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Title:
MATERIAL WITH UNDULATING SHAPE
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A material sheet includes a sheet of material having a small undulating shape. The material sheet provides added strength or allows for reduced material thicknesses in some embodiments. Some embodiments of the material sheet are to at least partially make an appliance, siding, a stud, a motorized vehicle, an electronics enclosure, a shingle, a window spacer, or a window component.


Inventors:
Trpkovski, Paul (Buffalo, WY, US)
Application Number:
12/270393
Publication Date:
05/14/2009
Filing Date:
11/13/2008
Assignee:
INFINITE EDGE TECHNOLOGIES, LLC (Avoca, WI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/204.591, 52/557, 52/852, 72/379.6, 296/1.01
International Classes:
B32B3/00; B21D13/10; B62D39/00; E04C3/00; E04D1/22; E06B3/663
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD PC (P.O. BOX 2903, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402-0903, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A material sheet comprising a sheet of material having an undulating shape wherein the undulating shape has a peak-to-peak period in a range from about 0.005 inches to about 0.08 inches.

2. The material sheet of claim 1, wherein the peak-to-peak period is in a range from about 0.02 inches to about 0.04 inches.

3. The material sheet of claim 1, wherein the undulating shape has a peak-to-peak amplitude in a range from about 0.005 inches to about 0.08 inches.

4. The material sheet of claim 3, wherein the peak-to-peak amplitude is in a range from about 0.02 inches to about 0.04 inches.

5. The material sheet of claim 1, wherein the material sheet has a thickness in a range from about 0.0001 inches to about 0.01 inches.

6. The material sheet of claim 5, wherein the thickness is in a range from about 0.0003 inches to about 0.004 inches.

7. The material sheet of claim 1, wherein the material thickness is in a range from about 0.01 inch to about 0.06 inch.

8. The material sheet of claim 1, wherein the undulating shape defines a plurality of peaks and valleys extending in a first longitudinal direction, and wherein the material sheet has increased flexibility to bending along the longitudinal direction than in the lateral direction.

9. The material sheet of claim 1, further comprising a coating on at least one surface of the sheet of material.

10. An appliance at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

11. The appliance of claim 10, wherein the appliance is one of a refrigerator, an air conditioner, a dishwasher, a clothes dryer, a clothes washing machine, a drying cabinet, a freezer, a stove, a water heater, a trash compactor, and a microwave oven.

12. The appliance of claim 10, wherein the material sheet includes an undulating shape including a plurality of peaks and valleys, wherein the appliance is configured so that at least some of the peaks and valleys are generally vertically arranged when the appliance is in use.

13. Siding at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

14. A metal stud at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

15. The metal stud of claim 14, further comprising first, second, and third sidewalls.

16. A motorized vehicle comprising a body, wherein the body is at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

17. A shingle at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

18. The shingle of claim 17, wherein the shingle further comprises a first layer and a second layer facing the first layer, the first layer made from the material sheet of claim 1.

19. The shingle of claim 18, wherein the second layer is asphalt.

20. The single of claim 18, wherein the shingle is a three-tabbed shingle.

21. A method of making a material sheet, the method comprising: forming an undulating shape in a sheet of material, wherein the undulating shape has a peak-to-peak period in a range from about 0.005 inches to about 0.1 inches.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein forming the undulating shape comprises passing the sheet of material through at least a pair of corrugated rollers.

23. A window spacer at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

24. A window component at least partially made from the material sheet of claim 1.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/987,681, filed on Nov. 13, 2007, titled “WINDOW ASSEMBLY AND WINDOW SPACER”; and to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/049,593, filed on May 1, 2008, titled “WINDOW ASSEMBLY AND WINDOW SPACER”; and to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/049,599, filed on May 1, 2008, titled “MANUFACTURE OF WINDOW ASSEMBLY AND WINDOW SPACER”; and to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/038,803, filed on Mar. 24, 2008, titled “WINDOW ASSEMBLY AND WINDOW SPACER”; the disclosures of which are each hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

Thin and flat sheets of material are often used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products. For example, sheet metal is a common building material. Stainless steel sheets are often used in the manufacture of appliances. Such sheets often have two opposing surfaces that are generally flat and have a thickness defined by the distance between the two surfaces.

SUMMARY

In general terms, this disclosure is directed to a material having a small undulating shape. The material is useful in a wide variety of different applications.

One aspect is a material sheet comprising a sheet of material having an undulating shape wherein the undulating shape has a peak-to-peak period in a range from about 0.005 inches to about 0.08 inches.

Another aspect is an appliance at least partially made from the material sheet.

A further aspect is a sheet of siding at least partially made from the material sheet.

Yet another aspect is a metal stud at least partially made from the material sheet.

A further aspect is a motorized vehicle comprising a body, wherein the body is at least partially made from the material sheet.

Yet another aspect is a shingle, wherein the shingle is at least partially made from the material sheet.

A further aspect is a method of making a material sheet, the method comprising forming an undulating shape in a sheet of material, wherein the undulating shape has a peak-to-peak period in a range from about 0.005 inches to about 0.08 inches.

Another aspect is a window spacer at least partially made from the material sheet.

Yet another aspect is a window component at least partially made from the material sheet.

A further aspect is an electronics enclosure at least partially made from the material sheet.

There is no requirement that an arrangement include all of the features characterized herein to obtain some advantage according to the present disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of an example sheet according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a schematic front view of the example sheet shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic top plan view of the example sheet shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a schematic side view of the example sheet shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a schematic perspective view of an example appliance according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 is a schematic partial cutaway view of a segment of the appliance shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a schematic perspective view of an example building including siding according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 8 is a schematic partial cutaway view of a segment of the siding shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a schematic perspective view of an example stud according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 10 is a schematic partial cutaway view of a segment of the stud shown in FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a schematic side view of an example machine according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 12 is a schematic partial cutaway view of a segment of the machine shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 13 is a schematic perspective view of an example shingle according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 14 is a schematic partial cutaway view of a segment of the shingle shown in FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a schematic perspective view of a portion of a window assembly including a window spacer according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 16 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a material sheet for forming the window spacer shown in FIG. 15.

FIG. 17 is a schematic plan view of the material sheet shown in FIG. 16.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various embodiments will be described in detail with reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts and assemblies throughout the several views. Reference to various embodiments does not limit the scope of the claims attached hereto. Additionally, any examples set forth in this specification are not intended to be limiting and merely set forth some of the many possible embodiments for the appended claims.

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate an example sheet 100 according to the present disclosure. FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of example sheet 100. FIG. 2 is a schematic front view of example sheet 100. FIG. 3 is a schematic top plan view of example sheet 100 including an enlarged portion. FIG. 4 is a schematic side view of example sheet 100.

In some embodiments, sheet 100 includes a surface 102, surface 104, edge 106, edge 108, edge 110, and edge 112. In this example, sheet 100 is arranged in a vertical orientation. Other embodiments include other orientations, such as a horizontal orientation, or any other orientation.

Surface 102 is on an opposite side of sheet 100 from surface 104. In some embodiments, surfaces 102 and 104 are referred to as faces of sheet 100. Edge 106 is a side of sheet 100. Edge 108 is also a side of sheet 100, and is located at the opposite side of sheet 100 from edge 106. In this example, edge 110 is the top edge of sheet 100. Edge 112 is a bottom edge of sheet 100, and arranged opposite the first edge.

In some embodiments edges 106, 108, 110, and 112 define a rectangular shaped perimeter. Other embodiments have a square shaped perimeter. Other embodiments have other shapes and more or fewer edges. For example, in some embodiments sheet 100 has only one edge (such as a circular, oval, or elliptical shape) having no corners. In other embodiments, sheet 100 has two, three, four, or more edges. Some embodiments have complex shapes. One preferred embodiment is very long, such that the sheet 100 can be stored in a roll, such as being wound around a spool or core.

In some embodiments, sheet 100 is generally planar, such that sheet extends generally along two perpendicular axes. In other embodiments, sheet 100 is made planar and then rolled. The rolled sheet 100 is capable of being unrolled into a planar configuration in some embodiments.

Referring now to FIG. 3, sheet 100 typically includes an undulating shape. In some embodiments the undulating shape is regular and repeating. Examples of undulating shapes include sinusoidal, arcuate, square, rectangular, triangular, and other desired shapes. Typically the undulating shape has very small undulations, much smaller than typical corrugated materials.

The undulating shape typically includes peaks separated by valleys. In one example, the undulating shape of sheet 100 defines a waveform having a peak-to-peak amplitude and a peak-to-peak period. The peak-to-peak amplitude A1 is also the overall thickness of sheet 100. A1 is typically in a range from about 0.005 inches (about 0.013 centimeter) to about 0.08 inches (about 0.25 centimeter), and preferably from about 0.02 inches (about 0.05 centimeter) to about 0.04 inches (about 0.1 centimeter). P1 is the peak-to-peak period of sheet 100. P1 is typically in a range from about 0.005 inches (about 0.013 centimeter) to about 0.08 inches (about 0.25 centimeter), and preferably from about 0.02 inches (about 0.05 centimeter) to about 0.04 inches (about 0.1 centimeter). Larger waveforms are used in other embodiments. Yet other embodiments include other waveforms and dimensions than described in this example.

In one example, sheet 100 is made of stainless steel. Other metals are used in other embodiments, such as titanium or aluminum. A benefit of stainless steel in some embodiments is its strength and resistance to ultraviolet radiation. Titanium has a lower thermal conductivity, a lower density, and better corrosion resistance than stainless steel, which makes it useful in some embodiments. An aluminum alloy is used in some embodiments, such as an alloy of aluminum and one or more of copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese or silicon. Other metal alloys are used in other embodiments. Yet other embodiments of sheet 100 are made of other materials such as a polymer (such as plastic), carbon fiber, graphite, wood, wood particles or pieces, paper or cardboard or other fibrous materials (such as materials made from cellulose pulp). Other embodiments include other materials or combinations of materials.

One advantage of some embodiments is that the undulating shape greatly enhances the strength of sheet 100, allowing sheet 100 to be made to have a thinner material thickness than if sheet 100 did not include the undulating shape. This allows some embodiments of sheet 100 to have much less material cost. As one hypothetical example, a sheet 100 has an undulating shape as shown in FIG. 3. The sheet 100 has approximately equal strength to another flat sheet (not shown) of the same material and having a material thickness that is twice that of sheet 100. In this example, sheet 100 has approximately equal strength to the flat sheet, but has a material cost that is half of that of the sheet without the undulating shape. As a result, large material cost savings are realized.

In one example, sheet 100 has a material thickness T1 (also known as the gauge of the material). T1 is typically in a range from about 0.0001 inches (about 0.00025 centimeter) to about 0.01 inches (about 0.025 centimeter), and preferably from about 0.0003 inches (about 0.00075 centimeter) to about 0.004 inches (about 0.01 centimeter). Other embodiments include other material thicknesses, depending on the material used and the required strength of the material needed for the particular application. For example, a thicker material sheet is used in some embodiments. The material sheet has a thickness in a range from about 0.01 inches (about 0.025 centimeter) to about 0.06 inches (about 0.15 centimeter).

In some embodiments, sheet 100 provides surprising results that are useful in a variety of applications. In some embodiments sheet 100 has a clean visual appearance. For example, sheet 100 does not show fingerprints in some embodiments. One reason that fingerprinting is reduced is that fingers generally only make contact with peaks of sheet 100. The peaks are spaced apart and the resulting imprint left from a finger or hand print is generally undetectable to the eye. Further the light-diffusing nature of the undulating shape also makes smudges, particles, or fingerprints less noticeable in some embodiments. Further, in some embodiments dust, moisture, or other particles, residue, or liquids present on sheet 100 are less noticeable on sheet 100 due to the undulating shape than on a flat surface. In some embodiments a surface of material sheet 100 has a brushed finish. In other embodiments a surface of material sheet 100 is a polished surface.

Due to the undulating shape, light that shines onto sheet 100 is diffused in many directions. As a result, glare and reflections are reduced in some embodiments. For example, sheet 100 reduces glare from sunlight by diffusing the light across a wider area.

Some embodiments of material sheet 100 acts to dampen noise. For example, in some embodiments the undulating shape of material sheet 100 suppresses echoes, reverberations, resonance, and reflection of sound.

The undulating shape of sheet 100 includes a plurality of valleys. The valleys act, in some embodiments, to improve the ability of sheet 100 to shed water or other liquids. In some embodiments, the valleys provide a capillary force that advances water downward, particularly when the valleys are arranged vertically (as shown in FIG. 1). In another possible embodiment, moisture is retained in valleys, such as by arranging valleys in a horizontal orientation.

In some embodiments, sheet 100 has much greater flexibility in a first direction than in a second direction. FIG. 3 illustrates flexibility in a first direction. In this example, sheet 100 is flexible about point P1. In order to bend an angle A1, a force F1 must be applied. FIG. 4 illustrates flexibility in a second direction. In this example, sheet 100 has less flexibility about point P2 in the second direction.

Stated another way, in some embodiments material sheet 100 has a high axial bend strength to resist axial bending. The perpendicular bend strength is less than the axial bend strength. The material sheet resists bending against the undulations more than bending with the undulations.

In one example, if A1 and A2 are equal, such in a range from about 10 to about 20 degrees, the force F2 that must be applied to bend sheet 100 in the second direction to an angle A2 is much greater than the force F1 that must be applied to bend sheet 100 in the first direction an angle A1.

In another example, if forces F1 and F2 are equal, sheet 100 will bend an angle A1 in a first direction that is much greater than the angle that sheet 100 will bend in the direction A2.

Further, as shown in FIG. 4, sheet 100 is able to withstand a large compressive force F3 applied to edge 110 in a direction parallel with the peaks and valleys of the elongate shape, without damaging sheet 100. In some embodiments damage includes bending, breaking, buckling, tearing, cracking, or significantly deforming. In other embodiments, damage includes significant plastic deformation.

In some embodiments, material 100 includes multiple layers. For example, a metal layer and one or more coatings are provided in some embodiments. An example of a coating is paint, sealant, asphalt, adhesive, oxide, enamel, powder coat, industrial coating, epoxy. Other coatings are used in other embodiments. In some embodiments a coating is formed by electrocoating, cathodic electrodeposition, and electrophoretic coating, electrophoretic painting, plasma coating, deposition (chemical vapor, physical vapor, vacuum, etc), anodizing, electroplating, electron beam deposition, and other coating processes.

One method of making the material sheet 100 is to pass a sheet of material through one or more pairs of corrugated rollers, where the corrugated rollers have teeth that bend the sheet of material to have the desired undulating shape.

FIG. 5 is a schematic perspective view of an example embodiment of an appliance 500. Appliance 500 includes a exterior 502 made of a material sheet, such as material sheet 100, shown in FIG. 1. A segment of appliance 500 is identified as segment S1. In this example embodiment, appliance is 500 is a refrigerator.

The refrigerator includes an external surface that is made of one or more material sheets 100. In one example, material sheet 100 is stainless steel. Other embodiments include other materials as discussed herein.

Other examples of appliances include an air conditioner, dishwasher, clothes dryer, clothes washing machine, drying cabinet, freezer, stove (e.g., cooker, range, oven, cooking plate, or cooktop), water heater, trash compactor, and a microwave oven. Other embodiments include other appliances. Other embodiments use material 100 as the exterior of a cabinet or storage unit.

FIG. 6 is a schematic partial cutaway view of segment S1, shown in FIG. 5, illustrating the undulating shape of material 100. Examples of material sheet 100 are discussed in more detail above. In some embodiments, the peaks and valleys of the undulating shape extend vertically on appliance 500.

FIG. 7 is a schematic perspective view of an example embodiment of a building 700 including siding 702 made of a material sheet, such as material sheet 100. Siding 702 is configured to be placed on an exterior of building 700, as shown in FIG. 7. A segment of siding 702 is identified as segment S2.

Siding 702 is formed from material sheet 100 in some embodiments, such as by cutting material sheet 100 to desired dimensions and then bending the material sheet 100 to have the desired siding shape.

In another possible embodiment, building 700 is a metal building. The exterior of the building is formed by material sheets 100. For example, building 700 is a straight-walled building in some embodiments, such as a pole barn. In other embodiments, building 700 is a metal arch building, such as for a warehouse, a shed, a garage, or an airplane hanger.

FIG. 8 is a schematic partial cutaway view of segment S2, shown in FIG. 7, illustrating the undulating shape of material 100. Examples of material sheet 100 are discussed in more detail above. In some embodiments, the peaks and valleys of the undulating shape extend vertically down an exterior side of siding 500.

FIG. 9 is a schematic perspective view of an example embodiment of a stud 900 made from a material sheet, such as material sheet 100. In this example, stud 900 includes one or more sidewalls 902, 904, and 906. Three or four sidewalls are included in some embodiments. In some embodiments, stud 900 includes flanges 908 and 910. Stud 900 is used in some embodiments in the construction of a building. A segment of stud 900 is identified as segment S3.

In some embodiments, stud 900 is formed of a material sheet 100. The material sheet 100 is cut or formed to size and is then bent to form the desired features of stud 900, such as sidewalls 902, 904, and 906 and flanges 908 and 910.

FIG. 10 is a schematic partial cutaway view of segment S3, shown in FIG. 9, illustrating the undulating shape of material sheet 100. Examples of material sheet 100 are discussed in more detail above. In some embodiments, the peaks and valleys of the undulating shape extend longitudinally along the length of the stud to provide increased strength to resist compression in the longitudinal direction. In other embodiments, the peaks and valleys of the undulating shape extend laterally across the length of the stud to provide increased resistance to bending or warping of stud 900. Some embodiments include peaks and valleys that go both laterally and longitudinally in different segments of stud 900 (e.g., each side may have a different orientation of peaks and valleys).

FIG. 11 is a schematic side view of an example machine 1100 made from a material sheet, such as material sheet 100. In this example, machine 1100 is an automobile including an exterior body 1102. The exterior body is made from material sheet 100. A segment of the automobile body is identified as segment S4.

Other embodiments of machine 100 include other machines, such as another motorized vehicle (e.g., an airplane, semi-truck, or other motorized vehicle). Other machines include tools, such as a power tool (e.g., table saw, drill, band saw, belt sander, chainsaw, scroll saw, planar), or other tools such as a ladder.

FIG. 12 is a schematic partial cutaway view of segment S4, shown in FIG. 11, illustrating the undulating shape of material sheet 100. Examples of material sheet 100 are discussed in more detail above.

FIG. 13 is a schematic perspective view of an example shingle 1300 according to the present disclosure. Shingle 1300 includes at least one layer 1302 that is made of material sheet 100. In some embodiments, shingle 1300 includes multiple layers, such as layer 1302 and layer 1304. A segment of shingle 1300 is identified as segment S5.

In one possible embodiment, shingle 1300 includes an outer layer 1302 that is made of material sheet 100. In some embodiments, one or more additional layers are also provided, such as a layer 1304 of asphalt or other material. Sand or other textures are applied to the exterior (e.g., top) surface of shingle 1300 in some embodiments. An example configuration of shingle 1300 is a three-tabbed shingle, as illustrated in FIG. 13, including three tabs 1306. Other numbers of tabs 1306 (e.g., one, two, four, etc.) are provided in other embodiments. Further, in some embodiments shingle 1300 includes one or more self-sealing strips 1310. The self-sealing strip is, for example, an adhesive or sealant that forms a seal with another shingle when the other shingle 1300 is arranged on the self-sealing strip. More specifically, shingle 1300 includes an edge 1308. When a second identical shingle is arranged above shingle 1300, the edge 1308 of the second shingle overlaps self-sealing strip 1310. Self-sealing strip 1310 seals the edge 1308 of the second shingle to shingle 1300 to reduce the chance of moisture intrusion between the shingle 1300 and the second shingle. In another possible embodiment, shingle 1300 is a hot-glue strip or other adhesive or sealant material.

FIG. 14 is a schematic partial cutaway view of segment S5, shown in FIG. 13, illustrating the undulating shape of material sheet 100. Examples of material sheet 100 are discussed in more detail above.

Another possible embodiment is an electronics enclosure at least partially made from the material sheet 100. Examples of electronics enclosures include computer cases, radios, DVD players, laptops, portable electronic devices, or other enclosures that house an electronic device.

FIG. 15 is a schematic perspective view of a portion of a window assembly 1500 according to the present disclosure. Window assembly 1500 includes sheet 1502, sheet 1504, spacer 1506, and sealant 1524. Window assembly 1500 defines an interior space 1503. Spacer 1506 includes body 1508 and defines an interior space 1509. Body 1508 includes inner portion 1510, inner side portion 1512, outer side portion 1514, outer portion 1516, outer side portion 1518, and inner side portion 1520. In some embodiments, interior space 1509 is filled with a filler 1526.

Sheets 1502 and 1504 are typically formed of a material such as glass or plastic that allows at least some light to pass through. Some embodiments include an at least partially translucent or transparent material, while other embodiments include a substantially transparent material. Examples of suitable materials for sheets 1502 and 1504 are glass and plastic, or combinations of glass and plastic.

Spacer 1506 is arranged between sheet 1502 and sheet 1504 to maintain sheet 1502 in a spaced relationship with sheet 1504. Spacer 1506 together with sheets 1502 and 1504 define interior space 1503, which is a sealed interior region of window assembly 1500. Interior space 1509 typically includes interior space 1503 because joint 1522 is formed with holes or a gap that allows air and moisture to pass through. Sealant 1524 is used to seal the intersection between sheet 1502 and spacer 1506 and to seal the intersection between sheet 1504 and spacer 1506. In some embodiments, one or more additional sealant or adhesive layers are arranged between spacer 1506 and sheets 1502 and 1504 (such as between inner side portion 1512 and sheet 1502 and between inner side portion 1520 and sheet 1504) to connect and seal spacer 1506 with sheets 1502 and 1504.

Body 1508 includes inner portion 1510, inner side portion 1512, outer side portion 1514, outer portion 1516, outer side portion 1518, and inner side portion 1520. Inner portion 1510 is connected between inner side portions 1512 and 1520. Inner side portion 1512 is connected between inner portion 1510 and outer side portion 1514. Inner side portion 1520 is connected between inner portion and outer side portion 1518. Outer portion 1516 is connected between outer side portion 1514 and outer side portion 1518. Corners are formed between respective portions of body 1500.

In some embodiments, body 1508 is formed of a single sheet of material. Examples of suitable materials include metal and plastic, having a material thickness T1. The material is first obtained in an elongated strip form and is subsequently bent into the desired shape, such as using a roll former. The elongated strip material typically has a length in a range from about 50 inches (about 130 centimeters) to about 250 inches (about 640 centimeters), although other lengths are used in other embodiments. The elongated strip is passed through a roll former that bends the elongated strip to form corners between portions of spacer 1506, and any other desired features of spacer 1506. Edges of the elongated strip are joined together at joint 1522 by any suitable means, such as by welding, gluing, fastening, and the like. Edges are slightly overlapped in some embodiments to improve the strength of joint 1522. In some embodiments holes are formed at joint 1522 to allow gas and moisture to communicate between interior space 1509 and the rest of interior space 1503.

Due to the relatively long length of spacer 1506, rigidity and strength of spacer 1506 is important. For example, when installing a spacer into a particular window, an end of the spacer is often inserted into a die to bend the spacer to match the windows shape. In doing so, a majority of the spacer is often suspended in the air. If a spacer is not rigid enough to support its own weight, the spacer will be damaged when it bends under the weight. A damaged spacer is typically discarded as waste. Therefore, embodiments of spacer 1506 include features that provide adequate rigidity or strength to resist damage during manufacture and use.

After spacer 1506 has been formed, a sealant 1524 is applied between spacer 1506 and sheets 1502 and 1504 to seal edges of window assembly 1500. Examples of sealant 1524 include polyisobutylene (PIB), butyl, curable PIB, holt melt silicon, acrylic adhesive, acrylic sealant, reactive hot melt butyl (such as D-2000 manufactured by Delchem, Inc. located in Wilmington, Del.), curative hot melt (such as HL-5153 manufactured by H.B. Fuller Company), silicon, copolymers of silicon and polyisobutylene, and other Dual Seal Equivalent (DSE) type materials.

When forces are applied to sheets 1502 and 1504 in the direction F1, the forces are transferred through sheets 1502 and 1504 to spacer 1506. Spacer 1506 applies an approximately equal and opposite force to the respective window sheet to maintain window sheets 1502 and 1504 appropriately spaced apart. As a result, interior space 1503 continues to provide reduced thermal conductivity between sheets 1502 and 1504.

In some embodiments, a filler 1526 (not shown in FIG. 15) is placed within interior space 1509 of spacer 1506. An example of a suitable filler material is a desiccant that acts to remove moisture from the interior space of window assembly 1500. Desiccants include molecular sieve and silica gel type desiccants. One particular example of a desiccant is a beaded desiccant, such as PHONOSORB® molecular sieve beads manufactured by W. R. Grace & Co. of Columbia, Md. If desired, an adhesive is used to attach beaded desiccant between elongate strips 1510 and 1514. Other examples of filler materials include an adhesive, foam, putty, resin, silicon rubber, or other material or combination of materials.

In other embodiments, filler 1526 (not shown in FIG. 15) is a material that provides added support to spacer 1506 to provide increased structural strength. The structural strength is increased because the filler resists compression and buckling of body 1508. In this way, spacer 1506 does not rely solely on the structural strength of body 1508. In some embodiments, the added strength provided by the filler enables spacer 1506 to be formed using a thinner material for body 1508, without reducing the overall strength of spacer 1506. Thinner material reduces heat transfer through the material (such as between sheets 1502 and 1504) and also reduces the amount of material required to make body 1508, thereby reducing the cost of body 1508.

In yet other embodiments, filler 1526 is a matrix desiccant material that both provides structural support to body 1508 and also removes moisture from the interior space of window assembly 1500. Some filler materials are a desiccant or include a desiccant, such as a matrix material. Matrix material includes desiccant and other filler material. Examples of matrix desiccants include those manufactured by W.R. Grace & Co. and H.B. Fuller Corporation. A beaded desiccant can also be combined with another filler material, if desired.

FIGS. 16 and 17 illustrate a material sheet 1600 that can be used to form an exemplary embodiment of spacer 1506, shown in FIG. 15. FIG. 16 is a schematic cross-sectional view of material sheet 1600. FIG. 17 is a schematic plan view of a portion of material sheet 1600. An example of material sheet 1600 is material sheet 100 shown in FIGS. 1-4.

In some embodiments, material sheet 1600 is a relatively long and narrow strip of one or more layers. Material 1600 has an undulating shape. An example of an undulating shape is a sinusoidal shape. Other examples of undulating shapes include triangular-wave, square-wave, or other shapes having a repeating or non-repeating pattern. Material sheet 1600 is a material such as metal or plastic that can be formed to have an undulating shape. In one example, the undulating shape is formed in a planar strip of material by bending, such as using a roll former to impress the undulating pattern into the strip of material. In another embodiment, the undulating shape is formed by molding or melting the material into the desired undulating shape.

In some embodiments, the undulating pattern has small undulations in a range from about 10 to about 100 peaks per inch. In other embodiments, the undulating pattern has larger undulations, such as from about 0 to about 10 undulations per inch. The peak to peak amplitude of the undulations are typically in a range from about 0.005 inches (about 0.013 centimeter) to about 0.08 inches (about 0.2 centimeter), and preferably from about 0.02 inches (about 0.05 centimeter) to about 0.04 inches (about 0.1 centimeter).

After material sheet 1600 has been formed, material sheet 1600 is bent into the desired spacer configuration. The undulations present in material sheet 1600 are advantageous to the spacer. In some embodiments, the undulations provide increased strength along a longitudinal direction, increasing the rigidity of spacer 106 to resist buckling, kinking, or other damage to the spacer.

In some embodiments, the undulations also cause material sheet 1600 to have increased flexibility in a lateral direction. This is beneficial, for example, to make material sheet 1600 bend more easily when forming into the desired spacer configuration. Although the embodiments of FIGS. 16-17 illustrate longitudinal undulations, another embodiment includes lateral or angled undulations or combinations thereof.

Although a particular example of a window spacer is shown herein, it is recognized that material sheets 100 or 1600 are beneficial for use in a variety of spacers and is not limited to the particular examples discussed herein. For example, another embodiment of a spacer includes two substantially parallel elongate sheets.

Further, additional embodiments include other window components that are made from material sheet 100. For example, muntin bars are made of material sheet 100 in some embodiments. In another embodiment, a sash or window frame is made from material sheet 100.

The various embodiments described above are provided by way of illustration only and should not be construed to limit the claims attached hereto. Those skilled in the art will readily recognize various modifications and changes that may be made without following the example embodiments and applications illustrated and described herein, and without departing from the intended scope of the following claims.