US 3875711 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Apr. 8, 1975 United States Patent [1 1 Palmer MODULAR DISPLAY FRAME STRUCTURE Inventor: Evan Palmer9 144524 27th Ave.. Primary E.\'aminerPrice C. Faw, Jr.
Flushing. N.Y. 11354 Sept. 6, 1974 Appl. No.: 503,630
 ABSTRACT A modular frame assembly to which panels are attach-  Filed:
able to create partitions for dividing a large open area  US. Cl.
Field of Search shaped element whose extremities have L-shaped pieces swiveled thereon which in the flat state of the end component form a complementary U completing an O-form. When the pieces of the end components lR 05 53W e 7 mm 12 am 6 Q N .26 55 6 4 6 2 8 5 3 3 2 5 8 5  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS are rotated to assume positions at right angles to the U-shaped elements, they define horizontally-extending legs which are connectable to the arms of the center 160/135 component to Create a frec'standing frame structure Caligiuri 211/182 X hich may be linked to like structures.
Markson......................... 160/135 X 8 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures MODULAR DISPLAY FRAME STRUCTURE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to modular frame structures, and more particularly to a structural assembly composed ofa set of modular components which all lie flat when disassembled and which define a freestanding display frame when erected.
Flexibility, and versatility are the hallmarks of modern interior architectural design, for when an interior space is intended for diversified purposes, one must be able to readily transform this space from an existing configuration to another form adapted to a new use. It is for this reason that buildings designed to present trade shows. exhibitions and other types of displays often make use of detachable interior walls that may be set up in various patterns to divide an available space into temporary sub-chambers or compartments which meet the needs of the moment.
In public buildings, exhibition halls, department stores and banking establishments having large unbroken floor areas, it is often necessary, in order to make a special presentation, to segregate a particular zone of the available space. One could, of course, by means of temporary partitions, erect a special enclosure for this purpose, but this involves relatively expensive carpentry and may be disruptive to existing activity being carried out on the floor.
Attempts have heretofore been made to solve this problem by providing structural modules or building blocks capable of being interconnected to define various structural forms. But such modules, even though relatively heavy and cumbersome, have been lacking both in strength and flexibility, so that only a limited number of forms could be created.
Moreover, in evaluating the usefulness of a modular structure, one must not only take into account the ability of the structure to create a variety of walls and partitions. but it is also important to consider storage and transportation factors. If the modular structure, when disassembled, is bulky and has high space requirements, this adds substantially to the cost of storing the structure when not in use and to the expense of transporting the structure to an exhibition hall or other site. Because existing modular structures do not break down into flat, compact pieces, they cannot be stored and transported at low cost.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In view of the foregoing it is the main object of this invention to provide a modular frame structure to which panels are readily attachable to create freestanding partitions for dividing a large exhibition area into cubicles, alcoves and other sub-chambers.
More particularly, it is an object of this invention to provide a basic modular frame assembly composed of a set of modular components which all lie flat when disassembled to facilitate storage and transportation thereof.
A significant feature of this invention resides in the fact that the basic frame structure in combination with attached panels creates a cubicle formed by a main wall and end walls extending at right angles thereto, the end walls extending in the same or opposite directions, depending on how the components are assembled.
Also, an object of the invention is to provide a set of modular components which together form a basic modular frame structure, the components all being formed of light-weight, highstrength tubing whereby the components may be handled and carried without difficulty.
An important advantage of the invention is that it lends itself to very rapid assembly without the need for special tools or equipment, and that the resultant frame structure even though movable and not in any way anchored to the floor, the ceiling or the permanent walls of the area in which it is installed, is nevertheless stable, safe and pleasing in appearance.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a coupler adapted to attach panels to the structural frame and also suitable for interlinking two or more structural frames in end-to-end or in vertically-stacked relation to produce a large variety of structural patterns.
Briefly stated, these objects are attained in a basic modular frame structure composed of at least one I- shaped center component having upper and lower pairs of outstretched arms which cooperate with a pair of end components each formed by a U-shaped element whose extremities have L-shaped pieces pivoted thereto which in the flat state have a complementary U-shaped form. When the pieces of the end components are rotated to assume positions at right angles to the U-shaped elements, the define legs which are connectable to the arms of the center component to create a free-standing frame structure to which wall panels may be attached.
OUTLINE OF THE DRAWINGS For a better understanding of the invention as well as other objects and further features thereof, reference is made to the following detailed description to be read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of the components of a modular frame assembly in accordance with the invention, the components being shown in the flat or collapsed state;
FIG. 2 shows a detail of the end components of the assembly;
FIG. 3 illustrates the manner in which the components of the assembly are prepared for erection;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an erected assembly in one mode thereof;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view illustrating how a doublewalled panel is attached to the structural frame;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an erected assembly in another mode thereof;
FIG. 7 illustrates an erected assembly in conjunction with curved panels that define both the main and end display walls;
FIG. 8 illustrates how a group of structural frames in accordance with the invention may be linked together by couplers;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the coupler;
FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the coupler and a panel attached thereto; and
FIG. 11 shows a frame assembly having an additional center component.
DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring now to FIG. 1, a basic modular structural frame assembly in accordance with the invention is shown, the assembly being composed of a center component, generally designated as CC and a pair of end components EC, and EC All of these components are preferably fabricated of metal piping such as aluminum or stainless steel, although in practice, one may also use synthetic plastic tubing of high strength.
Center component CC has an I formation constituted by a center post having a pair oflateral arms 11 and 12 extending from opposite sides of the upper end thereof and a like pair of arms 13 and 14 extending from the lower end thereof. Thus the center component is provided with upper and lower pairs of outstretched arms. Projecting axially from these arms are connector pins 11a, 12a, 13a and 1401, respectively. All elements of the center component lie in the same plane, hence this component may be laid flat for purposes of storage and transportation. Center component CC is raised when in use so that center post 10 is then vertical.
End components EC, and EC when the structure is disassembled, also lie flat to assume a generally rectangular form as shown in FIG. 1. Each end component is constituted by a U-shaped element 15 whose upper and lower arms have L-shaped pieces 16 and 17, swiveled thereto which in the flat state form a complementary U and complete an O-form. Pieces l6 and 17 may be rotated relative to the branches of the U-shaped element 15. As shown in FIG. 2, in regard to piece 16, the pivotal connection to element 15 may be effected by plugs 15A and 16A forced into the end of a branch of tubular element 15 and the end of piece 16 respectively, the plugs being joined by a pivot pin 18.
When in the flat state, the L-shaped pieces 16 and 17 of the end components together assume a U-formation which complements the U-form of element 15, but when the L-shaped pieces 16 and 17 are rotated to assume positions at right angles to element 15, as shown in FIG. 3, they then 'define two pairs of legs which are joinable to the arms 11 to 14 of the center component. Connector pins 11A and 14A of the center component arms enter into the hollow legs of the end components EC, and EC: with a snug fit, or are latched therein by suitable retractable detent means (not shown).
Thus, when end components EC, and EC are joined to center component CC in the manner shown in FIG. 4, the resultant frame structure is free-standing in that the end components act as right-angle brackets with respect to the center component. It then becomes possible to attach panels 19 and 20 to the frame structure to form a main wall serving as a partition and as a display surface onto which posters and other display objects may be applied.
Panels 19 and 20 are of double-walled construction, each panel as shown in FIG. 5 having parallel walls 19A and 19B and a spacer 21 sandwiched therebetween, the upper and lower ends of the spacer falling short of the wall to define sockets for accommmodating the horizontally-extending parallel pipes of the frame structure. The upper socket is deeper than the lower socket so that the panel may be elevated to align the lower socket with the lower pipe. Thus, to install the double-walled panels, it is only necessary to insert them between the parallel pipes of the structure. Similar double-walled panels may be installed in the end portions of the frame structure to provide end walls closing in the alcove formed thereby.
In the arrangement shown in FIG. 4, the frame structure is assembled so that the right angle end portions thereof both extend in the same direction. But a more stable, free-standing arrangement may be provided by assembling the center component with the end components so that the resultant right angle portions extend in opposite directions as illustrated in FIG. 6.
In FIG. 6 it will be seen that two panels 22 and 23 are attached to the frame structure by means of doubleended couplers 24, two of the couplers serving to connect the upper edge of each panel to the upper bar of the frame and two to the lower bar.
As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, each double-ended coupler 24 is composed of a pair of complementary jaws 24A and 248. Each jaw is provided with a pair of like arcuate recesses such that when the jaws are joined together by means of a removable bolt 25, the recesses define a pair of mouths 26 and 27 which are dimensioned to receive and clamp by cylindrical pipes of the frame, such as pipe 11 shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. In order to join a pipe to a panel, an elastomeric insert plug 28 is provided which fits into and is gripped by a mouth of the coupler, the plug having a slot 29 to accommodate the edge of the panel.
Thus coupler 24, without the plug, is adapted to join two frame pipes together, and thereby to interconnect adjacent frame structures, and with the plug inserted therein, to join a panel to a pipe. The entire assembly package is constituted by the frame components, the panels and the couplers all of which may be housed in a shallow box suitable for shipment.
As illustrated in FIG. 7, instead of having separate flat panels to define the main and side walls of the assembly, one may use curved panels 30 and 31 which are held to the bars of the frame structure by couplers 24 which are so placed as to join all sides of the curved panels to the frame. In practice instead of panels of wood or metal to form the walls of the partition, one may use canvas or other textile material for this purpose.
FIG. 8 shows one of the many design possibilities inherent in a frame structure in accordance with the invention. Not only is each of the basic modules capable of being set up so that the end components lie in the same or in opposite directions, but it is also possible to interconnect the modules by means of couplers 24 so that the modules are stacked one above the other to increase the height of the partition. The modules may also be interconnected in end-to-end relation to increase the length of the partition.
Thus module M, in FIG. 8 is connected in end-to-end relation to module M and above these modules and attached thereto are modules M and M While in FIG. 8, the panels attached to the frames are all curved, in practice the panel arrangement may be planar, as in FIG. 4. It will be appreciated that because the basic module may be erected with its end components in the same or in opposite directions, because the end components of adjacent modules may be joined together in face-to-face relation, in opposition or in angular relationship, and because the modules may be interconnected vertically or horizontally, the range of possible structural configurations is very broad, and one may create interior environments which are of relatively simple design or of great complexity.
In the modules previously described, the end components EC, and EC are united to a single center component CC. In order to produce longer structural frames, one may provide two or more serially-connected center components such as center components CC, and CC shown in FIG. 11.
While there has been shown and described preferred embodiments in accordance with the invention, it will be appreciated that many changes and modifications may be made therein without, however, departing from the essential spirit thereof.
For example one may use coupler 24 not merely to interconnect adjoining pipes or to attach panels to the pipes but also to mount light fixtures and other appliances on the pipes. For this purpose the light fixture, loud speaker or other appliance is secured to the coupler by means of a suitable bracket having a bar component which is clamped between one pair of jaws of the coupler, the other pair of jaws being clamped on the frame pipe. The light fixture itself may be swiveled on the bracket by means of a gimbal so that one may orient the light fixture as desired.
1. A modular frame assembly to which panels are attachable to create free-standing partitions, said assembly comprising:
A. at least one I-shaped center component having upper and lower pairs of outstretched arms, and
B. a pair of end components each constituted by a U shaped element whose extremities have L-shaped pieces swiveled thereon which in the flat state of the end component form a complementary U, the pieces of each end component being rotatable to assume positions at right angles to the U-shaped e]- ement to define horizontally extending legs which are connectable to upper and lower arms of the center component.
2. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein said components are all formed of metal piping.
3. An assembly as set forth in claim 2, wherein said arms are provided with connecting pins receivable in the legs of the end components.
4. An assembly as set forth in claim 2, wherein said panels are of double-walled construction and are provided at the upper and lower ends thereof with sockets to accommodate the piping of the frame.
5. An assembly as set forth in claim 2, further including couplers to attach said panels to said frame and to attach adjacent frames to each other, each coupler being formed by a pair of interconnectable jaw pieces defining a pair of mouths dimensioned to accept and clamp said piping or a plug of resilient material having a slot to receive an edge of the panel.
6. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein the pieces of said end components are rotated to assume positions in the same direction.
7. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein the pieces of said end components are rotated to assume positions in opposite directions.
8. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein said panels are curved to form with said center component a main wall and to form end walls with said end compo-