one of its circular openings 49. Corresponding projections carried on the plug members are adapted to abut when the panels are connected (see FIG. 4) to provide a narrow space 47 between the plug walls 46. The space 47 is adapted to receive a connecting bracket (not shown) for connecting adjacent panels or for mounting a panel on a wall to form a shelf or the like.

All sockets, 52, of all modular panels, may preferably be of equal diameter and length so as to be served by a connecting member of a single, uniform size, which may be at least twice the length of a socket 52. Each socket 52 is provided on its interior, closely adjacent to its inner end, with a flat-surfaced rib, 58, of preferably rectangular cross section to form a squared shoulder at each of its edges and the inner end of the socket outwardly of the rib 58, if any, may preferably be curvedly bevelled.

Connecting members 54 are formed of a strong, rigid material which may comprise a metal or, preferably, a high-strength synthetic plastic material such as a polycarbon plastic. Each connecting member 54 is, along at least a significant portion of its length, of a cross section which mates with the interior cross-section of socket 52. Desirably, the cross-section is circular, as is shown in the drawings. Each connecting rod also is provided at each end with a portion or end segment of reduced diameter, 62, providing a preferably squared circular shoulder, 64, at its inner end. Each reduced end 62 of the connecting member 54 is provided with a circumferential groove, 66, at a distance from shoulder 64, equal substantially to the width of a rib, 58, within which is set a resiliently compressible ring, 68, that projects out of the groove, 66, to a height substantially equal to the height of the shoulder 64.

To assemble an article or structure with the panels of the present invention, a pair of panels desired to be disposed in contiguous relation in the structure to be formed are connected to one another with open ended edge to open ended edge by inserting one end of a connecting member 54 into each of the sockets 52 of one of the two panels and pushing such connector end into the socket until its ring 68 is compressed into the constricted area defined by the rib 58 of the socket and passes therethrough so that it expands and engages against the outer shoulder of the rib 58 to inhibit withdrawal of the connecting member 54 from that socket. At the same time, shoulder 64 of the reduced end of the connector comes into abutment with the inner shoulder or rib 58 to prevent further movement of the connecting member 54 into the socket. The other end of each of the connecting members 54 is then inserted into the sockets 52 of the adjacent panel until their rings 68 are moved past their socket ribs 58 and their shoulders 64 at that end abut the inner shoulder of such ribs.

It will be apparent that, since sockets 52 are of sub stantial length and are reinforced to rigidify them against bending, and since the connecting members 54 are each rigid, the connected panels will have their surfaces lie and remain in a common plane even under pressure exerted at their joined ends. It will also be apparent that the ends of the connecting members will be held in position against any inadvertent displacement from their sockets and will be displaceable only upon a positive and direct pulling force applied in a direction parallel to their longitudinal axes, specifically for the purpose of separating the adjacent panels from one another.

This completes the description of the modular units of the present invention, the method of their fabrication and the method and means by which they may be assembled into a knockdown structure. It will be readily apparent that the modular units or panels of the present invention may be easily and economically produced; that they may be formed in various sizes and shapes; that they may be readily standardized for assembly by a common and uniform connecting means which is invisible in the assembled structure and may be applied without any processing of the finished units or panels and without the use of any tools. It will also be apparent that structures assembled from such units are strong, sturdy and rigid and will support any weight that they may be reasonably subjected to, without separating or coming apart and may, yet, be readily and easily disassembled and separated from one another, likewise without the use of any tools, and that the disassembled units are fit and capable of being reassembled into the same or other structures.

It will be further apparent that the modular units of the present invention possess the same advantages of ease, facility and compactness for storage and for shipping that is common to all modular units and that no training or skill are requires for their assembly.

It will be further apparent that numerous modifications or variations may be made in the modular units of the present invention and the structures assembled with them, by anyone skilled in the art, in accordance with the principles of the invention hereinabove set forth and without the exercise of any inventive ingenuity.

What I claim is:

1. In an interlocking furniture system:

a pair of modular units, each modular unit including a substantially flat end face and having at least two substantially identical elongated sockets of a predetermined interior cross-section protruding inwardly from the end face thereof, each socket terminating in an inwardly directed circumferentiallyoriented rib, the two sockets in one unit being alignable with the two sockets in the other unit to provide two pair of aligned sockets; a pair of substantially identical coupling rods, each rod having a portion of a first cross-section, each rod being longer than the length of a pair of aligned sockets and each rod terminating in end segments of a reduced, second cross-section thereby providing a shoulder; pair of resilient rings carried on each rod, one on each segment, means for retaining the rings on the end segments, each ring being spaced from an adjacent shoulder to provide an annular gap, each ring having an exterior dimension substantially equal to the exterior dimension of the first cross-section of the rod and each ring being sized to fit into and pass along the interior of a socket; each rod being longitudinally insertable into and being removably lockable with a pair of aligned sockets, with the rings being compressable to pass by the ribs, further longitudinal movement of a rod into a socket being prevented by abuttment of the shoulder with a rib, and the rod being removably captured in the socket by the rib being seated in and substantially filling the gap.

2. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 1, wherein the rib is captured in the gap by abuttment between the ring on one side and the shoulder on the other side.

3. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 1, wherein the first cross-section of each rod mates within the interior cross-section of the sockets.

4. In an interlocking furniture system according to.

claim 3, wherein the first and second cross-sections of each rod and the cross-section of each socket are circular.

5. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 3, wherein the first cross-section of each rod is constant and extends between the end segments of each rod.

6. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 1, wherein said means for retaining the rings on the end segments includes a circumferential groove formed on each end segment of the rod, and wherein each ring sits in a respective one of the circumferential grooves.

7. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 1, wherein the two sockets of a modular unit are disposed at the opposite ends of an end face and are directed inwardly from the end face.

8. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the end faces includes at least one projection extending outwardly from the end face for abutting the end face of the other modular unit to provide a narrow space between the end faces of the units.

9. In an interlocking furniture system according to claim 8, wherein each end face includes two projections, each projection disposed adjacent a socket.

10. In an interlocking furniture system:

a modular unit including a substantially flat end face and a pair of substantially identical elongated sockets of a predetermined interior cross-section disposed at opposite ends of the end face and directed inwardly therefrom, each socket terminating in an inwardly directed circumferentially-oriented rib;

of the first cross-section of the rod and being sized to fit into and pass along the interior of a socket;

each rod being longitudinally insertable into and being removably lockable with a socket, with the ring being compressable to pass by the rib, further longitudinal movement of the rod into the socket being prevented by abuttment of the shoulder with the rib, and the rod being removably captured in the socket by the rib sitting in and substantially filling the gap.

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US2582553 *Aug 17, 1949Jan 15, 1952Ferdinand Furniture Company InSectional toy furniture
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US3024066 *Aug 28, 1959Mar 6, 1962Brunswick CorpLeg structure for seating
US3563624 *Jul 1, 1969Feb 16, 1971James Daniel SticeFamily entertainment center
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3919950 *Jun 17, 1974Nov 18, 1975Pbr CoContinuous modular shelving system
US4022504 *Mar 15, 1976May 10, 1977Illinois Tool Works Inc.Latch receptacle
US4095769 *Oct 2, 1975Jun 20, 1978Bruggemann & Brand KgFreight pallet
US4110052 *Jun 30, 1975Aug 29, 1978Beylerian LimitedMultiple element for forming various structures when connected to box-form panels for furniture or the like
US4158335 *May 9, 1977Jun 19, 1979Patricia BelcastroApparatus to join table tops together
US4474493 *Sep 9, 1982Oct 2, 1984Modular Systems, Inc.Dowel fastener and joints including same
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US5289784 *Feb 25, 1992Mar 1, 1994Walter WaibelTable base
US5318260 *Oct 19, 1992Jun 7, 1994Sunbeam CorporationTable leg brace assembly
US5360263 *May 19, 1993Nov 1, 1994Brastemp S.A.Modular self-locking panel
US5906035 *Nov 27, 1996May 25, 1999Atkins; William D.For housing equipment to provide space for housing additional equipment
US5993320 *Mar 5, 1998Nov 30, 1999Stafast Products Inc.Tee nut and method of manufacture
US5997112 *Sep 2, 1997Dec 7, 1999Abex Display SystemsMultipurpose storage case and display cabinet
US6095738 *Jul 11, 1997Aug 1, 2000Stafast Products, Inc.Tee nut and method of manufacture
US6536147Apr 24, 2000Mar 25, 2003Skyline Displays, Inc.Panel display system with wire management
US6598542May 14, 2001Jul 29, 2003Berco Industries, Inc.Interconnectable table system
US6951283Oct 1, 2002Oct 4, 2005Skyline Displays, Inc.Storage and transport system for collapsible tradeshow displays
US6991397Nov 7, 2003Jan 31, 2006Modular Systems, Inc.Dowel fastener and joints including same
US7434877 *Sep 23, 2005Oct 14, 2008American Seating CompanyTransportation seating system
US7472951Jan 31, 2008Jan 6, 2009American Seating CompanyTransportation seating system
US7717510Oct 6, 2008May 18, 2010American Seating CompanyTransportation seating system
US8162396 *Feb 17, 2010Apr 24, 2012Edwards Michelle MModular, multiple-seat chair
US20120103235 *Jan 10, 2012May 3, 2012Regency Seating, Inc.Modular conference table
US20130063013 *Sep 13, 2011Mar 14, 2013Shun-Teng ChenCombination Drawer with Adjustable Dividing Function
Classifications
U.S. Classification108/64, 312/111, 108/158.11, 411/517, 297/248
International ClassificationA47B87/00, A47B85/00, F16B12/24, F16B12/38, A47C4/02, A47B96/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47C4/02, F16B12/24, A47B85/00, A47B96/00, A47C4/03
European ClassificationA47C4/03, A47B96/00, F16B12/24, A47B85/00, A47C4/02