A modular floor tile incorporating various features intended to improve the performance of each tile and a system of tiles. Each tile has a top surface, a bottom surface and a perimeter having a sectional thickness and at least one side (in the case of a curvilinear form and a plurality of sides in the case of a rectilinear form), and further includes lateral engaging snap-lock receivers and inserts located at the perimeter of a tile to reduce the incidence of unintended tile separation when assembled into a system; perimeter positioned lands and grooves oriented to prevent fluid migration to a supporting substrate and enhance linkage between tiles when assembled into a system; and under-tile support columns joined by arches at the bottom surface to improve under-tile air flow properties while maintaining sufficient structural support. The floor tiles may further include a biocide.
This is a utility application that claims benefit, under 35 USC §119 (e) to Provisional Patent Application No. 60/677,788, filed 4 May 2005, which application is incorporated herein by reference.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed towards a modular floor tile that incorporates various features intended to improve the performance of each tile and a system of tiles. Each tile embodiment of the invention has a top surface, a bottom surface and a perimeter having a sectional thickness and at least one side (in the case of a curvilinear form and a plurality of sides in the case of a rectilinear form). In select embodiments according to the invention comprise lateral engaging snap-lock receivers and inserts located at the perimeter of a tile to reduce the incidence of unintended tile separation when assembled into a system; perimeter positioned lands and grooves oriented to prevent fluid migration to a supporting substrate and enhance linkage between tiles; and under-tile support columns joined by arches to improve under-tile air flow properties while maintaining sufficient structural support.
The lateral engaging snap-locks of the invention comprise receivers and inserts. Each receiver, which may be curvilinear, rectilinear or a combination thereof, may extend from at least one lateral edge of the tile or may be recessed thereat. In a preferred series of embodiments, a plurality of loops form the receivers and extend from two sides of the tile if the tile is rectilinear and from at least two distinct portions of the perimeter if the tile is curvilinear. Each loop defines a regular and/or irregular cylinder into which a portion of the insert from an adjacent tile will extend. Preferably, the height of the loop will be less than the height or sectional thickness of the tile such that the loop can be laterally received by an adjacent tile, i.e., that each loop can pass under the bottom surface of an adjacent tile in order to be visually concealed from the top surface when the tiles are arranged into a system of tiles. In such embodiments, the inserts are then disposed on the underside of the tile and provide sufficient clearance there about to closely receive an appropriately positioned loop from an adjacent tile in a system of tiles.
Each insert, which is at least partially formed to fit within the loop, comprises a first portion and a second portion extending away from the lateral edge of the tile or away from the bottom surface of the tile at their respective proximal ends; the distal ends of the two portions are separated by a gap such that upon application of a compressive force, the distal ends can be brought closer to one another. In a relaxed state, at least one dimension of the insert is greater than any dimension of a receiver's internal cylinder. However, upon application of a suitable compressive force, the insert may be inserted into the receiver and permitted to recover at least part of its relaxed-state shape, thereby assuming an engaged position with the receiver to prevent the unintentional separation of one tile from the linked tile. Preferably, at least one portion includes a protrusion to facilitate retention function with an adjacent tile.
In addition to the foregoing, selected tile embodiments of the invention as previously noted may further comprises, with or without the presence of inserts and receivers, at least one perimeter land and at least one perimeter groove. In preferred embodiments, the groove faces “up” while the land faces “down”. When a plurality of tiles is joined to form a system of tile, each land substantially fits in an adjacent groove. This close fit further enhances the linkage between adjacent tiles, and directs any fluids present at the interface between tiles towards the groove. Thus, fluid entering a groove will be directed laterally as opposed to towards a supporting substrate, thereby preserving the condition of the substrate. The land to groove linkage may be loose, a close fit, or interlocking depending upon design considerations and intended usage of the tile systems.
Another feature of the invention pertains to the formation of the tile supporting structure. Embodiments of the invention provide for a plurality of small foot print columns where at least some of the columns are linked to other columns by an arched structure. In this manner, sufficient support for the tile and anticipated loads is accomplished while limiting the amount of tile area contacting the supporting substrate. The arched structure may be of conventional form, e.g., curvilinear, or may be of unconventional form, e.g., rectilinear. By providing for small substrate contacting areas and arched structures, relatively high airflow properties under the tile and between adjacent tiles can be maintained. When used in conjunction with a somewhat resilient tile upper surface capable of minor deflection upon loading, a bellows effect can be achieved, thereby equalizing environmental conditions under a system of interlocked tiles. In a preferred series of embodiments, the column supports are arranged in a hexagonal geometry to produce a strong yet material-usage efficient structure, especially when used in conjunction with a conventional arched structure, column connection arrangement.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The following discussion is presented to enable a person skilled in the art to make and use the invention. Various modifications to the described embodiment will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the generic principles herein may be applied to other embodiments and applications without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiment show, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and features disclosed herein.
Turning then to the several Figures, wherein like numerals indicate like parts, and more particularly to
One feature of the illustrated embodiment concerns the nature of support of tile 20 on a substrate. An objective of this embodiment of the invention is to reduce material usage in creating tile 20, while maintaining or increasing its load bearing properties over the prior art. Moreover, another objective is to provide means for permitting or enhancing fluid flow between lower surface 40 and the substrate, from one edge of the tile to an opposing edge. In this case, fluid flow includes both liquid fluids and gaseous fluids. As discerned from inspection of
The use of columns and arches, as well as discrete perimeter support columns, provide the highest degree of support with the least amount of material usage, and further provide convenient fluid pathways from one edge of tile 20 to any other edge, thereby preventing the stagnation of fluids, either liquid or gas, under any given tile. When used in combination with a hexagonal cellular structure, an extremely efficient support matrix is created, both from a load capacity and materials usage perspective.
In addition to incorporating a cellular matrix support structure, tiles 20 provide means for linking adjacent tiles to form an array of tiles, such as is illustrated in
A first interlocking means is shown throughout the several Figures, and particularly in
To establish an interlock between receivers 50 and inserts 60, a pair of tiles 20 are aligned as is best shown in
A second interlocking means, namely perimeter interlock 90, is shown throughout the several Figures, and particularly in
Each tile 20 preferably has two adjacent extending portions 96, which establish land 98, and intrinsic groove 99. Each tile 20 further preferably has two generally continuous grooves 94, each of which is defined by land 92 and tile perimeter portion 92. As illustrated best in
1. A tile comprising:
- a panel having an upper surface, an opposing lower surface and a perimeter;
- a plurality of engagement receivers extending from at least a first portion of the perimeter wherein each receiver comprises an outer surface and an inner surface, and defines a opening; and
- a plurality of engagement inserts proximate to at least a second portion of the perimeter wherein each insert comprises a head and a body portion, and defines a gap there between.
2. The tile of claim 1 wherein the head has a bulbous portion and a return surface for retaining the lower surface of an adjacent tile.
3. The tile of claim 2 wherein the head deforms during engagement with an adjacent tile.
4. The tile of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of cells formed on the lower surface wherein at least a portion of each cell extends from the lower surface to contact a supporting substrate.
5. The tile of claim 4 wherein cells comprise a plurality of side walls and verticies defined by the intersection of two sides.
6. The tile of claim 5 further comprising a plurality of support columns at a plurality of verticies.
7. The tile of claim 5 wherein at least some of the side walls define an arch having their apex proximate to the lower surface.
8. The tile of claim 4 wherein at least some of the cells have a hexagonal cross section.
9. The tile of claim 4 wherein at least one air-path is defined by a plurality of cells extending from one portion of the perimeter to an opposite portion of the perimeter.
10. The tile of claim 1 wherein one of the upper surface or the lower surface of the tile comprises a groove defined by a perimeter portion of the tile and a spaced apart perimeter land at one portion of the perimeter, and the opposing surface at another portion of the perimeter comprises a perimeter land having a cross section width approximately equal to a cross section width of the groove.
11. The tile of claim 10 wherein the lower surface comprises a groove defined by a perimeter portion of the tile and a spaced apart perimeter land at one portion of the perimeter, and the upper surface at another portion of the perimeter comprises a perimeter land having a cross section width approximately equal to a cross section width of the lower surface groove.
12. The tile of claim 1 further comprising a perimeter extension portion wherein the lower surface thereof defines a land and the upper surface of an adjacent edge of the tile defines a groove sized to closely receive the land.
13. The tile of claim 1 constructed from a material comprising a fungicide.
14. The tile of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of perimeter colums.
Filed: May 4, 2006
Publication Date: Nov 30, 2006
Inventor: Kurt Geffe (Bellevue, WA)
Application Number: 11/429,426
International Classification: E04F 15/00 (20060101);