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United States Patent Application 20110146187
Kind Code A1
Inman; Aaron June 23, 2011

Panel System

Abstract

The present disclosure relates to panel systems, including panel systems that provide one or more tensioned panel portions.


Inventors: Inman; Aaron; (Spokane, WA)
Assignee: Inman; Aaron
Spokane
WA

Serial No.: 646741
Series Code: 12
Filed: December 23, 2009

Current U.S. Class: 52/578; 52/745.05; 52/745.21
Class at Publication: 52/578; 52/745.05; 52/745.21
International Class: E04C 2/38 20060101 E04C002/38; E04B 2/72 20060101 E04B002/72; E04B 1/38 20060101 E04B001/38


Claims



1. A panel system comprising: a panel portion; one or more anchors configured to engage the panel portion; one or more first support portions configured to engage the one or more anchors and the panel portion; and one or more second support portions configured to engage the panel portion in a direction orthogonal to the first support portion.

2. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the panel portion further comprises two or more engagement portions to engage the one or more first support portions with the panel portion.

3. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the panel further comprises two or more orthogonal support portion receptacles configured to receive two or more second support portions.

4. The panel system of claim 1, wherein said panel portion further comprises one or more anchor receptacles to engage the one or more anchors.

5. The panel system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the support or second portions is along a perimeter of the panel portion.

6. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the one or more anchors engage the panel portion at a hole, grommet, slit, hook, loop, or clip.

7. The panel system of claim 6, wherein a portion of the anchor extends through the hole, grommet, slit, hook, loop, or clip to protrude beyond a perimeter of the panel portion.

8. The panel system of claim 7, wherein the portion of the anchor portion extending through the hole, grommet, slit, hook, loop, or clip is configured to engage a surface.

9. The panel system of claim 7, wherein the portion of the anchor protruding beyond a perimeter of the panel portion is configured as a stake, hook, clip, or other fastener.

10. The panel system of claim 7, wherein the anchor includes a spring configured to allow the portion protruding beyond a perimeter of the panel portion to flex independently of the one or more first support portions.

11. The panel system of claim 7, wherein the first support portion and anchor portion place a portion of the panel portion in tension.

12. The panel system of claim 11, wherein the panel portion further comprises two or more engagement portions to engage the one or more first support portions with the panel portion.

13. A panel system comprising: a panel portion; one or more first support portions configured to engage the panel portion; and one or more second support portions configured to engage the panel portion in a direction orthogonal to the first support portion.

14. A method of creating a panel, the method comprising: engaging a first anchor with a first anchor receptacle on a panel portion; engaging a second anchor with a second anchor receptacle on the panel portion; engaging a first end of a first support portion with the first anchor and a second end of the first support portion with the panel portion; engaging a first end of a second support portion with the second anchor and a second end of the second support portion with the panel portion; and engaging a cross-panel support member with the panel portion to provide support in a direction orthogonal to the first and second support portions.

15. The method according to claim 14, wherein: engaging the first end of the first support portion with the first anchor and the second end of the first support portion with the panel portion places the panel portion in a tensioned state relative to the first support portion, and engaging the first end of the second support portion with the first anchor and the second end of the second support portion with the panel portion places the panel portion in a tensioned state relative to the second support portion.
Description



BACKGROUND

[0001] A panel or wall system is particularly useful for providing privacy or shielding when the panel can be easily assembled or dismantled, to enable convenient privacy, advertising, shelter, or shielding barrier. Conventional outdoor use panel systems ordinarily consist of permanent posts spaced laterally apart and anchored into the ground while supporting vertical panels permanently secured to the vertical posts and often limit height to about 3 foot tall due to their utility. More particularly, wall systems, especially those taller than 3 feet in height, require strings anchored to the ground and tied to the top of the wall to keep the wall vertical and stable. However, such panel systems cannot be easily dismantled, transported, and/or reused. Ideal panel systems for portable privacy or shielding need to be temporary in nature as well as sturdy to avoid falling over. Public campgrounds or high traffic camping or picnicking areas often lack desired privacy or shielding barriers, and therefore, expose users to undesired noise, dirt, smoke, or visibility.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0002] FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a panel system according to one implementation.

[0003] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of one implementation of an anchor for the panel system of FIG. 1.

[0004] FIG. 3 is partial side view of one implementation of a support portion for the panel system of FIG. 1.

[0005] FIGS. 4 and 5 are partial elevational views of the panel system of FIG. 1 illustrating an implementation in which the panel can be manipulated independently of the support portions.

[0006] FIGS. 6-9 show side elevational views of implementations for the anchor for the panel system of FIG. 1.

[0007] FIG. 10 is a flow diagram showing a method of providing a panel system.

[0008] Certain terminology may be used in the following description for convenience and reference only, and will not be limiting. For example, the words "vertically", "horizontally", "through", "into" will refer to directions in the drawing to which reference is made. Said terminology will include the words specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof, and words of similar import.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0009] The present disclosure provides panel systems and methods for their setup and use. According to one implementation, a panel system includes a panel portion, an anchor portion configured to engage the panel portion, one or more first support portions configured to engage the anchor portion and the panel portion, and one or more second support portions configured to engage the panel portion in a direction orthogonal to the first support portion.

[0010] According to another implementation, a method of creating or assembling a panel system includes engaging a first anchor with a first anchor receptacle on a panel portion, engaging a second anchor with a second anchor receptacle on the panel portion, engaging a first end of a first support portion with the first anchor and a second end of the first support portion with the panel portion, engaging a first end of a second support portion with the second anchor and a second end of the second support portion with the panel portion, and engaging a cross-panel support member with the panel portion to provide support in a direction orthogonal to the first and second support portions. According to certain embodiments, engaging the first end of the first support portion with the first anchor and the second end of the first support portion with the panel portion places the panel portion in a tensioned state relative to the first support portion and engaging the first end of the second support portion with the second anchor and the second end of the second support portion with the panel portion places the panel portion in a tensioned state relative to the second support portion.

[0011] FIG. 1 illustrates a panel system 100 according to one implementation. The panel system 100 includes a panel portion 102. The panel portion 102 may be translucent, transparent or opaque and may provide shielding, privacy, a dividing membrane, advertising space, or may provide any other function selected by the user of the panel system 100. The panel portion 102 may be formed of a wood, plastic, metal, or any other suitable material, and may include nylon, fabric, mesh, wire mesh, any combination thereof, and so forth. According to one implementation, the panel portion 102 is manufactured from a single sheet of known useful material such as nylon. Note that any single material or composite system of materials may be used for the panel portion 102. For example, the panel portion 102 may be one or more layers of one or more materials.

[0012] As shown with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the panel system of 100 also includes one or more anchors 104, which may be used to anchor the panel system to a surface, or substrate, 106, which may include the terra firma, other suitable surface, or even another panel system, which may be similar to panel system 100. Although four anchors are shown in FIG. 1, alternative implementations may have greater or fewer numbers of anchors 104 provided, though preferably two or more anchors are used to secure the panel system to a surface 106.

[0013] Anchor portions 104 may be configured to engage the panel portion 102. More particularly, and according to one implementation, a first portion 108 of the anchor 104 may be inserted through an anchor receptacle, such as a hole, grommet, slit, hook, loop, clip or opening in the panel portion 102. A second portion 110 of the anchor 104 may be configured such that it is too wide to fit through the anchor receptacle. The first portion 108 may be a spike or stake that is inserted, for example, through the slit or opening into the surface 106, such as an earthen or similar surface. Thus, the panel portion 102 maybe secured between the second portion 110 and the surface 106. The first portion 108 of the anchor 104 may engage the surface 106 in any know useful method, such as through a spike, stake, clip, pigtail, hook, or other similar surface-engaging configuration. As will be shown in further detail below, the anchor 104 may also include a spring or other suitable mechanism configured to allow the anchor 104, or a portion of the anchor 104, to flex independently of one or more other portions of the panel system 100.

[0014] According to certain implementations, the anchors 104 may extend through one or more slits in the panel portion 102 with generally a single anchor 104 for each available slit. However any number of slits may be used. For example, if one or more of the first portions 108 includes multiple stakes, screws or other securing mechanisms, multiple slits or openings may be provided. Moreover, a grommet or other similar device may be used to create or reinforce the opening.

[0015] As shown with regard to FIGS. 1 and 3, the panel system 100 also includes one or more support portions 112 configured to engage the panel portion 102 and the anchor 104. Although four support portions 112 are shown in FIG. 1, alternative implementations may have greater or fewer numbers of anchors 104 provided, though preferably two or more anchors are used to secure the panel system to a surface 106.

[0016] According to certain implementations, one support portion 112 may be provided per anchor 104, as shown in FIG. 1, although this is not a requirement and any number of support portions 112 may be provided with any number of anchors 104. The support portions may include any material, such as wood, plastic, metal, or other suitable material, which may be formed into a solid or hollow tube or other support shape. According to one example, the support portions 112 may be constructed of hollow aluminum and/or fiberglass sections connected by an elastic cord, such as is commonly referred to as a "tent pole" or "shock-cord" pole. The support portions 112 may have a length such that the support portion 112 may operatively engage the panel portion 102 and the second portion 110 of the anchor 104. Moreover, according to one implementation, the support portions 112 press upon the panel portion 102 and the anchor 104 so as to place the panel portion 102 in a tensioned state. The support portion 112 may engage the panel portion 102 in any manner, including engaging an engagement portion, such as a pocket or cuff 114 as shown in FIG. 1. Additionally or alternatively, the support portion 112 may engage the panel portion and/or the anchor 104 through a clip, fastener, hook, or other suitable engagement mechanism (not shown) for securing the support portion 112 to the panel portion 102. The engagement mechanism may be oriented near one or both of the ends of the support portion 112 or may be situated along its length, such as shown with securing devices 124. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the second portion of the anchor 104 may be configured with an opening to receive the support portion 112.

[0017] FIG. 1 illustrates one support portion engagement per support portion. The support portion 112 is shown in part in dotted line to show how the support portion 112 is inserted into the pocket 114 and the second portion 110 of the anchor 104. As shown in FIG. 3, the support portion 112 may include a reinforcement member, such as a ferrule 116, which is not shown in FIG. 1 for the sake of simplicity.

[0018] The panel system 100 may also include one or more support portions 118 (shown in dotted line) configured to engage the panel portion 102 in a direction orthogonal to the support portions 112. FIG. 1 illustrates the use of one support portion orthogonal to four other support portions. Although only one support portion 118 is shown, additional support portions 118 may be provided elsewhere in the panel system, such as at or near the perimeter of the panel portion 102 closest to where the anchors 104 engage the panel portions 102. Any known useful material can be used for manufacture of the support portion(s) 118 and the support portion(s) 118 may be similar or identical in material and/or length to the support portions 112. The length of the support portions 118 may be selected such that the support portion 118 may be received by an orthogonal support portion receptacle 122. For example, the support portion may be inserted through a slit or opening 120 into a pocket that is formed in or on the panel portion 102. The support portion 118 may press upon the orthogonal support portion receptacle 122 or the panel portion 102 to place the panel portion 102 in tension relative to the support portion 118. Orthogonal support portions 118 may be manufactured at any useful lengths for any orthogonal support portion. Moreover the support portion 118 may be hinged or provided in connected or disconnected sections to allow the panel system 100 to be folded out of the plane shown in FIG. 1.

[0019] According to an alternative implementation, pocket 122 may be omitted and the support portion 118 may engage the panel portion 102 in an alternative manner, such as through a clip, fastener, hook/loop fasteners, a pair of pockets at opposing ends of the panel portion 102, or any other method for securing the support portion 118 to the panel.

[0020] There is no limitation on which side of the panel portion the support portions 112 and 118 and anchors 104 are provided. For example, in FIG. 1, the support portions 112 and 118 and anchors 104 are shown as provided on one side of the panel portion 102. However, one or more of the support portions 112 and 118 and anchors 104 may be provided on either side (i.e. on the back side relative to the view shown in FIG. 1) of the panel portion 102. Moreover, the support portions may be additionally secured to the panel portion by one or more securing devices 124, which may include one or more, clips, loops, hooks, sleeves, hook/loop fasteners (such as Velcro.RTM. brand hook and loop fasteners) or other suitable securing devices.

[0021] As shown with reference to FIGS. 4 and 5, the panel portion 102 may be semi- or completely flexible to allow the panel portion 102 to be folded relative to the support portions 112. Thus, if the panel system 100 is used as, for example, a privacy or security wall, the panel portion 102 may be unsecured from the support portions 112 and folded to the ground to allow users, animals, or other objects to pass over and through the panel system 100. The panel portion 102 may then be unfolded and secured to support portions 112 to return the panel system to the configuration generally shown in FIG. 1.

[0022] The panel system 100 is capable of standing erect without the use of wires or additional support. This advantage may be based upon the integrity of the panel portion 102, the anchors 104, the support portions 112, or a combination thereof. For example, the panel portion 102, the anchors 104, and the support portions 112 may be configured such that each support portion 112 may be inserted into the anchor 104 and may be inserted into the pocket 114 to place the panel portion 102 in tension. This tension may be accomplished by elastically bending the support portion 112 such that it can be inserted into the anchor 104 and into the pocket 114. When the support portion 112 is returned from its elastically bent state, the support portion 112 may press against anchor 104 and pocket 114 to place the panel portion 102 in tension. Tension, however, is not a requirement for the panel system to have the structural advantage of being freestanding, i.e. standing erect without the use of wires or additional support.

[0023] The panel system 100 may be configured to any dimensions. For example, the panel system 100 may be configured to be 6 feet tall, where height is measured in the direction parallel to the support portions 112. The panel system 100 may also be configured to be 12 feet long, where length is measured in the direction parallel to the support portion 118. The panel system 100 may have any suitable thickness, which may be based on the thickness of the material of which the panel portion 102 is constructed, the dimensions of the support portions 112 and 118 and of the anchor 104, user preferences, and so forth. Of course, the above dimensions are exemplary only and any suitable dimensions may be used for the panel system 100.

[0024] FIGS. 6-9 show a few exemplary anchors, though these are not intended to be exhaustive examples of anchor 104 implementations.

[0025] FIG. 6 shows an anchor 104 that includes a first portion 108 with a rounded or oblong cross-section, which may be tapered along its length. Alternatively, the first portion 108 may be nail shaped, that is with a generally round cross section that tapers to a point near one end of the anchor. The second portion 110 may include a cuff, as shown in FIG. 2, for engaging one end of the support portion 112.

[0026] FIG. 7 shows an anchor 104 that includes a first portion 108 with a cross shaped cross-section, which may be tapered along its length. Alternatively, the first portion 108 may have a generally cross shaped cross section that tapers to a point near one end of the anchor. The second portion 110 may include a cuff, as shown in FIG. 2, for engaging one end of the support portion 112.

[0027] FIG. 8 shows an alternate implementation of FIG. 6 in which the second portion 110 includes a spring to allow the second portion 110 to be flexed relative to the first portion 108. Thus, if the panel system 100 is configured as a fabric wall set up in a windy location, the panel portion 102 and the support portions 112 may flex in the wind by virtue of the spring configuration of the second portion 110 of the anchor.

[0028] FIG. 9 shows an alternate implementation of FIG. 7 in which the second portion 110 includes a spring to allow the second portion 110 to be flexed relative to the first portion 108. Thus, if the panel system 100 is configured as a fabric wall set up in a windy location, the panel portion 102 and the support portions 112 may flex in the wind by virtue of the spring configuration of the second portion 110 of the anchor.

[0029] FIG. 10 shows an exemplary method 1000 for providing a panel system. The exemplary method is illustrated as a collection of blocks in a logical flow graph representing a sequence of operations that can be implemented with physical materials. The order in which the methods are described is not intended to be construed as a limitation, and any number of the described method blocks can be combined in any order to implement the methods, or alternate methods. Additionally, individual blocks may be deleted from the methods without departing from the spirit and scope of the subject matter described herein.

[0030] At 1002, a first anchor is engaged with a first anchor receptacle on a panel portion. For example, the first portion 108 of a first anchor 104 may be inserted through a slit, hole, or opening in the panel portion 102. According to certain embodiments, engaging the first end of the first support portion 112 with the first anchor 104 and the second end of the first support portion 112 with the panel portion 102 places the panel portion 102 in a tensioned state relative to the first support portion 102.

[0031] At 1004, a second anchor is engaged with a second anchor receptacle on the panel portion. For example, the first portion 108 of a second anchor 104 may be inserted through a slit, hole, or opening in the panel portion 102. According to certain embodiments, engaging the first end of the second support portion 112 with the second anchor 104 and the second end of the second support portion 112 with the panel portion 102 places the panel portion 102 in a tensioned state relative to the second support portion 102.

[0032] At 1006, a first end of a first support portion is engaged with the first anchor and a second end of the first support portion with the panel portion. For example, a first one of the support portions 112 may be engaged with the second portion 110 of the anchor 104 and with the pocket 114 formed on or in panel portion 102.

[0033] At 1008, a first end of a second support portion is engaged with the second anchor and a second end of the second support portion with the panel portion. For example, a first one of the support portions 112 may be engaged with the second portion 110 of the anchor 104 and with the pocket 114 formed on or in panel portion 102.

[0034] At 1010, a cross-panel support member is engaged with the panel portion to provide support in a direction orthogonal to the first and second support portions. For example, one or more support portions 118 (shown in dotted line in FIG. 1) may be inserted through a slit or opening 120 into an orthogonal support portion 122 that is formed in or on the panel portion 102. According to certain embodiments, the support portion 118 may press upon the orthogonal support portion 122 and/or the panel portion 102 to place the panel portion 102 in tension relative to the support portion 118.

CONCLUSION

[0035] The above described system and methods provide a panel system. Although the system and method has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the system and method defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed system and method.

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