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Publication numberUS3895670 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 22, 1975
Filing dateSep 10, 1973
Priority dateJan 3, 1972
Publication numberUS 3895670 A, US 3895670A, US-A-3895670, US3895670 A, US3895670A
InventorsBales Emmett R, Estes Jr Clarence F
Original AssigneeLaminite Plastics Mfg Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Space divider
US 3895670 A
A movable or portable space divider includes two or more panels connected at a common center post. A locking hinge arrangement, including a plug received in the top of the post with an annular series of teeth and a hinge received on the panel edge with teeth for mating engagement with the plug defines preselected angular positions of the panels with respect to the post. A cap screw is provided for locking the hinge and cap elements together in selected positions. A trim strip for the panels has inwardly-directed edge flanges which accommodate varying widths of covering materials which may be used on the panels. The panel edge frames are provided with a vertically-spaced series of openings for supporting vertically-adjustable accessories on the panels.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Bales et al.

[ 1 'SPACE DlVIDER [751 Inventors: Emmett R. Bales; Clarence F. Estes,

.lr., both of North Manchester, Ind.

[73 Assignee: Laminite Plastics Mfg. Corporation,

- Morristown, Tenn.

22']- Filed: Sept. 10, 1973 211 App]. 190.; 395,926

1 Related U.S. Application Data Continuation of Set. No. 214,917, Jan. 3, 1972,


[ 2], U.S. Cl 160/135; 160/351 [51] fInt. Cl. A47g 5/00 [58] ..Field of Search 160/135, 351, 129; 5 52/238-240, 122, 70, 495, 36, 241, 242

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,011,528 8/1935 Seay 160/129 3,559,352 2/1971 Magnuson.. 52/36 3,592,289 7/1971 Aysta 160/351 3,605,851 9/1971 Miles et al. 160/135 3,690,365 9/1972 Thompson 160/135 1111 3,895,670 1451 July 22, 1975 3,694,975 10/1972 P01101 52/36 3,744,199 7/1973 Navarre 52/241 3,809,142 571974 Bleeker 160/135 Primary Exam'ir'zef-Peter M. Caun Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Silverman & Cass, Ltd.

[57] ABSTRACT A movable orportable space divider includes two or more panelswo'hriected at a common center post. A locking hinge arrangement, including a plug received I in the top ofth'e'post with an annular series of teeth trim strip for the panels has inwardly-directed edge flanges which accommodate varying widths of covering materials which may be used on the panels. The panel edge frames are provided with a verticallyspaced seriesof openings for supporting verticallyadjustable accessories on the panels.

2 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures I03 I04 92 93 a 1 l 30 il I a E 73 75 x /5 I00 I27 PATENTEDJuL 22 I915 Pr"- SHLLI i 70 gm;

FIG-7 SPACE DIVIDER This application is a continuation of application Ser.

No; 214,917 filed Jan. 3, I972, now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Movable space dividers are useful for separating and isolating work areas or the like, such as for dividing large open-space rooms into smaller work areas. as in open-space classrooms, typing pool areas, offices and the like. In such space dividers, two or more-panels are joined at a common center post. Frequently, thepanels are set at an angle to each other, and along with the center post, are supported on rollers or glides so that the space dividercan be moved or easily repositioned.

In prior space dividers of the general type described, the panels are generally free to pivot on the center post, and when the panels are pulled across the floor, there is a-tendency of one panel to track'or move into a straight line behind the other, and the divider assembly will tend to fall over, thus presenting a hazard.

Manufacturers of space dividers have found it desirable ,to provide'a wide variety of surface treatments on the panels. In this manner, the panels can be decorative as well as functionally useful and can be used to accent a particular decorating decor. The finishing materials may thus comprise decorative vinyls, metal sheet-like writing surfaces, cloth such as velour, burlap and even accoustical carpeting. It is thus necessary to provide a panel framing arrangement by means of which such widely differing panel surfacingl materials can be accommodated.

The U.S. Patent of Ma'gnuson, U.S. Pat. No. 3,559,352 of 1971, shows a divider inwhich individual panels are supported on a center post by hinges which are received in vertically adjustable collars on the post.

There is no provision shown for locking the panels into predetermined angular relation with respect to the center post nor is any provision disclosed for accommodating-various finish materials on the. panels themselves. Mohr et'al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,248,829 of 1966, discloses another form of a space divider in which one end of the panel is supported on wall brackets while the other end is supported on a walking post; This arrangement has relatively limited versatility.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The presentinvention is directed to an improved panel-type space divider in which a positive panel angular locking arrangement is provided to assure that an angular adjustment of the panels with respect to the post is maintained even when the space divider is pulled across the floor from one position to another. The panels themselves I are formed with a peripheral framing which is adapted directly to support interchangeable accessories such as shelving and the like at vertically adjustable positions. The framing further provides a retainer for an elastic flexible trim member which is particularly adapted'to accommodate varying widths of paneled finishing material while providing a neat, attractive and finished appearance.

It is accordingly an important object-of this invention to provide space dividers in which two or more panels are associated with a common support post, provided with integral means for angularly locking the panels with respect to the post.

Another important object of the invention is the provision of a space divider panel which is particularly l adapted to be used with a wide variety of panel finishing materials. l a In one embodiment, an sion of a center post arrangement by which two panels of differing heights may be joined to a common post at an adjustable angular relation to each other and to the post. I I

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following descrip tion. the accompanying drawings and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a typical space divider assembly of this invention; FIG. 2 is an enlarged elevational view, partially. broken away and partially in section, of the divider assembly of FIG. I, also showing a slightly modified arrangement of a post for connecting a tall panel and a shorter panel;

FIG. 3 is panel end frames; I FIG. is a plan view, partially in section, of the divider upper connecting hinge and post;

FIG. 5 is,a partially broken-away elevational view of the space divider of FIG. 10, showing the upper hinge an exploded perspective view of one of the and locking assembly;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view showing the panel hingeandilocking arrangement;

FIG. 7 is an elevational view of the intermediate locking hinge; t E I I FIG. 8 is a topviewof the locking hinge of FIG. 7

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary section taken generally along the lines.9 9 of FIG. 11 showing the paneland one endframein assembly;

FIG. 10 is a section through the top panelframe taken generally along the lines 10410 of FIG. I l;

FIG. 11 is a section similar to FIG. 10 showing an alternate form of the trim strip; and I I 1 FIG. 12 is a partially broken-away perspective view showing a typical accessory (coat rack) in preassembling relation to the attachment apertures of a typical panel.

DESCRIPTION-OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, a freestanding space divider assembly made according to the present invention is illustrated as including a pair of panels 20 connected to a common support post assembly 22. The panels 20are preferably of identical construction, and may be made to any convenient width or height. Commonly, two or more panels 20 of the same height may be used to make up a typical space divider. However, on occasion, it may be desirable to couple a short panel 20a with a tall panel 20, and the slightly modified post assembly 2-2a illustrated in FIG. 2 is particularly adapted for this purpose. For example, the panel 20 may have a height of Y 72 inches while the panel 20a may have a height of 54 inches. Each of the panels may be made in various widths such as 30 inches, 36 inches and 48 inches, for example.

The individual panels 20 each comprise a center panel section and a surrounding metal frame of extruded aluminum. The center, panel section may comprise a wood (or honeycomb) core 25 (FIG. 9) between a pair of hard board sides 26 and 27. If sound absorption and/or sound transmission loss is desirable, the

important object is the provicore may include suitable material for-this purpose.

or other cloth or sheet material to provide'a desired appearance. Tedlar-clad vinyl may be used to provide a water and ink impervious writing surface. A slatefinish'ed steel sheeting may be used to provide a chalk surface. Thincarpet-like materialtwall carpeting) may be used to provide sound absorbing qualities.

Edge framing means for each of the panels 20 or 20a includes identical extruded top and bottom frames 32,

as shown in section in FIG. 10, and extruded vertical edge or side frames as shown in section in FIG. 9. Frames 32 and 35 are preferably formed of aluminum material and finished to any desired surface color. The

t'op'and bottom frames 32 have'awidth which is slightly greater than that of the panel and terminate with relatively short inwardly-turned end frames 33 and 34. The side fra'mes are also formed 'with'a width somewhat greater than that of the panel and terminate with .inwardly-direct'ed edge'flanges 36 and 37, as shown in FIG. 9. The peripheral frames 32 and 35 retain a panelencircling generally C-shaped trim strip 40. The strip is preferably formed of a flexible or resilient material. preferably an extruded semi-rigid plastic, and is formed with a pair of opposite inwardly-stressed or directed side flang'es 42 and 43. The strip 40 is proportimed to be received within or between the respective flanges of the frames 32 and 35, and the side flanges 42 i and 43 extend along the outerpanel surfaces a distance sornewh'at greater than the respective flanges of the framing so that a portion of the side flanges 42 and 43 are visible. Accordingly, the side flanges 42 and 43 of the strip 40 extend {a short distance over the outside surfaces of the respective panel coverings 30 and thus form a decorative edge trim to the panels. Since the trim flanges are flexible, they resiliently and automatically provide for small variations in the thickness of the panel core, the hard board sections 26 and 27 and in the facing or decorative covering 30, and thus close any gap which would otherwise exist between the side flanges of the framing 32 and 35 and the panel itself. The .,side frame members 35 include the means by which accessories may be attachedto either side of the .panels. Foi this purpose. the side frames'are formed witha pair of spaced-apart outwardlyextending webs 45and 46 which terminate in enlarged ends 48 (FIG. 9).. The w'ebs,45 and 46 are each formed with a series of vertically-spaced slots or openings 50,. as shown in -FIGS. 2, 3 and '10. The enlarged ends 48 form anentrance space (FIG. 9)'of rectangular configuration which provides stability for an accessory when attachment: is made in the slots 50. v

Theends 48 are further formed-with a pair of opposed slots 58 for the purpose of receiving an extruded strip or elongated barrier 60 therebetween. As shown in FIGS; 3 and 9, the barrier 60 is T-shaped in crosssectional configuration. The inwardly extending portion 62 forms. a: sight barrier so that light will not pass from .one side of the partition to the other through the unused or exposed slots 50. Further, the barrier 60 has the'secondary purpose of providing a neat and attractiveeovering when used on the exposed sides ofthe panels, i.e., the sides which are not associated witha post assembly 22, and conceals the screw attachments by which the side frame 35 is attached to the panel.

One ofthe important advantages of the present-invention resides in the connector means by which the panels 20 are connected to the post assembly 22 including provision for-locking the panels 20 into predetermined angular positioiis with respect to the postassembly.- so that when .the space divider .is moved the panels cannot track into coplanar position and fall over. The details of construction of a typical post assembly 22 are shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. In FIG. 2, the modified assembly 221! is shown for accommodating a second panel 20a, of shorter height and this assembly also; includes all of the structural details which are employed in a single unitary post used with a pair of panels 20 of the same height.

The post assembly includes a vertically elongated tubular postz which extends substantially the height of the panels. The post 70 is shown in FIG. 2 as being formed \vith'an upper section 700 and a lower section 7012. The lower ends-of each of the sections 70a and 7012, are closed by :molded plastic plugs 72. The plugs are each formed with a body portion which is tightly received within the end of the post 70 and with an annular flange portion 73 which has a diameter corresponding to the OD of the post and defines the extent to which the plug 72 is received within the post. When lower bolt 76 threaded into the plug 72 at the bottom 'end'of the post 70. The position of the threaded bolts 75 and 76 is maintained by lock nuts 77 on the inner ends thereof within the interior of the posts 70a or 70b.

The lower ends of the panels 20 and 20:: adjacent the post assembly 22 are provided with hinge members 80 which have vertical bodies bolted into the vertical edge of the associated panels by bolts 82. The width of the hinge members 80 is such that they are received in the space between the adjacent flanges 45 and 46 of the side frames 35, the bolts 82 extending through suitable openings formed throughtheframe'35 in the-panel.

The hinge 80 is formed with an outwardly and downwardly terminating end 84. The hinge ends 84 are received within an annular recess defined in a molded, cup-like plastic bottom retainer 85. The retainer 85 has axial tubular neck 86 threaded to receive the bolt 76 and is rotated tight against the asso'ciatedplug 72 defining a hinge clearance space 87. The lower end of the retainer is also threaded to receive a suitabl'e floor sup- 'port element such as the floor guide 88 shown in FIG.

2, a caster, or similar floor engaging element. The hinge ends 84 may pivot freely about the annular recess formed in the retainer 85 and may be removed simply by lifting out'through the space'87.

Locking hinge means 90 is employed to connect the panels 20 to the top of the post assembly 22 (FIGS.'4, 5 and 6). For this purpose, a top insert plug 92 is receivedin the top of eachof the post sections 70a and 70b. The plug 92 is similar to plug 72 in that it has a cylindrical body adapted to be tightly received within the JD of the post 70 and is similarly flanged at 93 to define the extent to which the plug may be inserted. Also, the plug 92 is" axially threaded to receive a bolt therein. Preferably, the plug 92 is formed of metal to provide sufficient strength. Theupper surface of the plug 92 is providedwith meansdefining an annular series of generally radiallyextending detentsin the form, of radial teeth 95, as shownfin FlG.r6.

the panel, as showii in FlG. 2. The 'bo dy 102 for'm's, in effect, a continua'tidn ofthe upper trim 3'2; lt is secured to the top ofthe p'an'elby'screws 103 and the position of the hinge 100 is "further maintained by apairgof protrusions 104whichiextend-into. recesses.formed in the panel top. t t

The hinge 100 has a downwardly extending-portion 106, and an inwardly-extending tapered portion 108 terminated in a short downwardly-extending arcuate lip 109 proportioned to be'received within a shallow recess 110 formed in the upper surface plug 92. The lower surface of the portion 108 of the hinge 100 inwardly of the lip 109 is formed with an arcuate series of serrations or teeth 112 which are proportioned to interfit with the teeth 95 on the upper surface of the plug 92. As shown in FIG. 6, two or more of the top hinges post assembly 22, and the angular stresses are transmitted from one hinge to the other through the plug 92.

A hand-manipulated retainer 115 incorporates a threaded bolt 116 which is received within the threaded opening of the plug 92 and has an integral neck 117 which may be screwed down on to the exposed upper surfaces of the hinges 100 to lock the hinge teeth and the plug teeth into a predetermined angular position.

When a short panel 200 is used in combination with a taller panel 20 as shown in FIG. 2, it is necessary to provide each panel with a locking hinge associated with a common plug 92 so that the angular stresses imposed from one panel to the other is taken up in the plug itself and is not transmitted through the plug to the post 70. For this purpose, the panel 20 is provided with a compact intermediate locking hinge 125 as shown in FIGS. 2, 7 and 8. The hinge 125 has a vertical lower section 126 which is proportioned to be received between the' flanges 45 of the frame 35 and has an upper outwardlyextending portion 127. The lower surface of the portion 127 has an arcuately arranged series of teeth 128, and terminates in a downwardly-extending lip 129. The configuration of the teeth 128 and the lip 129 is the same as the corresponding teeth 112 and lip 109 of the hinge 100. The hinge body is retained in the panel by.

a pair of screw fasteners 103. Accordingly, any bending moment of one panel with respect to the other is applied through the plug 92.

The operation of the invention is self-evident from the foregoing description. When it is desired to insert one or more panels on the post assembly 22, it is merely necessary to retract the retainer 115, the retracted position being defined by a nut 118 on the bolt 116. The upper and the lower hinge elements may then be lifted away from the respective plugs or inserted therein. When it is desired to change the angular position of the panels with respect to a post assembly, the retainer 115 may be retracted ashort distance which will allow the hinge teeth to separate from each other and move into .a different angularposition, which may then be retained by turning the retainer 115 down against the .upper surfaces of the respective hinges 100 or 25 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5.,

When the panels 20 are assembled to the post assembly 22, the flanges 48 of the side frames 35 form a close clearance with,the outer surface of the tube assembly 22 and prevent the passage oflightthereacross. The

portion 62 of the .strip. 60 .through the slots 50, Various accessories such as shelves. cabinets, drawprevents light passage ers and the like may be mounted on the end frames associated with the individual panels to provide various effects, such as writing areas, desk drawers, coat racks and combinations of accessory parts. An example of a typical accessory is illustrated in FIG. 12 in which a coat rack 130 is shown as having a width substantially corresponding to that of the panel 20. Hanger brackets 132 are formed at each end of the coat rack 120 and each has inwardly and downwardly depending fingers 134 which are prepositioned to be received simultaneously in two of the adjacent slots 50. Twin attaching fingers 134 are used with each of the brackets 132 to provide stability of the accessory on the panel.

FIG. 11 shown an alternate form of the trim strip 40a which is useful with covering materials 30:: of substantial thickness as compared to the materials 30. For example, the material 30:: may comprise thick woven materials, heavy felts, accoustical carpeting, tackboard or the like. In this embodiment, the trim 40a is provided with a downwardly and outwardly offset leg portion terminating in the inwardly-turned edges 42:: and 43a, the outwardly offset portion 140 providing clearance for the greater thickness of the material 30a.

It is accordingly believed that the present invention provides versatility in making up and using room dividers. The strip 40 or 40a permits the use of a wide variety of different coverings 30 without concern for slight differences in the overall thickness of the panel. The panels are readily attachable to and detachable from the post assemblies. Accessories are readily mounted onto the panels by engagement directly with the end frames of the panels, providing a high degree of structure strength.

While the forms of apparatus herein described constitute preferred embodiments of the invention, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to these precise forms of apparatus and that changes may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

l. A free-standing space divider in which a pair of panels are joined at a vertical post assembly and are adapted to be set at a plurality of predetermined angular relations with respect to each other so that the panels may be self-supporting without the need of stabilizing feet or the like, comprising a first rectangular panel and a second rectangular panel, a vertical tubular center post between said panels, each of said panels having an upper hinge and a lower hinge attached at one vertical edge. thereof, said post having an open upper end and an open lower end, an upper plug tightly fitted in and closing said post upper end and having an upper exposed radial surface, means on said surface defining a plurality of angularly arranged, radially-extending teeth-like projections, each of said upper'hinges having transversely extending portions adapted to be positioned in overlying. relation 'to said plug at the upper surface thereof. the lower surfaces of each of said upper hinges being formfed with corresponding teethlike projections whichare proportioned for interfitting engagement with selected ones of said plug projections.

to said panels andsaid post. a secondplug fitted in and closing said post lower end, means'associated with said second plug defining an annular recess in underlying relation to said post, and each of said lower hinges having axially extending portions adapted to be received in said recess providing pivotal support of said panels at the lower ends thereof about said post.

2.} The space'divider of claim 1 further comprising I said projections on said upper plug being formed in an yarlhular array defining with said upper plug surface an annular recessradially inwardly of said projections, and a lip formed on each of said upper hinge transverse portions proportioned to be received in said recessto prevent separating movement of said panels with respect to-said post. j

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4024686 *Nov 21, 1975May 24, 1977Ronald GronertAssembly building having floor elements supported between superimposed columns
US4129163 *Sep 17, 1975Dec 12, 1978The Haws CorporationPanel assembly and components thereof
US4144924 *Mar 31, 1978Mar 20, 1979Steelcase Inc.Panel connector system
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U.S. Classification160/135, 16/340, 160/351
International ClassificationA47G5/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47G5/00
European ClassificationA47G5/00