FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The field of the invention is utility tables with folding legs.
There is a continuing demand for so-called utility tables, tables having legs that fold up against the underside of a table top. For many years utility tables were made with heavy plywood tops, but such tables proved to be extremely heavy and unwieldy. More recently utility tables have been manufactured with honeycombed wood or thermoplastic blow molded plastic tops.
A significant difficulty with blow molded plastic tops is that the plastic is not especially strong. To solve that problem designers have usually placed external frames along the underside of the top. Examples are U.S. Pat. No. 6,112,674 (September 2000), U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,092 (August 2002), U.S. Pat. No. 6,848,370 (February 2005) all to Stanford, U.S. Pat. No. 6,615,742 (September 2003) to Nien, and US2005/0103239 (publ. May 2005) to Neunzert et al. These and all other referenced patents and applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. Furthermore, where a definition or use of a term in a reference, which is incorporated by reference herein is inconsistent or contrary to the definition of that term provided herein, the definition of that term provided herein applies and the definition of that term in the reference does not apply.
External frames, however, detract from the visual appearance of the tables, and requires the tables to be thicker than otherwise needed. U.S. Pat. No. 6,666,152 (December 2003) to Tsai describes a utility table having an internal frame, consisting of two lateral support beams and four cross-members that interconnect the lateral support beams. In the '152 application, however, the internal frame is sandwiched between bottom and top panels that are formed as separate units, and then connected together. Such tables are undesirable because the panels have to be rather thick to provide needed strength.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
What is still needed is a utility table having a unitary molded plastic table top with an internal frame.
The present invention provides apparatus, systems and methods in which a table has molded plastic top with an internal frame.
The internal frame preferably includes at least first and second support beams disposed lengthwise in the top. In more preferred embodiments the top includes both lateral and medial support beams, and a cross member that couples the lateral and medial support beams. The beams can be made of any suitable material(s), but are preferably metal.
The lateral and medial support beams need not extend the length of the table, and indeed in some embodiments they extend less than half the length of the table. Such a configuration allows the top to be manufactured, shipped, and stored in halves or other pieces. The lateral support beams can also be disposed to overlap, with or without touching one another.
The top is preferably blow molded, and includes a core having a first plurality of baffles. Such baffles can be disposed in any suitable manner, including longwise and cross-wise. In preferred embodiments different sets the baffles are disposed in different orientations.
Each of the legs preferably attached to a medial support beam, and are most advantageously also attached to the corresponding cross member and a pivot disposed widthwise in a depression underside the top.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, along with the accompanying drawings in which like numerals represent like components.
FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a molded plastic table having an internal frame.
FIG. 2 is a non-exploded perspective view of the table of FIG. 1, without the plastic portion of the table top.
FIG. 3 is a non-exploded plan view of the table of FIG. 1, without the plastic portion of the table top, and with a breakout showing a space between overlapping longitudinal supports.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a corner of the table of FIG. 1, with portions of the overlapping top surface removed to reveal underlying baffles.
FIG. 5 is a blowup of a corner portion of the table of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a blowup of a medial portion of the table of FIG. 4.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a portion of the underside of the table of FIG. 1, showing a handle recess.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the underside of the table of FIG. 1, with legs extended.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a medial portion of the table of FIG. 8, showing a pedestal footing pivot.
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a corner portion of the table of FIG. 8, showing a transverse support bracket.
FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the table of FIG. 1, showing access ports and access port caps.
FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of a side of the table of FIG. 11, showing an access port and a corresponding access port cap.
FIG. 13 is a non-exploded perspective view of a portion of a side of the table of FIG. 11, showing an access port and a corresponding access port cap.
FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the underside of an alternative table that is separable and pivotable across its width.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION
FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the underside of the table in FIG. 14, with the left and right sides of the table separated from one another.
In FIGS. 1, and 2 a table 1 generally comprises a table top 10, internal frame members 15L, 15R, and pedestals (leg assemblies) 20L, 20R.
The table top 10 comprises a blow-molded plastic. Table 1 can be of any suitable length and width dimensions, including 4 feet by 4 feet, 4 feet by 6 feet, and all popular sizes of utility tables. Because of the relatively high strength and light weight of the tables contemplated herein, such tables can be longer than are usually available in competitors' tables, including length of 8 feet or more. Thickness can vary as needed, but generally would fall within the range of about 1.5 to 4 inches. Contemplated table tops can also have a generally round, oval or other shape, depending on the shape of the corresponding mold. Still further, contemplated tables can be formed in a single piece, such as that shown in FIGS. 1, 2, or in two or more pieces, as exemplified in FIG. 14. Although preferred embodiments have no external frame members, it is contemplated that the underside of table top 10 may have molded supports including dimples, beams, and so forth.
Internal frame members 15L, 15R are preferably mirror images of one another, although they could have different configurations and dimensions. Indeed, the corresponding right side frame members 12R, 14R, 16R, 18R are advantageously mirror images of the corresponding left side frame members 12L, 14L, 16L, 18L, and this numbering system is carried through to all L and R numbered elements.
All of the various frame members are preferably made of a metal alloy, most preferably a stainless or other steel. The various components can have a round, C-beam, I-beam, H-beam or any other suitable cross-sectional shape, of any suitable dimensions. Preferred cross-sectional shapes preferably have a longest dimension (height or width) of less than an inch.
Frame members 12L and 16L are considered lateral longitudinal supports because they are lateral relative to a midline of the table top 10, and because they generally run along a long axis of the table top 10. Lateral longitudinal supports 12L, 16L are preferably placed within 3 inches of the lateral edges of the top 10, and more preferably about 2 inches from the lateral edges. Medial longitudinal support 18L is positioned at the midline of the table, also substantially oriented along the long midline axis of the table top. In alternative deigns one or more medial longitudinal supports could be placed off center, and indeed all of the longitudinal supports could be oriented away from being strictly parallel to the long midline axis of the table top.
Frame members 14L, 14R are considered transverse supports because they run transverse (orthogonally or otherwise) to the longitudinal supports. Transverse support 14L interconnects lateral longitudinal supports 12L and 16L, and transverse support 14R interconnects lateral longitudinal supports 12R and 16R. The interconnections could theoretically be glued or in some other manner held together chemically, but in preferred embodiments the interconnected frame components merely fit into one another using a pin-hole or tongue-and-groove type connection. The pins, holes and so forth can have any practical sizes and shapes. In FIG. 2 the reader will observe that the medial longitudinal support 18L rests on the transverse support 19L, but each of the lateral longitudinal supports 12L, 16L have a hole through which a portion of the transverse support 19L extends. These are preferred configurations, and all other suitable configurations are contemplated.
FIG. 3 shows another aspect of table 1, which is preferred but not necessary. Here, the lateral longitudinal supports 18L, 18R, overlap in a longitudinal direction, but do not touch one another. Thus, there is no longitudinal member that is supported at its ends by the two leg pivots 19L, 19R. A similar configuration preferably applies to the lateral longitudinal supports 16L, 16R.
Returning to FIGS. 1, 2, and also with respect to FIGS. 4, 8, and 11, pedestal 20L generally comprise a mounting bracket 22L, an arm 24L, a yoke 26L and leg posts 28L. Pedestal 20L pivots at pivot 19L against the bottom of table top 10. These components can cooperate in a known fashion, including folding down into pedestal recess 46L. As noted above, table 1 has right side (R-numbered) components the correspond to each of the left side (L-numbered) components. As best seen in FIG. 2, the pedestal pivot 19L is slidably coupled to longitudinal supports 12L, 16L, and supports medial support 18L. Also shown in FIG. 2 is that the mounting bracket 22L preferably mounts on medial support 18L. It should also be appreciated that tables could have only a single pedestal, or more than two pedestals.
In FIGS. 4, 5, and 6 the inside of table top 10 has a plurality of baffles 33. Such baffles are preferably manufactured continuous with the upper and lower sides of the top 10, and are oriented in any suitable manners. Among other things, some portions of table top 10 can have more closely spaced baffles than other portions, with more closely spaced baffles advantageously used for areas requiring greater strength.
FIGS. 7 and 8 show handle recesses 40. Such recesses can be used with or without handles. The recesses are preferably molded into the top 10, and are contemplated to be used in a conventional manner.
FIG. 9 shows greater detail of the mounting bracket 22R, including a pivot 23R and a screw 50. These components are contemplated to operate in a conventional manner.
FIG. 10 shows greater detail of the mounting of the leg pivot 19R, using a leg pivot bracket 42R. These components are contemplated to operate in a conventional manner.
FIGS. 11-13 shows greater detail of various access ports and caps. In particular, FIG. 11 shows an access port 56 for transverse support 14R, and corresponding access port cap 54. As currently contemplated it is only necessary to have a single access port for each internal frame member. Thus, for example, table top 10 only has a single access port 56 for transverse support 14R. The access ports can be cut after formation of the table top 10, but are preferably molded directly into the top 10. Access ports can be any suitable sizes and shapes. It should be noted that within each of FIGS. 1-13, the components are depicted with accurate dimensions relative to one another for an especially preferred embodiment.
FIGS. 14-15 generally depict an alternative deign, in which the left and right sides of a table 2 are pivotally and separably connected to one another. The inside of the table top can be as described above, except that none of the longitudinal supports (not shown) would not run across the midline. Instead, strength across the midline can be provided by interlocking extensions 70. Pivoting can be accomplished in any suitable manner, as for example using pins 60. As used herein the term “split”, as it refers to the two sides of the table 2, means that the two sides can be completely or pivotally separated from one another.
This embodiment also shows handles 58 disposed in the handle recesses. Pedestals 20L and 20R and other aspects of the table 2 can be as described above for table 1.
Thus, specific embodiments and applications of unitary body tables with folding legs and internal frames have been disclosed. It should be apparent, however, to those skilled in the art that many more modifications besides those already described are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The inventive subject matter, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the appended claims. Moreover, in interpreting both the specification and the claims, all terms should be interpreted in the broadest possible manner consistent with the context. In particular, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced. Where the specification claims refers to at least one of something selected from the group consisting of A, B, C . . . and N, the text should be interpreted as requiring only one element from the group, not A plus N, or B plus N, etc.