Collapsible tea cart
Collapsible storage rack
ApplicationNo. 11701944 filed on 02/02/2007
ExaminersPrimary: Wilkens, Janet M.
Assistant: Ayres, Timothy M
Attorney, Agent or Firm
Foreign Patent References
International ClassA47F 5/00
DescriptionBACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates in general to folding frames. More particularly, this invention relates to a folding frame that can be conveniently opened for use with four vertical legs and multiple shelves. The folding frame can be collapsed through asimple procedure to a compact format.
2. Description of the Related Art
Inexpensive foldable furniture has been quite popular for numerous years. Foldable furniture (or folding frames) are pieces of furniture that can be expanded for typical use and collapsed for storage or shipping. A few examples of foldingframes include folding kitchen islands, serving carts, workbenches, drafting tables, craft tables, gardening carts, and storage shelves.
Although traditional folding frames can collapse to a certain extent, the folded profile of a traditional frame still tends to be bulky. Even in the collapsed format, traditional folding frames take up more room than necessary.
Instead of creating folding frames, some companies ship products in ready-to-assemble packages. This method allows furniture products to be shipped in a compact format, but requires assembly by the end user and does not allow for compactstorage.
Thus, the need arises for a preassembled folding frame that can be stored and shipped in a compact format, and can be extended to a full-size piece of furniture such as a table or cart with multiple shelves. In addition, it is desirable that theprocedure for transitioning between the collapsed position and the extended position be simple.
In U.S. Pat. No. 6,123,207, Mast discloses a shipping rack easily convertible to an extended mode for storing and shipping product, a display mode for displaying product, and a collapsed mode for storing the rack itself. The rack includes apair of central support columns and a pair of outer posts on either side of the columns. A plurality of shelves is pivotally mounted between the posts and columns. In the extended mode, the shelves are horizontal. As the columns are raised withrespect to the posts, the shelves pivot to the desired inclination. Once the shelves are essentially vertical and the posts are drawn close to the central columns, the rack is in the collapsed mode. The rack can be secured in any mode by a strut. Aspring counterbalance system installed within one of the central columns assists the mode conversion of the rack.
Instead of supporting the shelves by using a central support column, the subject invention uses support beams running in a horizontal direction to support the shelves. As the folding frame is transitioned into a collapsed position, the supportbeams of the subject invention fold horizontally inward. Mast does not describe the use of inward folding support beams.
In U.S. Pat. No. 5,131,547, Goldberg discloses a collapsible storage rack assembly including a plurality of upstanding, generally inverted U-shaped frame members between which extend a plurality of vertically spaced, hingedly collapsible shelfassemblies. Using crossbeams for frame support and foldable movement, the storage rack can be easily and quickly opened for use by moving the frame members away from each other. In a similar manner, the storage rack can be easily collapsed by movingthe frame members toward each other and into juxtaposition, with the shelf assemblies collapsing by upward hinging movement. In the closed and collapsed position, the shelf assemblies are substantially completely nested within the frame members, therebyfacilitating convenient handling, shipment, and storage of the construction.
Instead of using cross-braces to allow for collapsing of the frame, the subject invention employs support beams that fold horizontally inward. The support beams of the subject invention also function to support the weight of the foldable shelvesin the extended position. Goldberg does not describe the use of inward folding support beams to support the shelves.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, one object of the present invention is to provide a folding frame that can be collapsed into a compact format.
A second object of the invention is to provide a folding frame that does not require assembly.
A third object of the invention is to provide a folding frame that extends into a full-size piece of furniture with multiple layers of shelves.
A fourth object of the invention is to provide a folding frame with a simple procedure for transitioning between the collapsed position and the extended position.
To achieve these and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, the invention provides a folding frame comprising four vertical legs and at least one shelf pivotally connectedto each of the four vertical legs, each shelf being capable of folding vertically upward. The folding frame further comprises two support beams positioned beneath and on opposite ends of each shelf, each support beam being pivotally connected to two ofthe four vertical legs and capable of folding horizontally inward. The folding frame is moveable between an extended position with each shelf being horizontal and supported by two of the support beams, and a collapsed position with each shelf beingfolded vertically upward and the support beams being folded horizontally inward.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the folding frame of the present invention in the extended position.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of the folding frame as shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a bottom view of one of the shelves of the folding frame as shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the folding frame of the present invention in between the extended and collapsed positions.
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the folding frame of the present invention in the collapsed position.
FIG. 6 is an alternative embodiment of a folding frame of the present invention in the extended position.
FIG. 7 is an alternative embodiment of a folding frame of the present invention in between the extended and collapsed positions.
FIG. 8 is an alternative embodiment of a folding frame of the present invention in the collapsed position.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Referring now to FIG. 1, a perspective view of the folding frame 10 of the present invention in the extended position is shown. In the extended position, folding frame 10 is a full-size piece of folding furniture. Folding frame 10 includes fourvertical legs 11 supporting one or more shelves 12. Vertical legs 11 are connected horizontally by cross plates 18 and cross beams 66 for reinforcing stability of folding frame 10. In this embodiment, folding frame 10 has two shelves 12. It ispreferred that shelves 12 are rectangular in shape. However, any shape allowing for shelves 12 to be connected to all four vertical legs 11 may be used. Each shelf 12 connects to the four vertical legs 11 via shelf studs 13. Shelf studs 13 allow forvertical movement of the shelf relative to folding frame 10. Although this embodiment uses shelf studs 13 to connect shelves 12 to vertical legs 11, any other means for pivotally connecting shelves 12 to vertical legs 11, such as bolts or hinges, may beused.
Still referring to FIG. 1, each shelf 12 is further supported by two support beams 15. Support beams 15 are positioned beneath and on opposite ends of shelves 12. Each support beam 15 pivotally connects to two of the four legs 11 via beamhinges 16, allowing support beams 15 to pivot in a horizontal direction. Although this embodiment uses beam hinges 16 to connect support beams 15 to vertical legs 16, any configuration pivotally connecting support beams 15 to vertical legs 16 may beused.
Referring now to FIG. 2, a cross-sectional side view of the folding frame as shown in FIG. 1 is illustrated. Each support beam has a center hinge 17 capable of pivoting in a horizontal direction. The combination of beam hinges 16 and centerhinge 17 allow for each support beam to fold horizontally inward. Although this embodiment uses a center hinge 17 to allow for the movement of each support beam 15, any configuration allowing the horizontal inward folding of support beam 15 may be used.
Referring now to FIG. 3, a bottom view of one of the shelves of the folding frame as shown in FIG. 1 is illustrated. Shelf 12 includes panels 19a, 19b joined at dividing line 20. Each of the panels 19a, 19b form roughly one half of shelf 12. Panels 19a, 19b are joined by one or more shelf hinges 14 to allow for the vertical upward folding of shelf 12 along dividing line 20. In this embodiment, three shelf hinges 14 are used. Although this embodiment uses panels 19a, 19b and shelf hinges 14to allow shelves 12 to fold vertically upward, any configuration allowing for the vertical upward folding of shelves 12 may be used.
Still referring to FIG. 3, beam hinges 16 may include mounting devices 22 for affixing the ends of support beams 15 to vertical legs 11. Mounting devices 22 are typically short in length so as not to be visible from the side of folding frame 10.
Still referring to FIG. 3, shelf 12 may have position-limiting devices 21 that prevent support beams 15 from folding horizontally inward while folding frame 10 is in extended position, thus keeping support beams 15 rigid when folding frame 10 isin the extended position. Cross plates 18 may be used to reinforce the stability of folding frame 10 while in the extended position.
Referring now to FIG. 4, a perspective view of the folding frame of the present invention in between the extended and collapsed positions is shown. As shelves 12 fold vertically upward along dividing line 20, support beams 15 fold horizontallyinward, and vertical legs 11 are drawn closer together. The combination of shelf hinges 14 (shown in FIG. 3) and shelf studs 13 allow for the vertical folding movement of shelves 12. The combination of beam hinges 16 and center hinge 17 allow for thehorizontal folding movement of support beams 15.
Referring now to FIG. 5, a perspective view of the folding frame of the present invention in the collapsed position is shown. When folding frame 10 is in the collapsed position, shelves 12 are folded along dividing line 20 in a substantiallyvertical position. Support beams 15, on the other hand, are folded along center hinges 17 in a substantially horizontal manner. Vertical legs 11 connecting the ends of support beams 15 via beam hinges 16 are substantially adjacent to one another.
Still referring to FIG. 5, folding frame 12 must be sized so shelves 12 do not obstruct the folding of folding frame 12. Shelves 12 may be long along dividing line 20 because the length of shelves 12 will not obstruct the vertical upwardmovement of shelves 12. Shelves 12 cannot be too wide, however, because shelf width may obstruct the vertical upward movement of shelves 12 when folding frame 10 transitions from the extended position to the collapsed position. By properly setting thewidth of shelves 12, folding frame 10 may be less than 6 inches thick in the collapsed position, thus facilitating transport and storage of folding frame 10.
Referring now to FIGS. 6-8, an alternative embodiment of a folding frame 60 of the present invention is shown. To facilitate transport, wheels 64 may be positioned at the bottom end of two or more of the vertical legs 11. In addition, a tablesurface 65 pivotally attached via pivot arms 61 and pivot hinges 63 to vertical legs 11 and positioned on top of vertical legs 11 may be used. Table surface 65 can be placed in a horizontal position by resting on top of legs 11. Table surface 65 canfold into a vertical position for ease of storage and .Iadd.transport..Iaddend.
Still referring to FIGS. 6-8, a cable 62 connecting each of the shelves 12 together may be used to assist in the extending and collapsing of folding frame 60. As one shelf 12 is folded vertically upward, tension in cable 62 causes all shelves 12to fold vertically upward together. Although this embodiment uses a cable, any other device for connecting all shelves 12 together, such as a rod, may be used. When in the collapsed position, vertical legs 11 may be held together using a locking device67.
Other embodiments of the invention will appear to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. Possible applications of the folding frame include, but are not limited to,folding kitchen islands, serving carts, workbenches, drafting tables, craft tables, gardening carts, and storage shelves. It is intended that the specification and examples to be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of theinvention being indicated by the following claims.
Field of SearchFoldable
Frames movable toward each other in parallel relationship
Foldable or collapsible
Hinged horizontal surfaces
Folded along lateral center line
Folded along longitudinal center line
Laterally attached surface
Sliding pivot connects surface and support
Conjointly actuated by interconnected brace
Surface pivoted to one, separably supported on other
Paired legs conjointly actuated
Surface separably supported by means spaced from fixed pivot
On common axis
Sliding pivot connects surface and leg
All legs pivot toward common surface edge
Legs pivot perimetrically of surface
Mutually pivoted crossed legs support surface
Legs pivotally converge toward surface center
Folding arms support surface
Legs fold axially parallel to surface edges
Releasable means holds paired legs in predetermined position
Legs folded adjacent surface
With vertical adjustability