WO2017160853A1 - Plastic interlocking device for wood floor panels - Google Patents

Plastic interlocking device for wood floor panels Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2017160853A1
WO2017160853A1 PCT/US2017/022321 US2017022321W WO2017160853A1 WO 2017160853 A1 WO2017160853 A1 WO 2017160853A1 US 2017022321 W US2017022321 W US 2017022321W WO 2017160853 A1 WO2017160853 A1 WO 2017160853A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
plurality
wood
base
plastic
channels
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2017/022321
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Erlin A. Randjelovic
Jason GASPERICH
Original Assignee
Connor Sports Flooring, Llc
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 US201662309830P priority Critical
Priority to US62/309,830 priority
Application filed by Connor Sports Flooring, Llc filed Critical Connor Sports Flooring, Llc
Publication of WO2017160853A1 publication Critical patent/WO2017160853A1/en

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Classifications

    • 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
    • E04F15/04Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements only of wood or with a top layer of wood, e.g. with wooden or metal connecting members
    • E04F15/045Layered panels only of wood
    • 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
    • E04F15/00Flooring
    • E04F15/02Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements
    • E04F15/04Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements only of wood or with a top layer of wood, e.g. with wooden or metal connecting members
    • E04F15/041Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements only of wood or with a top layer of wood, e.g. with wooden or metal connecting members with a top layer of wood in combination with a lower layer of other material
    • E04F15/042Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements only of wood or with a top layer of wood, e.g. with wooden or metal connecting members with a top layer of wood in combination with a lower layer of other material the lower layer being of fibrous or chipped material, e.g. bonded with synthetic resins
    • 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
    • E04F2201/05Separate connectors or inserts, e.g. pegs, pins, keys or strips
    • E04F2201/0505Pegs or pins

Abstract

A modular floor panel is disclosed having a wood subfloor base with an upper surface, a bottom surface and first and second sides extending about a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base. The wood subfloor base has a plurality of channels disposed therein with a plastic male connector disposed within at least one of the plurality of channels, said plastic male connector extending laterally from the first and second sides of the wood subfloor base. A plastic female connector is disposed within at least one of the plurality of channels, said plastic female connector does not extend outside of the longitudinal sides of the panel. An upper wood playing surface is disposed on top of and encloses the plastic male and female connectors forming a modular floor panel with a plastic connection mechanism.

Description

PLASTIC INTERLOCKING DEVICE FOR WOOD FLOOR PANELS

FIELD OF THE TECHNOLOGY

The present technology relates generally to interlocking flooring panels or flooring sections. More specifically, this technology relates to devices, systems, and methods for manufacturing and assembling interlocking flooring panels/sections that have wood components but comprise a plastic interlocking device.

BACKGROUND

This technology relates generally to interlocking flooring panels. Wood floors remain popular for athletic facilities, particularly for basketball floors. Among such floors, modular assemblies provide particular advantages for many venues. A modular floor is a floor constructed from a plurality of sections. Modular floors, which include portable floors, may be disassembled and reassembled to allow a particular facility to optimize the usage of a given floor space. Modular floors include a plurality of individual sections that connect to adjacently located sections to form a playing/contact surface, for activities such as basketball, volleyball, aerobics and dance. Prior to installation, the sections must be sorted and arranged according to their respective positions within the overall sports surface. Connecting wood modular floor panels together, however, is time and labor intensive and includes the use of costly materials. It is desirable to have a system, method, and/or apparatus to assemble a modular wood floor playing surface that is faster, requires fewer and less expensive components, and less labor to assemble.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

To further clarify the above and other aspects of the present technology, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific aspects thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical aspects of the technology and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The drawings are not drawn to scale. The technology will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 A is a top perspective side view of a wood subfloor panel in accordance with one aspect of the technology; FIG. IB is a side view of a wood subfloor panel in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 1C is a side view of a wood subfloor panel in accordance with one aspect of the technology; FIG. ID is an end view of a wood subfloor panel in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 2A is a top view of a plastic interlocking member in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 2B is a side view of a plastic interlocking member in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 3 A is a top view of a plastic male connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 3B is a side view of a plastic male connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology; FIG. 3C is a cross sectional view of a plastic male connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology taken along cross section A-A;

FIG. 3D is a cross sectional view of a plastic male connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology taken along cross section B-B;

FIG. 4A is a top and side view of a plastic interlocking member in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 4B is a side view of a plastic female connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 4C is a front view of a portion of a plastic female connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology; FIG. 4D is a cross sectional view of a plastic female connector in accordance with one aspect of the technology taken along cross section C-C; FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of a plurality of wooden sub floor components coupled with a plastic interlocking member and coupled together to form a portion of a subfloor in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of a plurality of wooden sub floor components coupled with a plastic interlocking member and coupled together to form a portion of a subfloor with one of the subfloor components having a wood upper playing surface disposed thereon in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 7 is a side perspective view of an assembled wood subfloor and wood upper contact/playing surface with a plastic interlocking member in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 8 is a side perspective view of an assembled wood subfloor and wood upper contact/playing surface with a plastic interlocking member in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 9 is a top perspective view of a pair of modular floor panels in accordance with one aspect of the technology;

FIG. 10 is a top perspective view of a pair of modular floor panels being coupled together in accordance with one aspect of the technology; and

FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of a pair of modular floor panels coupled together in accordance with one aspect of the technology.

DESCRIPTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY

Although the following detailed description contains many specifics for the purpose of illustration, a person of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that many variations and alterations to the following details can be made and are considered to be included herein.

Accordingly, the following embodiments are set forth without any loss of generality to, and without imposing limitations upon, any claims set forth. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to be limiting. Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a," "an" and "the" include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to "a layer" includes a plurality of such layers.

In this disclosure, "comprises," "comprising," "containing" and "having" and the like can have the meaning ascribed to them in U.S. Patent law and can mean "includes," "including," and the like, and are generally interpreted to be open ended terms. The terms "consisting of or "consists of are closed terms, and include only the components, structures, steps, or the like specifically listed in conjunction with such terms, as well as that which is in accordance with U.S. Patent law. "Consisting essentially of or "consists essentially of have the meaning generally ascribed to them by U.S. Patent law. In particular, such terms are generally closed terms, with the exception of allowing inclusion of additional items, materials, components, steps, or elements, that do not materially affect the basic and novel characteristics or function of the item(s) used in connection therewith. For example, trace elements present in a composition, but not affecting the compositions nature or characteristics would be permissible if present under the "consisting essentially of language, even though not expressly recited in a list of items following such terminology. When using an open ended term, like "comprising" or "including," it is understood that direct support should be afforded also to "consisting essentially of language as well as "consisting of language as if stated explicitly and vice versa.

The terms "first," "second," "third," "fourth," and the like in the description and in the claims, if any, are used for distinguishing between similar elements and not necessarily for describing a particular sequential or chronological order. It is to be understood that any terms so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumstances such that the embodiments described herein are, for example, capable of operation in sequences other than those illustrated or otherwise described herein. Similarly, if a method is described herein as comprising a series of steps, the order of such steps as presented herein is not necessarily the only order in which such steps may be performed, and certain of the stated steps may possibly be omitted and/or certain other steps not described herein may possibly be added to the method.

The terms "left," "right," "front," "back," "top," "bottom," "over," "under," and the like in the description and in the claims, if any, are used for descriptive purposes and not necessarily for describing permanent relative positions. It is to be understood that the terms so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumstances such that the embodiments described herein are, for example, capable of operation in other orientations than those illustrated or otherwise described herein. The term "coupled," as used herein, is defined as directly or indirectly connected in an electrical or nonelectrical manner. Objects described herein as being "adjacent to" each other may be in physical contact with each other, in close proximity to each other, or in the same general region or area as each other, as appropriate for the context in which the phrase is used. Occurrences of the phrase "in one embodiment," or "in one aspect," herein do not necessarily all refer to the same embodiment or aspect.

As used herein, the term "substantially" refers to the complete or nearly complete extent or degree of an action, characteristic, property, state, structure, item, or result. For example, an object that is "substantially" enclosed would mean that the object is either completely enclosed or nearly completely enclosed. The exact allowable degree of deviation from absolute completeness may in some cases depend on the specific context. However, generally speaking the nearness of completion will be so as to have the same overall result as if absolute and total completion were obtained. The use of "substantially" is equally applicable when used in a negative connotation to refer to the complete or near complete lack of an action, characteristic, property, state, structure, item, or result. For example, a composition that is "substantially free of particles would either completely lack particles, or so nearly completely lack particles that the effect would be the same as if it completely lacked particles. In other words, a composition that is "substantially free of an ingredient or element may still actually contain such item as long as there is no measurable effect thereof.

As used herein, the term "about" is used to provide flexibility to a numerical range endpoint by providing that a given value may be "a little above" or "a little below" the endpoint. Unless otherwise stated, use of the term "about" in accordance with a specific number or numerical range should also be understood to provide support for such numerical terms or range without the term "about". For example, for the sake of convenience and brevity, a numerical range of "about 50 angstroms to about 80 angstroms" should also be understood to provide support for the range of "50 angstroms to 80 angstroms."

As used herein, a plurality of items, structural elements, compositional elements, and/or materials may be presented in a common list for convenience. However, these lists should be construed as though each member of the list is individually identified as a separate and unique member. Thus, no individual member of such list should be construed as a de facto equivalent of any other member of the same list solely based on their presentation in a common group without indications to the contrary.

Concentrations, amounts, and other numerical data may be expressed or presented herein in a range format. It is to be understood that such a range format is used merely for convenience and brevity and thus should be interpreted flexibly to include not only the numerical values explicitly recited as the limits of the range, but also to include all the individual numerical values or sub-ranges encompassed within that range as if each numerical value and sub-range is explicitly recited. As an illustration, a numerical range of "about 1 to about 5" should be interpreted to include not only the explicitly recited values of about 1 to about 5, but also include individual values and sub-ranges within the indicated range. Thus, included in this numerical range are individual values such as 2, 3, and 4 and sub-ranges such as from 1-3, from 2-4, and from 3-5, etc., as well as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, individually.

This same principle applies to ranges reciting only one numerical value as a minimum or a maximum. Furthermore, such an interpretation should apply regardless of the breadth of the range or the characteristics being described.

Reference throughout this specification to "an example" means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the example is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, appearances of the phrases "in an example" in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment or aspect of the

technology.

Reference in this specification may be made to devices, structures, systems, or methods that provide "improved" performance. It is to be understood that unless otherwise stated, such "improvement" is a measure of a benefit obtained based on a comparison to devices, structures, systems or methods in the prior art. Furthermore, it is to be understood that the degree of improved performance may vary between disclosed embodiments and that no equality or consistency in the amount, degree, or realization of improved performance is to be assumed as universally applicable. An initial overview of technology embodiments is provided below and then specific technology embodiments are described in further detail later. This initial summary is intended to aid readers in understanding the technology more quickly but is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the technology nor is it intended to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter. The present technology in its various aspects, some of which are depicted in the figures herein, can be broadly described as a wood subfloor panel assembly having a plurality of channels disposed therein configured to receive one or more interlocking plastic assemblies therein. The plastic assemblies are disposed about the subfloor panel assembly and layered between a wood subfloor and a wood upper playing surface forming a composite wood/plastic modular flooring member. The modular flooring member has playing and structural properties of a modular wood flooring panel but can be assembled together to form a wood floor by using the interlocking plastic components rather than expensive and time consuming conventional wood floor coupling devices. In one aspect, the subfloor and/or upper playing/contact surface comprise a natural or composite wood material (e.g., maple or other hardwood, MDF, HDF, LDF, or plywood). The interlocking plastic components comprise plastic, thermoplastics, or other synthetic materials (e.g., polyethylene, polyurethane, PVC, elastomers, etc.) and are manufactured in accordance with methods known in the art (e.g., molding, milling, 3-D printing, etc.). The term "wood base" as used herein, including in the claims, should be construed broadly to include composite wood materials. While reference is made herein to subfloor sections and upper surface or contact surface components, it is understood that the interlocking plastic components can be used in connection with any modular flooring surface as a means to interconnect adjacent floor boards, whether to form a subfloor, a standard floor, wall panels, ceiling panels, or any adjoining panel arrangement.

Generally speaking, certain aspects of the technology reside in a modular floor comprising a plurality of modular floor panels coupled together to form a composite

wood/plastic flooring surface. Each of the modular floor panels comprises a wood subfloor base having an upper surface and a bottom surface, wherein the base further has first and second ends and first and second sides forming an outside perimeter of the wood subfloor base. A plurality of channels are created (either by conventional milling methods, laser etching, or other methods known in the art) in the upper surface of the wood subfloor base. The channels are oriented normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base and extend from a first side to a second side of the wood subfloor base creating an aperture on opposing sides of the wood subfloor base. A plurality of plastic male connectors are disposed within the plurality of channels. Each of the plastic male connectors has a pair of posts extending in opposing directions outside the perimeter of the wood subfloor base configured to connect to an adjacent modular floor panel. A plurality of plastic female connectors are disposed within the plurality of channels each comprising a slot defined by a base and flexing sidewalls which are configured to receive the post from a male connector in an adjacent modular floor panel. An upper wood contact surface is secured (via conventional mechanical or chemical means) on top of the plastic male and female connectors and the wood subfloor base enclosing the plastic male and female connectors between the upper wood contact surface and the wood subfloor base. The upper wood contact surface has a perimeter that is equivalent to the perimeter of the wood subfloor base and thus forms a self- contained wood playing surface and wood base with all of the attendant benefits of a wood floor, but with a plastic coupling system that facilitates more economical assembly and disassembly of the floor. In accordance with one aspect of the technology, FIGS. 1A through ID discloses a wood subfloor base 5 having a longitudinal length. The perimeter of the wood subfloor base 5 is defined by opposing ends 7 and longitudinal sides 6a, 6b. A plurality of channels 8, 9 are disposed about a top surface 4 of the base 5 oriented normal to the longitudinal axis of the base 5. First and second channels 8 and 9, in one aspect, have different widths and are configured to receive different components of a plastic interlocking device. In one aspect, channel 8 ranges from between about 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch wide and has a depth of about ½ inch. In one aspect, channel 9 ranges from about ½ inch to ¾ inch wide and has a depth of about ½ inch. A plurality of channels 10 are disposed about the longitudinal length of the base 5 and about a top surface 4 of base 5 and are likewise configured to receive a component of a plastic interlocking device therein. In accordance with one aspect, a plurality of bottom channels 11 are disposed about a bottom 12 of base 5 and are oriented normal to the longitudinal axis of base 5. The bottom channels 11 are disposed about the bottom 12 of subfloor 5 to provide for flex or give in the base 5. In this manner, slight variations in the ground surface on which it is disposed are absorbed. In other aspects of the technology, the bottom 12 of the subfloor 5 does not have bottom channels 11 disposed therein. With reference to FIG. 1 generally and specifically to FIGS. 2A through 2B, and FIGS. 3 A through 3D, an interlocking plastic member 15 is shown comprising a plurality of interconnected male connectors 40 and female connectors 20. Male connectors 40 are configured to be disposed, at least partially, within channel 8 and comprise a pair of posts 41a, 41b that extend outward from opposing sides 6a, 6b of the subfloor 5 in opposing directions relative to a common center section 42 of the connector 40. The posts 41 are substantially parallel and collinear. While specific reference is made herein to a single male connector 40 with posts extending from a common center 42, it is understood that in some aspects of the technology, the posts 41 need not be connected together to form a common center 42. Rather, individual posts 42 can extend laterally from the sides 6a and 6b, so long as the plastic male posts 41 couple with female connectors 20 of an adjacent modular panel 50 or wood subfloor 5. Likewise, while specific reference is made to the posts 41 being substantially parallel, in an aspect where the posts 41 do not emanate from a common center 42, they may be offset from one another. In one aspect of the technology, a pair of opposing tabs 43 are disposed on opposing sides of a distal end 44 of each post 41, though a single tab 43 may be used on a single side of each post 41 or no tab may be used in other aspects as suits a particular application. In another aspect of the technology, the distal end 44 of post 41 comprises a tapered face configured to facilitate insertion into a female connector 20 located in an adjacent modular panel 50, though in some aspects, the distal end 44 of post 41 does not comprise a tapered face. In one aspect, the center section 42 of male connector 40 has a length that is substantially similar to the width of the subfloor 5 and/or the length of the channel 8. The center section 24 also has a height that is substantially equivalent to the depth of channel 8 such that when the male connector 40 is placed within channel 8, a top surface of the wood subfloor base 5 is coplanar with a top of the center section 24 of male connector 40. In this manner, the top surface of the combined wood/plastic subfloor (see, e.g., FIG. 5) is substantially planar. In other aspects, the top surface of combined wood/plastic subfloor is not substantially planar, meaning that the relative height of the plastic connection members (male and/or female) is different than the height of the subfloor base 5.

In addition, the width of center section 42 is substantially equivalent to the width of the channel 8 or greater by a small amount (e.g., about 1/16 to 1/8 inch, etc.) so that when the male connector 40 is placed within the channel 8, the center section 42 is frictionally fit within the channel 8. In one aspect of the technology, the width of the posts 41 is substantially similar to the width of the center section 42 of male connector 40, though in some aspects, the width of the posts is less than or greater than the width of the center section 42 as suits a particular application (e.g., due to the relative stresses placed on the flooring surface). In one aspect of the technology, the height of the posts 41 is less than the height of the center section 42, the post 41 being configured for insertion into female connector 20 and having a profile in a bottom portion of the center section 42, though in one aspect the post 41 has a profile in an upper portion of the center section 42. In another aspect of the technology, however, the height of post 41 and center section 42 are substantially equivalent. In accordance with one aspect of the technology, the center section 42 has a height ranging from about 3/8 to 5/8 inches and a width ranging from about 1/8 inch to 3/8 inches. The height of the posts 41 ranges from approximately about 1/5 to 1/3 inches. In one aspect, the posts 41 have a bottom 46 that is coplanar with a bottom 45 of the center section 42, though in another aspect, the top 47 of the posts 41 is coplanar with a top of the center section 42.

Likewise, in one aspect of the technology, the bottom of tabs 43 is coplanar with a bottom 46 of the posts 41, but may also be offset (i.e., disposed at a different vertical profile) from the bottom 46 of posts 41. In accordance with one aspect of the technology, the length of the post 41 is about half the width of subfloor 5 so that when posts 41 from adjacently placed flooring panels 50 are inserted into opposing sides of the female connector 20, the two posts 41 both fit within the female connector 20. In another aspect, however, where the width of base 5 is greater than between about 8 and 12 inches, the length of the posts 41 is preferably not half the width of the subfloor 5. In accordance with one aspect, the post length maximum ranges between about 4 and 6 inches. It is understood, however, that for other flooring arrangements (e.g., industrial or commercial applications), post length may be substantially longer than between 4 and 6 inches (and wider/higher than dimensions discussed herein) depending on the relative thickness and density of the base 5 and its intended use.

With additional reference now to FIGS. 4 A through 4B and FIGS. 7 and 8, in accordance with one aspect of the technology, a female connector 20 comprises a plurality of opposing side walls 21a, 21b forming a slot 22 configured to receive the post 41 of male connector 40 therein. The slot 22 has a width that is substantially similar to, or slightly larger than, the width of the post 41 such that when the post 41 is mated with slot 22 of an adjacently positioned modular flooring section 50, post 41 is fictionally fit between the opposing side walls 21a, 21b. In one aspect, the tabs 43 of post 41 engage the side walls 21a, 21b causing them to deform or displace (i.e., flex outwardly) slightly thereby increasing the frictional fit of the post 41 within slot 22. In one aspect of the technology, the width of the top or base 24 of female connector 20 is substantially similar to the width of channel 9. The width of the side walls 21, however, is less than the width of channel 9 leaving a space 13 between the side walls 21a, 21b of female connector 20 and the sidewall 9a of channel 9. The space 13 between the side walls 21a, 21b of female connector 20 and the sidewall 9a of channel 9 provides an area wherein the side walls 21a, 21b, may flex outwardly while the post 41 is inserted therein. The side walls 21 are biased in a substantially straight configuration, however, they are made of a plastic material (e.g., polyethylene, polyurethane, PVC, elastomers, etc.) that will flex a nominal amount (e.g., about 1/32 to 1/16 inch, etc.) without suffering from plastic deformation. In an additional aspect of the technology, the opposing side walls 21a, 21b of the female connector 20 comprise apertures 27 configured to receive the tabs 43 of post 41 therein. In this manner, while the side walls 21a, 21b may flex outwardly while the post 41 is inserted into slot 22, once the tabs 43 pass through the slot 22 and are mated with the apertures 27, the side walls 21 will return to their biased or pre- outwardly flexed position. Mating of tab 43 with aperture 27 helps secure the post 41 within slot 22.

In accordance with one aspect of the technology, a distal end 23 of the side walls 21a, 21b comprises a rounded or beveled end to facilitate insertion of post 41 into slot 22. The side walls 21 are coupled together by a top or base 24 that extends between opposing sidewalls 21a, 21b and, in one aspect, extends beyond the outer edges 25 of the sidewalls 21. The terms top or base when used in connection with the female connector 20 are used interchangeably herein and refer to that portion of the female connector 20 to which the sidewalls 21 are connected forming the "closed end" of the slot 22. It does not refer to a specific orientation of the female connector 20 within channel 9 as the female connector 20 may be oriented with the "open end" of the slot 22 disposed towards the bottom of the modular floor panel or the open end of the slot 22 may be disposed towards the top of the modular floor panel as suits a particular application. Moreover, the female connector may be oriented so the open end of the slot 22 is facing a sidewall 9a of the channel 9 (i.e., oriented 90 degrees from that shown on FIG. 7, for example) so long as the open end of slot 22 (i.e., the end of slot 22 wherein the sidewalls 21 are free to move) permits flexing of the sidewalls 21 to accommodate placement of the post 41 therein.

In accordance with one aspect of the technology, the width of the top or base 24 is substantially similar to the width of the channel 9, wherein channel 9 is configured to receive and house female connector 20. When placed within modular flooring section 50, a bottom 28 of sidewalls 21 is coplanar with a bottom 46 of post 41. The length of the female connector 20 is similar to the length of center section 42 of the male connector 40 and corresponds to the width of subfloor 5 (i.e., the length of channels 8 and 9). That is, the female connector 20 extends from a first side 6a of the base 5 to an opposite second side 6b of the base 5. In accordance with one aspect, the height of the slot 22 is substantially similar to the height of post 41. In one aspect, an interior surface of the top or base 24 of female connector 20 is configured to frictionally engage a top surface 47 of post 41. While specific reference is made to slot 22 having an open end thereby facilitating flexing of the side walls 21, in an additional aspect of the technology, the slot 22 comprises a bottom (not shown) that substantially encloses the slot 22 and is configured to frictionally engage a bottom 46 of post 41.

With reference generally to FIGS. 1 - 11, in accordance with one aspect of the technology, a plurality of fingers 49 extend outward from the sides of the center section 42 of male connector 40 and the sides of the female connector 20. The fingers 49 having a height and width that correspond to the height and width of the third plurality of channels (or longitudinal channels) 10 disposed in the top of subfloor 5. The fingers 49 are intended to facilitate proper placement and orientation of female connector 20 and male connector 40 within their respective channels in base 5. In addition, the fingers 49 help provide stability to the interlocking plastic male and female connectors. In one aspect, the fingers 49 of respective male 40 and female 20 connectors are integrated to form a unitary male/female insert 15 (FIG. 2A and 2B) for placement within the respective channels of modular subfloor (wood, composite wood, or otherwise) 5, though it is understood that male connectors 40 and female connectors 20 may be separately manufactured and placed within respective channels of modular base 5 as suits a particular application. That is, while a unitary insert 15 comprising both male connectors 40 and female connectors 20 coupled together by fingers 49 is shown and described herein, separate male connectors 40 and female connectors 20 can be placed within different channels within the subfloor 5 and have the same effect. FIG. 5 shows a plurality of modular subfloor 5/interlocking plastic member 15 combinations coupled together to form a subfloor. FIG. 6 shows how an upper contact surface 52 is placed on top of a subfloor 5/interlocking plastic member 15 combination, enclosing or sandwiching the interlocking plastic member 15 between the wood subfloor 5 and the upper contact surface 52. With reference to FIGS. 9 through 11, a modular flooring panel 50

(comprising subfloor 5, interlocking plastic member 15, and upper contact surface 52) is assembled by placing a wood subfloor 5 on a suitable surface having the channels disposed therein and configured to receive the male 40 and female 20 connectors therein. The male connectors 40 and female connectors 20 (either individually or as a unitary insert 15) are placed within the respective channels and an upper wood contact surface 52 is placed on top of the subfloor 5/interlocking plastic connector 15 assembly. The upper wood contact or playing surface 52 is secured to the base 5/interlocking plastic connector assembly by chemical means (adhesive, etc.) or other mechanical means (staples, screws, bolts, etc.). Once the completed modular flooring panel 50 is assembled, one or more panels 50 are placed near one another longitudinally off-set from one another aligning posts 41 from one panel 50 with slots 22 of an adjacent section. The adjacent modular flooring panels 50 are then placed in a tight side-by-side relationship as posts 41 are inserted into slots 22 of adjacent panel 50.

In one aspect of the technology, the slot 22 comprises an upper channel 30 (see, e.g., FIG. 4D) that is configured to receive a tab disposed on a top 47 of post 41. In this manner, the lateral movement of the post 41 within the slot 22 is minimized. In another aspect, the slot 22 comprises an upper ridge 31 disposed about the center of top 24 of slot 22 across the length of the female connector 20. The upper ridge 31 is configured to cause a frictional fit between the top surface 47 of post 41. In one aspect of the technology, the width of the post 41 is sized large enough to cause the side walls 21 of slot 22 to be deflected outward upon insertion of the post 41 in slot 22. This increases the frictional fit between the post 41 and sidewalls 21. In one aspect of the technology, the slot 22 comprises one or more side ridges disposed on the sidewalls 21 and extending into the slot 22 to increase the frictional fit between the post 41 and the female connector 20. In that aspect, the post 41 may have channels disposed in the side of the post that mate with the side ridges extending from the sidewalls 21. It is noted that no specific order is required in these methods unless required by the claims set forth herein, though generally in some embodiments, the method steps can be carried out sequentially. Of course, it is to be understood that the above-described arrangements are only illustrative of the application of the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements may be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and the appended claims are intended to cover such modifications and arrangements. Thus, while the present invention has been described above with particularity and detail in connection with what is presently deemed to be the most practical and preferred embodiments of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications, including, but not limited to, variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use may be made without departing from the principles and concepts set forth herein.

Claims

1. A modular floor panel, comprising: a wood subfloor base having an upper surface, a bottom surface and first and second sides extending about a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base; a plastic male connector disposed within at least one of the plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said plastic male connector extending laterally from at least one of the first and second sides of the wood subfloor base; a plastic female connector disposed within at least one of the plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said plastic female connector contained within the at least one plurality of channels; and an upper wood playing surface disposed on top of the plastic male and female connectors.
The modular floor panel of claim 1, wherein the wood subfloor base comprises a plurality of channels disposed about a bottom surface of the wood subfloor base and oriented normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base.
The modular floor panel of claim 1, wherein the plurality of channels disposed in the top of the wood subfloor base comprises a first plurality of channels disposed normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base having a first width, and a second plurality of channels disposed normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base having a second width.
4. The modular floor panel of claim 3, wherein the first width is greater than the second width.
5. The modular floor panel of claim 3, wherein the first width is equal to the second width.
6. The modular floor panel of claim 3, wherein the plurality of channels comprises a third plurality of channels disposed parallel to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base, said third plurality of channels having a depth that is less than a depth of the first and second plurality of channels.
7. The modular floor panel of claim 1, wherein the plastic male connector comprises a pair of posts extending outward in opposing directions from a center of the male connector.
8. The modular floor panel of claim 7, wherein the plastic male connector comprises tabs disposed on opposing sides of a distal end of each of the pair of posts.
9. The modular floor panel of claim 7, wherein each of the pair of posts comprise a tapered face.
10. The modular floor panel of claim 7, wherein a width of the center of the male connector is equivalent to a width of a channel within the first plurality of channels.
11. The modular floor panel of claim 7, wherein a width of the posts of the male connector is less than a width of the center of the male connector.
12. The modular floor panel of claim 7, wherein a height of the center section is greater than a height of the posts.
13. The modular floor panel of claim 7, wherein a bottom of the posts of the male connector is coplanar with a bottom of the center section of the male connector.
14. The modular floor panel of claim 1, wherein the plastic female connector comprises a base having a pair of opposing side walls extending away from said base defining an open ended slot between the pair of opposing side walls, said open ended slot configured to receive a post from a male connector in an adjacent modular floor panel.
15. The modular floor panel of claim 14, wherein a width of the post from the male
connector from an adjacent modular floor panel is equivalent to a width of the slot.
16. The modular floor panel of claim 14, wherein the plastic male connector comprises tabs disposed on opposing sides of a distal end of each of the pair of posts and wherein a width of the post measured from distal ends of each of the tabs is greater than a width of the slot.
17. The modular floor panel of claim 16, wherein the opposing side walls of the female
connector are configured to flex outward when a post is inserted into the slot of the female connector.
18. The modular floor panel of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of fingers extending outward from the center of the male connector and the female connector forming a unitary plastic insert.
19. The modular floor panel of claim 14, wherein the post comprises a top tab disposed about a top of the post.
20. The modular floor panel of claim 19, wherein the slot comprises a channel configured to receive the top tab of the post therein.
21. The modular floor panel of claim 19, wherein a width of the outside of opposing side walls is less than a width of the second plurality of channels permitting flexing outward of opposing sidewalls.
22. A modular subfloor panel, comprising: a wood subfloor base having an upper surface, a bottom surface and first and second sides extending about a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said channels oriented normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of plastic male connectors disposed within the plurality of, said plastic male connector extending laterally from the first and second sides of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of plastic female connectors disposed within the plurality of, said plastic female connector contained entirely within a perimeter of the wood subfloor base.
23. The modular subfloor panel of claim 22, wherein a top of the plastic female connectors and a top of the plastic male connectors are coplanar with a top of the upper surface of the wood subfloor base.
24. The modular subfloor panel of claim 22, wherein the plurality of channels disposed in the top of the wood subfloor base comprises a first plurality of channels having a first width, and a second plurality of channels having a second width, wherein the plastic male connectors are disposed in the first plurality of channels and the plastic female connectors are disposed in the second plurality of channels.
25. The modular subfloor panel of claim 24, wherein the width of the first plurality of channels is less than the width of the second plurality of channels.
26. A modular floor panel, comprising: a wood subfloor base having an upper surface and a bottom surface, wherein the base further has first and second ends and first and second sides forming an outside perimeter of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base oriented normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base, said plurality of channels extending from a first side to a second side of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of plastic male connectors disposed within the plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said plastic male connectors each comprising a pair of posts extending in opposing directions laterally outside the perimeter of the wood subfloor base; a plurality of plastic female connectors disposed within the plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said plastic female connectors each comprising a slot defined by flexing sidewalls; and an upper wood contact surface secured on top of the plastic male and female connectors and the wood subfloor base enclosing the plastic male and female connectors between the upper wood contact surface and the wood subfloor base, wherein the upper wood contact surface has a perimeter that is equivalent to the perimeter of the wood subfloor base.
27. The modular floor panel of claim 26, wherein the plastic male connectors and the plastic female connectors are coupled together by a plurality of fingers forming a unitary plastic insert, said fingers disposed within a third plurality of channels disposed within the wood subfloor base.
28. A modular floor, comprising: a plurality of modular floor panels coupled together to form a composite wood/plastic flooring surface, each of the modular floor panels comprising:
(a) a wood subfloor base having an upper surface and a bottom surface, wherein the base further has first and second ends and first and second sides forming an outside perimeter of the wood subfloor base;
(b) a plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base oriented normal to a longitudinal length of the wood subfloor base, said plurality of channels extending from a first side to a second side of the wood subfloor base;
(c) a plurality of plastic male connectors disposed within the plurality of channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said plastic male connectors each comprising a pair of posts extending in opposing directions outside the perimeter of the wood subfloor base;
(d) a plurality of plastic female connectors disposed within the plurality of
channels disposed about the upper surface of the wood subfloor base, said plastic female connectors each comprising a slot defined by a base and flexing sidewalls; and
(e) an upper wood contact surface secured on top of the plastic male and female connectors and the wood subfloor base enclosing the plastic male and female connectors between the upper wood contact surface and the wood subfloor base, wherein the upper wood contact surface has a perimeter that is equivalent to the perimeter of the wood subfloor base; wherein the plurality of modular floor panels are coupled together at adjacent sides by placing a post of the male connector within a corresponding slot of a female connector.
PCT/US2017/022321 2016-03-17 2017-03-14 Plastic interlocking device for wood floor panels WO2017160853A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US201662309830P true 2016-03-17 2016-03-17
US62/309,830 2016-03-17

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2017160853A1 true WO2017160853A1 (en) 2017-09-21

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ID=59851895

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US2017/022321 WO2017160853A1 (en) 2016-03-17 2017-03-14 Plastic interlocking device for wood floor panels

Country Status (1)

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WO (1) WO2017160853A1 (en)

Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20070044412A1 (en) * 2003-06-24 2007-03-01 Forster Cheryl M Interlocking floorboard tile system and method of manufacture
US20080060305A1 (en) * 2003-11-20 2008-03-13 Robbins, Inc. Interlocking Floor
WO2013155534A1 (en) * 2012-04-13 2013-10-17 Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Floating floor system, floor panel, and installation method for the same
US20150128520A1 (en) * 2013-09-16 2015-05-14 Connor Sports Flooring, Llc Flooring Surface Integrated With Interlocking Plastic Base
US20150361677A1 (en) * 2009-06-11 2015-12-17 CoMc, LLS Narrow lined modular flooring assemblies

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20070044412A1 (en) * 2003-06-24 2007-03-01 Forster Cheryl M Interlocking floorboard tile system and method of manufacture
US20080060305A1 (en) * 2003-11-20 2008-03-13 Robbins, Inc. Interlocking Floor
US20150361677A1 (en) * 2009-06-11 2015-12-17 CoMc, LLS Narrow lined modular flooring assemblies
WO2013155534A1 (en) * 2012-04-13 2013-10-17 Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Floating floor system, floor panel, and installation method for the same
US20150128520A1 (en) * 2013-09-16 2015-05-14 Connor Sports Flooring, Llc Flooring Surface Integrated With Interlocking Plastic Base

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