US 3841042 A
A modular panel assembly for setting up partitioning walls and the like includes a column having a plurality of internal splines that is arranged to be engaged by one or more channel members having spaced series of external splines thereon arranged to be received within the internal splines of the column. A portion of the column is relieved to accommodate alignment of the external splines on the channel with internal splines on the column whereupon radial engagement followed by relatively short sliding movement between the two provides for completely rigid engagement between the channel member and the column, the engagement being sufficient to completely resist bending forces between the channel member and the column.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
[451 Oct. 15,1974
[ PANEL LOCKING DEVICES  Inventor: Burton L. Siegal, Skokie, Ill.
 Assignee: Tiffany Industries, Inc, Maryland Heights, Mo.
 Filed: Mar. 13, 1973 ml gt l. No.: 340,908
 U.S. Cl 52/239, 52/282, 52/495, 52/738, 248/224  int. Cl A47g 5/00  Field of Search 52/241, 239, 238, 282, 52/738; 211/177; 160/135, 351; 248/221, 125, 224
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,187,408 1/1940 Thumm 52/239 3,160,249 12/1964 Pavleck'a 52/586 3,462,110 8/1969 Cheslock 52/738 3,570,200 3/1971 Ritner 52/122 3,733,759 5/1973 Schulte 52/122 3,768,222 10/1973 Birum 52/239 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,311,348 10/1962 France 52/239 Primary Examiner-John E. Murtagh Attorney, Agent, or FirmHill, Gross, Simpson, Van Santen, Steadman, Chiara & Simpson [5 7 ABSTRACT A modular panel assembly for setting up partitioning walls and the like includes a column having a plurality of internal splines that is arranged to be engaged by one or more channel members having spaced series of external splines thereon arranged to be received within the internal splines of the column. A portion of the column is relieved to accommodate alignment of the external splines on the channel with internal splines on the column whereupon radial engagement followed by relatively short sliding movement between the two provides for completely rigid engagement between the channel member and the column, the engagement being sufficient to completely resist bending forces between the channel member and the column.
6 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures 1 PANEL LOCKING DEVICES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION l. Field Of The Invention This invention is in the field of rapidly engagable and disengagable modular panel assemblies used, for example, in partitioning off office space and includes a central column member having a plurality of internal splines arranged about the periphery thereof, the
splines being engagable with external splines provided onla plurality of partitioning members to which are secured channel members having external splines arranged to be received in the internal splines of the column periphery.
2. Description Of The Prior Art Some modular panel systems have been proposed in the prior art which provide inter-panel engagement by means of a piano hinge-type structure but such structures have been found to be insufficiently stable against relative movement between the panels to be satisfactory.
Still other modular type systems have been proposed which require elaborate and expensive columnar sections which are frequently difficult to engage and disengage. For any of these reasons, such modular panel systems have not received any significant acceptance in the art.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an improved modular panel system which completely eliminates the hinge effect and provides for rapid engagement and disengagement of the panels with a centrally disposed column. The engagement is made by means of internal and external splines in a channel member affixed to the panel and the column itself. Engagement between the column and the channel member is facilitated by providing a relieved area in the column where the splines are cut back so that the splined area of the channel member can be engaged with the relieved area and then the two can be locked against movememt by radially engaging the two and then sliding the channel member a short distance relative to the column, causing interengagement between the external and internal splines. The geometry of the splined areas is such as to enable a plurality of panels to be locked to a single column, even at various angular relationships. I
The modular panel assembly of the present invention also includes a hollow bottom structure which is releasably secured to the panel and which carries electrical outlets and the like. Space is also provided to serve as a conduit for telephone lines, intercom lines, and the like.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be readily apparent from the following de scription of certain preferred embodiments thereof, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, although variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the disclosure, and in which:
. FIG. 1 is a fragmentary view in perspective of a partitioning system employing the improved modular panel assemblies of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a view in elevation of a column to which one of the panel structures has already been secured, and another is in the process of being secured thereto;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially along the line IIIIII of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a plan view of the bottom-closure for one of the panels;
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of the bottom structure of one of the panels, showing the manner in which the bottom closure is releasably secured to the panel;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a modified form of the present invention;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a still further modified form of the invention; and
FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of a plurality of interengaged panels showing the electrical wiring extending therebetween.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In FIG. 1 reference numerals l0 and 11 indicate generally column structures of the type which are suitable for use with the present invention. A panel assembly 12 is shown engaged with the column 10, and a pair of panels 13 and 14 are shown engaged with the column 10 at right angles to the panel 12. The opposite end of the panel 14 is engaged with the column 11 and another panel is likewise engaged with the column 1 1. It should be understood, of course, that the columns 10 and 11 can be of any desired height and the various panels can be of different widths depending upon the type of partitioning to be effected. Each of the panels has a removable bottom closure 12a, 13a, 14a and 15a, respectively, in which are located one or more electrical outlets 16. A more detailed description of the bottom closures will be found in a succeeding portion of the specification.
Referring specifically now to FIGS. 2 and 3, it will be noted that the column 10 has a splined portion 17 extending over a major portion of its length and a relieved area 18 extends fora few inches or so above a splined bottom portion 19. A disc 20 is rigidly secured to the bottom of the splined portion 19. A foot 21 is threadedly engaged within the disc 20 to permit vertical adnated panel including outer plies 13b and Be with a honeycomb type reinforcement 13d therebetween. It should be evident, of course, that other types of building-materials can be used such as plywood or various types of wallboard. Secured to the outer marginal edge of each panel 13 is a channel member22 having a configuration best illustrated in FIG. 3 of the drawings. The channel member 22 includes a flat web portion 23 which is securedto the panel 13 by means of screws 24 or the like. Marginal flange portions 25 and 26 are arranged to be tightly received against the marginal ends of the plies 13b and 130. A medial transverse web portion 27 connects the web portion 23 with an outer web portion 28, thereby providinga pair of grooves 29 and 30 which can be used to position shelf brackets vertically along the extent of the panel. A specially designed shelf bracket for use in this type of-groove arrangement I is the subject of a separate patent application.
Similarly, the panel 14 is provided with a channel member 31 having a flat central web portion 32 secured to the panel 14 by means of screws 33 or the like. Marginal flange portions 34 and 35 are seated securely against the marginal edges of the plies 14b and 14c. A medial transverse web portion 36 connects the flat web portion 32 to an outer web portion 37 upon which a pair of external splines 38 and 39 are located. The external splines 38 and 39 are arranged to be received within internal splines 40 provided about the periphery of the column 10. As best seen in FIG. 3, the external splines 38 and 39 are angularly inclined so as to extend substantially along a radius of the column 10. The splines 38 and 39 have trapezoidal engaging portions 41 and 42, respectively, which are proportioned to be received within the internal splines 40 in sliding relationship after initial radial engagement with the truncated splines in the relieved area 18. The splines 40 are shaped complementarily to the trapezoidal portions 41 and 42 to acommodate such sliding movement. The splines 40 are provided by shaping the periphery of the column 10 with convergingly inclined surfaces 43 and 44 which terminate in substantially trapezoidal rib portions 45, the width of the trapezoidal portions 45 being at least as great as the spacing between adjacent inclined surfaces 43 and 44 which define the internal splines.
As also illustrated in FIG. 3, in the relieved area 18, the trapezoidal portions 45 are cut away, leaving only the convergingly inclined surfaces 43 and 44 in that area.
Returning to FIG. 2, it will be seen that the lower splines 38 and 39 extend along the channel member for a distance just slightly less than the extent of the relieved area 18 so that the trapezoidal portions 41 and 42 are readily received in the relieved area. A second set of external splines 46 and 47 are positioned along the channel member by a distance at least as great as the vertical extent of the splined portion 17. Consequently, when the splines 38 and 39 are positioned within the relieved area 18, the external splines 46 and 47 will be positioned just above the top of the column 10. Then, moving the panel 14 downwardly with respect to the column 10 causes engagement of the splines 38 and 39 with the internal splines 40 of the column l behind the trapezoidal ribs 45. Sliding movement of the panel with respect to the column 10 is continued until the panel strikes an abutment means consisting of the disc 20 whereupon the panel is securely locked to the column 10. In a particular embodiment illustratedin FIG. 3, the splines 38 and 39 are engaged with the internal splines 40 leaving an intermediate internal spline vacant. This positioning of the splined engagement further reduces any hinging effect so that torsional forces are adequately resisted.
A plastic tap 48 can be inserted into the end of the column 10 for decorative purposes.
Alternative configurations for the column and channel member structure are shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. In FIG. 6 there is illustrated a channel member 49 having a flat web portion 50 which is arranged to be received against the end of the panel by means of a barbed end portion 51. A medial web portion 52 connects the web portion 50 to an outer web portion 53 which has a trapezoidally formed single spline 54 thereon. Apair of spaced feet 55 and 56 are positioned to engage spaced trapezoidal ribs 45 on the column 10. A provision of the legs 55 and 56 in combination with the external spline 54 serves to prevent hinging movement of the column relative to the channel 49.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7, there is provided an arcuately faced flange member 57 on which there is formed an arcuate spline 58. The column in this embodiment of the invention includes a central cylindrical portion 59 from which arcuate ribs 60 extend by means of radially extending ribs 61. The spline 58 is proportioned to be received in the spaces between the arcuate ribs 60 in sliding engagement between the outer periphery of the central cylindrical section 59 and the inner periphery of the arcuate ribs 60 as shown in FIG. 7.
The panel assemblies of the present invention also provide convenient means for incorporating electrical outlets and wiring conduits into the partitioning system. As illustrated best in FIGS. 4 and 5, a base plate 63 having polygonal marginal end. portions 64 and 65 and secured to one of the panels is received in slidable relationship within ways'66 and 67 formed in a hollow base portion 68. x
As illustrated in FIG. 4, the hollow base portion 68 terminates in a pair of opposed leg portions 69 and 70 which are fastened to one of the channel members 22 on the panel sections. Inwardly of the legs 69 and 70 is a cover plate 71 in which the electrical wiring is included. Extending outwardly from this enclosure is a three pronged male electrical plug 72 which permits interconnection between adjacent panels. A pair of electrical outlets 73 and 74 are shown extending into thepartitionedareas. The cover plate 71 is spaced from the base plate 63 by a space 75 which forms a convenient conduit for enclosing telephone wiring, intercom wiring and the like so that they are not exposed to the exterior of the panel.
One suitable means for interconnecting the various panels electrically is shown in FIG. 8. Asindicated in that Figure, the central column 10 is surrounded by four panel assemblies 75, 76, 77 and 78 at right angles to each other, although other angular configurations The panel assemblies of the present invention are easy to assemble and disassemble as it is merely necessary to raise the panel by the height of the lower spline section 19 as illustrated in FIG. 2, which usually is only a matter of a few inches or so. Then, when the external splines of the channel members areengaged with the internal splines of the column, asecure, torsion resistant engagement is achieved. It should also be noted that the geometry of the column and the panel members is such as to facilitate production from extruded aluminum tubing and the like, so that the panel assemblies canbe built at a reasonable cost.
It should be evident that various modifications can be made to the described embodiments without departing from the scope of the present invention.
I claim as my invention:
1. A modular panel assembly comprising a column having a plurality of internal splines extending vertically along the periphery thereof, a channel member having a pair of vertically spaced external splines thereon located in proximity to the top and bottom thereof and arranged to be received within said internal splines to accommodate sliding movement but prohibit disengagement between said column and said channel member, said column having a relieved portion therein in close proximity to the bottom thereof wherein one of said external splines may be radially received for accommodating engagement between said external and internal splines upon relative vertical movement therebetween, and abutment means on said column limiting the extent of sliding movement between said column and said channel member.
2. The panel assembly of claim 1 in which said internal splines in cross-section include surfaces which are convergingly inclined from the periphery of said col-.
umn and terminate in substantially trapezoidal rib portions which are at least as wideas the distance between said surfaces measured at said periphery.
3. The panel assembly of claim 2 in which said external splines consist of two splines which are inwardly inclined to engage two circumferentially spaced internal 6. The panel assembly of claim 1 in which said abutment means consists of a disc rigidly secured to the base of said column.