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Floor-to-ceiling portable room divider

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Title: Floor-to-ceiling portable room divider.
Abstract: A fabric panel room divider includes tension members biased against horizontal surfaces to support a fabric panel utilizing little floor space without any additional support structure or mounting hardware. The fabric panel room divider includes sleeves enclosed at a top and open at a bottom into which the tension members are installed. The tension members exert a bias force against a ceiling and floor to support the fabric panel. ...


- Birmingham, MI, US
Inventor: Mary E. Gillis
USPTO Applicaton #: #20070175597 - Class: 160135 (USPTO) - 08/02/07 - Class 160 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20070175597, Floor-to-ceiling portable room divider.



CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001]The application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/764,475 which was filed on Feb. 2, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002]This invention generally relates to a panel for visually dividing a room. More particularly, this invention relates to a portable room divider that secures a fabric panel between two horizontal surfaces.

[0003]A room divider is often utilized to divide large open spaces into smaller sections. Known room dividers typically include a vertical panel that is supported from the floor. Supporting a vertical panel from the floor requires a bulky support structure that provides the desired stability. Further, some panels incorporate auxiliary features such as electrical outlets, and shelf support features that are utilized to define a cube office space.

[0004]Other known room dividers are utilized for isolating a portion of a room or building from another room to control the spreading of dust or other particulates. Such dividers are utilized as a temporary barrier during construction or remodeling. These known dividers comprise a rod that holds a plastic sheet between a floor and ceiling. The plastic sheet is held in place between the rod and the ceiling. The sheet is not attached to the rod. Once the job is completed the rods and plastic sheet are removed.

[0005]Disadvantageously, known room dividers are require either bulky support structures or extremely temporary devices where visual appearance is not a consideration. Accordingly, it is desirable to design and develop a visually pleasing room or space divider that is easy to install without bulky support structures or mounting hardware.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006]An example fabric panel room divider includes tension members biased against horizontal surfaces to support a fabric panel utilizing little floor space and without additional support structure or mounting hardware.

[0007]The example fabric panel room divider includes sleeves enclosed at a top and open at a bottom into which the tension members are installed. The tension members include a biasing device that exerts a biasing force against vertically spaced apart horizontal surfaces, such as a ceiling and floor to support the fabric panel. The fabric panel divider can comprise many different features, patterns, textures, and colors utilized to tailor the fabric panel divider to any room or space.

[0008]Enclosing the tension members within the sleeves not only provides a desired unobstructed appearance but also secures the fabric panel. The spacing between the tension members can be varied to provide a taught, straight appearance or a draped billowing appearance. Multiple fabric panel assemblies can be installed together to provide a desired span. Further, additional sleeves can be incorporated into a single fabric panel for additional span lengths and to define various desired configurations adapted to a specific room or space.

[0009]Accordingly, the disclosed example fabric panel divider assembly includes tension members to support a fabric panel that minimizes required floor space and eliminates visible support and mounting hardware.

[0010]These and other features of the present invention can be best understood from the following specification and drawings, the following of which is a brief description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011]FIG. 1 is a front view of an example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0012]FIG. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0013]FIG. 3 is a top view of the example fabric panel divider assembly of FIGS. 1 and 2.

[0014]FIG. 4 is a schematic cross-sectional view of another example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0015]FIG. 5a is a top view of the example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0016]FIG. 5b is another top view of an example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0017]FIG. 6 is a front view of another example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0018]FIG. 7 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the fabric panel divider assembly of FIG. 6.

[0019]FIG. 8 is a front view of another example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0020]FIG. 9 is a schematic cross-section of the example fabric panel divider assembly of FIG. 8.

[0021]FIG. 10 is a front view of an example group of fabric panel divider assemblies.

[0022]FIG. 11 is a front view of another group of example fabric panel divider assemblies.

[0023]FIG. 12 is a front view of another example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0024]FIG. 13 is a front view of another example fabric panel divider assembly.

[0025]FIG. 14 is a schematic view of the example fabric panel divider assembly of FIG. 13.

[0026]FIG. 15 is a schematic view of another example fabric panel divider installed between a table top and ceiling.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0027]Referring to FIGS. 1-3, an example fabric panel divider assembly 10 includes a fabric panel 12 supported between a first tension member 40 and a second tension member 42. The fabric panel 12 includes a top 14, a bottom 16, a first side 18 and a second side 20. A first sleeve 22 extends vertically from the bottom 16 to the top along the first side 18. A second sleeve 24 extends vertically from the bottom 16 to the top 14 along the second side 20. The first sleeve 22 includes a first opening 26 and the second sleeve 24 includes a second opening 28 both adjacent the bottom 16. The first sleeve 22 includes an enclosed first top 30 and the second sleeve includes an enclosed second top 32.

[0028]The first tension member 40 fits within the first sleeve 22 (Best shown in FIG. 2) and is not visible through the fabric panel 12. The second tension member 42 fits within the corresponding second sleeve 24. The first and second tension members 40, 42 exert an outward bias force against vertically spaced apart horizontal surfaces such as a ceiling 17 and floor 19 in this example to support the fabric panel 12 in a desired vertical orientation. The example ceiling 17 and floor 19 are disposed in a parallel relationship to one another. The horizontal surfaces can also include the top of a table and the ceiling 17, or the floor 19 and a sloped ceiling that may not be parallel to the floor.

[0029]The first and second tension members 40, 42 each include a top end 54 that traps the fabric panel 12 against the ceiling 17. A bottom end 56 at the bottom of each of the first and second tension members 40, 42 abuts the floor 19. Because the first and second tension members 40, 42 are enclosed within the first and second sleeves 22, 24 they are not visible once installed, and hold the fabric panel 12 in place. Further, the first and second sleeves 22, 24 provide a desired even tension within the fabric panel 12 from the top 14 to the bottom. The desired tension in the fabric panel 12 is provided by enclosing the first and second tension members 40, 42 within the corresponding first and second sleeves 22, 24 and spacing the first and second tension members a distance 23 apart.

[0030]Each of the first and second sleeves 22, 24 include only the single opening at the bottom of the fabric panel 12 to define a pocket or cavity within which the tension members 40, 42 are hidden. Further, the first and second sleeves 22, 24 provides for the even distribution of tension from the bottom 16 to the top 14 of the fabric panel 12. The two tension members 40, 42 are spaced apart to provide the desired tension in the fabric panel 12 that provides the desired visual appearance of the fabric panel assembly 10.

[0031]Each of the first and second tension members 40,42 include a first part 50 and a second part 52 that are movable relative to each other in a longitudinal direction. A biasing device 46 is disposed between the first part 50 and the second part 52 for exerting a biasing force against the ceiling and floor 17, 19. The example biasing device is a compression spring that exerts a force in a direction indicated at 21 to generate the desired force to hold the tension members 40, 42 against each of the ceiling and floor 17, 19. Although the example biasing device 46 is a compression spring, other biasing devices and material are within the contemplation of this invention, such as for example a threaded coupling between the first part 50 and the second part 52, or a resilient material such as rubber positioned between the first part and the second part 52. Further, other known tensioning configurations that provide for the bias and retention of the tension members against horizontal surfaces are within the contemplation of this invention.

[0032]The example tension members 40, 42 are rods that include an adjustable overall length 15. The adjustable length of each of tension members 40, 42 is provided by an adjustment device 25. The adjustment device provides for tailoring the length 15 to a specific application. For example, a vertical distance between a ceiling and a floor is slightly different for each room or building into which the fabric panel divider assembly 10 is installed. The example adjustment device 25 includes a mated threaded connection such that relative rotation of the first part 50 relative to the second part 52 provides for an adjustment of each the length 15. As appreciated, other adjustment configurations and devices are also within the contemplation of this invention.

[0033]Installation of the fabric panel divider assembly 10 includes the initial step of adjusting the length 15 of each of the tension members 40, 42 to fit the space between the ceiling and floor 17, 19. Once the desired length is set, the tension members 40, 42 are inserted into the corresponding sleeves 22, 24. The fabric panel 12, with the tension members 40, 42 is then raised to a vertical position. A slight downward pull on each of the tension members 40, 42 will provide sufficient slack so that the panel can be positioned vertically. Once the fabric panel divider assembly 12 is positioned as desired, the tension members 40, 42 are released such that the biasing members 46, 48 exert a biasing force against the ceiling and floor 17 and 19. The force exerted by each of the tension members 40, 42 traps the top first and second enclosed portions 30, 32 against the ceiling 17 to hold the fabric panel 12 in place. The positioning step includes spacing the tension members 40, 42 apart a distance 23 to provide the desired tension in the fabric panel 12.

[0034]Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5a, another fabric panel divider assembly 11 includes a fabric panel 27 that forms an envelope with an inner cavity 29. The inner cavity 29 spans the width of the fabric panel 27. The first tension member 40 and the second tension member 42 are disposed within the same inner cavity 29. The envelope defined by the fabric panel 27 includes a top closed segment 31 and an open bottom segment 33. The tension members 40, 42 within the inner cavity 29 trap the top enclosed segment 31 against the ceiling 17 to hold the fabric panel 27 in place. The example fabric panel 27 forms the enclosed envelope to form the inner cavity 29.

[0035]Referring to FIG. 5b, another example fabric panel 27 includes also defines the inner cavity 29 but is split at a seam 37. The seam 37 is held together by a fastener 35. The example fastener 35 is a strap tied to hold the seam 37 together, however, other fasteners such as for example zippers, snaps or Velcro could be utilized to hold the fabric panel 27 in place.

[0036]Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, another fabric panel assembly 58 includes a flap 60 that hangs from the top 14 downwardly. The flap 60 provides a desired visual appearance and illustrates one of many optional configurations for the fabric panel 12. The fabric panel 12 can include many different variations of color, pattern, fabric type, texture and thickness. Fabric variations are limited only by the imagination of a designer or installer. Further, the fabric panel 12 minimizes the floor space required for the fabric panel divider assembly 10. As all the support is provided by the biasing force provided against the ceiling and floor 17, 19, no support brackets or other mounting hardware are required.

[0037]Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, another fabric panel divider assembly 66 includes several clear pockets 68 into which photos, pictures or other artwork can be inserted for display. The clear pockets 68 do not substantially add to the thickness of the fabric panel 12 and therefore provide for the display of desired items without using additional floor space.

[0038]Referring to FIG. 10, a set of fabric panel divider assemblies 72 are shown that include a width 74 between each of the tension rods 40, 42. The distance between tension members 74 is smaller than the total width of the fabric panel 12 to create a draped appearance. The draped appearance is provided by the slack portion 76 that allows the fabric panel 12 to billow in a desired manner to provide the desired appearance. The width 74 can be adjusted to provide a taught straight appearance (as shown in FIGS. 1-9), or a desired billowing or draped appearance as is illustrated in FIG. 10. Many variations are possible due to the tension members 40, 42 support. Further, changes are easily made by simply pulling downward on a tension member 40, 42 and adjusting a relative position to obtain the desired appearance.

[0039]Referring to FIG. 11, another example multiple panel assembly 80 is shown that includes a desired combination of different fabric panels. The illustrated multiple panel assembly 80 includes three separately supported and installed fabric panel divider assemblies, although any number can be utilized to provide a desired appearance and to span any desired overall length. The example multiple panel assembly includes a fabric panel 82 of a first fabric color and pattern and a fabric panel 84 of a second fabric color and pattern. FIG. 8 illustrates another of the many different possible combinations of fabrics and patterns that can be combined to provide many different looks and configurations.

[0040]Referring to FIG. 12 another fabric panel assembly 90 includes a first sleeve 92 and a second sleeve 94 that covers corresponding first and second tension members 100,102. As with the previous examples, a biasing member 104 is disposed within each of the tension members 100,102 to exert a biasing force against the ceiling 17 and floor 19. A fabric panel 96 is separate from each of the sleeves 90, 92 and hangs free and may be pulled aside to allow passage. The fabric panel 96 is attached by way of ties 98 on the fabric panel 96 and corresponding ties 99 near a top of each sleeve 100,102. The sleeves 100,102 are configured to include the enclosed top and open bottom to enclose and conceal the tension members 100,102. The ties 98, 99 are illustrated as simple lengths of fabric that are tied together to secure the fabric panel 96, but still allow the fabric panel 96 to be pulled aside for passage or tied aside to provide still another option for modifying and tailoring the panel assembly as desired. Further, although fabric ties are illustrated, other securement devices such as hooks, Velcro, snaps or any other known device could also be utilized.

[0041]Referring to FIGS. 13 and 14, another example fabric panel assembly 110 includes a first sleeve 112, a second sleeve 114 and a third sleeve 116 that is disposed somewhere between the first and second sleeves 112, 114. In the illustrated example the third sleeve 116 is equally spaced apart from both the first and second sleeves 112,114. A corresponding tension member 118,120,122 is disposed in each of the sleeves 112,114, and

[0042]116. A first fabric panel segment 124 is disposed between the first sleeve and the third sleeve 116, and a second fabric panel segment 126 is disposed between the second sleeve 114 and the third sleeve 116. The entire assembly 110 extends over a width 130 in a straight fully taught installation.

[0043]Additionally, referring to FIG. 14, the inclusion of the third sleeve 116 and third tension member 120 provides for alternate installations such as defining a corner as illustrated. In a corner installation, the fabric panel assembly 110 includes the second panel 126 segment installed at an angle 128 relative to the first panel segment 124. The illustrated angle 128 is substantially ninety degrees but may be easily adjusted to meet a desired installation application. The example fabric panel assembly 110 is illustrated with three sleeves 112,114 and 116 but may also include any number of sleeves and tension members to define any desired length 130 in a single fabric part comprised of multiple fabric panels disposed between corresponding tension members.

[0044]Referring to FIG. 15, a fabric panel divider assembly 140 is installed between a table top 146 and a ceiling 144. The fabric panel divider assembly 140 includes tension members 152 and 154 for supporting a fabric panel 150. The tension members 152,154 are concealed within sleeves 156. The tension members 152, 154 are adjusted to span the distance 142 between the table top 146 and the ceiling 144. As illustrated and explained by way of example, installation of the fabric panel divider assembly can be between the ceiling and floor or between another surface such as the top 146 of a table 148. The length 142 is adaptable to tailor installation of the example fabric panel divider assembly to fit a desired space and provide a desired appearance.

[0045]Accordingly, the example fabric panel divider assembly provides an easily installable divider that requires little space and provides many options to suit any desired appearance. Further, the tension members are concealed within the fabric panel to provide a clean unobstructed appearance along with the required support of the fabric panel. Different fabrics and additions further provide for tailoring of the example fabric panel divider to a desired application and appearance.

[0046]Further, although the example fabric panel assembly is described for use in visually dividing a room, other uses are within the contemplation of this invention such as for example use as a wall covering by being installed next to a wall or as window dressing as an alternative to common drapery installation methods and devices.

[0047]Although a preferred embodiment of this invention has been disclosed, a worker of ordinary skill in this art would recognize that certain modifications would come within the scope of this invention. For that reason, the following claims should be studied to determine the true scope and content of this invention.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20070175597 A1
Publish Date
08/02/2007
Document #
11701998
File Date
02/02/2007
USPTO Class
160135
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
47G5/00
Drawings
9



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