WO1993004750A1 - A flexible connector - Google Patents

A flexible connector Download PDF

Info

Publication number
WO1993004750A1
WO1993004750A1 PCT/AU1992/000456 AU9200456W WO9304750A1 WO 1993004750 A1 WO1993004750 A1 WO 1993004750A1 AU 9200456 W AU9200456 W AU 9200456W WO 9304750 A1 WO9304750 A1 WO 9304750A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
connector
fingers
flexible
connector according
body portion
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU1992/000456
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
John Reeves Taylor
Original Assignee
John Reeves Taylor
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AUPK799491 priority Critical
Priority to AUPK7994 priority
Application filed by John Reeves Taylor filed Critical John Reeves Taylor
Publication of WO1993004750A1 publication Critical patent/WO1993004750A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H33/00Other toys
    • A63H33/04Building blocks, strips, or similar building parts
    • A63H33/10Building blocks, strips, or similar building parts to be assembled by means of additional non-adhesive elements

Abstract

A flexible and resilient toy connector for interconnecting elongate tubes so as to create 2-D and 3-D space frame structures, the connector comprising a deformable central body portion (11) and a plurality of individually bendable and flexible fingers (12) radiating outwardly therefrom, each finger (12) being adapted to slidably engage with a respective end of an elongate tube and, when so engaged, retained therewith by frictional engagement, the connector (10) when in its undeformed state being essentially planar.

Description

"A FLEXIBLE CONNECTOR" This invention relates to a flexible connector for interconnecting elongate tubular members, and in particular to a connector for connecting together plastic elongate tubes in spatial arrangements and at any angle with respect to one another so as to form two dimensional or three dimensional objects. The invention is especially suited for educational purposes for use by children in assembling three dimensional objects of any size or shape.

Toy connectors known to the Applicant and which are used to assemble space frame structures, geodesic shapes and other 3- D, objects suffer from the drawback of inflexibility which limits .their ability to produce different shapes.

The main object of the present invention is to provide a flexible connector which will enable elongate tubular articles to be quickly and simply interconnected to produce 2-D or 3-D shapes and structures, which is of extremely simple design, of low cost and which is not prone to damage as a result of rough handling and abuse by users thereof.

In its broadest form, this invention is directed to a flexible, deformable connector for connecting together elongate tubular members, e.g. plastic drinking straws, said connector being integrally moulded of flexible resilient material and comprising a bendable central body portion and a plurality of individually bendable and deformable fingers extending outwardly from said central body portion and spaced- angularly therearound, said fingers each being shaped and sized so as to be slidably engageable with a respective end of an elongate tubular article and, when so engaged, retained therewith by frictional engagement, said connector when in its undeformed state, being essentially planar. Preferably, the connector is a flat, thin member, with its central portion being of discoid shape and the fingers extending radially therefrom, the ends of the fingers being evenly spaced circumferentially around the periphery of the connector. Generally, the fingers are of equal length.

The number of radially projecting fingers can vary widely and depends on how many tubular articles are to be connected thereto. Preferably, each of the fingers is of rectangular cross-section.

Preferably, the central body portion is provided with a central hole or aperture which enhances the flexibility and deformability of the body portion and which is dimensioned to allow passage of an elongate article therethrough. With the connector in a deformed condition, the peripheral edge of the hole will grip the outer surface of the elongate tubular article and inhibit it against axial displacement.

Preferably the connector is moulded from soft pliable, resilient plastics or elastomeric material selected from polyester, rubber modified polypropylene, rubber, polyurethane, PVC or the like.

Preferably, the adjacent edges of the fingers intersect at their radially inner ends and are able to be squeezed together with their adjacent edges in contiguous parallel relation. With the fingers, thus squeezed together, an elongate tube having a diameter approximately twice the width of the fingers can be slidably engaged thereonto and frictionally retained therewith. Separate tubes can be connected to each of the fingers if so desired.

The connectors can be used to connect together readily available plastic drinking straws of the type which have a flexible joint formed therein to enable the straw to be bent into an infinite number of angular configurations. The invention will now be further described and explained with reference to a number of different embodiments, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Fig. 1 illustrates a planar flexible connector formed with three radially projecting legs or fingers;

Figs. 2-4 illustrate planar connectors having six, nine and twelve such legs or fingers respectively;

Figs. 5 and 6 show examples of 3-D structures assembled from elongate tubes and the connectors of this invention;

Fig. 7 shows an enlarged view of a single connector having two of the fingers connected to tubes extending at approximately 90* to the plane of the connector;

Fig. 8 shows a 3-D connector assembly made up from 3 six-fingered connectors in juxtaposed relationship, with pairs of fingers of the connectors in face to face contact; and

Fig. 9 shows a connector with pairs of fingers squeezed together and engaged by either a single large diameter tube or separate smaller diameter tubes.

In each of the illustrated embodiments, each connector 10 is integrally moulded of soft, pliable resilient plastics material, e.g. PVC , and comprises a central body portion 11 and a plurality of radially projecting fingers 12, each of the fingers 12, when the connector is in its undeformed condition, being angularly displaced from its adjacent fingers 12 and coplanar therewith. Each of the flexible fingers 12 is bendable or deformable to any desired position, independently of the other fingers 12. In the illustrated e bodiments, each of the fingers 12 is of rectangular cross- section but it will of course be appreciated that other cross-sectional shapes can be used e.g. circular or oval. The fingers 12 are shaped and sized so that each can be engaged within an end of a hollow plastic tube 15 with an interference fit in a spigot-socket type manner. Due to the ability of each of the fingers 12 and as well the body portion 11 to bend or deform (in different planes) independently of the other, a vast number of different three dimensional spatial configurations can be formed with the plastic tubes 15, two such configurations being shown in Figs. 5 and 6.

In addition, each of the fingers 12 can, if need be, be twisted.

The body portion 11 of each connector 10 is provided with a central axial hole 16 which improves the flexibility and deformability of the connector 10. The hole 16 also serves as a connection point for a tube 15 which may pass axially through the hole 16 or have one of its ends inserted therein. The hole 16 is dimensioned so as to frictionally retain the tube 15 when engaged therein. An example of this is illustrated in Fig. 8, which shows three separate connectors 10 held together in an approximately triangular configuration (viewed in plan) , with pairs of fingers 12 in face to face contact and their body portions 11 curved in two planes. Tubes 15 slidably fit over the pairs of mating fingers 12 and thereby retain the connectors 10 together. Tubes 17 fit into the holes 16 of each of the three connectors 10 and extend radially therefrom.

Referring to Fig. 9, there is shown a connector 10 which has pairs of adjacent fingers 12 horizontally squeezed together so that their adjacent edges abut one another. A tube 18 of larger diameter than that normally used can then slide over the abutting fingers 12 to hold them together.

Each connector 10, in the undeformed state, is essentially flat, and preferably is provided with radial fingers 12 which are of rectangular cross-section, the width of the fingers being greater than their axial thickness. To facilitate the fitting of the tube ends onto the fingers 12, the free ends of the fingers 12 are smoothly curved.

The invention is especially suited for school students and children and allows them to form three dimensional objects of any size or shape, and provides the advantage of design simplicity and low cost.

Claims

The claims defining the invention are as follows:
1. A flexible, deformable connector for connecting together elongate tubular members so as to form a two-dimensional or three-dimensional object, said connector being integrally moulded of resilient synthetic material and comprising a flexible, bendable central body portion and a plurality of individually flexible and bendable fingers extending outwardly from said central body portion and spaced angularly therearound, said fingers each being shaped and sized so as to be insertable within a respective end of an elongate tubular member and, when so inserted, retained therein by frictional engagement, said connector when in its undeformed state, being essentially planar.
2. A connector according to claim 1 wherein said central portion of the connector is of discoid shape and said fingers extend radially .therefrom.
3. A connector according to either claim 1 or claim 2 wherein said central body portion is provided with a central hole or aperture dimensioned so as to allow an end of respective said elongate tubular member to be inserted thereinto.
4. A connector according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the adjacent edges of adjacent fingers intersect at their radially inner ends.
5. A connector according to any one of the preceding claims wherein each said finger has a flattened rectangular cross- sectional shape.
6. A connector according to claim 5 wherein the free end of each said finger is smoothly curved.
7. A connector according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the connector is formed of soft pliable resilient plastics material.
8. In combination, a plurality of connectors according to any one of the preceding claims and a plurality of elongate plastic tubes for connection with said connectors, each said tube being arranged to have each of its opposite open ends slidably engaged over a respective said finger.
9. A connector according to claim 1 which is flat and thin, said fingers having their outer free ends lying on the circumference of an imaginary circle which has its centre coincident with the centre of the connector.
10. A flexible connector substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
PCT/AU1992/000456 1991-08-28 1992-08-28 A flexible connector WO1993004750A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AUPK799491 1991-08-28
AUPK7994 1991-08-28

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO1993004750A1 true WO1993004750A1 (en) 1993-03-18

Family

ID=3775647

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/AU1992/000456 WO1993004750A1 (en) 1991-08-28 1992-08-28 A flexible connector

Country Status (1)

Country Link
WO (1) WO1993004750A1 (en)

Cited By (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1999013954A1 (en) 1997-09-18 1999-03-25 Julius Janos Building set
ITFI20100104A1 (en) * 2010-05-14 2011-11-15 Pistoia Sandro Del Modular system for the realization of elements of furniture
US9382932B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2016-07-05 Play From Scratch Llc Connector system
US9458872B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2016-10-04 Play From Scratch Llc Connector devices
JP2018086300A (en) * 2018-02-06 2018-06-07 洋 島 Three-dimensional object forming device

Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
GB340357A (en) * 1929-10-28 1931-01-01 Reginald George King Improvements relating to constructional toys
US3830011A (en) * 1973-04-09 1974-08-20 S Ochrymowich Deformable tubular rods with deformable sheet material connectors

Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
GB340357A (en) * 1929-10-28 1931-01-01 Reginald George King Improvements relating to constructional toys
US3830011A (en) * 1973-04-09 1974-08-20 S Ochrymowich Deformable tubular rods with deformable sheet material connectors

Cited By (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1999013954A1 (en) 1997-09-18 1999-03-25 Julius Janos Building set
ITFI20100104A1 (en) * 2010-05-14 2011-11-15 Pistoia Sandro Del Modular system for the realization of elements of furniture
EP2386337A1 (en) 2010-05-14 2011-11-16 Sandro Del Pistoia A system for manufacturing substantially rigid and self-supporting network structures
US9382932B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2016-07-05 Play From Scratch Llc Connector system
US9458872B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2016-10-04 Play From Scratch Llc Connector devices
JP2018086300A (en) * 2018-02-06 2018-06-07 洋 島 Three-dimensional object forming device

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