Patent application title: MODULAR DISPLAY
Helene Polin (Levittown, PA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA47G106FI
Class name: Card, picture, or sign exhibiting picture frame plural connected frames or frame having means to connect with another frame
Publication date: 2011-12-22
Patent application number: 20110308124
A modular display fixture is provided having an expandable frame portion.
The expandable frame portion comprises means to removable attach
pre-sized sub-assemblies therein in a variety of configurations.
1. A modular hanging display system for publicly displaying information
comprising: a frame member having at least one of a tongue and a groove;
at least one sub-assembly having at least one of a complimentary tongue
and a groove to that formed on the frame member, wherein the frame member
and the at least one sub-assembly are attached to one another by the
complimentary tongue and groove formed on the frame member and the at
least one sub assembly.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one sub-assembly comprises a four-sides structure defining an opening therein.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the frame member and the at least one sub-assembly are arranged vertically with respect to one another so as to form a hanging arrangement.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one sub-assembly comprises a plurality of sub-assemblies, each of the sub-assemblies having at least one of a complimentary tongue and a groove formed therein for attaching to at least one of the frame member and another sub-assembly.
5. The system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sub-assembly is configured to hold an 81/2''×11'' announcement.
6. The system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sub-assembly is configured to hold at least one of a standard 31/2''×2'' business card and a decorative element.
7. A modular announcement board comprising: an outer frame; a plurality of mounting surfaces formed on an inward-facing surface of said outer frame; at least one sub-frame member, wherein the sub-frame member is removably attached to the inner surface of said frame.
8. The modular announcement board of claim 7, wherein the at least one sub-frame member comprises a rectangular frame, the rectangular frame comprising at least one complimentary mounting surface for attaching to at least one of the mounting surfaces on the inward-facing surface of the outer frame.
9. The modular announcement board of claim 8, wherein the complimentary surfaces on the at least one rectangular frame and the outer frame are arranged such that the at least one rectangular frame is inserted into the outer frame from an outward facing side thereof.
10. The modular announcement board of claim 9, wherein the at least one rectangular frame comprises at least one mounting surface for mating with a second rectangular frame.
11. The modular announcement board of claim 7, wherein the outer frame comprises a plurality of connectable frame members such that the outer frame's dimensions may be altered by increasing the number of frame members comprising the outer frame.
12. The modular announcement board of claim 7, wherein the at least one sub-frame member comprises at least one linear frame member having complimentary mounting means to engage with at least one of the plurality of mounting surfaces formed on an inward-facing surface of the outer frame.
13. The modular announcement board of claim 12, wherein the at least one complimentary mounting means comprises a spring-loaded pin, and the plurality of mounting surfaces formed on the outer frame comprise corresponding mounting holes.
14. The modular announcement board of claim 13, wherein the at least one linear frame member comprises at least one mounting hole configured to mate with a spring-loaded pin arranged on a second linear frame member.
15. The modular announcement board of claim 14, wherein the second linear frame member is arranged orthogonal to the at least one linear frame member.
16. The modular announcement board of claim 12, wherein the at least one linear frame member is arranged within the outer frame so as to form a plurality of rectangular openings therein.
17. The modular announcement board of claim 16, wherein at least one of the rectangular openings is configured to hold an 81/2''×11'' announcement.
18. A modular frame for displaying announcements comprising: an outer frame having a bottom portion and two side portions, the two side portions having at least one of a tongue or a groove formed on an inward-facing surface thereof, at least one sub-assembly configured to slidably engage with the at least one tongue and groove.
19. The modular frame of claim 18, wherein the at least one sub-assembly is slidably inserted into the outer frame from an open top-portion thereof.
20. The modular frame of claim 18, wherein the at least one sub-assembly comprises a rectangular sub-assembly, the rectangular sub-assembly defining an opening therein configured to hold a paper announcement.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to display fixtures, specifically to modular announcement displays having reconfigurable compartments for exhibiting a variety of messages and information.
 Announcement boards and other front-loaded display fixtures are commonly used in offices and public spaces to post announcements and other information for public view. These displays often comprise a glass-covered viewing area for housing an announcement. The displays are typically fixed in size and compartment orientation. As a result, each display is limited to the size and type of information that may be displayed therein, as well as the manner in which the information is arranged. Accordingly, there is a need for a modular display which is reconfigurable, so as to accommodate various types of information in user-selectable arrangements.
 In one embodiment of the present invention, a display fixture features a frame member and at least one sub-assembly. The frame member and the at least one sub-assembly are configured to removably attach to one another. The at least one sub-assembly may be pre-sized to accept, for example, an 81''×11'' announcement, or a 2'×3.5'' standard business card.
 In another embodiment of the present invention, a display frame is provided. The frame comprises means to removably secure sub-assemblies thereto in a plurality of positions. Alternatively, the frame may comprise means to attach a plurality of dividers in a horizontal and/or vertical fashion therewithin, wherein the dividers are arranged to define compartments within the frame.
 In yet another embodiment of the present invention, an expandable display frame comprises a plurality of interconnecting frame members. By changing the number of interconnecting frame members, the display frame may be altered in width or height accordingly to a desired size. Each interconnecting frame member comprises means to couple with another interconnecting frame member and/or to a corner section. The corner sections are adapted to couple said interconnecting frame members in a generally perpendicular orientation with respect to one another. The interconnecting frame members may comprise means to removably attach to either sub-assemblies or divider elements.
 In another embodiment of the present invention, a display frame comprises two generally parallel channels configured to slidably receive sub-assemblies, such as business card holders, or pre-sized compartments.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a display fixture according to an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, further comprising a hinged glass door.
 FIG. 3 is a front view of an embodiment of the present invention having removable sub-assemblies.
 FIG. 4 is a front view of an embodiment of the present invention having removable dividers arranged within a frame.
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an exemplary connection means according to the embodiment of FIG. 4.
 FIG. 6 is a front view of an expandable frame according to an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention featuring parallel frame channels.
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternate configuration of the embodiment of FIG. 7.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Reference will now be made in detail to the present exemplary embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
 With reference to FIG. 1, an exemplary display fixture 10 according to a first embodiment of the present invention is shown. The display fixture 10 comprises a frame member 12 and sub-assemblies 14, 15. The sub-assemblies 14, 15 feature protrusions 52, 53 respectively, which are configured to be slidably received into complimentary recesses 50, 51 provided on the frame member 12 and the sub-frame assembly 14 respectively. The frame member 12 may include a means for mounting to a wall or display stand formed on a back portion thereof, and thus serve as the primary mounting structure for the display fixture 10. Specifically, the frame member 12 may be securely mounted to, for example, a wall or a display stand, and the sub-assemblies 14,15 attached and removed therefrom without requiring the removal of the frame member 12. The shape of the protrusions 51, 52 and recesses 50, 51 provides for an interlocking arrangement which prevents movement of the sub-assemblies in a generally vertical direction, allowing for the secure hanging of multiple sub-assemblies without risk of detachment from the frame member 12.
 Sub-assemblies 14,15 may comprise any number of configurations such as an open cavity 16 (e.g. sized to fit a standard-sized printed announcement, for example an 81/2''×11'' opening), or a business card holder 26. While only two sub-assemblies are shown, it is envisioned that any number of sub-assemblies may be added according to a desired display configuration.
 The sub-assembly 14 may further comprise means for removably securing a cover, for example, grooves 20 configured to engaged with complimentary ridges 21 formed on a transparent plastic cover 40 (See FIG. 1A). The cover 40 may be used to prevent the displayed items from falling out, or being removed by the public. The cover also protects the displayed items if the display fixture is used in an outdoor environment. While securing the cover 40 with a groove and ridge arrangement is shown, it is envisioned that the cover 40 may also be secured to the display fixture 10 by any suitable means, including a press or friction fit, hinges, as well as other mechanical fasteners.
 Referring generally to FIG. 2, an alternate embodiment of the arrangement of FIG. 1 is shown. The display fixture 11 comprises a similar arrangement for securing sub-assemblies 30,31,32 to the frame member 12, notably the use of complimentary recesses 56 and protrusions 57. The sub-assembly 30 is provided with a cover 60, for example a glass window, hingedly connected to the sub-assembly 30 by hinges 62. A backing 70, such as a cork or magnetic board, may be provided for mounting the display items within the sub-assembly 30 and attached in a conventional fashion, for example, clips located on back-side of the sub-assembly 30. The front-loading nature of this arrangement allows a displayed item to be quickly replaced or reconfigured.
 Sub-assemblies 31,32 may be arranged adjacent to one another and, in the exemplary configuration shown, comprise a decorative element 31 and a cork board 32. As described with respect to the previous arrangement of FIG. 1, any desired combination of sub-assemblies may be used to create a desired compartmentalized display fixture.
 In either of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the depth or thickness "D" of the frame member and/or the sub assemblies may be varied according to the type of information displayed. For example, if the display is being used to only house paper-based announcements, the thickness may be kept to a minimum, such as roughly the thickness of the glass or plastic cover, or the minimum thickness required to form the protrusion and recess arrangements.
 Referring generally to FIG. 3, an alternate embodiment of the present invention is shown. The display fixture 100 includes a generally rectangular frame comprised of at least one frame member 120. The frame member 120 may comprise a single, continuous frame member, or multiple members attached to one another by conventional means, for example, welding, adhesive, or mechanical fasteners. The frame member(s) 120 may further comprise recesses 150 arranged on an inside surface thereof, as well as provisions for mounting to a wall or a display stand.
 Sub-assemblies 114, 115 are provided and feature protrusions 152 formed thereon which correspond to the recesses 150 formed in the frame members 120. In this way, the sub-assemblies 114, 115 may be inserted into the display fixture 100 and securely attached to the frame members 120. Thus, the arrangement of the display fixture 100 can be altered by substituting and inserting various sub-assemblies into the frame. For example, a sub-assembly may comprise a header box 114 placed at a top portion 160 of the display fixture 100, a message holding sub-assembly (e.g. a frame sized 81''×11'', not shown) may be placed in a middle portion 161, and any arrangement of various sub-assemblies may be placed in a bottom portion 162, for example a business card holder 115, and/or a cork board (not shown). In a preferred embodiment, the sub-assemblies are pre-fabricated, and may also comprise means to attach to one another, such as by the same recesses and protrusions used to mount the sub-assemblies to the frame members 120. An outer cover (not shown) may also be provided to hide the exposed recesses 150 and protrusions 152 from view.
 Referring generally to FIG. 4, an embodiment of the present invention is shown which features a frame 212 having removable divider elements 213 arrangement therein. The divider elements 213 are arranged to form compartments within the frame 212. For example, a singular divider element 213 could be used horizontally between vertically arranged frame members 210 to define an 81/2''×11'' compartment 215 configured to accept a corresponding 81/2''×11'' display item, such as an announcement on a standard-sized piece of paper. A divider element 213 may also be used to form a header-box 216 at the top of the display fixture. The frame members 210 may comprise a means to couple with vertical or horizontal divider elements 213, such as by recesses 214 formed therein, as well as means to mount to a wall or a display stand.
 In a preferred embodiment, the divider elements 213 feature spring-loaded protrusions 218 (FIG. 5) configured to securely extend into the recesses 214 formed in the frame members 210. Likewise recesses 214 may be formed on the divider elements 213, for example, so that a vertical divider element may be coupled with a horizontal divider element, for example, the divider element arrangement defining bottom compartment 217. As described above with respect to the previous embodiments, covers may be provided over the viewing areas to protect and secure the displayed items.
 Preferably, the frame 212 comprises a plurality of recesses 214 formed around an inner surface thereof. In this way, a number of configurations of divider elements 213 can be provided to form a wide variety of compartments within the frame 212. Thus, this arrangement provides flexibility to a user in that a single frame 212 can be used in multiple configurations. Moreover, transition between various configurations is made simply and efficient.
 Although a spring-loaded protrusion 218 on the divider elements 213 is described with respect to the preferred embodiment, it is envisioned that any suitable fastening means may be used to removably couple the divider elements 213 to the frame members 210. For example, snap fits, tongue and groove arrangements, or the protrusion and recess arrangement of the previous embodiments may all be utilized without departing from the scope of the present invention.
 FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of the present invention comprising an expandable frame 312. The expandable frame 312 comprises frame segments 313 which may be coupled together to adjust the size of the frame 312. In this way, a frame can be altered in order to accommodate varying display arrangements contained therein. The frame segments 313 may be attached by any conventional means, such as the protrusion and recess arrangement described above. However, other types of fastening, such as press or friction fits, or mechanical fasteners, may be used without departing from the scope of the present invention. The frame elements 313 may comprise recesses 316 formed therein configured to accept either divider elements, as described above with respect to FIG. 4, or sub-assemblies as described with respect to FIG. 3. The frame elements 313 also provide means for mounting to a wall or a display stand.
 Corner members 320 may be utilized to connect frame elements 313 together in a generally perpendicular manner, forming the corners of the frame. The corner members 320 may be generally square or rectangular in shape and comprise attachment means on at least two of their adjacent sides for removably coupling frame members 313 thereto. In an alternate embodiment, the corner pieces could be eliminated and the frame members 313 configured to attach in a perpendicular fashion, thus forming the corners of the frame 312.
 It is further envisioned that expandable frame segments may be utilized with respect to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, specifically, the frame member 12 may feature means to couple with additional frame members, thereby increasing the width of the display frame 10, offering increased space in which to mount addition sub-assemblies.
 FIG. 7 shows another embodiment of the present invention having a frame 412 defining two generally parallel channels 415. The parallel channels 415 are configured to slidably accept sub-assemblies, such as a business card holder 417 and/or a sized display compartment 419. A hinged cover, such as a glass cover 420 may be provided on the display compartment 419, allowing for easy front loading of display items. As with the previous embodiments, the arrangement of the sub-assemblies may be altered within the frame 412 according to a desired layout. For example, FIG. 8 shows a frame 412 having three display compartments 419 arranged therewithin, each display compartment 419 having a cover 420 attached thereto for front loading display items. As described above with respect to FIG. 6, the frame 412 may be expandable, providing longer parallel channels 415, allowing additional sub-assemblies to be placed therein, or to accommodate larger sub-assemblies. Provisions for mounting the display to a wall or a frame may be provided on either the parallel channels or the sub-assemblies.
 The frames, sub-assemblies, and divider elements of any of the embodiments described herein may be formed from any suitable material. However, a material such as aluminum or plastic is preferred as the resulting light-weight structure is beneficial to a user for both mounting the displays, as well as modifying their arrangements. By virtue of the designs described herein, displays intended to be used for announcement purposes may comprise thin-profiles, for example, thicknesses "D" which are only marginally more than the thickness of a glass or plastic cover, so as to further reduce weight and improve aesthetic appearances. Likewise, each of the embodiments described herein can be increased in thickness or depth if added capacity is needed based on the type of display item.
 While the foregoing describes exemplary embodiments and implementations, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
Patent applications in class Plural connected frames or frame having means to connect with another frame
Patent applications in all subclasses Plural connected frames or frame having means to connect with another frame