MODULAR RAILING APPARATUS AND METHOD

An apparatus comprising at least one trapezoidal post and at least one attachment device is provided. The trapezoidal post has a wide edge, an opposing narrow edge, and two opposing inclined edges connecting the wide edge and narrow edge. The attachment device includes a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the trapezoidal post and forms at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the trapezoidal post. The attachment device is configured to secure to a position on the trapezoidal post by sliding the attachment device along the wide edge of the trapezoidal post to the position and engaging the opposing arm sections with the inclined edges of the trapezoidal post when a force is exerted against the attachment device and the trapezoidal post. The attachment device is further configured to couple to one or more railing components.

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Description

RELATED PATENT DOCUMENTS

This application claims the benefit of provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/645,401 filed on May 10, 2012, to which priority is claimed pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119(e) and which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure is directed to railing systems for public and private use facilities. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to a modular railing apparatus.

BACKGROUND

Railing systems are constructed on-site. However, installation of known railing systems typically requires tedious welding, drilling, and/or tapping. Thus, typical installation requires several tools, parts, and/or power sources in addition to the components of the railing system being constructed. Such systems have limited adjustability and are also not typically interchangeable with other components from the manufacturer. Railing systems that are durable, have adaptable design capabilities, and are convenient to work with would complement both large- and small-scale construction projects.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the disclosure are directed to an apparatus which includes at least one trapezoidal post and at least one attachment device. The trapezoidal post has a wide edge, an opposing narrow edge, and two opposing inclined edges which connect the wide edge and the narrow edge. The at least one attachment device comprises a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the at least one trapezoidal post and forms at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the trapezoidal post. The attachment device is configured to secure to a position on the at least one trapezoidal post by sliding the attachment device along the wide edge of the at least one trapezoidal post to the position. The at least two opposing arm sections are engaged with the inclined edges of the at least one trapezoidal post when a force is exerted against the at least one attachment device and the at least one trapezoidal post. The attachment device is further configured to couple to one or more railing components.

Other embodiments of the disclosure are directed to an apparatus comprising first and second trapezoidal posts, first and second attachment devices, and at least one railing component. The first and second trapezoidal posts each have a wide edge, an opposing narrow edge, and two opposing inclined edges, each inclined edge connecting the wide edge and the narrow edge. The first attachment device is secured to a first position on the first trapezoidal post and comprises a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the first trapezoidal post forming at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the first trapezoidal post. The first attachment device is secured to the first position by engaging the at least two opposing arm sections with the inclined edges of the first trapezoidal post using a first locking element. The second attachment device is secured to a second position on the second trapezoidal post and comprises a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the second trapezoidal post forming at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the second trapezoidal post. The second attachment device is secured to the second position by engaging the at least two opposing arm sections with the inclined edges of the second trapezoidal post using a second locking element. The at least one railing component has a proximal end coupled to the first attachment device and a distal end coupled to the second attachment device.

Further embodiments of the disclosure are directed to a method. The method includes aligning a wide section of a recessed portion of an attachment device with a corresponding wide portion of a trapezoidal post, wherein the recessed portion includes two inclined sides forming at least two arm sections. The attachment device is slid along a length of the trapezoidal post to a position. A locking element is inserted into a proximal end of at least one access hole on a surface of the attachment device opposite the recessed portion. The at least one access hole also includes a distal end at the wide section of the recessed portion. The attachment device is secured to the position on the trapezoidal post by causing the locking element to partially exit the distal end of the at least one access hole and exert a force against the attachment device and the trapezoidal post. The force causes the at least two arm sections to engage the trapezoidal post.

These and other features and aspects of various embodiments may be understood in view of the following detailed discussion and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a railing section in accordance with various embodiments;

FIG. 2 is a section view illustrating the profile of a support post in accordance with various embodiments;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of an attachment device in accordance with various embodiments;

FIG. 4 is a section view of an attachment device disengaged from a support post in accordance with various embodiments;

FIG. 5 is a section view of an attachment device engaged with a support post in accordance with various embodiments; and

FIG. 6 is a flow chart of a method in accordance with various embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description of various exemplary embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration various embodiments in which this disclosure may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized, as structural and operational changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present disclosure.

To facilitate on-site construction, a modular railing system provides an alternative to complex and time consuming installations of current railing systems. The described railing modules can be erected with the use of minimal tools enabling efficient assembly times and reducing or removing the need for a power source at the assembly location. In addition, the railing modules use a minimal number of interchangeable components to increase assembly efficiency. The railing systems provide for flexible adjustment of modular components and are readily reconfigurable and customizable.

In accordance with various embodiments, a modular railing system includes assemblies of trapezoid shaped posts, infill, slidable attachment devices for attaching the infill to the posts, and optional hand or top railings. Infill refers to components connecting support posts in a railing system where such components may be glass, metal, wood, mesh, perforated, cable, composite, panels, netting, sculptural or decorative, or any other type of infill. The infill 3 components may provide additional structural support for the railing system as well as enhance the aesthetics.

An attachment slide slips over/along the wide portion of the trapezoidal posts and affixes to a position on the post using a wedge action. For example, the attachment slide is secured to the position without drilling or tapping into the post. The overall erection of the railing system does not require welding and involves minimal drilling. Rather, drilling is primarily necessary for installing the posts. The posts may be installed at any angle, but since most railings are installed orthogonal to a support surface, the following description primarily refers, but is not limited, to vertical posts.

In general, an assembled section of a railing system includes posts 1, optional infill 3, and attachment slides 2, as shown in FIG. 1. Here, an assembled railing section includes two trapezoidal posts 1, an infill 3, four attachment slides 2, four attachment fittings 4, four attachment caps 5, and a handrail 6. As can be seen, the railing section is readily connectable to additional railing sections by coupling addition infill 3, or other components, to the open attachment fittings 4 on either side of the assembled railing section. Each of these components is discussed further below.

FIG. 2 illustrates the trapezoidal shape of the posts 1 by showing a top-down, cross-section profile of a post 1. The posts 1 can be a variety of lengths and are trapezoid shaped. Thus, consistent with a trapezoid, the posts 1 include a wide edge 110, an opposing narrow edge 120, and two opposing inclined edges 130, 140 connecting the wide 110 and narrow 120 edges. While the inclined edges 130, 140 are illustrated as having the same opposing angles and lengths (essentially mirror images), the inclined edges 130, 140 can have differing angles and lengths. The dimensions of the trapezoidal posts 1 are selected based on the venue in which the railing system is installed and the desired aesthetics. The trapezoidal posts 1 can be constructed of a variety of materials such as steel, aluminum, wood, etc. Depending on the material and intended venue, the trapezoidal posts 1 can be hollow or filled. For example, the posts 1 can be a single, solid piece of metal, or they can have a first material for the exterior and a differing filler material.

The posts 1 support the modular railing system by attaching to a base building structure (e.g., concrete, wood, glass, or other building material used in balconies, flooring, arenas, stadiums, staging, general building construction, etc.). For example, the posts 1 can be manufactured with an integrated base for attachment to a structure or a separate base connecting piece, such as a plate, can be attached to the base structure and the posts 1 inserted therein. Since the posts 1 are attached to a support surface through techniques known in the art, the attachment of the posts 1 is not further discussed herein. The opposing, exposed top end of the posts 1 can also be finished or capped for aesthetics. The trapezoidal shape of the posts 1, in connection with a recessed portion of the attachment slides 2, provides for adjustable positioning, and attachment, of the attachment slides 2.

FIG. 3 illustrates an attachment slide 2 in accordance with various embodiments. One or more attachment slides 2 affix to each post 1 to attach components (e.g., infill 3, top rails, or handrails 6, etc.) of the railing system to the posts 1. The attachment slide 2 has a recessed portion, cut-out, 8 that matches the profile of the trapezoidal posts 1. For example, the recessed portion 8 has a relatively flat surface with dimensions that corresponds to the wide edge 110 of a trapezoidal post 1. While attachment slide 2 is illustrated with a cylindrical shape, attachment slide 2 can be of any geometry or configuration. The shape of the attachment slide 2 is selected based on the number and types of components the attachment slide 2 is coupled to, as well as aesthetics. The attachment slide 2 can be constructed of a variety of materials including metal, resin, plastic, rubber, etc.

The recessed portion 8 forms two arms 9 such that when coupled to the trapezoidal post 1, the attachment slide 2 does not fully surround the trapezoidal post 1. The attachment slide 2 connects to trapezoidal post 1 by sleeving over the wider portion of the trapezoidal post 1 and then sliding up and down along the trapezoidal post 1 for positioning at any height along the post 1. To facilitate positioning of attachment slides 2 at substantially the same position on subsequent posts 1, the posts 1 can include markings at various heights. While not necessarily required, securing attachment slides 2 at consistent positions on consecutive posts 1 improves the aesthetics of a railing system and can also provide improved support and stability. An access point 10 enables further connection for attachment fittings 4 for components and caps 5 as discussed further below. To secure the attachment slide 2 to a position, the attachment slide 2 includes at least one access point 7 for receiving attachment hardware 11.

The attachment slide 2 is connected to, but not engaged with, the trapezoidal post 1 as shown in the cross-section of FIG. 4. As discussed above, the attachment slide 2 fits to, and slides down/along, the trapezoidal post 1. The relatively flat surface of the recessed portion of the attachment slide 2 aligns with the wide edge 410 of a trapezoidal post 1. Once aligned, the attachment slide 2 sleeves over the end of the trapezoidal post 1. Instead of encircling the post 1, the attachment slide 2, via the recessed portion 8 and arms 9, hugs the wide edge 410 and inclined edges 430, 440 of trapezoidal post 1. While attachment slide 2 is illustrated as being substantially flush with trapezoidal post 1, the dimensions of the recessed portion 8 and trapezoidal post 1 can allow for deviations in manufacturing and a looser fit between the two components to aid in positioning the attachment slide 2. When the attachment slide 2 is positioned at a desired height, the attachment slide is secured to the trapezoidal post 1, as shown in FIG. 5.

In an embodiment, the attachment slide 2 is secured at the desired position using a locking element 11. The locking element 11 can be any type of hardware that can exert a force on the attachment slide 2 and trapezoidal post 1 by acting as a wedge causing the attachment slide 2 to push away from the post 1 and engage the arms 9. Examples of locking elements 11 include set, flat, button, or hex head cap screws. In the illustrated embodiment, the attachment hardware 11 is represented by a set screw inserted into access point 7. Access point 7 is a through hole with one end at the exposed surface of attachment slide 2 and the other at the opposing relatively flat surface of recessed portion 8. The access point 7 can be threaded for use with a set screw. The set screw pushes against the wide edge 510 of the trapezoidal post 1, which moves the attachment slide 2 away from the post 1. As the attachment slide 2 moves away from the trapezoidal post 1, the arms 9 of the attachment slide 2 engage the inclined sides 530, 540 of the trapezoidal post 1. This wedges the attachment slide 2 in place, creating a gap between the attachment slide 2 and the wide edge 510 of trapezoidal post 1 and thereby locking the attachment slide 2 in the selected position.

The wedging action allows the attachment slide 2, and any connected railing components, to be located at any height along the trapezoidal posts 1. The arms 9 also secure the attachment slide 2 to prevent rotation of the attachment slide 2 and any railing components attached thereto. While attachment slide 2 is illustrated with a single arm on each side of the recessed portion, any number of arms 9 on each side of the recessed portion 8 could be present, for example, creating a claw configuration. Securing the attachment slide 2 with one or more locking elements 11 eliminates the need for drilling, welding, or surrounding the trapezoidal post 1 with the attachment slide 2. This also minimizes the material and visual impact of the attachment slide 2 and attached components.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the attachment slides 2 attach railing components to the trapezoidal posts 1. For example, an attachment fitting 4 mounts to the attachment slide 2 using one or more additional access points 10. In one embodiment, access point 10 is a central tapped hole. While access point 10 can be a through hole, it can also terminate within the attachment slide 2. Access point 10 can be threaded or not. The attachment fitting 4 is secured to the attachment slide 2 with an attachment cap 5. In one embodiment, the attachment cap 5 is a thin disc having one or more threaded studs which protrude through corresponding holes in the attachment fitting 4 and tighten into the one or more corresponding access points 10.

The attachment devices (attachment slides 2, attachment fittings 4, and attachment caps 5) can have a variety of configurations. For example, attachment fittings 4 can be configured to attach one or more railing components at a variety of angles to a trapezoidal post 1. As shown in FIG. 1, attachment fittings 4 are configured to attach a railing component on each side of trapezoidal post 1 on a substantially parallel plane. Such attachment fitting 4 can be a single fitting 4 with two component attachment points. Alternatively, the illustrated fitting 4 can be two fittings, each with a single component attachment point that are secured to the attachment slide 2 in layers. Using this layered approach, multiple attachment fittings 4 can be secured to a single attachment slide 2 depending on the length and strength of the threaded studs of the attachment cap 5. Similar to the above discussion, the attachment slides 2, attachment fittings 4, and attachment caps 5 can each be a variety of shapes. However, for safety and aesthetic purposes, the attachment devices preferably have corresponding shapes. For example, each is cylindrical in shape with substantially the same diameters.

One or more attachment fitting 4 and attachment slide 2 combinations are used, as needed, to attach railing components. For example, in FIG. 1 four attachment slide 2/attachment fitting 4 combinations are used to attach an infill 3 between two trapezoidal posts 1. In alternative embodiments, two attachment slide 2/attachment fitting 4 combinations may be used, or even an odd number. The number of attachment slide 2/attachment fitting 4 combinations is determined by the railing components being attached and the weight of such components. For example, the infill 3 may be glass, mesh, perforated, cable, composite, or any other type of infill 3. Alternatively, or in addition, attachment fittings 4 may be used to attach a top rail or handrail 6. For example, a glass infill 3 would be secured with more attachment slide 2/attachment fitting 4 combinations than a mesh infill 3. All railing components can be attached to the system without drilling except, possibly, the handrail 6 or top rail.

In another embodiment, the railing system may involve two trapezoidal posts 1, two attachment slides 2, and a rail 6 (e.g., top or hand). The handrail 6, for example, is attached to the trapezoidal vertical posts 1 with attachment fittings 4 as described above in connection with the infill 3. However, only two attachment slide 2/attachment fitting 4 combinations are used and the infill 3 is omitted. Similarly, any combination of railing components may be attached to the system using one or more attachment slides 2.

As discussed above, assembly of the railing system requires minimal tools and components. A method of such assembly is illustrated in FIG. 6, where a section of a railing system is erected by aligning a wide section of a recessed portion of an attachment device with a corresponding wide portion of a trapezoidal post 610. The recessed portion includes two inclined sides forming at least two arm sections. The attachment device slides over the trapezoidal post and along a length of the post to a selected position 620. At least one locking element is inserted in a proximal end of at least one access hole on a surface of the attachment device opposite the recessed portion 630, wherein the at least one access hole includes a distal end at the wide section of the recessed portion. The attachment device is secured to the position on the trapezoidal post by causing the locking element to partially exit the distal end of the at least one access hole and exert a force against the attachment device and the trapezoidal post 640. The force causes the at least two arm sections to engage the trapezoidal post. This is repeated to secure as many attachment devices to a plurality of trapezoidal posts. For example, two attachment devices are secured to each trapezoidal post in a system.

Once the attachment devices are positioned on the trapezoidal posts, attachment fittings for the appropriate railing components are mounted to the attachment devices and secured with respective attachment caps. With the attachment fittings in place, the railing components may be attached. In addition, an attachment cap, or other decorative piece, may be used to cap or cover an exposed, but unused attachment slide. The trapezoidal posts are secured to a building structure before or after the components are attached based upon the weight and complexity of the railing system section. Two or more railing sections may be connected to each other as the size of the railing system dictates.

The modular railing system may be used with various accessories and devices. For example, drink surfaces, foot rails, signage, and other accessories may be suitably arranged at any desirable location on the railing system. These accessories may be attached to the trapezoidal posts or to other components attached to the railing system.

It is to be understood that even though numerous characteristics of various embodiments have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of various embodiments, this detailed description is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of structure and arrangements of parts illustrated by the various embodiments to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.

Claims

1. An apparatus comprising:

at least one trapezoidal post having a wide edge, an opposing narrow edge, and two opposing inclined edges, each inclined edge connecting the wide edge and the narrow edge; and
at least one attachment device comprising a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the at least one trapezoidal post and forming at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the trapezoidal post, the attachment device being configured to secure to a position on the at least one trapezoidal post by sliding the attachment device along the wide edge of the at least one trapezoidal post to the position and engaging the at least two opposing arm sections with the inclined edges of the at least one trapezoidal post when a force is exerted against the at least one attachment device and the at least one trapezoidal post, the attachment device being further configured to couple to one or more railing components.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes at least two attachment devices.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the force is exerted by a locking element wedging the at least one attachment device away from the at least one trapezoidal post.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a first attachment device is secured to a first position on a first trapezoidal post and a second attachment device is secured to a second position on a second trapezoidal post and the first and second attachment devices are coupled to a railing component connecting the first and second trapezoidal posts.

5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein the first and second positions are at substantially the same height on the first and second trapezoidal posts.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the railing component is a handrail.

7. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein the railing component is infill.

8. An apparatus comprising:

a first trapezoidal post having a wide edge, an opposing narrow edge, and two opposing inclined edges, each inclined edge connecting the wide edge and the narrow edge;
a second trapezoidal post having a wide edge, an opposing narrow edge, and two opposing inclined edges, each inclined edge connecting the wide edge and the narrow edge;
a first attachment device secured to a first position on the first trapezoidal post, the first attachment device comprising a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the first trapezoidal post and forming at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the first trapezoidal post, the first attachment device secured to the first position by engaging the at least two opposing arm sections with the inclined edges of the first trapezoidal post using a first locking element;
a second attachment device secured to a second position on the second trapezoidal post, the second attachment device comprising a recessed portion corresponding to the shape of the wide edge of the second trapezoidal post and forming at least two opposing arm sections with inclined edges corresponding to the inclined edges of the second trapezoidal post, the second attachment device secured to the second position by engaging the at least two opposing arm sections with the inclined edges of the second trapezoidal post using a second locking element; and
at least one railing component having a proximal end coupled to the first attachment device and a distal end coupled to the second attachment device.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the railing component is infill.

10. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the railing component is a handrail.

11. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the first attachment device is coupled to a proximate end of a second railing component and the second attachment device is coupled to a distal end of the second railing component.

12. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the first attachment device is configured to couple to a proximate end of a second railing component and the second attachment device is configured to couple to a proximate end of a third railing component.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein a distal end of the second railing component is coupled to a third attachment device secured to a third trapezoidal post and a distal end of the third railing component is coupled to a fourth attachment device secured to a fourth trapezoidal post.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the first, second, and third railing components are the same component type.

15. A method comprising:

aligning a wide section of a recessed portion of an attachment device with a corresponding wide portion of a trapezoidal post, wherein the recessed portion includes two inclined sides forming at least two arm sections;
sliding the attachment device along a length of the trapezoidal post to a position;
inserting at least one locking element into a proximal end of at least one access hole on a surface of the attachment device opposite the recessed portion, wherein the at least one access hole includes a distal end at the wide section of the recessed portion; and
securing the attachment device to the position on the trapezoidal post comprising causing the locking element to partially exit the distal end of the at least one access hole and exert a force against the attachment device and the trapezoidal post, the force causing the at least two arm sections to engage the trapezoidal post.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising:

coupling a railing component to the attachment device.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising:

aligning a wide section of a recessed portion of a second attachment device with a corresponding wide portion of a second trapezoidal post, wherein the recessed portion includes two inclined sides forming at least two arm sections;
sliding the second attachment device along a length of the second trapezoidal post to a second position;
inserting a second locking element into a proximal end of at least one access hole on an external surface of the second attachment device opposite the recessed portion, wherein the at least one access hole includes a distal end at the wide section of the recessed portion; and
securing the second attachment device to the second position on the second trapezoidal post comprising causing the second locking element to partially exit the distal end of the at least one access hole and exert a force against the second attachment device and the second trapezoidal post, the force causing the at least two arm sections to engage the second trapezoidal post; and
coupling a railing component to the first and second attachment devices to connect the first and second trapezoidal posts.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein coupling the railing component to the first and second attachment devices comprises coupling a first connection component to the first attachment device and coupling a second connection component to the second attachment device and coupling a proximal end of the railing component to the first connection component and coupling a distal end of the railing component to the second connection component.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein coupling the first and second connection components to the first and second attachment devices comprises securing the first and second connection components with respective first and second caps.

20. The method of claim 17, further comprising securing the first and second trapezoidal posts to a base structure.

Patent History

Publication number: 20130299761
Type: Application
Filed: Mar 12, 2013
Publication Date: Nov 14, 2013
Applicant: Staging Concepts Acqusitions, LL c (Minneapolis, MN)
Inventors: Zach Heiling (Shakopee, MN), Christoper J. Altringer (Columbus, MN), Jonathan M. Chase (Shoreview, MN)
Application Number: 13/797,307

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Rail To Post (256/65.02); With Aligning, Guiding, Or Instruction (29/407.09)
International Classification: E04H 17/14 (20060101); E04H 17/26 (20060101); E04F 11/18 (20060101);