WO2013030686A2 - Panel and covering assembled from such panels - Google Patents

Panel and covering assembled from such panels Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013030686A2
WO2013030686A2 PCT/IB2012/053691 IB2012053691W WO2013030686A2 WO 2013030686 A2 WO2013030686 A2 WO 2013030686A2 IB 2012053691 W IB2012053691 W IB 2012053691W WO 2013030686 A2 WO2013030686 A2 WO 2013030686A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
floor panel
panel according
panels
opposite edges
preferably
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2012/053691
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2013030686A3 (en
Inventor
Benny Schacht
Guy Van Hooydonck
Original Assignee
Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl
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 US201161529344P priority Critical
Priority to US61/529,344 priority
Application filed by Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl filed Critical Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl
Publication of WO2013030686A2 publication Critical patent/WO2013030686A2/en
Publication of WO2013030686A3 publication Critical patent/WO2013030686A3/en

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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F15/00Flooring
    • E04F15/02Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements
    • E04F15/10Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements of other materials, e.g. fibrous or chipped materials, organic plastics, magnesite tiles, hardboard, or with a top layer of other materials
    • E04F15/105Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements of other materials, e.g. fibrous or chipped materials, organic plastics, magnesite tiles, hardboard, or with a top layer of other materials of organic plastics with or without reinforcements or filling materials
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F15/00Flooring
    • E04F15/02Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements
    • E04F15/02038Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements characterised by tongue and groove connections between neighbouring flooring elements
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F2201/00Joining sheets or plates or panels
    • E04F2201/01Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship
    • E04F2201/0169Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship by rotating the sheets, plates or panels around an axis which is perpendicular to the abutting edges and parallel to the main plane, possibly combined with a sliding movement
    • E04F2201/0176Joining sheets, plates or panels with edges in abutting relationship by rotating the sheets, plates or panels around an axis which is perpendicular to the abutting edges and parallel to the main plane, possibly combined with a sliding movement with snap action of the edge connectors
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F2201/00Joining sheets or plates or panels
    • E04F2201/02Non-undercut connections, e.g. tongue and groove connections
    • E04F2201/021Non-undercut connections, e.g. tongue and groove connections with separate protrusions
    • E04F2201/022Non-undercut connections, e.g. tongue and groove connections with separate protrusions with tongue or grooves alternating longitudinally along the edge
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F2201/00Joining sheets or plates or panels
    • E04F2201/03Undercut connections, e.g. using undercut tongues or grooves

Abstract

Floor panel, that is preferably rectangular and/or oblong, having at least two opposite edges (4-5), wherein these edges are profiled, wherein a first one of said opposite edges (4) is profiled such that said first one of said opposite edges comprises at least a protrusion (28) along the length (L) of the edge, wherein a second one of said opposite edges (5) is profiled such that said second one of said opposite edges comprises at least one excavation (29) along the length (L) of the edge, wherein two of such floor panels (1) can be brought into a coupled condition by introducing the protrusion (28) of said first one of said two opposite edges of a first panel in the excavation (29) of said second one of said two opposite edges of a second panel, wherein in said coupled condition said two panels (1) at the respective edges are locked to each other at least in a vertical direction (V1) perpendicular to the main plane of the coupled panels and in a horizontal direction (H2) in the main plane of the coupled panels and perpendicular to the coupled edges.

Description

Panel and covering assembled from such panels.

This invention relates to a panel and a covering formed of such panels.

Primarily, the invention relates to floor panels, more particularly decorative floor panels for forming a floor covering, however, it is not excluded to apply the invention with other forms of coverings, for example, as wall panels, ceiling panels and the like.

The invention relates in particular to panels consisting of supple synthetic material, more particularly panels consisting of soft PVC (polyvinyl chloride), also called vinyl tiles or vinyl strips. Often, also the abbreviation LVT is used for such tiles, which stands for Luxurious Vinyl Tile. Herein, this then relates particularly to vinyl tiles with a full core, said core whether or not being composed of layers and substantially consisting of a material on the basis of PVC, amongst which recycled or un-recycled PVC. It is clear that such “tiles” can be rectangular and oblong, i.e. plank shaped.

Panels of synthetic material are known, amongst others, from US 2002/0189183. Herein, reference is also made to the American patent application No. 09/152,684, which is granted under the No. US 6.306.318, and wherein for the material, the use of PVC is stated. The panels represented in the document US 2002/0189183 are formed in a mold. This technique shows the disadvantage that it is expensive and that the production rate is low. Further, the panels obtained in this manner are subjected to tolerance deviations as a result of the fact that expansions may occur when removing the panels from the mold, as a consequence of which the coupling means possibly formed at the edges, when installing the panels, either are difficult to fit into each other, or are sitting too loosely in each other.

From WO 2011/077311 it is known to provide such panels, wherein these panels, at least at two opposite edges, comprises coupling parts of the type allowing to couple two of such panels to each other by means of a downward movement of one panel in respect to the other; wherein these coupling parts form a first locking system, which effects a locking in the plane of the panels and perpendicularly to said edges, as well as form a second locking system, which effects a locking perpendicularly to the plane of the panels; wherein at least one of said coupling parts is realized at least partially in soft PVC, as well as at least partially in the form of a milled profiled part of this soft PVC. The disclosed coupling means are difficult to incorporate in thin panels and the second locking system provides for a locking of only low strength. Although the coupling systems of WO 2011/077311 are particularly useful when applied in panels having a substrate on the basis of synthetic material, and in particular PVC panels, with soft PVC it was found that in particular under the influence of heat, for example, sun radiation on a floor, a considerable expansion can take place, with the result that with such soft PVC, there is a risk that the panels, at their edges, are pushed upward against each other, which can result in that such couplings simply are pushed out of each other. The same WO 2011/077311 proposes to solve such problem by the application of so-called angle connections at both pairs of edges of panels of soft PVC. Installation of panels with such connections is more cumbersome.

A first aim of the invention consists in offering solutions for coupling such panels of PVC, or of another supple synthetic material, to each other in an adequate manner, such by means of appropriate coupling parts. The invention is especially aiming at offering solutions for coupling thin panels, i.e. thinner than 5 mm, or even panels of 4 mm or thinner.

Moreover, the invention in general also relates to a panel, in particular a floor panel, which, at least at two opposite edges, comprises coupling parts of the type allowing to couple two of such panels to each other by means of a downward movement of one panel in respect to the other, wherein these coupling parts form a first locking system, which effects a locking in the plane of the panels and perpendicularly to said edges, as well as form a second locking system, which effects a locking perpendicularly to the plane of the panels. A second aim of the invention consists in further optimizing panels of this type, such that the coupling parts offer new possibilities and, amongst others, also can be applied with panels of a supple material, more particularly said panels of soft PVC.

The invention is as described in the claims. Drawings are attached to further illustrate certain preferred embodiments or preferred features of panels and covering that make use of the invention.

In a preferred embodiment, the panel is realized as a supple PVC panel, thus, at least with a substrate on the basis of PVC, and said coupling parts are integrally made of this substrate, preferably entirely by means of a mechanical cutting treatment, more particularly by means of a milling process. More particularly, it is preferred herein that the panel substantially consists of a substrate on the basis of soft PVC and that said coupling parts are integrally realized in said substrate, wherein said locking parts are realized as fixed, possibly somewhat compressible parts. By making use of soft PVC in a coupling system with coupling parts which can be joined together by a downward movement, it is obtained that the coupling parts can move smoothly along each other during coupling.

The term “reinforcement layer” is to be understood in a broad sense and also simply includes a layer which, for example, is applied as a basic carrier for building up the vinyl structure.

According to preferred embodiments, the panels of the invention may show the following additional characteristics, inasmuch as these characteristics do not already form part of the basic characteristics of the invention, as defined in claim 1. These characteristics consist in:

  • that at least said coupling parts, which are of the type allowing that two of such floor panels can be coupled to each other by means of a downward movement of one panel in respect to the other, are realized at least partially and preferably entirely of soft PVC;
  • that it comprises a substrate of soft PVC and that at least said coupling parts, which are of the type allowing that two of such floor panels can be coupled to each other by means of a downward movement of one panel in respect to the other, are integrally realized from the substrate;
  • that said coupling parts, which are of the type allowing that two of such floor panels can be coupled to each other by means of a downward movement of one panel in respect to the other, have a first locking system, which is formed at least of an upwardly directed lower hook-shaped portion situated at one of the respective edges, as well as a downwardly directed upper hook-shaped portion situated at the opposite edge;
  • that this panel is rectangular, either oblong or square, and thus comprises a first pair of opposite edges and a second pair of opposite edges, wherein both pairs of opposite edges comprise coupling parts allowing to mutually couple a plurality of such panels to each other, wherein these coupling parts at both pairs of edges form a first locking system which effects a locking in the plane of the panels and perpendicular to the respective edges, as well as form a second locking system which effects a locking perpendicularly to the plane of the panels, and wherein the coupling parts at one or at both said pairs of edges thus are formed by said coupling parts which are of the type allowing that two of such floor panels can be coupled to each other by means of a downward movement of one panel in respect to the other;
  • that the panel substantially consists of a substrate and that the coupling parts at both pairs of edges are realized substantially integrally from this substrate;
  • that the substrate substantially consists of soft PVC, in which possibly a reinforcement layer is incorporated;
  • that the substrate substantially consists of soft PVC, with the exception of possible top layers, backing layers and intermediate layers, which may consist of another material.

According to a particular aspect of the invention, the coupling parts and/or the substrate and/or the entire panel consist of a supple synthetic material other than PVC, preferably having an elasticity comparable to that of soft PVC. It is clear that similar advantages are obtained. Also, compositions of materials are possible, for example, soft PVC with other materials, such as fillers. The PVC may consist of newly-made material as well as recycled PVC. It is clear that this also applies to the embodiments which are to follow.

The panels of the invention preferably are made in the form of rectangular oblong strips. The dimensions may vary greatly.

In respect to thickness of the embodiments aimed at herein above as well as herein below, this preferably varies between 2 and 6 mm.

At the decor side, they comprise a decorative layer or a print layer, which may carry any image. In a practical embodiment, the image represents a wood motif. More particularly, on each panel the appearance of a wooden plank, preferably a single wooden plank, is represented.

Other additional preferred characteristics are clear from the drawings and the claims. It is noted that all such characteristics can be applied in isolation or in any combination.

It is noted that “soft PVC” is a term which expresses that this relates to supple PVC, in other words, PVC which is bendable in a relatively smooth manner. The term soft PVC is generally known in the art. Such soft PVC consists of PVC which is softened, preferably by means of a plasticizer added during the production process. Depending on the amount of plasticizer added, of course different degrees of suppleness can be obtained.

By a plasticizer, any agent is to be understood, which, when added, results in a more supple PVC. Typical examples are phthalate plasticizers, phthalate-free plasticizers and isosorbide plasticizers.

By PCV which has been plasticized, of course, also PVC can be understood, or a composition on the basis of PVC, which as such has the feature that it is supple, for example, because it is modified.

Preferably, a suppleness will be applied which is such that, when a panel is gripped horizontally at one extremity, it indeed will bend downward under its own weight and possibly at a distance from the clamped portion indeed will hang downward completely, however, preferably will not limply hang downward directly after the clamped end, however, it will still be well bendable by a manual force.

Also, it is noted that the invention is not restricted to the use of PVC or another synthetic material.

With the intention of better showing the characteristics of the invention, hereafter, as an example without any limitative character, some preferred embodiments are described, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 in top plan view represents a panel, more particularly a floor panel, according to the invention;

Figures 2 and 3, at a larger scale, represent cross-sections according to the lines II-II and III-III in figure 1;

Figures 4 and 5 represent how the panels can be interconnected at their long sides;

Figures 6 and 7 represent how the panels fit into each other at their short sides;

Figure 8 represents how a plurality of panels from figure 1 can be connected to each other;

Figure 9, at a larger scale, represents the portion indicated by F9 in figure 8;

Figure 10 and figure 11 represent view respectively according to arrows F10 en F11 in figure 9;

Figure 12 represents a cross-section according to the line XII-XII indicated in figure 9;

Figure 13 represents an enlarged view on the region that is indicated with F13 on figure 12;

Figure 14 in a similar view represents a variant.

In figures 1 to 7, an embodiment of a panel 1 according to the invention is represented, which is realized as a floor panel.

In the represented example, the panel 1 is made as an oblong rectangular strip and thus comprises a first pair of opposite edges 2-3, which in this case form the long sides of the panel 1, and a second pair of opposite edges 4-5, which form the short sides of the panel 1.

As is represented more in detail in figures 2 and 3, both pairs of opposite edges 2-3 and 4-5 comprise coupling parts 6-7, 8-9, respectively, which allow to mutually couple a plurality of such panels 1 to each other.

As specifically represented in the figures 4 and 5, coupling parts 6-7 at the first pair of opposite edges 2-3 are configured such that two of such panels can be coupled to each other at these edges 2-3 in a locking manner by means of a turning movement. Herein, the coupling parts 6-7 form a first locking system which effects a locking in the plane of the panels 1 and perpendicularly to said edges 2-3, thus, in this case in the horizontal direction H1, as well as form a second locking system, which effects a locking perpendicularly to the plane of the panels 1, in this case, thus, in the vertical direction V1. To this aim, the coupling parts 6-7 are constructed as a tongue 10 and a groove 11, which provide for the vertical locking and comprise locking parts 12-13, which, in the coupled condition, prevent the shifting apart of the tongue and groove.

Herein, it is preferred that, as indicated, the groove 11 is limited by a lower lip 14 and an upper lip 15, and that the locking parts 12 and 13 are performed in the form of cooperating projections, at the lower side of the tongue 10 and at the upper side of the lower lip 14, respectively. The cooperation is performed by means of locking surfaces 16 and 17 provided for this purpose. As also represented, it is also preferred that the lower lip 14 extends laterally up to beyond the distal end of the upper lip 15, more particularly such that the locking surface 17 is situated entirely in that portion of the lower lip 14 which is situated beyond the upper lip 15.

As is clearly visible in figures 6 and 7, the coupling parts 8-9 herein also form a first locking system, which effects a locking in the plane of the panels 1 and perpendicular to said edges 4-5, thus, in the case in the horizontal direction H2, as well as a second locking system, which effects a locking perpendicularly to the plane of the panels 1, in this case, thus, the vertical direction V1.

The first locking system is substantially formed of an upwardly directed lower hook-shaped portion 18 situated at the edge 5, as well as of a downwardly directed upper hook-shaped portion 19 which is situated at the opposite edge 4, which hook-shaped portions can be engaged one behind the other by said downward movement. The lower hook-shaped portion 18 consists of a lip 20, which extends laterally from the lower edge of the panel 1 and which is provided with an upwardly directed locking element 21 with a locking surface 22, whereas the upper hook-shaped portion 19 consists of a lip 23, which extends laterally from the upper edge of the panel 1 and which is provided with a downwardly directed locking element 24 with a locking surface 25.

The second locking system of the edges at the short sides is at least partly, but preferably wholly, formed by locking parts 26-27. The locking parts 26-27 comprise at least of a protrusion 28 at the first edge 5 that cooperates with an excavation 29 at the second edge 4, wherein this protrusion 28 and excavation 29 engage into one another and define locking surfaces 30-31, which are active in the vertical direction V1, in a coupled condition of two such panels at the respective edges. The locking surfaces 30-31, as illustrated in figure 10 and 11, in this case, are plane and extend such that they intersect the length direction L of the respective edges 4-5. In this case a plurality of protrusions 28 is available along the length of the first edge 5, and a plurality of excavations 20 is available along the length of the second edge 4, wherein in a coupled state of two such panels the protrusions and excavations engage to form part of at least said second locking system, at least by means of the interfering, preferably mating, locking surfaces 30-31. In the example embodiment the protrusions 28 of the first edge 5 are extending downwardly, while the excavations are provided in the lip 20 of the second edge 4. It is clear that in addition to the protrusions and excavations, traditional tongue-and-groove connections, here not illustrated, might further add to the strength of the second locking system, though such is not necessary.

It is noted that the edge 5 that is provided with the protrusions 29 forms a male part 33, while the edge 4 that is provided with the excavations 28 forms a female part 32, wherein for coupling two panels at these edges the male part 33 engages the female part 32. Upon coupling both the first and the second locking system become active, preferably automatically.

The panel 1 is substantially formed on the basis of soft polyvinyl chloride (PVC). More specifically, it comprises a substrate which is realized on the basis of soft PVC, which substrate is indicated by reference 34 in figures 2 through 13. In these figures, this substrate is schematically depicted as a single layer. In reality, this may be a single layer as well as several layers, which not all have to consist of PVC. Usually, a top layer 35 is provided on the substrate, which in figures 2 to 13 also is represented by a single layer, however, in reality also may consist of several layers, which further will become clear from the description of figure 14. The top layer 35 has at least the aim of providing a decorative upper side 36 at the panel 1, preferably in the form of a printed decor and, at least in the case of a floor panel, providing for offering a wear-resistant surface.

As indicated in figure 7, the panels have a total thickness T. The thickness T preferably has a value situated between 1,5 and 6 mm. In particular in a practical embodiment, this value will be situated between 2 and 4 mm.

It is noted that the aforementioned coupling parts, 6-7 as well as 8-9, as represented, preferably are formed integrally from the material of the actual panel 1, more particularly from the substrate material. As a result thereof, the coupling parts as such also consist of soft PVC. It is noted that the coupling parts 6-7 and 8-9 preferably are also formed by means of a mechanical treatment, more particularly milling treatments. Milling techniques which allow to provide coupling parts at the edges of the panels are known, amongst others, from WO 97/47834. By selecting appropriate cutters and by means of an appropriate adjustment thereof, thus, appropriate profiled parts, for example, as are represented in the figures, may be realized. For realizing the special profiles of the invention, milling cutters as described in WO 2011/061659 might be used, in other words a method for manufacturing panels might be applied, wherein these panels, at least at two opposite edges, are being provided with coupling means allowing to couple two of such panels or floor panels at the edges concerned to each other, such that the respective floor panels in the coupled condition are locked in a vertical direction V1 perpendicular to the plane of the coupled floor panels 1, as well as in a horizontal direction H1 or H2 perpendicular to the respective edges and in the plane of the coupled floor panels 1, wherein the method comprises at least a step in which the panels 1 are transported with a feeding speed in the length direction L of the edges concerned and wherein, for forming at least a part of said coupling means, more particularly the protrusions and/or excavations at said edges, use is made of a cutting tool which rotates around an axis which is substantially parallel to said edges.

It is clear that figure 6 and 7 are cross-sections through the same edges 4-5 in a joint condition thereof, wherein figure 6 is a cross-section at a position where both the lower hook-shaped portion 18 and the upper hook-shaped portion 19 are complete and wherein figure 7 is a cross-section at the location of a cooperating protrusion 28 and excavation 29.

Figure 10 and figure 11 illustrate that the excavations 29 and the protrusions 28 can be as a whole inclined, with an inclination A between 7° and 45°. In the illustrated embodiment the inclination A is 30° or about 30°.

Figure 12 illustrates that engagement of the edges 4-5 can be effected by warping, rolling or bending the panel edge around an axis parallel with the horizontal direction H2. Such deformation of the panel’s first edge 4 can alleviate the force needed to connect the panels 1. A situation can be attained wherein the respective edges 4-5 are coupled by laying the male part 33 on the female part 32 and then simply sliding along the joint to be formed with the thumb or a roller, e.g. following a method disclosed in WO 2011/028171. The edges 4-5 are made such that gradually, one after the other, the protrusions 29 are introduced into the excavations. At the same time, gradually the upper hook shaped portion 19 engages the lower hook shaped portion 18.

In the illustrated embodiment the protrusions 28 are basically formed at the underside of the upper hook shaped portion 19, more particularly at the underside of the downwardly directed locking element 24 thereof, while the excavations are formed in the lip 20 of the lower hook shaped portion 18, more particularly the lip 20 has been completely interrupted, i.e. all through her thickness, for realizing the excavations 29.

In figures 8 and 9, it is schematically represented how the panels 1 can be installed. In order to explain the method, a number of the panels 1, in order to differentiate additionally, are indicated by references 1A, 1B, 1C. The panels 1 are laid down row per row and coupled to each other. In order to obtain that the panels are coupled at the edges 2-3 as well as 4-5, the method comprises at least the following steps:

- installing a first panel 1A intended for forming part of a first row of panels;

- coupling a second panel 1B to said first panel 1A, such at first edges 2-3, wherein this second panel 1B is intended for forming part of a second row successive to said first row of panels;

- coupling in the second row a third panel 1C both to said second panel 1B as to the first panel 1A, wherein the third panel 1C is coupled to the first panel 1A by means of a turning movement, wherein the third panel 1C, from an upwardly pivoted position, is brought into substantially the same plane as the first and second panels, whereas, as a result of this movement and the downward movement created therein, the hook-shaped portions 18-19 engage into each other between the third and second panel.

It is clear that normally, between installing the first panel 1A and coupling the second panel 1B thereto, first also all further panels of the row in which the first panel 1A is situated, are installed. Coupling the second panel 1B to the first panel 1A, of course, also is performed by connecting the panel 1B at its edge 2, by means of a turning movement as represented in figure 4, to the edge 3 of the first panel 1A and possible other panels of the row of the panel 1A.

When connecting the panel 1C to the panel 1A, also a turning movement, as in figure 4, is applied. Herein, a downward movement M is performed at the short edges 4-5, by which the coupling parts 8 and 9 are engaged into each other. Of course such downward movement M can be combined with the deformation illustrated in figure 12.

By this downward movement M, in a very broad sense each form of movement is meant in which, in a cross-section as seen in figures 6 and 7, the one panel is let down from a higher position in relation to the other. This movement M does not necessarily have to be a rectilinear movement, and during this movement, temporary deformations in the panels and more particularly in the hook-shaped portions 18 and 19 may occur. It is possible that the panels at the respective edges 4-5 do not allow for a connection via a purely vertically downward movement of the edges towards each other, but do e.g. allow at least for a connection as illustrated in figure 12.

Theoretically, a downward movement M, which, seen in cross-section, is rectilinear or almost rectilinear, may be used for engaging a panel 1C into a panel 1B, which means that the right-hand panel in figure 6, seen in cross-section, simply is pressed straight down into the position of figure 7. It is clear that herein effectively small local deformations will occur, as the locking parts 26 and 27 have to be pressed home one behind each other by means of a snap effect. Herein, the snap effect is obtained by the elasticity of the soft PVC and the bending actions in the component parts and compressions in the material occurring as a result thereof.

During joining according to figure 13, a snap effect may indeed occur, depending on the design of the coupling parts. Indeed with introduction of the protrusion 28 into the cooperating excavation a compression of the panel material, for example at the location of the protrusions corner, might be necessary to allow introduction. Also in a totally coupled condition of two such panels at the respective edges a compression might still be available at the location of the protrusion, for example because the excavation has a dimension which is tighter than the protrusion. Such compression leads to a stronger connection in said vertical direction V1.

Figure 14 illustrates that such introduction might be assisted by the provision of a chamfer 37 at the lower side of the protrusion 28 where it is expected to contact the lower hook-shaped portion 18. Instead of a chamfer, a rounding or other guiding surface might be provided. Instead of the lower side of the protrusion 28, the opening 38 of the excavation might be provided with such guiding surface, or both the excavation 29 and the protrusion 28.

Further, impressions can be provided in the surface, more particularly in the transparent wear layer, in the form of a relief, which, for example, imitates a real surface structure, for example, of wood or the like. This relief can be performed in register with the decor.

It is important to note that, in accordance with the invention, the panels at their upper surfaces are preferably delimited by straight lines 40 at all edges, and preferably at least at the edges that are provided with the special coupling parts, protrusions and excavations, of the invention. Such is illustrated for example by means of figure 1. The special profiles of the short edges 4-5, in accordance with the invention, do not interfere with the straight delimitation of the panel’s upper surface 36.

Preferably the special coupling parts of the invention are at least provided at opposite short edges of oblong panels. It is not excluded to use such coupling parts only at opposite long edges or at all edges of oblong panels. When the coupling parts of the invention are applied, as illustrated in the drawings, at opposite short edges, the coupling parts are preferably at least such that a coupling in accordance with figure 12 is possible, wherein the locking at the short edges is gradually effect along the length direction L of the short edges, preferably in the direction away form an already installed row, as illustrated in figure 8.

The figures, e.g. figure 10, illustrates that the excavation 29 is preferably formed with an undercut 39.

According to a non-illustrated embodiment the protrusion 28 might be tapered and widening in a direction from its base to its bottom end. The cooperating excavation 29 then preferably possess a similar shape, namely widening from the opening 38 to the bottom of the excavation 29.

The present invention is in no way restricted to the embodiments described by way of example and represented in the figures, however, such panel, such covering and such method for installing panels can be realized according to various variants, without leaving the scope of the invention.

Further, it is clear that when using them as floor panels, these panels can be installed floatingly, which, however, does not exclude that, according to an alternative, they can be glued to the underlying surface, as well.

Claims (29)

  1. Floor panel, that is preferably rectangular and/or oblong, having at least two opposite edges (4-5), wherein these edges are profiled, wherein a first one of said opposite edges (4) is profiled such that said first one of said opposite edges comprises at least a protrusion (28) along the length (L) of the edge, wherein a second one of said opposite edges (5) is profiled such that said second one of said opposite edges comprises at least one excavation (29) along the length (L) of the edge, wherein two of such floor panels (1) can be brought into a coupled condition by introducing the protrusion (28) of said first one of said two opposite edges of a first panel in the excavation (29) of said second one of said two opposite edges of a second panel, wherein in said coupled condition said two panels (1) at the respective edges are locked to each other at least in a vertical direction (V1) perpendicular to the main plane of the coupled panels and in a horizontal direction (H2) in the main plane of the coupled panels and perpendicular to the coupled edges.
  2. Floor panel according to claim 1, wherein said protrusion at said first one of said opposite edges is extending downwardly, while said excavation is provided in a lip (20) that extends from the bottom side at said second one (5) of said opposite edges, or vice-versa.
  3. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the introduction of the protrusion of said first one of said two opposite edges of a first panel in the excavation of said second one of said opposite edges of a second panel is enhanced by warping, bending or rolling said first one of said opposite edges.
  4. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein upon introduction of the protrusion of said first one of said two opposite edges of a first panel and the excavation of said second one of said two opposite edges of a second panel cooperating contact surfaces (30-31) are formed, said contact surfaces at least resulting in a locking in said vertical direction (V1), or at least preventing the coming apart in said vertical direction (V1).
  5. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said protrusion at said first one of said two opposite edges comprises at least an inclined surface (30).
  6. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said protrusion at said first one of said two opposite edges is tapered such that said protrusion widens in the direction from its base to its distal end.
  7. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said excavation at said second one of said two opposite edges is formed with an undercut.
  8. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said locking in said horizontal direction is obtained by means of cooperating hook elements at the respective edges.
  9. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said floor panel is a soft plastic panel, e.g. a panel mainly made of soft polyvinylchloride, soft polypropylene or similar.
  10. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said floor panel is composed of at least three layers, namely at least a backing layer, a print layer above the backing layer and a transparent wear layer above the print layer.
  11. Floor panel according to claim 10, wherein the print layer comprises a print applied on a plastic foil, preferably a polyvinylchloridefoil, polyurethanefoil or a polypropylenefoil.
  12. Floor panel according to claim 10 or 11, wherein the print layer comprises pigments.
  13. Floor panel according to any of claim 10 to 12, wherein the print layer is formed of an ink chosen from the list of water-based inks, solvent-based inks, UV-based inks.
  14. Floor panel according to any of claim 10 to 13, wherein the print layer is at least partially or wholly formed using an anolog printing method, such as a printing method using rollers.
  15. Floor panel according to any of claim 10 to 14, wherein the print layer is at least partially or wholly formed using a digital printing method, such as a printing method using one or more inkjet printheads.
  16. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 15, wherein the backing layer comprises thermoplastic material, such as polyvinylchloride, polyurethane or polypropylene, and at least a filler material, preferably a calcium based filler, such as CaCO3.
  17. Floor panel according to claim 16, wherein said filler material makes up for at least 5% of the weight of said backing layer.
  18. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 17, wherein the backing layer comprises thermoplastic material, such as polyvinylchloride or polypropylene, and at least a plasticizer, preferably a phthalate containing plasticizer or an isosorbide containing plasticizer, such as DINP/DIDP.
  19. Floor panel according to claim 18, wherein said backing layer is obtained from a mixture of polyvinylchloride and plasticizer, wherein said mixture comprises between 5 and 75% percent by weight of plasticizer.
  20. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 19, wherein said transparent or translucent wear layer comprises thermoplastic material, such as polyvinylchloride, polyurethane or polypropylene.
  21. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 20, wherein said floor panel comprises a superficial transparent or translucent layer, preferably a UV cured acrylic top layer, thinner than 1 millimeter, preferably thinner than 0.1 millimeter.
  22. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 21, wherein said transparent wear layer has a thickness between 0.1 and 1 millimeter, preferably between 0.2 and 0.7 millimeter.
  23. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 22, wherein said backing layer has a thickness between 1 and 4 millimeter, preferably between 2 and 3 millimeter.
  24. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 23, wherein said print layer has a thickness between 0.03 and 0.3 millimeter, preferably between 0.05 and 0.1 millimeter.
  25. Floor panel according to any of claims 10 to 24, wherein said floor panel comprises a strengthening layer, such as a glass fiber layer.
  26. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said floor panel has a thickness between 1,5 and 6 millimeter, preferably between 2 and 4 millimeter.
  27. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said floor panel has a width larger than 10 centimeter, preferably larger than 13 cm, and smaller than 60 centimeter, preferably smaller than 25 centimeter.
  28. Floor panel according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said floor panel has a length larger than 60 centimeter, preferably larger than 80 or 100 centimeter, and smaller than 300 centimeter, preferably smaller than 150 centimeter.
  29. Floor covering assembled from floor panels according to the preceding claims, wherein said floor covering comprises at least two floor panels with a different printed pattern, wherein these two panels were preferably packaged in one and the same package or box.
PCT/IB2012/053691 2011-08-31 2012-07-19 Panel and covering assembled from such panels WO2013030686A2 (en)

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US61/529,344 2011-08-31

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WO2015140682A1 (en) * 2014-03-19 2015-09-24 Unilin, Bvba Floor panel for forming a floor covering and method for manufacturing such floor panels
US20160312476A1 (en) * 2015-04-17 2016-10-27 Commercial Interiors Manufacturing, Inc. Wall Covering Systems And Wall Covering System Components
WO2017122143A1 (en) * 2016-01-15 2017-07-20 Flooring Industries Limited, Sarl Floor panel for forming a floor covering
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CN104863327A (en) * 2014-02-25 2015-08-26 北京龙发建筑装饰工程有限公司 Wall decorative sheet adopting UPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride) material
WO2015140682A1 (en) * 2014-03-19 2015-09-24 Unilin, Bvba Floor panel for forming a floor covering and method for manufacturing such floor panels
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US10161139B2 (en) 2014-12-22 2018-12-25 Ceraloc Innovation Ab Mechanical locking system for floor panels
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