GB2497773A - Magnetic fastening for modular furniture - Google Patents

Magnetic fastening for modular furniture Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2497773A
GB2497773A GB201121953A GB201121953A GB2497773A GB 2497773 A GB2497773 A GB 2497773A GB 201121953 A GB201121953 A GB 201121953A GB 201121953 A GB201121953 A GB 201121953A GB 2497773 A GB2497773 A GB 2497773A
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Prior art keywords
item
text
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modular furniture
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GB201121953D0 (en
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Paul Kelley
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PAUL KELLEY Ltd
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PAUL KELLEY Ltd
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Priority to GB201121953A priority Critical patent/GB2497773A/en
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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47BTABLES; DESKS; OFFICE FURNITURE; CABINETS; DRAWERS; GENERAL DETAILS OF FURNITURE
    • A47B87/00Sectional furniture, i.e. combinations of complete furniture units, e.g. assemblies of furniture units of the same kind such as linkable cabinets, tables, racks or shelf units
    • A47B87/007Linkable independent elements with the same or similar cross-section
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16BDEVICES FOR FASTENING OR SECURING CONSTRUCTIONAL ELEMENTS OR MACHINE PARTS TOGETHER, e.g. NAILS, BOLTS, CIRCLIPS, CLAMPS, CLIPS, WEDGES, JOINTS OR JOINTING
    • F16B12/00Jointing of furniture or the like, e.g. hidden from exterior

Abstract

Modular furniture 300 includes magnetic fastening 124 means including a rotatable magnetic fastener which connects one item of modular furniture to another item of the same type. The north and south poles of the magnet 110 are movable, so that when the item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture of the same type, the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture. The magnetic fasteners comprise a rigid, or semi rigid housing 116, and at least one magnet, the at least one magnet comprising a north pole and a south pole and which are rotatable in the housing. The fasteners are situated in a cavity in the modular furniture beneath a veneer 308.

Description

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Magnetic fastening The present invention relates to modular furniture including magnetic fastening means and to a rotatable magnetic fastener which may be suitable for connecting modular furniture.

Prior art modular furniture connectable with magnetic fasteners is described for example in EP1980175. In that document, modular "elements", which include four rectangular planar surfaces effectively defining a top, bottom, left and right side of a box, open at the front and back. Magnets are associated with the elements and placed in the four corners of each rectangular planar surface. In one embodiment the elements are formed of a magnetic material, such as steel, so that the magnets stick to the elements and the magnets are placed on the outside surfaces of the "elements". In an alternative embodiment the elements are non-magnetic, e.g. of plastic and are placed on the inside surfaces of the elements. In both these cases the magnets are removable, so that their orientation can be changed to allow maximum flexibility.

An "executive" variation is suggested in which the magnets are irremovably associated with the element, in which case flexibility is sacrificed for appearance. It will be appreciated that fixing the magnets means that their orientation cannot be changed, accordingly, the outer surface of any given magnet will be either a north or a south pole, so certain configurations cannot be achieved. For example, if one box is to sit on top of another the magnets in the corners of the upper surface of the lower box must all be of opposite polarity to the corresponding magnets of the lower surface of the upper box.

For example, all four magnets of the upper surface of the boxes may be north and all four magnets of the lower surface of the boxes may be south -in this case, the boxes could be located at different angles to one another, but could not be turned upside down.

Alternatively, to allow the boxes to be connected either way up, diagonally opposite magnets may be of the same pole. However, in this case the orientation of one box to another would be fixed, i.e. the upper box could not be turned through 90° because all the poles would oppose one another.

The present invention seeks to provide an item of modular furniture in which flexibility is improved without sacrificing appearance.

Accordingly, in a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided an item of modular furniture comprising a magnetic fastener for connecting the item of modular furniture to another item of modular furniture of the same type; the magnetic fastener comprising a north pole and a south pole; characterised in that the poles are movable relative to one another so that when the item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture of the same type, the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture.

By providing the modular furniture with a magnetic fastener that has movable poles, which align when the item of modular furniture is placed against another such item of modular furniture in order to connect the two items of furniture, the flexibility associated with connecting items of furniture with removable magnets can be achieved (without having to manually change the orientation of the magnet). The fact that the at least one magnet need not be removed to change orientation means that the at least one magnet can be situated inside the modular furniture (e.g. embedded in plastic or situated beneath a veneer) where it will not affect the appearance of the outer surface of the item of modular furniture.

The item of modular furniture is suitable for connection to another item of modular furniture of the same type; this means that the other item of modular furniture has the same features as defined in the claim.

Preferably the north and south pole are situated in a cavity beneath the outer surface of the modular furniture. The side-walls of such a cavity may confine the movement of the poles in order to ensure that the poles align to connect the modular furniture in a defined position. Preferably the cavity is part cylindrical. The circular side-walls are advantageous in terms of the confining at least one magnet such that the poles may rotate relative to one another. However, the precise shape of the cavity is not crucial.

Preferably the north pole and south pole are coplanar. Situation of the north and south poles in the same plane has a positive effect on alignment, because when one item of modular furniture is placed against another, the north pole of one will align with the south pole of the other and vice versa.

Preferably the common plane of the north pole and south pole is parallel to the outer surface of the furniture. This arrangement provides for both poles taking a role in aligning with the poles in the other item of modular furniture.

Preferably the north pole and south pole are rotatable relative to one another about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the surface to which they are parallel. Other arrangements are conceivable, for example, the north and south poles could be provided on opposite semicylindrical sides of a cyiindrical magnet, each magnet rotatable about an axis in the plane parallel to the surface, This could even be extended to provide two such magnets placed next to each other end-to-end in order to provide both north and south pole in the same plane and in a plane parallel with the surface of the modular furniture. However, by providing for the two poles to be rotatable about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the surface of the modular furniture, a single magnet with two poles can be used with both poles in the same plane, parallel to the surface of the modular furniture, or two or more magnets, rotatable relative to one another, can be provided with their opposite poles in the same plane.

Preferably the item of modular furniture comprises a plurality of said magnetic fasteners. A plurality of fasteners allows more flexibility in terms of connection.

Preferably the item of modular furniture includes a plurality of surfaces, at least one surface comprising a plurality of said magnetic fasteners. A plurality of fasteners on one surface provides improvements in terms of alignment. By providing a plurality of

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magnets on one surface, when two items of modular furniture of the same type are connected, with two fasteners provided on opposing connecting surfaces, the relative location of the two magnetic fasteners can define the alignment of the modular furniture.

More preferably a plurality of surfaces comprise a plurality of magnetic fasteners. This of course provides both flexibility in terms of configuration of the items of furniture and defined alignment.

In a second aspect of the invention there is provided a magnetic fastener comprising a rigid, or semi rigid housing, and at least one magnet, the at least one magnet comprising north pole and a south pole which are rotatable in the housing Normally, magnetic fasteners for fastening two objects, are made in two halves, a first half includes a housing containing a first magnet orientated in a first direction, and a second half includes a housing containing a second magnet orientated in a second direction, opposite to that of the first magnet. Accordingly, when the halves are brought together the north pole of one housing attaches to the south pole of a second housing.

More often, a first half contains a magnet orientated in a first direction and the second half is simply a temporary magnet, e.g. ferrous metal such as steel, which will be attracted regardless of whether it abuts a north pole, a south pole, or both.

Because the attraction between two magnets is generally greater than that of one magnet acting on a piece of ferrous metal, the inventor of US2007/0039141 has proposed a fastener made in two halves, each comprising a preferably spherical magnet which is universally rotatable within a housing, for example an item of cloth. It is suggested that such a fastener may be used to fasten two parts of a child's bib.

EP2055363 also suggests a fastener for fastening elastic plates comprising at least one pocket which is pivotally attached parallel to a narrow side of the plate and which receives a cylindrical magnet which is rotatable about its longitudinal axis in the pocket.

The aim in this case is to allow the elastic plates to be connected to one another at their ends in a variety of different configurations.

Whereas this prior art allows the housings of the magnetic fasteners to be connected to one another in a variety of different configurations, A rigid or semi-rigid material is one that cannot be folded against itself (unlike a flexible material).

Preferably the housing is planar, and the poles of the fastener are coplanar and rotate in the plane of the housing about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the housing.

It will be understood that a planar housing is one that extends substantially more in one plane than it does in the direction perpendicular to that plane -in terms of Cartesian axes, a planar housing is one which is substantially deeper in the Y direction and wider in the X direction than it is high in the 2 direction. Thus the rotation described above More preferably the housing is hollow part-cylindrical having a planar circular base and the north pole and south pole rotate about an axis perpendicular to the centre of the circular base.

Because each such fastener comprises rotatable poles, the benefits in terms of connection not being related to a fixed orientation of a magnet can be achieved because the north and south poles of one fastener will rotate to align with the opposite poles in the other fastener, and at the same time the benefits of definite alignment can be achieved because the plane of one planar fastener will always be parallel to that of a second. This is particularly useful in modular furniture, where definite alignment of one item of furniture to another is preferred and may be achieved by choice of where the housings are located in a particular module, but a great variety of combinations are desirable, so a fixed orientation of magnet, which restrains choice is undesirable.

In both the item of modular furniture according to the first aspect of the invention, and the magnetic fastener according to the second aspect of the invention, it is preferred that the at least one magnet is disc shaped, having two circular ends. More preferably the at least one magnet is a disc shaped magnet in which one end has both a north side and a south side. A single disc shaped magnet can rotate in a space of any shape (provided it is not fixed in one orientation. e.g. by glue) allowing the poles in one item of modular furniture to align easily with those in another item of modular furniture (or any other items in which the magnetic fasteners are used to align).

In both the item of modular furniture according to the first aspect of the invention, and the magnetic fastener according to the second aspect of the invention, it is preferred that two magnets are provided, each magnet having ends of opposite polarity, such that the end of one magnet provides a north pole and the end of the other magnet provides a south pole, the magnets being rotatable relative to each other in order to provide the movement of one pole in relation to the other. (In this case it is particularly preferred that the magnets are situated in a semi-cylindrical cavity in which the magnets may rotate).

More preferably where two magnets are provided, they are both disc shaped and therefore rotate round each other smoothly.

The walls of the circular cavity can provide a guide to guide rotation of one magnet relative to another. Obviously the same arrangement could be obtained by more than two such disc shaped magnets, e.g. four magnets arranged in a square or diamond, with diagonally opposite magnets having the same orientation and magnets adjacent each other having opposite orientation.

Conveniently, the item of modular furniture comprises a magnetic fastener according to the second aspect of the invention, including a rigid or semi-rigid housing.

While that is not necessary, and a cavity in the furniture itself may provide the same confining/aligning function as the housing, by using a magnetic fastener according to the second aspect of the invention, a cavity in the furniture itself is not necessary and if provided, its the shape and size is not important if the magnetic north and south poles are provided in a separate housing which is attached to the modular furniture.

The modular furniture of the invention may be sold as a flat-pack or the like, and preferably there is provided a kit of parts for forming an item of modular furniture according to the first aspect of the invention, comprising a plurality of parts including at least one part which includes a magnetic fastener for connecting the item of modular furniture to another item of modular furniture of the same type; the magnetic fastener comprising a north pole and a south pole; characterised in that the poles are movable relative to one another such that when the item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture.

Alternatively there is provided kit of parts for forming an item of modular furniture according to the first aspect of the invention comprising a plurality of parts for assembly into an item of furniture and a plurality of magnetic fasteners according to the second aspect of the invention and insertable into plurality of parts so as to provide an the item of modular furniture which is connectable to another item of modular furniture of the same type by the magnetic fasteners which comprise a north pole and a south pole; characterised in that the poles are rotatable relative to one another such that when the assembled item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture of the same type, the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture.

The invention may be understood more readily and various other aspects and features of the invention may become apparent from consideration of the following description of certain non-limiting embodiments of the invention, with reference to the accompanying figures, in which: Figure la shows a plan view of a disc magnet having a north pole on one side and a south pole on the other side for use in a magnetic fastener according to a first embodiment of the invention; Figure lb shows a side view of the disc magnet of figure la; Figure ic shows a cross section through one circular housing for use in a magnetic fastener according to the first embodiment of the invention; Figure ld shows a cross section of a magnetic fastener according to the first embodiment of the invention; Figure 2a shows a plan view of a pair of disc magnets having a north pole on one end and a south pole on the other end, together with a circular housing according to a second embodiment of the invention; Figure 2b shows a side view of the disc magnets of figure 2a; Figure 2c shows a cross section through one circular housing for use in a magnetic fastener according to the second embodiment of the invention; Figure 2d shows a cross section of a magnetic fastener according to the second embodiment of the invention; Figures 3a to 3e show cross sections through a part of an item of furniture in which the a magnetic fastener is inserted in order to form an item of furniture according to the invention, in various stages of completion; Figure 4 shows in perspective an item of modular furniture in which the location of magnetic fasteners is shown diagrammatically; Figures 5a and 5b show cross sectional views of two items of modular furniture as they are being connected to one another; and Figure 5c shows a cross sectional view of two items of modular furniture connected to one another.

With reference to figures la and ib, a disc shaped magnet 110 is shown delineated along its diameter, such that one semicircular half 112 is a north pole (indicated "N' in the figures) and the other semicircular half 114 is a south pole (indicated "5" in the figures). Figure ic shows a planar, hollow part-cylindrical housing 116 for the magnet of figures la and ib; the housing is formed of a rigid or semi-rigid non-magnetic material, for example semi-rigid polypropylene, and includes a circular base 118 with an upstanding peripheral circular wall 120 defining a part-cylindrical cavity 122 which is slightly larger than the disc shaped magnet 110. The size will of course vary as a function of the strength of connection required, with larger magnets required for stronger connection. But as an example, the disc shaped magnet may have an outer diameter of 48mm and the inner diameter of the peripheral circular wall may be 50mm, in this case, the height of the disc shaped magnet could be in the order of 4mm and the height of the peripheral walls, which define the height of the cavity could be in the order of 5mm.

As shown in figure id, in order to form the magnetic fastener 124, the disc shaped magnet 110 is placed in the cavity 122 and a circular lid 126 is attached, for example by snap fit, gluing or plastic welding onto the upper surface of the upstanding peripheral circular wall 124. The magnet will then be able to freely rotate in the cavity in response to outside magnetic attraction or repulsion, thus, if a north pole of another magnet was placed on top of the housing on the left hand side as shown in figure la, i.e. in the region of the north pole of the magnet 110 it would spin round in the housing so that the south pole was on the left hand side.

Likewise, if two magnetic fasteners 124 according to the first embodiment were placed one on top of the other, each initially having its north pole on the left hand side and its south pole on the right hand side, the repulsion of similar poles and attraction of opposite poles would cause one or the other or both of the magnets 110 to rotate and take a configuration in which the north and south poles are aligned with each other. This would force the two magnetic fasteners into a coaxial position where their longitudinal axes -i.e. the line between the centre of the circular base and the centre of the circular lid are aligned with each other.

It will be appreciated that although in this embodiment the magnet 110 and housing 124 are both circular, they need not both be circular and in particular, where the magnet 110 is disc shape, any shape or planar housing may be chosen provided the cavity allows sufficient room for the magnet to rotate. Obviously the closer the size of the cavity 122 to the size of the magnet 110 the closer the alignment of the centre-points of the housings of a plurality of such magnetic fasteners will be. For example, a square -10 -cavity of 50mm x 50mm would align almost as closely as the embodiment described above. One disadvantage of a square cavity would be that the magnet would always abut the same four surfaces where the inner edges of the square are closest to the outer diameter of the magnet 110; this could lead to excessive wear if the magnet rotates frequently.

Figures 2a-2d show a second embodiment in which figures 2a and 2b show two similar disc shaped magnets 210, each of which have upper and lower circular ends.

The upper end 212 of the first magnet 210 is a north pole (indicated "N" in the figures) and the lower end 213 is a south pole. On the other hand, the upper end 214 of the second magnet 210 is a south pole (indicated "S" in the figures), correspondingly, the lower end 215 of the second magnet 210 is a north pole. Figures 2a and 2c show a planar housing 216 for the magnets of figures 2a and 2b; the housing 216 is again formed of a rigid or semi rigid non-magnetic material, for example rigid polystyrene, and includes a circular base 218 with an upstanding peripheral circular waIl 220 defining a cavity 222 which is slightly larger than double the diameter of the two disc shaped magnets 210. Again, the size of each part will of course vary as a function of the strength of connection required, with larger magnets required for stronger connection.

But as an example, each disc shaped magnet may have an outer diameter of 24mm and the inner diameter of the peripheral circular wall may once again be 50mm, in this case, the height of each disc shaped magnet 210 could be in the order of 4mm and the height of the peripheral wall 220, which defines the height of the cavity could be in the order of 5mm.

Figure 2d, shows the complete magnetic fastener 224 of the second embodiment, where the two disc shaped magnets 210 have been placed side by side in the cavity 222 such that the north pole 212 of one magnet and south pole 214 of the other are located in the same plane and a circular lid 226 is attached, for example by snap fit, gluing or plastic welding onto the upper surface of the upstanding peripheral circular wall 224. In 4 -11 -response to outside magnetic attraction or repulsion, the magnets 210 are able to freely rotate in the cavity, about the centre axis of the housing which is perpendicular to the plane of the housing. Accordingly, if a north pole of another magnet was placed on top of the housing on the left hand side as shown in figure 2a, i.e. in the region of the upper end 212 of the first magnet 210 it would spin round in the housing away from said north pole. On the other hand, the upper end 214 of the second magnet 210, which is a south pole would rotate towards the north pole of said magnet, so that the south pole at the upper end 214 of the second magnet 210 was on the left hand side.

Likewise, if two magnetic fasteners 224 according to the second embodiment (or indeed one according to the first embodiment and one according to the second embodiment) were placed one on top of the other, each magnetic fastener initially having its north pole on the left hand side and iLs south pole on the right hand side, the repulsion of similar poles and attraction of opposite poles would cause the pair of magnets in one or the other of the magnetic fasteners 224 to rotate and take a conliguration in which the north and south poles of the two magnetic fasteners are axially aligned with each other. This would force the two magnetic fasteners 224 into a coaxial position.

IL will be appreciated that although in this embodiment the magnets 210 and housing 224 are both circular, they need not both be circular and in particular, where the planar housing defines a circular shaped cavity 222, any shape of magnet may be chosen provided the cavity allows sufficient room for the magnet to rotate. For example, a bar magnet having a north side and a south side could replace the pair of disc shaped magnets 210. Likewise a larger number of magnets could be used. Again the closer the size of the cavity 222 to the greatest length of the magnet (or magnets) 210 in the plane of the housing, the closer the alignment of the centre-points of the housings of a plurality of such magnetic fasteners will be, One disadvantage of a bar magnet would be that the

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corners of the magnet would always abut the inside of the peripheral wall 220; thus if the inside wall was not uniform and had any projections or depressions in it, the corner of a bar magnet could become stuck in the depression or against the projection and prevent rotation in some circumstances.

Figures 3a-3e show the process of forming an item of modular furniture comprising a magnetic fastener in accordance with the invention. Figure 3a shows a part of an item of furniture 300 having an outer surface 302 and an inner surface 304. Various materials may form the item of furniture, but for the purposes of this embodiment, 15mm thick plywood is used, As shown in figure 3b, a circular section cavity 306, for example just over 50mm in diameter and just over 5mm in depth is bored into the outer surface 302 of the item of furniture 300. Figure Sc shows a magnetic fastener for example a magnetic fastener 124 as described in the first embodiment being inserted into the cavity 306 such that the north pole 112 and south pole 114 are situated in the same plane parallel with the outer surface 302 such that the north pole and south pole are rotatable relative to one another about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the surface to which they are parallel.

Figure 3d shows, a veneer 308 being glued to the outer surface 302 of the item of furniture in order to conceal the magnetic fastener 124 and provide an attractive external finish. The underside 310 of the veneer 308 may be entirely coated in glue so as to fix the position of the housing 116 so that it does not rotate in the cavity 306. The final product of this preferred example is shown in figure 3e. Although in the example a magnetic fastener as described above (including both the magnetic part 110 and the housing 116) is inserted into the cavity 306 in the item of furniture 300, it will be appreciated that the magnetic part could be inserted directly into the cavity 306, provided that the veneer 308 is not coated in glue in the area that covers the cavity (or the glue is arranged to dry without touching the magnet 110). In this case, it will be appreciated that the cavity 306 in the item of furniture is effectively serving as the cavity 122 in the magnetic fastener 124. with its base and side-wall taking the place of the base 118 and -13 -side wall 120 of the magnetic fastener 124, and the veneer 308 serving the same purpose as the lid 116 i.e. holding the magnet so that it does not fall out of the cavity, but allowing the poles to rotate in the cavity about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the of the item of furniture.

As seen in figure 4 an item of modular furniture 300 may be in the form of an open sided box with four magnetic fasteners 124 located at each corner. In order that the item of modular furniture may be connected to other items of furniture of the same type in a variety of different configurations, the distance between each magnetic fastener 124 and its closest magnetic fastener on the same surface 124 is the same on every surface, and the distance from the two nearest sides is identical too. It will be appreciated that this invention is not limited to square boxes and numerous other shapes could be used -as a simple example, a rectangular box having the same height and depth as the square box, but a different width, could be used and even with the same arrangement of magnetic fasteners 124 would be able to connect to and align with the square box in various different configurations.

Figures 5a and 5b show two items of furniture 400, sao being connected to one another. Figure 5a shows the items of furniture just before the magnetic fasteners of one item of furniture act on the other, and Figure 5b shows the items of furniture just afterwards. The upper item of furniture 400 includes a planar surface 402 which in this case is to serve as the lower surface of the item of furniture -for example, the upper item of furniture may be a box-shaped shelf with a back wall, left and right side walls, a top wall and a bottom wall; the planar surface 402 would be the bottom wall, on which books would be stacked. Similarly, the lower item of furniture 500 includes a planar surface 502 which is the top surface of that item of furniture 500. For example, the lower item of furniture 500 could be a desk, in which the planar surface 502 would be the upper surface of the desk.

-14 -As can be seen from figures 5a and Sb, the upper item of furniture 400 has two magnetic fasteners 124 of the type first described above situated in the plane of the lower surface, beneath a veneer. They are positioned a certain distance from each other, and from the edge of the planar surface 402 in order to match the position of other modules of furniture. The lower item of furniture is similarly provided with a pair of magnetic fasteners 224 of the type described above with reference to figures 2a-2d.

The fasteners 124, 224 have been incorporated into the items of modular furniture as described above with reference to figures 3a-3e. As can be seen from the drawings, because these two items of furniture 400. 500 are modules of the same type, intended to be attachable to one another to form a larger piece of modular furniture, the spacing between the two fasteners 124 of the upper item of furniture 400 and the two fasteners 224 of the lower item of furniture 500 is the same. Accordingly, when the items of furniture 400, 500 are brought towards each other, the semicircular half 112 of the magnets 124 which is a north pole (indicated "N" in the figures) and the other semicircular half 114 which is a south pole (indicated "S in the figures) in each of the magnetic fasteners 124 will interact with the respective north and south poles of the two disc shaped magnets 210 in each of the magnetic fasteners 224 of the lower item of furniture 500.

Specifically, in figure 5a it can be seen that the in the upper item of furniture 400, the magnetic fastener 124 on the left hand side and the magnetic fastener 124 on the right hand side are both arranged with their north pole on the left and their south pole on the right, on the other hand, in the state shown in figure ba, the magnetic fastener 224 on the left hand side of the lower item of furniture 500, is arranged with the second magnet on the left, so the upper end 214 is a south pole (indicated "5" in the figures) the first magnet which has a north pole at its the upper end 212 is situated to the right. By contrast, the magnetic fastener 224 on the right hand side of the lower item of furniture 500 has its first magnet 210 on the left hand side, such that its upper end 212 is a north -15 -pole (indicated "N" in the figures), correspondingly1 the magnet on the right hand side of the magnetic fastener 224 on the right hand side of the lower item of furniture 500 has its south pole at the upper end 214 closest to the surface of the item of furniture 500.

Because of this arrangement, the forces between the two magnetic fasteners 124, 224 on the left hand side of the upper and lower items of furniture are generally attractive -the left and right hand sides of each fastener are of opposite poles and therefore attract each other. By contrast, the forces between the opposing magnetic surfaces of the magnetic fasteners 124, 224 on the right hand side is generally repulsive -the north poles are both on the left, and the south poles both on the right. Accordingly1 as shown in figure Sb1 as the items of furniture 400, 500 are brought towards each other, the poles of one or both of the magnetic fasteners 124, 224, in this case the magnetic fastener 224 on the lower item of furniture 224 rotate in the housing in the plane perpendicular to the housing and parallel with the surface of the item of furniture 500 in which they are mounted, such that the poles in each item of furniture align with those in the other item of furniture to connect the two items of furniture together.

As a result of the alignment of the poles in the magnetic fasteners 124, 224 and the accurate arrangement of the position of the magnetic fasteners 124, 224 in the items of furniture 400, 500. a strong connection is made which aligns the items of furniture 400, 500 with each other as shown in figure 5c. The edges of each item of furniture can line up perfectly and if knocked the items of furniture will be urged back into position by virtue of the magnetic attraction. Despite this strong connection, no glue, nails, screws or the like are required and the items of furniture 400. 500 can be removed from one another without leaving any sign that they were once connected. Accordingly, the upper surface of the lower item of furniture 500 may again function as a desk with no ugly marks caused by the means of connection.

It will be understood that the foregoing description relates only to certain preferred embodiments; in the text, certain alternatives have been referred to, but of course the skilled man will be able to consider additional modifications, additions and equivalents to those described. For example while a desk and a box have been referred to, alternative pieces of furniture may also be used, such as cabinets and chests of drawers. Likewise, while the attachment of one piece of modular furniture to another has been described in which the different examples of magnetic fasteners of figures la-id and 2a-2d has been described, normally the same type of fastener would be used in any given set of modular furniture, for reasons of economy of scale. And, while attachment between two items of furniture having the same type of magnetic fastener has been described, it will be appreciated that an item of furniture incorporating these magnetic fasteners would also be capable of attaching to an item of furniture made of, or including a temporary magnetic material, such as steel. The benefits in terms of alignment would not be achieved by such connection, but it could be useful in some circumstances; for example, magnets in the surface of a desk could have a negative impact on magnetically sensitive items such as disk drives and credit cards, so in a set of furniture, some items, e.g. shelving and cabinets could be provided with magnetic fasteners, and others, such as desks could be provided with temporary magnetic material.

It will also be appreciated that the items of furniture described herein may be supplied in kit form, e.g. as flat-pack furniture, in which case the kit would include a number of parts which are assembled to form an item of modular furniture of the type described, including at least one part which includes a magnetic fastener for connecting the item of modular furniture to another item of modular furniture of the same type.

In view of the above, it will be understood that the scope of the invention should not be limited to the specific embodiments, but be determined by the following claims.

Claims (1)

  1. <claim-text>-17 -Claims: 1. A magnetic fastener comprising a rigid, or semi rigid housing, and at least one magnet, the at least one magnet comprising north pole and a south pole which are rotatable in the housing.</claim-text> <claim-text>2. A magnetic fastener according to claim I wherein the housing is planar, and the poles of the fastener are coplanar and rotate in the plane of the housing about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the housing.</claim-text> <claim-text>3. A magnetic fastener according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the housing is hollow part-cylindrical having a planar circular base and the north pole and south pole rotate about an axis perpendicular to the centre of the circular base.</claim-text> <claim-text>4. An item of modular furniture comprising a magnetic fastener for connecting the item of modular furniture to another item of modular furniture of the same type; the magnetic fastener comprising a north pole and a south pole; characterised in that the poles are movable relative to one another so that when the item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture of the same type, the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture.</claim-text> <claim-text>5. An item of modular furniture according to claim 4 wherein the north pole and south pole are situated in a cavity beneath an outer surface of the modular furniture.</claim-text> <claim-text>6. An item of modular furniture according to claim 5 wherein the cavity is part-cylindrical.</claim-text> <claim-text>7. An item of modular furniture according to any of claims 4 to 6 wherein the north pole and south pole are coplanar.</claim-text> <claim-text>8. An item of modular furniture according to claim 7 wherein the common plane of the coplanar north pole and south pole is parallel to the outer surface of the item of furniture.</claim-text> <claim-text>-18 - 9. An item of modular furniture according claim 8 wherein the north pole and south pole are rotatable relative to one another about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the surface to which they are parallel.</claim-text> <claim-text>10. An item of modular furniture according to any of claims 4 to9 comprising a plurality of said magnetic fasteners.</claim-text> <claim-text>11. An item of modular furniture according to claim 10 comprising a plurality of surfaces, at least one surface comprising a plurality of said magnetic fasteners.</claim-text> <claim-text>12. An item of modular furniture according to claim 11 wherein a plurality of surfaces comprise a plurality of said magnetic fasteners.</claim-text> <claim-text>13. A magnetic fastener according to any of claims 1 to 3 or an item of modular furniture according to any of claims 4 to 12 wherein the at least one magnet is disc shaped, having two circular ends.</claim-text> <claim-text>14. A magnetic fastener or an item of modular furniture according to claim 13 wherein the at least one magnet is a disc shaped magnet in which one end includes both a north side and a south side.</claim-text> <claim-text>15. A magnetic fastener or an item of modular furniture according to any of claims 1-14 wherein two magnets are provided, each having ends of opposite polarity.such that the end of one magnet provides a north pole and the end of the other magnet provides a south pole, the magnets being rotatable relative to each other in order to provide the movement of one pole in relation to the other.</claim-text> <claim-text>16. A magnetic fastener or an item of modular furniture according to claim 15 wherein both of the two magnets are disc shaped.</claim-text> <claim-text>17. An item of modular furniture according to any of claims 4-15 in combination with a magnetic fastener according to any of claims 1-3.</claim-text> <claim-text>18. A kit of parts for forming an item of modular furniture according to any one of claims 4 to 17 comprising a plurality of parts including at least one part which includes a magnetic fastener for connecting the item of modular furniture to another item of -19 -modular furniture of the same type; the magnetic fastener comprising a north pole and a south pole; characterised in that the poles are movable relative to one another such that when the item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture.19. A kit of parts for forming an item of modular furniture according to any one of claims 4 to 17 comprising a plurality of parts for assembly into an item of furniture and a plurality of magnetic fasteners according to any of claims 1-3 insertable into plurality of parts so as to provide an the item of modular furniture which is connectable to another item of modular furniture of the same type by the magnetic fasteners which comprise a north pole and a south pole; characterised in that the poles are rotatable relative to one another such that when the assembled item of modular furniture is placed against another item of modular furniture of the same type, the poles align to connect the item of furniture to the other item of furniture.</claim-text> <claim-text>19. A magnetic fastener as herein described with reference to figures la to 2d.</claim-text> <claim-text>20. An item of furniture as herein described with reference to figures 3a to 5c.</claim-text>
GB201121953A 2011-12-19 2011-12-19 Magnetic fastening for modular furniture Withdrawn GB2497773A (en)

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GB201121953A GB2497773A (en) 2011-12-19 2011-12-19 Magnetic fastening for modular furniture
PCT/GB2012/000917 WO2013093398A1 (en) 2011-12-19 2012-12-19 Modular furniture including magnetic fastening means

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USD839033S1 (en) 2016-06-06 2019-01-29 Kimball International, Inc. Conference table
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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN105212555B (en) * 2015-08-29 2018-12-04 深圳壹号柜科技股份有限公司 A kind of superposing type express delivery cabinet
CN105212555A (en) * 2015-08-29 2016-01-06 赵忠义 A kind of superposing type express delivery cabinet and using method
USD839033S1 (en) 2016-06-06 2019-01-29 Kimball International, Inc. Conference table
WO2018073487A1 (en) * 2016-10-18 2018-04-26 MYLLYLÄ, Sanna A coupling member for coupling structure elements and a structure element
USD821763S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-07-03 Kimball International, Inc. Lounge end
USD812949S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-03-20 Kimball International, Inc. 120 degree furniture spine unit
USD811756S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-03-06 Kimball International, Inc. Lounge end
USD821765S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-07-03 Kimball International, Inc. Furniture spine unit with bistro table
USD821764S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-07-03 Kimball International, Inc. Furniture spine unit with work surface
USD811759S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-03-06 Kimball International, Inc. Furniture spine unit with bistro table
USD839034S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2019-01-29 Kimball International, Inc. Furniture spine unit
USD811760S1 (en) 2016-12-19 2018-03-06 Kimball International, Inc. Furniture spine unit with work surface
US10330134B2 (en) 2017-03-12 2019-06-25 Peter Joseph Danko Modular panel structure having magnetic hinge joint

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GB201121953D0 (en) 2012-02-01

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