US20080078310A1 - Table - Google Patents

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US20080078310A1
US20080078310A1 US11/863,132 US86313207A US2008078310A1 US 20080078310 A1 US20080078310 A1 US 20080078310A1 US 86313207 A US86313207 A US 86313207A US 2008078310 A1 US2008078310 A1 US 2008078310A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
table top
table
body
portion
ribs
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Abandoned
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US11/863,132
Inventor
Edward VanNimwegen
Paul Branch
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Lifetime Products Inc
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Lifetime Products Inc
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Priority to US84754806P priority Critical
Priority to US86476606P priority
Application filed by Lifetime Products Inc filed Critical Lifetime Products Inc
Priority to US11/863,132 priority patent/US20080078310A1/en
Assigned to LIFETIME PRODUCTS, INC. reassignment LIFETIME PRODUCTS, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BRANCH, PAUL, MR., VANNIMWEGEN, ED, MR.
Publication of US20080078310A1 publication Critical patent/US20080078310A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • 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
    • A47B3/00Folding or stowable tables
    • A47B3/08Folding or stowable tables with legs pivoted to top or underframe
    • A47B3/091Folding or stowable tables with legs pivoted to top or underframe with struts supporting the legs
    • A47B3/0911Folding or stowable tables with legs pivoted to top or underframe with struts supporting the legs the struts being permanently connected to top and leg or underframe and leg
    • A47B3/0916Folding or stowable tables with legs pivoted to top or underframe with struts supporting the legs the struts being permanently connected to top and leg or underframe and leg the strut having a linear sliding connection with the top or underframe

Abstract

A table may include a table top, legs, frame and one or more bosses that are sized and configured to allow objects to be attached to the table top. For example, the bosses may be sized and configured to allow the frame to be connected to the table top. The bosses may include a body and reinforcing members that extend outwardly in non-radial directions. The table top may also include ribs that are preferably disposed in a predetermined pattern. For example, a portion of the table top may include a larger number or density of ribs than another portion. In addition, the ribs may be sized and configured to provide a table top with generally uniform characteristics, such as a table top with generally uniform strength and/or rigidity. The table may further be sized and configured to move between a folded position and an unfolded position, and a retainer may be sized and configured to secure the table in the folded position.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/847,548, which was filed Sep. 27, 2006 and entitled TABLE WITH MOLDED TABLE TOP.
  • This application also claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/864,766, which was filed Nov. 7, 2006 and entitled TABLE WITH MOLDED TABLE TOP.
  • The disclosures of each of these applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention generally relates to furniture and, in particular, to tables.
  • 2. Description of Related Art
  • Some conventional tables include table tops constructed from relatively heavy materials, such as metal or wood. These relatively heavy table tops may undesirably increase the overall weight of the tables making them more difficult to move and more expensive to ship. In addition, metal and wood table tops may be susceptible to rust and/or other damage.
  • Some conventional tables include a plastic table top and a metal frame connected to the table top to help strengthen and reinforce the table top. Unfortunately, the table top can be damaged as the frame is connected.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
  • A need therefore exists for a table that eliminates or diminishes the disadvantages and problems described above.
  • One aspect is a table that may include a table top and one or more legs. The legs may be movable between an extended or use position and a collapsed or storage position. The table top may be constructed from plastic and is preferably constructed using a compression molding process. The table top, however, may be constructed from other materials and/or other molding or manufacturing processes, if desired. The table top may include a pair of table top sections and the table may be folded in half for more efficient storage and/or shipping.
  • Another aspect is a table that may include a table top formed using a compression molding process, and the compression molded table top may be constructed from plastic and/or other suitable materials. The compression molded table top preferably includes a first table top section and a second table top section, which may be interchangeable. For example, the first and second table top sections may be molded using the same mold or substantially similar molds, which may allow the first and second table top sections to be identical or substantially identical in size, shape and/or configuration.
  • Still another aspect is a table that may include a molded table top with one or more ribs. The molded table top preferably includes a pattern of ribs and the pattern of ribs may include portions that are different than other portions. For example, the table may include a frame connected to the table top and the pattern of ribs may be denser or spaced closer together proximate a central portion of the table top. The ribs may also be spaced closer together the farther the ribs are spaced from the frame. Advantageously, this may allow the ribs and/or frame to be sized and configured to provide a table top with generally consistent strength and/or rigidity. In addition, the ribs may have different shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the positioning or the ribs, whether the table includes a frame and the intended use of the table. For instance, the ribs may be thicker or more closely spaced to provide additional strength and/or rigidity, or the ribs may be thinner or spaced a larger distance apart to provide decreased strength and/or rigidity. Because the ribs may have different shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements, the amount of plastic required to make the table top may be reduced. In particular, if a portion of the ribs are spaced apart a greater distance, then that may reduce the amount of plastic required to mold the table top.
  • A further aspect is a table that may include a molded plastic table top and a layer may be attached to the table top. The layer, which may also be an insert or cover, may be attached to an upper surface and/or sides of the table top. The layer may hide cosmetic defects, provide a visually attractive appearance, be used for decorative purposes, and the like.
  • A still further aspect is a table that may include a molded plastic table top and a frame that is preferably sized and configured to help strengthen and/or reinforce the table top. For example, the frame may include support members, such as rails, which may be sized and configured to help increase torsional rigidity of the table top. The support members are preferably constructed from metal and preferably have a generally tubular configuration. In addition, the table top and frame preferably allow the table to be foldable. For instance, the table top and frame may fold in half to facilitate shipping and/or storage of the table. The table top and the frame, however, need not be foldable. Moreover, the frame need not be constructed from tubular support members or metal, and the frame may have other configurations and components that are constructed from other materials depending, for example, upon the intended use of the table.
  • Still another further aspect is a table that may include a table top and a frame with a plurality of support and cross members. For example, the frame may include two support members that extend along the length of the table top and two cross members that are connected to the support members. The table may include legs that are connected to the cross members and the legs may be moveable between an extended or use position and a collapsed or storage position relative to the table top. In particular, the support members may include openings and the cross members may be inserted into the openings to allow the legs to pivot relative to the table top. The openings preferably have a non-circular configuration and the portions of the cross members inserted into the openings preferably also have non-circular cross-sectional configurations. For instance, the openings and the cross member may have oval, elliptical, oblong or egg-shaped configurations. With these non-circular configurations, the cross members may be relatively loosely held within the openings when the legs are in the collapsed or storage position, but held tightly within the openings when the legs are in the extended or use position.
  • Another aspect is a table that may include a table top with one or more bosses that are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of one or more fasteners, such as screws, bolts, rivets and the like. The bosses may allow various components to be connected to the table. For example, all or a portion of a frame may be connected to the table top by fasteners and the bosses. In greater detail, the bosses preferably extend outwardly from a portion of the table top, such as a lower portion of the table top. Advantageously, the bosses may be integrally formed as part of a one-piece construction during the manufacturing process. For example, the bosses may be integrally formed with the table top as part of a unitary, one-piece construction during a molding process, such as a compression molding process.
  • Still another aspect is a table that may include a table top, a frame and bosses that may be used to position and/or attach the frame to the table top. For example, the bosses may contact, abut and/or engage a portion of the frame to position the frame in the desired location and/or the bosses may attach the frame to the table top. The table top may also include one or more ribs and the ribs may be sized and configured to strengthen, reinforce and/or increase the rigidity of the table top. The ribs may also be used to help position and/or attach the frame to the table top. For instance, a portion of the frame may contact, abut and/or engage the ribs to help position the frame in the desired location and/or to help attach the frame to the table top. By contacting, abutting and/or engaging the bosses, ribs or other portions of the table top, such as a downwardly extending lip, the frame may be quickly and easily positioned a desired location and/or attached to the table top.
  • Yet another aspect is a table that may include a table top, frame, fastener bosses and ribs. The bosses may be spaced apart from the ribs, if desired. This may allow, for example, the frame to be spaced apart from the ribs, which may help reduce stresses applied to the ribs.
  • A further aspect is a structure that may include a fastener boss with a body and reinforcing members, such as ribs, that are sized and configured to reinforce and/or strengthen the body. For example, the reinforcing members may extend away from the body. In particular, the reinforcing members may extend away from the body in a generally tangential direction. By disposing the reinforcing members in a generally tangential configuration, stresses applied to the reinforcing members (such as those associated with a fastener and/or connecting an item to the boss) may be primarily tensile and compressive forces, in contrast to torsional. This may advantageously allow the reinforcing members to better bear such stresses. In addition, the bodies and reinforcing members of the bosses may have a variety of different shapes and configurations depending, for example, upon the size and/or intended use of the structure. For instance, the body may have a generally cylindrical configuration, but the body may also have a configuration that is generally square, hexagon, polygonal and the like.
  • A still further aspect a structure that may include at a fastener boss with a body and reinforcing members that extend away from the body. For instance, the reinforcing members may extend in a direction that is offset from the center of the fastener boss. For example, the reinforcing members may be offset from the center of the boss by about 90 degrees, about 60 degrees, about 45 degrees, about 30 degrees or less. In addition, the reinforcing members may be disposed within a range relative to the center of the boss. For example, the reinforcing members may be disposed an angle between about 80 degrees and about 100 degrees, between about 85 degrees and about 95 degrees, between about 50 degrees and about 70 degrees, between about 55 degrees and about 65 degrees, between about 35 degrees and about 55 degrees, between about 40 degrees and about 50 degrees, between about 20 degrees and about 40 degrees and/or between about 25 degrees and about 35 degrees. The reinforcing members may also be disposed at larger and/or smaller angles, and the reinforcing members may extend in other suitable directions. In will be appreciated, however, that the reinforcing members do not have to be offset from the center of the boss and the reinforcing members may be disposed in other angles and configurations relative to the boss.
  • Yet another further aspect a structure that may include a fastener boss with reinforcing members that extend away from the body at an oblique angle. The reinforcing members may also be slanted, sloped or disposed in other suitable angles and configurations depending, for example, upon the intended use of the structure. In addition, the same structure may include multiple types and configurations of bosses. For instance, if the structure is a table, then the table may include bosses with reinforcing members disposed at different angles and/or configurations.
  • Another aspect is a structure that may be constructed from molded plastic and include a boss with a body and reinforcing members that are integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece structure. For example, the structure and bosses may be integrally formed during a molding process, such as compression molding, injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding and the like. All or a portion of the structure may also be constructed from other materials, such as plastic, metal or wood, using other suitable processes.
  • Advantageously, these structures may be used to form various items such as table tops, barriers, walls, panels, enclosures, floors, roofs, chairs, basketball systems and the like. It will be appreciated that these structures may form all or just a portion of an item, such as a component or piece of the structure.
  • Still another aspect is a fastener boss with a receiving portion that is sized and configured to allow items to be connected to the boss. The boss may be integrally formed with a molded plastic structure and the boss may include reinforcing members. The reinforcing members may extend outwardly in a radial or non-radial direction. The reinforcing members may also have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the molded plastic structure.
  • These and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further illustrate and clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the present invention. It will be appreciated that these drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limit its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary table;
  • FIG. 2 is a lower perspective view of the table shown in FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 3 is a lower perspective view of a portion of the table shown in FIG. 2, illustrating legs connected to the frame;
  • FIG. 4 is a lower perspective view of a portion of the table shown in FIG. 2, illustrating the table top;
  • FIG. 5 is an enlarged upper perspective view of a portion of the table top shown in FIG. 4;
  • FIG. 6 is a top view of the portion of the table top shown in FIG. 5;
  • FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the portion of the table top shown in FIG. 5;
  • FIG. 8 is a lower perspective view of the portion of the table top shown in FIG. 5;
  • FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of a portion of the table top shown in FIG. 8, illustrating fastener bosses;
  • FIG. 10 is an enlarged lower perspective view of a portion of the table shown in FIG. 2, illustrating a retainer and a member connected to the retainer;
  • FIG. 11 is a lower perspective view of a portion of the table shown in FIG. 10, illustrating the retainer without a member connected to the retainer; and
  • FIG. 12 is a lower perspective view of a portion of the table shown in FIG. 11, illustrating the table without the retainer.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The present invention is generally directed towards a table. The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to tables. It will be understood that, in light of the present disclosure, the table disclosed herein can be successfully used in connection with other types of furniture and/or structures.
  • Additionally, to assist in the description of the table, words such as top, bottom, front, rear, right and left may be used to describe the accompanying figures, which are not necessarily drawn to scale. It will be appreciated, however, that the table can be located in a variety of desired positions and/or orientations. A detailed description of the table now follows.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1-2, a table 10 may include a table top 12 and legs 14, 16, 18, 20 may be connected to the table top. For example, the table 10 may include a frame 22 connected to the table top 12 and the legs 14, 16, 18, 20 may be connected to the frame. The legs 14, 16, 18, 20 may have an adjustable length, which may allow the height of the table top 12 to be adjusted. It will be appreciated, however, that the legs 14, 16, 18, 20 do not require an adjustable length and that the table 10 may include any suitable number, shape, size, configuration and arrangement of legs.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2-3, the frame 22 may include rails 24, 26 that are connected to the table top 12. One or more cross members 28, 30 may be connected to the rails 24, 26, which may increase torsional rigidity. The legs 14, 16, 18, 20 may be connected to the cross members 28, 30 and the cross members may be connected to the rails 24, 26 to allow the legs to move between an extended or use position and a collapsed or storage position. In particular, the rails 24, 26 may include openings that are sized and configured to receive a portion of the cross member 28, 30 and that may allow the legs 14, 16, 18, 20 to pivot between the extended or use position and the collapsed or storage position relative to the table top 12. If desired, additional cross members 32, 34 may be respectively connected to the legs 14, 16 and the legs 18, 20 to help add further strength and/or rigidity to the table 10.
  • In some embodiments, the openings in the rails 24, 26 and the cross members 28, 30 may have non-circular cross-sectional configurations. With these non-circular configurations, the cross members 28, 30 may be relatively loosely held within the openings when the legs 14, 16, 18, 20 are positioned in the collapsed or storage position, but held tightly within the openings when the legs are in the extended or use position, for example, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,100,518, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. It will be appreciated, however, that the openings and the cross members 28, 30 do not require non-circular cross-sectional configurations and that the openings and the cross members may have any suitable configurations, including circular cross-sectional configurations if desired. It will also be appreciated that the table 10 does not require the frame 22 and that the legs 14, 16, 18, 20 may be connected to the table top 12 using any other suitable structures and components.
  • The table top 12 may be formed from plastic using, for example, a compression molding process. As shown in FIGS. 4-5, the table top 12 preferably comprises a first table top section 36 and a second table top section 38, which may be interchangeable. For example, the table top sections 36, 38 may be compression molded using the same mold or substantially similar molds, which may allow the table top sections to be identical or substantially identical in size, shape and/or configuration. It will be appreciated, however, that the table top 12 and/or the table top sections 36, 38 may be formed using other suitable processes such as blow-molding, injection molding and the like. It will also be appreciated that the table top 12 and/or the table top sections 36, 38 need not be constructed from plastic and may be constructed from other suitable materials such as plastic, metal, wood and the like.
  • The table top sections 36, 38 may allow the table 10 to be folded in half, which may provide a compact configuration that facilitates efficient shipping and/or storage of the table. In particular, as shown in FIG. 2, the rail 24 may include sections 40, 42 that are connected to the table top sections 36, 38, respectively, and the rail 26 may include sections 44, 46 that are connected to the table top sections 36, 38, respectively. With the rail sections 40, 42 and the rail sections 44, 46 being pivotally or otherwise movably interconnected, the table 10, the table top 12, the frame 22 and/or the rails 24, 26 may be moved between unfolded and folded positions. It will be appreciated, however, that the table 10, the table top 12, the frame 22 and the rails 24, 26 need not be foldable and that the table top 12 and the rails 24, 26 do not require a plurality of sections.
  • As shown in FIGS. 5-8, the table top sections 36, 38 may include one or more engaging or connecting portions that may be sized and configured to interlock and/or overlap when the table 12 is in an unfolded position, for example, as shown in FIG. 4. In greater detail, the table top sections 36, 38 may include one or more projections 48 and one or more receiving portions 50 that are sized and configured to interlock and/or overlap. Desirably, this may help strengthen and/or reinforce the table top 12 in the unfolded position. For instance, the projections 48 may be disposed proximate a seam formed between the table top sections 36, 38, which may help reinforce and/or strengthen the table top 12 proximate the seam. The table 10 may also include other suitable features, such as disclosed in United States Patent Application Publication No. US 2005/0005826 A1, published Jan. 13, 2005 and entitled PORTABLE FOLDING TABLE WITH LOCKING HINGE, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the table top 12 may include fastener bosses 52 that are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of a fastener, such as a screw, bolt, rivet and the like. Advantageously, the fastener bosses 52 may be sized and configured to allow various items to be connected to the table top 12, such as the frame 22. For example, the rails 24, 26 of the frame 22 may include openings 54, as best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, and the fasteners 56 may be inserted through the openings and received by the fastener bosses 52 to connect the rails 24, 26 to the table top 12.
  • In further detail, as shown in FIGS. 9-10, the fastener bosses 52 may include a body 58. The body 58 preferably has a generally cylindrical shaped configuration; however, the body may have a square, hexagon, polygonal and/or other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the boss 52. In greater detail, the body 58 may be disposed in or extend outwardly from a surface or portion of the table top 12, such as the underneath portion of the table top. The bosses 52 may be used to connect the frame 22 to the table top 12. Advantageously, the bosses 52 may be used to position the frame 22 in the desired positions and locations. For example, the bosses 52 may be used to space the frame 22 away from the lower surface and/or outer edges of the table top 12. For example, the body 58 of the boss 52 may have a height that is sized and configured to space the frame 22, such as the rails 24, 26, a desired distance from the lower surface or portion of the table top 12. In addition, the bosses 52 may be positioned so that the frame 22 is disposed in a desired location. For instance, if the frame 22 is desired to be spaced apart from an outer edge or perimeter, then the bosses 52 may be spaced apart from the outer edge of perimeter of the table top 12. On the other hand, if the frame 22 is desired to be positioned at least proximate the outer edge or perimeter of the table top 12, then the bosses may be positioned at least proximate the outer edge or perimeter of the table top. Thus, the bosses 52 may be positioned in various suitable positions and locations.
  • The body 58 of the boss 52 may include a receiving portion 60 that is sized and configured to receive and/or retain at least a portion of a fastener 56. For example, the fastener 56 may include a threaded portion that is sized and configured to bite into or otherwise engage at least a part of the receiving portion 60 to receive and retain at least a portion of the fastener within the receiving portion. For instance, the fastener 56 may be a screw that may be screwed into the receiving portion 60 and the threaded portion of the screw may bite into and engage a surface 62 to help connect the fastener to the boss. It will be appreciated, however, that the fasteners 56 may be connected to the bosses 52 in any desired configurations or arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the table 10.
  • As shown in FIG. 9, the fastener bosses 52 may include one or more reinforcing members 64, 66, which may be sized and configured to strengthen, reinforce and/or more securely connect the bosses to a structure. For example, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be sized and configured to strengthen and/or reinforce the body 58 to help the body withstand stresses as fasteners 56 are connected and/or disconnected. This may help avoid damaging the fastener bosses 52 and/or other portions of the table top 12 when connecting the rails 24, 26 to the table top 12. In addition, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may help prevent the bosses 52 from undesirably twisting, distorting or otherwise deforming when forces are applied to the bosses. The reinforcing members 64, 66 may also more securely attach the bosses 52 to the table top 12, which may allow a strong table 10 to be constructed or allow components to be more securely connected to the table top 12. Further, because the bosses 52 may be more securely connected to the table top 12, that may help prevent the table top from being damaged when forces are applied to the table 10.
  • The reinforcing members 64, 66 are preferably connected to the body 58 to help the boss 52 withstand such stresses. For example, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be integrally formed with the body 58 as part of a unitary, one-piece structure. In particular, the fastener bosses 52 may be formed from molded plastic and the body 58 and the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during the molding process. Advantageously, this may allow the bosses 52 to be integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece table top 12 or table top section 36, 38 during a molding process, such as compression molding, injection molding, blow-molding process and the like. The bosses 52, however, do not have to be integrally formed and the bosses do not have to be integrally formed with the table top 12 or the table top sections 36, 38. In addition, the bosses 52 need not be formed from plastic and may be constructed from other suitable materials and with various manufacturing processes.
  • Advantageously, the bosses 52 may have a variety of suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the table 10. For example, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may extend away from the body 58 of the boss 52, which increase the strength of the boss. In particular, the outwardly extending reinforcing members 64, 66 may extend in a non-radial direction away from the body 58. For example, as shown in FIG. 6, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may extend in a generally tangential direction away from the body 58. Significantly, when the reinforcing members 64, 66 extend in a generally tangential or other non-radial direction away from the body 58, the reinforcing members may allow the bosses 52 to withstand larger forces or stresses, such as when fasteners 56 are screwed into the receiving portions 60 of the fastener bosses. In particular, by configuring the reinforcing members 64, 66 to extend in a generally tangential direction, stresses applied to the reinforcing members may be applied along a greater portion of the length (as opposed to the thickness) of the reinforcing members. Thus, these forces may be primarily tensile and compressive, in contrast to torsional, which may allow the reinforcing members 64, 66 to better withstand such stresses and may help avoid damaging the bosses 52 and/or other portions of the table top 12. This may also allow thinner or otherwise smaller reinforcing members 64, 66 to be used, which may help reduce the amount of materials required to construct the table top 12.
  • The reinforcing members 64, 66 may also extend away from the body 58 of the bosses 52 in a direction that is offset from the center of the boss. For example, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be generally aligned with an outer edge or perimeter of the boss. The reinforcing members 64, 66 may also be offset from the body 58 of the boss 52 by an angle, such as about 90 degrees, about 60 degrees, about 45 degrees, about 30 degrees or less. The reinforcing members 64, 66 may also be disposed within a range, such as between about 80 degrees and about 100 degrees, between about 85 degrees and about 95 degrees, between about 50 degrees and about 70 degrees, between about 55-degrees and about 65 degrees, between about 35 degrees and about 55 degrees, between about 40 degrees and about 50 degrees, between about 20 degrees and about 40 degrees and/or between about 25 degrees and about 35 degrees. If desired, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be disposed in at other angles and/or offset from the center of the fastener boss 52 at greater or lesser angles. In addition, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may extend outwardly at an oblique or other suitable angle.
  • As shown in FIG. 9, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may comprise ribs, flanges, outwardly extending projections and the like, and the reinforcing members preferably have a generally uniform thickness. In addition, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may have an elongated shape that includes a first end connected to the body 58 and a second end that is spaced apart from the body. For example, the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be connected to a substantial portion of the body 58, such as at least one-third, at least one-half, at least two-thirds or more of the height of the body, as shown in FIG. 9. The second end of the reinforcing members 64 may be disposed at various angles relative to the body 58 of the boss 52 and/or the lower surface or portion of the table top 12. For example, the second end of the reinforcing members 64 may be disposed at about ninety degrees relative to a lower surface or portion of the table top 12. The second end of the reinforcing members 66 may be disposed at an oblique angle (for instance, between about thirty and sixty degrees or between about forty and fifty degrees) relative to the lower surface or portion of the table top. It will be appreciated, however, that the reinforcing members 64, 66 do not require a generally uniform thickness or an elongated shape. It will also be appreciated that the reinforcing members 64, 66 may have other suitable sizes, shapes and/or configurations. Additionally, it will be appreciated that the table 10 may include any suitable number of reinforcing members 64, 66 and/or bosses 52, but neither the reinforcing members nor bosses are required.
  • As mentioned above, the fastener bosses 52, the body 58 and the reinforcing members 64, 66 may be integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during a molding process. Advantageously, the bosses 52 can be used in connection with a wide variety of structures and components, such as tables 10, table sections, sheds (including roof panels, wall panels, floor panels, door panels, gables, shelves or skylights), basketball systems (including backboards or bases), fences, barriers, panels, chairs (including chair seats, backrests or armrests), toys and the like. The fastener bosses 52, bodies 58 and/or reinforcing members 64, 66, however, need not be integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece structure and may be constructed from other suitable materials using various manufacturing processes. Significantly, this may allow the fastener bosses 52, the body 58 and/or the reinforcing members 64, 66 to be used in even more structures and/or contexts.
  • The table top 12 may include one or more ribs, which may be sized and configured to strengthen and/or reinforce the table top 12. In particular, as shown in FIGS. 7-8, a table top section 36, 38 of the table top 12 may include ribs 68. The ribs 68 may be arranged in a pattern that may include a first set of one or more ribs 68 extending along the table top section's length and a second set of one or more ribs extending along the table top section's width.
  • As shown in FIG. 7, the first and second sets of ribs may be generally perpendicular to each other and may form a pattern of generally rectangular shapes (such as generally rectangular shapes 70, 72). The generally rectangular shapes 72 may be at least about one, two or three times the size of the generally rectangular shapes 70, for instance, at least about 1.5 times the size of the generally rectangular shapes 70. It will be appreciated, however, the rectangles 70, 72 may have other suitable sizes and may be same size, if desired. It will be further appreciated that the pattern of ribs 68 may include, for example, a generally uniform pattern of squares or other suitable patterns of rectangles, triangles, polygons and/or other shapes, if desired
  • The pattern of ribs 68 may be sized and configured to help provide different strength and/or reinforcement for different portions of the table top section 36, 38. In particular, the pattern of ribs 68 may be sized and configured to provide more strength and/or reinforcement in places spaced apart from the frame 22 than in places proximate the frame. For example, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 7, the pattern of ribs may be denser proximate a generally central portion of the table top section 36, 38 that is spaced apart from the rails 24, 26, but less dense proximate the rails. The denser portions of the pattern may provide additional strength and/or reinforcement in locations that benefit less from the strength and/or reinforcement provided by the rails 24, 26. Significantly, this may help the table 10 provide a working surface with a generally consistent strength. Moreover, the less dense portions of the pattern may require less plastic, which may help reduce the overall manufacturing costs for the table 10. It will be appreciated, however, that the pattern of ribs 68 does not require denser portions.
  • The table top section 36, 38 preferably includes pattern of ribs including a first set of one or more ribs 68 that may extend along all or at least a substantial portion of the table top section's length and a second set of one or more ribs that may extend along all or at least a substantial portion of the table top section's width. For instance, as shown in FIG. 8, the table top section 36, 38 may include an outer edge or lip 74 and one or more of the ribs 68 may extend between and/or be connected to one or more portions of the outer edge or lip. It will be appreciated, however, that the table top section 36, 38 does not require any outer edge or lip 74.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2 and 8, the ribs 68 may be connected to the lip 74 and/or a lower portion or surface of the table top 12. For example, to connect the ribs 68 to the lip 74 and the lower portion or surface of the table top 12, the ribs, the lip and the lower portion or surface may be formed from molded plastic and may be integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during the molding process, which may be a compression molding process, an injection molding process, a blow-molding process and/or other molding process. The ribs 68, of course, may be connected to other portions of the table top 12 and/or table 10, if desired. In addition, the ribs 68, the lip 74 and the lower portion or surface of the table top need not be formed from plastic and may be constructed from other materials using other suitable manufacturing processes.
  • As shown in FIG. 7, the fastener bosses 52 may be spaced apart from the ribs 68 and may be located within one or more generally rectangular shapes formed by the ribs. The fastener bosses 52, however, may contact, abut, engage and/or be connected to the ribs 68, if desired.
  • As shown in FIGS. 4 and 8, the ribs 68 of the table top sections 36, 38 may include one or more raised portions 76 sized and configured to be aligned with each other when the table 10 and the table top 12 are in the folded position. In particular, one or more of the raised portions 76 of the table top section 36 may be sized and configured to contact, abut and/or engage the raised portions 76 of the table top section 38 when the table 10 and the table top 12 are in the folded position. Significantly, if the raised portions 76 of the table top sections 36, 38 contact, abut and/or engage each other, this may help add strength and/or stability to the folded table 10 and table top 12. Moreover, if the raised portions 76 of the table top sections 36, 38 contact, abut and/or engage each other, this may help prevent the rail sections 40, 42, 44, 46 and/or other portions of the table 10 from contacting each other, which could scratch or otherwise damage them.
  • The raised portions 76 may also facilitate storage of a plurality of table top sections 36, 38 for later assembly as part of a table 10. For instance, the table top sections may be stacked on top of each other with the raised portions 76 generally aligned. Desirably, this may help reinforce and/or strengthen the stack, which may include two, three, four or more table top sections, if desired. Any number or combination of adjacent table top sections may face the same direction or opposing directions in the stack, if desired.
  • As shown in FIG. 2, one or more portions of the frame 22 (for instance, one or more portions of the rails 24, 26) may contact, abut and/or engage the fastener bosses 52. In addition, one or more portions of the frame 22 may contact, abut and/or engage the ribs 68. By contacting, abutting and/or engaging the fastener bosses 52 and/or the ribs 68, the frame 22 may be more quickly easily positioned a desired location, such as a particular distance apart from a lower surface of the table top. It will be appreciated, however, that the frame 22 need not contact, abut and/or engage the fastener bosses 52 or the ribs 68 depending, for example, upon the particular configuration of the table 10. It will also be appreciated that the frame 22 need not be spaced apart from a lower surface of the table top and that the frame may be positioned in other suitable locations.
  • In some instances, by contacting, abutting and/or engaging the fastener bosses 52, the frame 22 may be secured to the table top 12 in a position that is spaced apart from the ribs 68, which may help reduce stresses applied to the ribs. It will be appreciated, however, that the frame 22 need not be spaced apart from the ribs and that the frame may be positioned in other suitable locations. It will also be appreciated that the table top does not require any ribs 68 or fastener bosses 52.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2 and 10-12, the table 10 may include a retainer 78 that may be sized and configured to secure the table in the folded position. For example, as shown in the accompanying figures, the retainer 78 may be connected to a first portion of the table 10, such as the table top section 36. In particular, the retainer 78 may be connected to the cross member 28. The retainer 78 is preferably sized and configured to be connected to a second portion of the table 10, such as the table top section 38, when the table is in the folded position. In greater detail, the retainer 78 is preferably sized and configured to be connected to the cross member 30, when the table top 12 is in the folded position.
  • Advantageously, the retainer 78 may retain the table 10 in the folded position so that the table does not unintentionally unfold when the folded table is being carried, transported and/or stored. In addition, the retainer 78 may be sized and configured to automatically engage the other portion of the table to simplify the engagement process. The retainer 78 may also be quickly and easily connected to the cross members 28, 30, which may simplify the manufacturing process and allow the retainer to be used in a wide variety of situations and environments. Additionally, the retainer 78 may be connected to suitable portions of the table top 12 to secure the retainer in a fixed position. Significantly, because the retainer 78 may be connected to the table top 12 and/or the cross members 28, 30 by a snap, friction or interference fit, the retainer may be easy to use and mechanical fasteners may not be required. It will be appreciated, however, that the retainer 78 may be connected to the table 10 by mechanical fasteners, adhesives, and the like and that the retainer can be attached to any suitable portions of the table.
  • Desirably, one portion of the retainer 78 is securely connected to a first portion of the table 10, such as the cross member 28, so that the retainer is permanently connected or not easily removed from the first portion. Another portion of the retainer 78 is preferably selectively connected to the second portion of the table top 12, such as the cross member 30, so that the retainer may be quickly and easily attached and detached. This may allow the retainer 78 to quickly and easily secure the table 10 and table top 12 in the folded position, and allow the table and table top to be quickly and easily moved into the unfolded position. It will be appreciated that either or both portions of the retainer 78 may be selectively or permanently connected to suitable portions of the table 10 and/or the table top 12 depending, for example, upon the design and/or intended use of the table.
  • As shown in FIG. 11, the retainer 78 may include a body 80 including a first clip 82 that is sized and configured to be connected to the cross member 28 and a second clip 84 that is sized and configured to be connected to the cross member 30. As shown in FIG. 10, the cross member 28 is preferably disposed within the clip 82. The cross member 30 is preferably disposed within the clip 84 when the folding table 10 is in the folded position. As shown in the accompanying figures, the cross members 30, 28 may have a generally circular cross sectional configuration, but the cross members could have other suitable configurations.
  • In further detail, the clip 82 may include one or more resiliently deformable arms that project from the body 80. The arms preferably include free ends that are separated by an opening or gap. As the cross member 28 is inserted into the gap, the free ends of the arms may deflect outwardly to allow the cross member to be inserted into the clip 82. The arms may then resiliently return to their original configuration to receive and retain the cross member 28 within the clip 82. It will be appreciated that the cross member 28 may be connected to the clip 82 using other suitable types of connections.
  • When the table top 12 is moved into the folded position, the cross member 30 is preferably received and retained in the clip 84 by a snap fit, a friction fit, an interference fit or the like. For example, the clip 84 may include resiliently deformable arms that project from the body 80. The arms preferably include free ends that are separated by an opening or gap. As the cross member 30 is inserted into the gap, the free ends of the arms may deflect outwardly to allow the cross member to be inserted into the clip 84. The arms may then resiliently return to their original configuration to receive and retain the cross member 30 within the clip 84. It will be appreciated that the cross member 30 may be connected to the clip 84 using other suitable types of connections.
  • As mentioned above, the arms of the clip 82 preferably include free ends that are separated by a gap or opening that are sized and configured to receive and retain the cross member 28. The arms of the clip 84 also preferably include free ends that are separated by a gap or opening that are sized and configured to receive and retain the connection rod 30. Preferably, the cross member 28 is more securely attached to the retainer 78 than the cross member 30 so that when the table top 12 is moved to the unfolded position, the cross member 30 is released from the clip 84. It will be appreciated, however, that the cross members 30, 28 may be selectively and/or securely attached to the clips 82, 84, as desired.
  • As best seen in FIG. 11, the opening between the arms of the clip 82 is preferably offset from the opening between the arms of the clip 84. In this offset configuration, at least one of the arms of the clip 82 may be sized and configured to help secure the retainer 78 in a generally fixed relationship relative to the table top 12 and/or secure the cross member 28 within the clip 82 when the table top 12 is moved between the folded and unfolded positions. Thus, when the table top 12 is moved from the folded position to the unfolded position, the cross member 30 is preferably removed from the clip 84 and at least one arm of the clip 82 may help resist movement of the retainer 78, for example, by engaging at least a portion of the table (such as the cross member 28). Thus, the arm of the clip 82 helps to help secure the retainer 78 in a generally fixed relationship relative to the table top 12 and/or the cross member 28.
  • As shown in FIGS. 10-12, the table top 12 may include one or more positioning members sized and configured to secure the retainer 78 in a generally fixed position relative to the table top 12. For example, the table top 12 may include a first positioning member (such as a rib 68) that may that contact, abut, engage and/or be disposed at least proximate to a lower portion of the retainer, which may help prevent the retainer 78 from undesirably rotating relative to the cross member 28. In addition, the table top 12 may include second and third positioning members (such as ribs 86) that contact, abut, engage and/or are disposed at least proximate to opposing sides of the retainer 78, which may help prevent the retainer 78 from undesirably sliding along the length of the cross member 28. The positioning members may be connected to a lower portion or surface of the table top 12. For example, the positioning members and the lower portion or surface may be formed from molded plastic and may be integrally formed as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during the molding process, which may be a compression molding process, an injection molding process, a blow-molding process and/or other molding process. The positioning members, of course, may be connected to other portions of the table top 12 and/or table 10, if desired. In addition, the positioning members and the lower portion or surface of the table top need not be formed from plastic and may be constructed from other materials using other suitable manufacturing processes. It will be appreciated that the positioning members need not include ribs and may include other structures having other suitable features.
  • As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, the table top 12 and/or a table top section 36, 38 may include a corner reinforcing structure 88. The corner reinforcing structure 88 may include a first rib 90 and a second rib 92. The rib 90 may include a first end connected to a first portion of the outer lip or edge 74 and a second end connected to a second portion of the outer lip or edge. The rib 92 may include a first end connected to the rib 90 and a second end connected to a third portion of the outer lip or edge 74, which may be positioned between the first and second portions of the outer lip or edge to which the rib 90 is connected. Desirably, the reinforcing structure 88 and/or the ribs 90, 92 may be integrally formed in the table top as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during, for example, a molding process.
  • As mentioned above, the table top 12 and/or a table top section 36, 38 may be formed from molded plastic. In some embodiments, an insert or cover may be placed into a mold, a charge of moldable plastic may be placed onto the insert or cover, and then the insert and the moldable plastic may be molded into the table top and/or table top section using, for example, a compression molding process or other molding process. Significantly, the insert may help hide cosmetic defects and/or may provide a visually attractive appearance. The insert is preferably positioned in the mold such that it may form part of an upper working surface of the molded table top and/or table top section and may be sized and configured to form all or at least a substantial portion of the upper working surface. The insert preferably comprises a graphical insert that may include a sheet with one or more graphics printed thereon. The sheet may have a porous configuration which may help prevent the sheet from forming air bubbles. One such exemplary sheet may be a Teslin® sheet (commercially available from PPG Industries, One PPG Place, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15272, United States of America), but other sheets and/or other inserts may be used. It will be appreciated that the insert may have other sizes and may be positioned in other locations to form other portions of the molded table top and/or table top section. It will also be appreciated that the table top 12 and the table top sections 36, 38 do not require any graphical inserts or any other inserts.
  • If desired, one or more graphics may be screen printed onto the upper working surface and/or other surfaces of the table top 12 and the table top sections 36, 38. This may also help hide cosmetic defects and/or may provide a visually attractive appearance. It will be appreciated, however, that this printing is not required.
  • Significantly, one or more of components of the table 10 may be constructed from a relative strong material, such as metal. For example, the legs 14, 16, 18, 20; the frame 22; the rails 24, 26; the cross members 28, 30, 32, 34; and/or the rail sections 40, 42, 44, 46 may be constructed from metal tubes, which may advantageously be strong, yet relatively lightweight. It will be appreciated, however, that these components do not require tubular configurations and may have other shapes and/or configurations. It will also be appreciated that these components need not be constructed from metal and may be constructed from other suitable materials, if desired.
  • As discussed above, components of the table 10 may be constructed from plastic. Exemplary molding systems and methods that may be used to constructed these plastic components are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/771,378, which was filed Jun. 29, 2007, entitled MOLDING SYSTEMS AND METHODS; U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/817,834, which was filed Jun. 29, 2006, entitled MOLDING SYSTEMS AND METHODS; and U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/847,548, which was filed Sep. 27, 2006, entitled TABLE WITH MOLDED TABLE TOP. Each of these applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties. It will be appreciated, however, that other molding systems and methods that may be used to constructed these plastic components.
  • Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is intended to be defined only by the claims which follow.

Claims (24)

1. A table comprising:
a frame;
at least one leg connected to the frame;
a table top constructed from plastic, the table top comprising:
a surface; and
a fastener boss integrally formed with the surface of the table top as part of a unitary, one piece structure during a molding process, the fastener boss including:
a body extending outwardly from the surface of the table top; and
at least one reinforcing member extending in at least one non-radial direction away from the body; and
a fastener interconnecting at least a portion of the frame and the body of the fastener boss.
2. The table as in claim 1, wherein the table top further comprises a pattern of ribs integrally formed in the unitary, one piece structure during the molding process, the pattern of ribs including a denser portion disposed at least proximate a generally central portion of the table top.
3. The table as in claim 1, wherein the table top further comprises a pattern of ribs integrally formed in the unitary, one piece structure during the molding process, the pattern of ribs including a denser portion spaced apart from the frame to provide a working surface with a generally consistent strength.
4. The table as in claim 1, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes a plurality of reinforcing members extending in a plurality of non-radial directions away from the body.
5. The table as in claim 1, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least one reinforcing member extending in a generally tangential direction away from the body.
6. The table as in claim 1, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes a plurality of reinforcing members extending in a plurality of generally tangential directions away from the body.
7. The table as in claim 1, wherein the fastener boss is integrally formed with the surface of the table top as part of a unitary, one piece structure during a compression molding process.
8. An apparatus comprising:
a first structure constructed from plastic, the first structure comprising:
a surface; and
a fastener boss integrally formed with the surface of the first structure as part of a unitary, one piece structure during a molding process, the fastener boss including:
a body extending outwardly from the surface of the first structure; and
at least one reinforcing member extending in at least one non-radial direction away from the body;
a second structure;
a fastener interconnecting the second structure and the body of the fastener boss.
9. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least two reinforcing members extending in at least two non-radial directions away from the body.
10. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least three reinforcing members extending in at least three non-radial directions away from the body.
11. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least four reinforcing members extending in at least four non-radial directions away from the body.
12. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least two reinforcing members extending in at least two generally tangential directions away from the body.
13. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least three reinforcing members extending in at least three generally tangential directions away from the body.
14. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the at least one reinforcing member extending in a non-radial direction away from the body includes at least four reinforcing members extending in at least four generally tangential directions away from the body.
15. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first structure comprises at least a portion of a table top.
16. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first structure comprises at least a portion of a table top; and wherein the second structure comprises at least a portion of a metal frame.
17. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first structure comprises at least a portion of a shed.
18. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first structure comprises at least a portion of a basketball system.
19. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first structure comprises at least a portion of a fence.
20. The apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first structure comprises at least a portion of a chair.
21. A table comprising:
a frame including a first metal rail and a second metal rail;
at least one leg connected to the frame;
a table top connected to the frame, the table top being constructed from plastic, the table top comprising:
a lower surface; and
a pattern of ribs integrally formed with the lower surface of the table top as part of a unitary, one-piece structure during a molding process, the pattern of ribs including a denser portion spaced apart from the first and second metal rails to provide a working surface with a generally consistent strength.
22. The table as in claim 21, wherein the unitary, one piece structure is a table top section; and wherein the denser portion is disposed at least proximate a generally central portion of the table top section.
23. The table as in claim 21, wherein table top is sized and configured to move between a folded position and an unfolded position.
24. The table as in claim 23, further comprising a retainer sized and configured to releasably secure the table top in the folded position, at least a portion of the pattern of ribs being sized and configured to restrict the movement of the retainer.
US11/863,132 2006-09-27 2007-09-27 Table Abandoned US20080078310A1 (en)

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US20150245705A1 (en) * 2014-03-03 2015-09-03 Lafuma Mobilier S.A.S. Connecting piece for folding table
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US10039374B2 (en) 2016-05-13 2018-08-07 Steelcase Inc. Multi-tiered workstation assembly
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US10517392B2 (en) 2016-05-13 2019-12-31 Steelcase Inc. Multi-tiered workstation assembly

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