Title:
MODULAR DWELLING STRUCTURE MADE FROM RECYCLED TIRE MATERIALS, A KIT FOR SAME AND A METHOD OF ASSEMBLING SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A kit for a modular dwelling structure is provided, including a plurality of panels having predetermined dimensions. Each panel is made of a recycled tire material. A plurality of engagement members are also provided for maintaining the panels in a predetermined configuration to form the shape of the dwelling structure. A kit for providing the modular dwelling structure is also provided, as well as a method for assembling the modular dwelling structure.



Inventors:
Diamond, Martin (Erieville, NY, US)
Application Number:
13/349603
Publication Date:
05/03/2012
Filing Date:
01/13/2012
Assignee:
DIAMOND MARTIN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/578, 52/745.06
International Classes:
E04B1/00; E04B1/38; E04C2/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
STEPHAN, BETH A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BURR & BROWN, PLLC (PO BOX 869 FAYETTEVILLE NY 13066)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A kit for a modular dwelling structure comprising: a plurality of panel members having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″, said panels each comprising a recycled tire material, wherein said recycled tire material defines an entire outer surface of said panel members; one or more reinforcement members embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members; a plurality of engagement members for maintaining said panel members in a predetermined configuration to form a shape of said structure.

2. The kit of claim 1, wherein said reinforcement members comprise a material selected from the group consisting of plastic materials, fiberglass materials and metal-based materials.

3. The kit of claim 1, wherein said panels further comprise one or more mating surfaces designed to engage at least one of a corresponding mating surface of another of said panel members and an engagement surface of one or more of said engagement members.

4. The kit of claim 3, wherein said panel members engage one another at least via said mating surfaces to form a junction.

5. The kit of claim 4, further comprising a joining compound for adhering said panel members to one another at said junctions therebetween and for providing water-tight characteristics to said junctions.

6. The kit of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of fastener members.

7. A modular dwelling structure comprising: a plurality of first panel members having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″ and configured to define a floor having a main plane; a plurality of second panel members having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″ and configured to define an outer peripheral wall structure surrounding said floor and extending in a direction that is substantially perpendicular to said main plane of said floor; and a plurality of third panel members having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″ and configured to define a roof structure substantially enclosing an interior space defined by said main plane of said floor, an interior planar surface of said outer peripheral wall structure and an interior surface of said roof; wherein each of said first, second and third panel member comprises a recycled rubber tire material, wherein said recycled rubber tire material defines an entire outer surface of each said panel member; and wherein each of said first, second and third panel members includes one or more reinforcement members embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members.

8. The dwelling structure of claim 7, further comprising a plurality of engagement means for securing said first, said second and said third panel members to one another to define said dwelling structure.

9. The dwelling structure of claim 7, further comprising a plurality of fourth panel members having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″ and configured to define one or more interior wall structures within said interior space.

10. The dwelling structure of claim 7, further comprising another plurality of panel members arranged to define at least one of a substantially subterranean peripheral wall structure and a substantially subterranean foundation floor structure.

11. The dwelling structure of claim 7, wherein at least some of said first and second plurality of panel members include a chase structure to accommodate the installation of housing utility components.

12. A method of assembling a dwelling structure made from recycled tire materials, said method comprising the steps of providing a plurality of panel members made from recycled tire materials and having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″, wherein said recycled tire materials define an entire outer surface of each said panel member, and wherein said panel members include one or more reinforcement members embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members; arranging a first plurality of said panel members into a substantially planar floor configuration in secured relation to one another; arranging a second plurality of said panel members into an outer peripheral wall configuration in a secured relation to one another and to said panel members of said floor configuration such that a main plane of said panel members of said wall configuration extends in a substantially perpendicular direction with respect to a main plane of said planar floor configuration; and arranging a third plurality of said panel members to define a roof structure in a secured relation to one another and to said panel members of said wall configuration to define a substantially enclosed interior space.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of arranging a fourth plurality of said panel members to define one or more interior wall structures having a main plane that extends in a direction that is substantially parallel to said main plane of said outer peripheral wall structure.

14. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of arranging another plurality of said panel members to define at least one of a plurality of substantially subterranean peripheral wall structures and a plurality of substantially subterranean base structures to define at least one of a dwelling foundation and a dwelling basement.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of: forming one or more openings in said panel members of said outer peripheral wall configuration to define at least one of an entry way opening and a window opening.

16. The method of claim 14, further comprising the steps of: providing at least one of sheet rock and plaster on an internal planar surface of said main plane of said panel members defining said outer peripheral wall configuration and to surfaces of panel members defining said main plane of said interior wall configuration; providing a floor covering material on said planar surface of said panel members defining said floor configuration; providing an exterior siding material on external planar surfaces of said main plane of said panel members defining said outer peripheral wall configuration; and providing a roofing material on external planar surfaces of said panel members defining said roof configuration.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of supplying a transparent, insulative material to said window openings.

18. The method of claim 15, further comprising the steps of supplying an entry way enclosing structure to said entryway openings that permits or prevents passage of objects into said interior portion of said dwelling structure from an exterior environment via said entry way opening.

19. The modular dwelling structure according to claim 7, further comprising one or more corner units, each said corner unit including one or more said panel members configured to define an angle and comprising at least a recycled rubber tire material.

20. A method of assembling a dwelling structure made from recycled tire materials, said method comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of panel members made from compressed crumb rubber recycled tire materials and having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″, wherein said compressed crumb rubber recycled tire materials define an entire outer surface of each said panel member, and wherein one or more reinforcement members are embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members; arranging a first plurality of said panel members into a substantially planar floor configuration in secured relation to one another; arranging a second plurality of said panel members into an outer peripheral wall configuration in a secured relation to one another and to said panel members of said floor configuration such that a main plane of said panel members of said wall configuration extends in a substantially perpendicular direction with respect to a main plane of said planar floor configuration; and arranging a third plurality of said panel members to define a roof structure in a secured relation to one another and to said panel members of said wall configuration to define a substantially enclosed interior space.

21. The modular dwelling structure according to claim 9, wherein each of said fourth panel members includes one or more reinforcement members embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members.

22. The modular dwelling structure according to claim 10, wherein each of said another plurality of panel members includes one or more reinforcement members embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members.

23. A kit for a modular dwelling structure comprising: a plurality of panel members having dimensions of at least 4′×8′×4″, said panels each comprising a recycled tire material, wherein said recycled tire material defines an entire outer surface of said panel members; one or more reinforcement members embedded within said panel members, said reinforcement members each comprising a discrete elongate body embedded within said panel members and extending along a length direction of said panel members, said reinforcement members comprising a material selected from the group consisting of plastic materials, fiberglass materials and metal-based materials; a plurality of engagement members for maintaining said panel members in a predetermined configuration with respect to one another to form a shape of said structure; a plurality of fastener members fixing said panel members to one another and to said engagement members; and a water-tight sealing compound adhering said panel members to one another at respective mating junctions therebetween and adhering said panel members to said fasteners at respective mating junctions therebetween.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation application of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/160,320, filed Jul. 9, 2008, which is a 371 application of PCT/US07/60440, filed Jan. 12, 2007, which claims the benefit of U.S. Application Ser. No. 60/758,676, filed Jan. 13, 2006, the entireties of which are incorporated herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a modular dwelling structure made from recycled tire materials, a kit for a modular dwelling structure made from recycled tire materials, and a method for constructing a modular dwelling structure made from recycled tire materials. In particular, the present invention relates to a dwelling structure whose foundation, supporting framework, walls, floors/ceilings and roof are made from very strong, and in some cases internally reinforced, compressed rubber materials obtained from recycled tires.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many dwelling structures, particularly houses, are commonly built on concrete foundations using a wood-based support frame, walls, ceilings and roof structures. In many climates, additional insulation material is provided to insulate exterior walls, attic and basement regions against extreme temperature conditions to maintain interior climate control. The outer portions of the insulated or un-insulated walls are typically sided with a facing material, such as vinyl or aluminum siding, for example, and the roof decking is typically faced with standard roofing materials. Interior walls and ceilings are generally finished with a material such as plaster, drywall or the like that is applied to fortify and cosmetically disguise the wood structure. Even century-old brick homes, or modern homes that at least appear from the outside to be made of brick, often have wood and drywall or plaster interior structures and wood-based structural framework. In addition, while some modern structures may have steel-based support structural framework, these structures are mainly commercial buildings rather than residential dwelling structures. But, in the case of residences or dwelling structures, even steel-based skeletal framework may still have wood-based walls, floors/ceilings and roofs that are similarly insulated and cosmetically faced on both the interior and exterior surfaces thereof.

However common they may be, the above-described dwelling structures are fraught with a number of drawbacks. For example, the dwelling structures described above require additional layers of insulation that is applied during or after construction to enable more efficient interior climate control within the interior portions of the dwelling. For example, in colder, northern climates, additional insulation is needed to ensure that the home heating systems are able to effectively and efficiently heat the home in a cost-effective manner, and to retain the warmth within the dwelling. Similarly, in warmer, southern climates, insulation is needed to ensure that home cooling systems are able to effectively and efficiently cool the home in a cost-effective manner, and retain the cool air within the dwelling. Additional insulation is also just as important in moderate climates, since efficiently heating and cooling homes is an issue with respect to conserving energy costs in every environment.

Another drawback is that these commonly known dwelling structures are also susceptible to significant damage from forces such as wind and water that accompany natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornados and tsunamis, for example. These harsh conditions, and other damaging conditions such as domestic fires caused by human error or accident, or even those caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, are also known to destroy not only the interior of the dwelling and the possessions therein, but also to consume or damage the home's skeletal framework itself. In cases of such severe damage, the home must be rebuilt from the foundation up in order to eliminate any weak or potentially damaged portions of the support structure of the home.

Yet another significant drawback associated with known residential dwelling structures is the cost associated with building traditional wood-based structures. The cost of wood, such as sheet and dimensional products, for example, often spikes during times of need, particularly when one portion of a nation is struck by a natural disaster that leaves so much damage in its wake that entire cities or regions require rebuilding, such as New Orleans and many portions of the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In these cases, the cost of rebuilding homes and the cost of building new or repairing existing homes, even in physically unaffected regions of the nation, increases as the cost of raw materials is driven up by severe demand.

Another factor that contributes to the high cost of building materials is the use and depletion of natural resources (such as wood) in certain areas. That is, the depletion of local sources of natural resources for building supplies brings about the need to ship or otherwise relocate the raw building materials (such as wood in particular) for their ultimate use. Shipping and transport costs are then added to the lumber costs and are, of course, transmitted directly to the builders and buyers.

Another drawback is the time required to complete a traditionally built residence project from start to finish. That is, there is a significant period during which time a homeowner must find temporary accommodations while their home is rebuilt after flood loss or fire damage, for example. In cases where homes are completely destroyed and need to be rebuilt from the foundation up, the rebuild tune is even greater. This can be particularly troublesome in certain parts of the United States, and in certain regions globally, that commonly experience natural disasters and where residents who choose to remain in these areas, or who must remain without a choice, are required to rebuild frequently, sometimes even on an annual basis. For example, it is commonly known that certain areas of the United States that are prone to repeated natural disaster damage include Florida (hurricane season), California (earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires), and Tornado Alley. Nevertheless, these regions are still heavily populated. Likewise, certain parts of Asia are frequently plagued with heavy rain, wind and flood conditions that damage or destroy dwellings and leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless. And, in many cases, despite the repeated need to rebuild, it is typically seen that the same structures which have the same problems are simply erected in the same manner as the previously destroyed structure and in the same location that is likely to again experience such catastrophic damage in the future.

In addition to the above, many regions of the United States and the world commonly experience pestilence problems that cannot only be a nuisance to those living in the residence, but which can also destroy the structural integrity of the dwelling structure itself. For example, termites are just one type of insect that are known to infest and damage homes. Other pests such as cockroaches, ants and mice can also easily infest traditionally built homes at weak points in the foundation or at other locations in the structure which may provide a sufficient opening for example, due to the home's settling and shifting. In many areas of the world, insect and pest infestation of crudely built dwellings can cause the rapid spread of disease and significantly deteriorate the quality of life for the residents.

In view of the above-mentioned drawbacks, it would be desirable to provide easy-to-assemble dwelling structures that can be quickly and effectively assembled from low-cost raw materials that are locally and readily available in many regions of the nation and the globe; that eliminate the need for and the additional cost of insulation materials while improving the overall energy efficiency of home heating and cooling systems; that have sufficient strength to be used in most residential building applications in the same manner as traditional building materials and ultimately provide structures which have a higher capacity to withstand the natural disasters that strike all areas of the world; that can be cosmetically treated with traditional siding and roofing products to closely resemble traditional wood-based or brick homes; and that effectively block the unwanted infestation of insects or pestilence and the structural damage caused thereby, even in areas that are heavily prone to such nuisances.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has been conceived in light of the following drawbacks associated with common building materials, and it is an object of the present invention to provide easy-to-assemble dwelling structures that can be quickly and effectively assembled from low-cost raw materials that are locally and readily available and which eliminate the need for and the additional cost of insulation materials, while improving the overall energy efficiency of home heating and cooling systems. Its is also an object of the present invention to provide materials and kits for residential dwelling structures which have sufficient strength to be used in most residential building applications in the same manner as traditional building materials and which provide structures that have a higher capacity to withstand or recover from the affects of the natural disasters that strike all areas of the world. It is also an object of the present invention to provide a residential dwelling structure that can be cosmetically treated with traditional siding and roofing products to closely resemble traditional wood-based or brick homes, and that can effectively resist and prevent the nuisance of insect and pest infestation and damage.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, a modular dwelling structure is provided, comprising a plurality of first panel members (also referred to as panels herein) having predetermined dimensions and configured to define a floor having a main plane and a plurality of second panel members having predetermined dimensions and configured to define an outer peripheral wall structure surrounding the floor and extending in a direction that is substantially perpendicular to the main plane of the floor. The dwelling structure also includes a plurality of third panel members having predetermined dimensions and configured to define a roof structure substantially enclosing an interior space defined by the main plane of the floor, an interior planar surface of the outer peripheral wall structure and an interior surface of the roof structure. Each of the first, second and the third panel member comprises a recycled rubber tire material, such as compressed crumb rubber. A plurality of engagement means are also provided for securing the first, the second and the third panel members to one another in a secured relation to define the dwelling structure.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the panels further comprise one or more reinforcement members embedded therein. Preferably, the reinforcement members comprise a material selected from the group consisting of plastic materials, fiberglass materials, metal-based materials and composite materials.

Providing reinforcement members within the panels during the manufacture thereof imparts additional strength characteristics to the panels and enables the panels to withstand greater pressures and stresses without the risk of experiencing failure. For example, reinforced panels would be able to support greater loads, achieve larger length and width dimensions without sacrificing structural integrity, and maintain their integrity under greater externally applied pressure loads, which, for example, would give reinforced panels the ability to withstand stronger wind forces than non-reinforced panels. This feature is particularly important when the dwelling structures are assembled in an area that is either more susceptible to natural disasters, where high degree of external forces are applied to the home structures on a regular or cyclic basis, or when the dwelling structure is assembled in an area that simply has stricter building code requirements.

Preferably, the panels each include one or more mating surfaces designed to engage at least one of a corresponding mating surface of other panels and an engagement surface of one or more of the engagement members. It is even more preferable that the panels engage one another in a secured relationship at least via the mating surfaces to form a water-tight junction. Accordingly, a suitable adhesive, such as a joining compound, for example, is provided to adhere the panel members at the junctions therebetween and to facilitate such a water-tight junction. Preferably, the adhesive or joining compound is a material selected from the group consisting of rubbers, glues, epoxies, composite resins, and the like.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a kit for a modular dwelling structure is provided, comprising a plurality of panels having predetermined dimensions, each panel comprising a recycled tire material, and a plurality of engagement members for maintaining the panels in a predetermined configuration to form a shape of the structure.

According to a third embodiment of the present invention, a method of assembling a dwelling structure made from recycled tire materials is provided, comprising the steps of providing a plurality of panel members made from recycled tire materials and having predetermined dimensions, arranging a first plurality of the panel members into a substantially planar floor configuration in secured relation to one another, and arranging a second plurality of the panel members into a peripheral wall configuration in a secured relation to one another and to the panels of the floor configuration such that a main plane of the panels of the peripheral wall configuration extends in a substantially perpendicular direction with respect to a main plane of the planar floor configuration. The method also includes the steps of arranging a third plurality of the panel members to define a roof structure in secured relation to one another and to the panel members of the wall and/or floor configurations to define a substantially enclosed interior space. Preferably, the method also includes the steps of arranging a fourth plurality of the panel members to define one or more internal wall structures having a main plane that extends in a direction that is substantially parallel to the main plane of the outer peripheral wall structure.

The method also preferably includes the steps of providing at least one of an interior cosmetic and/or structural treatment, such as sheet rock, plaster, paneling or wall paper, for example, on an interior planar surface of the main plane of the panels defining the peripheral wall configuration and to surfaces of panels defining the main plane of the interior wall configuration, providing a floor covering material on the planar surface of the main plane of the panels defining the floor configuration, providing an exterior siding material on exterior or external planar surfaces of the main plane of the panels defining the peripheral wall configuration, and providing a roofing material on exterior planar surfaces of the panels defining the roof configuration.

Moreover, the method also preferably includes the steps of forming one or more openings in the panels of the peripheral wall configuration to define at least one of an entryway opening and a window opening. It is also preferred that a transparent, insulative material, such as glass, plexi-glass or the like, is supplied to the window openings. The method also preferably includes a step of supplying an entryway enclosing structure to the entryway openings that is capable of permitting or preventing objects from passing into the interior portion of the dwelling structure from an exterior environment via the entryway opening.

There are many benefits that are attributed to providing building panels made from recycled rubber tire materials, particularly compressed crumb rubber products, according to the modular dwelling structure, kit and method of the present invention. For example, recycled rubber tire material is a very inexpensive raw material and is easily obtainable in nearly all areas of the nation, and even globally. Since rubber tires are recycled in many locations, both nationally and globally, recycled rubber tire materials are typically readily available in nearly all parts of the world. Given the extremely low cost of obtaining and recycling rubber tire materials, to produce, for example, crumb rubber, and in view of the widespread availability of the raw crumb rubber product, processing centers could be established in many parts of the nation of the world to handle the local supply of rubber tire disposal and turn those unwanted tired into houses. Providing many locations would reduce the need to ship the building materials made from the recycled tire materials long distances, since the products themselves could be easily manufactured in situ all around the nation or the world. Thus, the costs of the modular dwelling structures according to the present invention would be significantly lower than those associated with common building media.

The recycled rubber tire material, such as crumb rubber, can be easily molded into panels having the desired, predetermined dimensions by using known compression molding or extrusion techniques, for example. In view of the above, the panels defining the modular dwelling structures according to the present invention can be easily mass produced at a low cost in any region without the risk of depleting local natural resources or incurring any significant costs associated with acquiring raw materials from distant locations.

Since the panels defining the modular dwelling structures can be molded as single pieces having predetermined shapes and sizes, entire structures can be provided in kit form by including all of the necessary, predesigned panels for each different portion of the structure. The panels can also be molded to provide openings, chases or channels to accommodate the installation of utilities in the dwelling structure, or certain utility components can be inserted into molded panels and encased. In that manner, not only can the panels be quickly mass-produced at low cost, but entire dwelling structures can be mass-produced based on the design specifications of a few panel pieces, where the positions of the utility accommodations are predetermined and known during assembly.

In addition, panels made from recycled tire materials such as compressed crumb rubber products according to the present invention are highly insulative, thus eliminating the need to buy, install and maintain separate insulation products for homes constructed from these panels. While the superior insulating properties of rubber materials are generally known by those skilled in the art, prior to the present invention, the Applicant submits that compressed crumb rubber materials have not been used to form panels that are used to define insulating foundation, floor, wall and roof structures for residential dwellings. Moreover, the highly insulative properties imparted to dwelling structures made from such panels according to the present invention significantly improve the home heating and cooling systems that are installed in such dwelling structures, which reduces energy usage, and thereby, the costs associated with temperature regulation and interior climate control can be significantly reduced.

Moreover, the panels according to the present invention are impervious to insect or pest infestation, unlike wood, and are not susceptible to the damage that wood experiences when termites infest a wood-based structure, for example. Furthermore, other insects and pests can effectively be prevented from entering the modular dwelling structures according to the present invention since the cracks, holes and other openings that are typically associated with concrete-poured foundations and wood-based structures are simply not present by virtue of the panel composition and assembly methods of the present invention.

Panels made from recycled rubber tire materials such as compressed crumb rubber according to the present invention are physically stronger than wood equivalents, and structures made from these panels can withstand greater forces than typical homes. This is particularly important in areas where high winds or tornadoes, for example, are prevalent forces of nature, or in areas having stricter building codes.

Additionally, the panels defining the modular dwelling structure according to the present invention are not susceptible to water damage that conventional building materials are known to experience when a home is flooded or when high pressure water is used to douse a house fire, for example. That is, while the internal and external cosmetic features of the dwelling structures may suffer some damage, the overall integrity of the dwelling structure framework, walls, ceilings and floors is not significantly degraded, even in cases of floods. What's more, compressed rubber products require higher temperatures before they will ignite, which decreases the overall damage that fires can cause. The structures can be treated with a high-pressure water spray to remove mold or the like that may result from water damage situations, and the blank structure would again be ready for cosmetic treatment and, if necessary, immediate occupation. That is, any damaged portions of the dry wall, wall paper, carpeting, etcetera that remain can simply be removed and then reapplied to the remaining structure after the structure is checked and cleaned. This two-fold benefit not only reduces the overall damage to homes in cases of floods or fires, but also effectively decreases the time required to recover and rebuild, since the entire structure itself does not need to be rebuilt.

When a home is lost to fires, floods or other devastating circumstances, a new modular dwelling structure according to the present invention can be quickly and easily assembled, for example, using the kit and method of the present invention, on the same site in a matter of days to replace the prior structure. The panels and engagement members are designed to fit together to provide a secure joining arrangement that is fixed with fasteners such as screws, bolts and the like, along with a water-tight sealing compound that is applied at the panel-to-panel and panel-to-fastener interfaces and joints. The modular pieces or panels made from the compressed crumb rubber obtained from recycled rubber tire materials can be easily and quickly assembled to one another by providing engaging surfaces and connector members that connect, fasten and hold the panels together to define the skeletal support features, and wall, floors, ceilings and roofs of the modular swelling structures according to the present invention.

The kits according to the present invention include all of the materials required to completely assemble a modular dwelling structure made from reinforced, or non-reinforced, compressed crumb rubber panels. Professional builders are not required in order to assemble these modular dwellings using the kits according to the present invention. But even without the aid of professional contractors, assembly can be completely performed in a short amount of time.

Single level and multilevel modular dwelling structures can be made according to the kit and method of the present invention, and these dwelling structures can be built in any climate. Dwellings that even include rubber panel-based basement sub-structures, as well as those without basements, can be quickly and easily built, all at a significantly lower cost than that of a traditional home.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is described in detail below, in accordance with a preferred mode of practicing the invention, with reference to the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1(a) is an end-view of a modular dwelling structure made from compressed crumb rubber panels according to one embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 1(b) is a perspective view of a modular dwelling structure according to one embodiment of the present invention, including siding, roofing, windows and doors;

FIG. 2(a) is a perspective view of two panel members according to the present invention showing one example of a mating relationship between the panels, and FIG. 2(b) is a perspective view of four panel members according to the present invention showing another example of a plurality of mating and joining junctions;

FIGS. 3(a)-3(e) are end views of panel members according to the present invention having different mating portions provided on the end portions thereof;

FIGS. 4(a)-4(d) are end views showing various mating and joining relationships between panel members according to the present invention that are used to define a modular dwelling structure according to the present invention;

FIGS. 5(a)-5(f) are end views of various engagement members according to the present invention that are used in connection with fastening means to further secure the panel members together at joining portions thereof to define a modular dwelling structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing an example of a reinforced panel member according to the present invention; and

FIG. 7(a) is a top view of a conventionally used reinforced corner unit, and FIG. 7(b) is a top view of a reinforced corner unit according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1(a) is an end-view of a modular dwelling structure made from compressed crumb rubber panels according to one embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 1(b) is a perspective view of a modular dwelling structure according to one embodiment of the present invention, including siding, roofing, windows and doors.

As shown in FIGS. 1(a) and 1(b), the modular dwelling structure 1 is defined by a plurality of panel members arranged in a secured relation to one another to define the structure. The first panel members 11 are arranged and secured to one another to define floor panels each having a main plane 111, and the second panel members 12 are arranged and secured to one another and to the floor panels 11 to define peripheral wall panels each having a main plane 122 extending in a direction that is substantially perpendicular to the main plane 111 of the floor panel members 11. The third panels 13 are arranged and secured to one another and at least to the peripheral wall panel members 12 to define a roof structure having an interior planar surface 131 and an exterior planar surface 132. The roof structure is arranged and secured to substantially enclose interior space 16 in connection with the floor panel members 11 and the wall panel members 12.

As shown, the modular dwelling structure 1 according to the present invention can be a multi-level structure including a basement sub-structure. For example, additional panel members 15 can be provided and arranged in secure relation with one another and with the floor panel members 11 to define a foundation and/or basement sub-structure (basement structure is shown) including a main plane 151. One of ordinary skill in the art would readily understand how to arrange and connect the foundation/base panel members 15 to one another to instead define a foundation pad for building sites which do not call for basement sub-structures.

It should be noted that the dimensions and thickness of the panel members according to the present invention are not limited, and can be any dimension that is suitably moldable and sufficiently strong enough to provide the required structural strength characteristics. For example, the panel members can be made to have standard planar dimensions of 4′×8′ and a thickness of 4-10″ depending upon the application. For example, foundation or base panel members could desirably have a thickness of 8″, while the floor panel members could suitably be made to have a thickness of 4″ and the peripheral wall panel members to have a thickness of 6″. Similarly, the roof panel members could have a thickness of 4″ for example. The dimensions of the panel members are not limited to the above example, and can be of any size that is suitable for the particular building application. For example, the panel members may range in planar size from 2′×4′ to 8′×10′, and even greater dimensions can be provided without sacrificing strength and stability characteristics when internal reinforcement members are provided therein, as discussed in more detail below in connection with FIG. 6. Likewise, the thickness of the panel members is not limited to the thicknesses in the above example, and may, for example, range from 2″ to 24″ as needed.

It will be readily understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the thickness of the panel members should be determined based on the intended structural application and in view of the requirements imposed by the relevant building codes. In any case, the panel members according to the present invention can be molded or molded and tooled to have the exact dimensions and mating surfaces required to assemble the various panels into modular dwelling structures, and all of the panels having predetermined sizes and mating configurations required to completely assemble a modular dwelling can be included in a kit, together with the required engagement members, fastening means and adhesives and/or joining compounds to secure the panels defining the structure.

As shown in FIG. 1(b), once the basic structure, including the panel members defining the interior floor plan, is completed (i.e., assembled, secured and sealed), standard housing materials can be applied to both the interior and exterior surfaces of the panel members defining the dwelling structure. For example, paint, siding materials such as vinyl siding, brick facing or the like can be supplied to the exterior surfaces 122 of the panel members 12 defining the peripheral wall structure, and roofing materials can be applied on the exterior surfaces 132 of the panel members 13 defining the roof structure. Openings for windows 17 and entryways 18 can be made in the panel members 12 before the siding is provided, and windows with glass 171, for example can be provided in the window openings 17. Similarly, doors 181 can be provided to the entryway openings 18 to prevent objects from passing into and out of the interior space 16 of the dwelling structure 1 via the openings.

It should be noted that, due to the particular characteristics of the compressed rubber panel members according to the present invention, these openings can easily be made using a reciprocating saw, a chain saw or the like in the desired locations. The positions of any reinforcement members included would be known to the assemblers based on plans or instructions included with the kit, and could thus be avoided. In cases where one or more reinforcement member runs along substantially the entire length of the panel member, it may be necessary to cut through the reinforcement member as well. This is not problematic, however, particularly when the reinforcement members are made from a material that imparts added strength but which can also be cut with a reciprocating saw or a chain saw, such as a hard plastic, for example.

Referring back to FIG. 1(a), dry wall, for example, can be supplied to the surfaces 141 of the panel members 14 defining the interior walls, as well as to the interior surfaces 121 of the panel members 12 defining the peripheral walls. Paint and/or wall paper or any suitable interior cosmetic applications can then be applied on the interior walls in the standard manner. Similarly, interior floor coverings can be applied on the surfaces 111 of the panel members 11 defining the floor structures on any level, including a basement level if such a floor structure is provided. Materials such as carpeting, hardwood flooring, laminates, ceramic tile, vinyl tile, linoleum or the like can be added in this manner to provide comfort as well as for purely aesthetic purposes.

FIGS. 2(a) and 2(b) are perspective views showing various ways in which the panel members are joined to one another via corresponding mating surfaces and additionally, in connection with engagement means and fastening means (see FIGS. 4(a) to 4(d)). FIG. 2(a) shows and example of panel members 12, for example, that are formed to have corresponding portions that fit together to form a mating joint like a lap-joint, for example. These two panel members 12 can also be joined together along the entire joining interfaces with an adhesive material 23 that preferably also has water-tight sealing properties, and the joint edges can be further mechanically reinforced with engagement and fastening members, such as the flanges and screws shown in FIG. 4(b), for example.

FIG. 2(b) is a perspective view showing four panel members 12 arranged in secure relation with respect to one another. Various portions of the panel members 12, such as end and edge surfaces, are provided with corresponding mating structures so that when the panels are assembled together, the mating structures mate to join the panel members. FIG. 2(b) shows and example of notch type mating structures, and mortise and tenon-like structures can likewise be provided, such as the mating structures shown in FIGS. 3(c), 3(d) and 4(c). The four panel members 12 can include corresponding mating structures on one or more sides thereof, and can also be joined together along the entire joining interfaces with an adhesive material 23. In addition, the joint edges can be further mechanically reinforced with engagement and fastening members such as the flanges and screws shown in FIG. 4(c), for example. This overall concept can be used in conjunction with panel members 12, as shown for wall structures as well as with panel members 11 to define floor structures.

FIGS. 3(a)-3(e) are end views of panel members 31-35 according to the present invention, each having a different type of mating structure provided on at least one of the end surface thereof. Though the mating surfaces are only shown on the top and/or top and bottom surfaces of the panel members in these figures, it should be noted that any of the edge surfaces of the panel members could be molded or tooled to include similar structures, particularly panel members that are designed to be corner panels of the dwelling structure, and central portions of the panel members could be provided with similar corresponding structures.

In FIG. 3(a), the mating surfaces 301 of panel member 31 shown are substantially flat to provide a butt-joint type junction that can be further secured with adhesive and engagement means, along with fasteners 20, 21 such as screws, bolts or pins (as shown in FIGS. 4(a) and 4(b), for example). In FIG. 3(b), the mating surfaces 302 of panel member 32 are notched, either during the molding process or by subsequent tooling processes, to have corresponding mating surfaces that provide a lap-type joint at the junction (see, for example, FIG. 4(b)). This type of mating relationship can be further secured with engagement means and fastening members, as well as adhesive 23 to further ensure that the panel members remain in a secured relation with respect to one another. FIGS. 3(c) and 3(e) show that notches or mortises 303, 303′ can be provided on one or both sides of both ends of the panels 33 and 35 to enable these panels to be used at perpendicular joints with panels such as panel member 33 having mating surfaces like tenons 304 shown in FIGS. 3(d) and 3(e) to form junctions, as shown, for example, in FIG. 4(c). Again, engagement means and fastening members 20, 21, along with adhesive 23, for example, can also be used to further secure the positions of these panel members in a secured relation with respect to each other.

Although FIGS. 3 and 4 show some different variations of mating surfaces and junctions that can be suitably provided according to the present invention, it should be noted that any known technique for joining lumber can be used in connection with the compressed rubber panel members. For example, dovetail joins could also be provided at corner portions, and panels having the corresponding notches and pegs could easily be molded or tooled after molding to provide this kind of junction. In view of the above, the methods and means for joining the panel members to form the dwelling structures according to the present invention are by no means limited to the methods and means described herein.

FIGS. 5(a) to 5(f) show different embodiments of engagement means and fastening members that can be included in a kit and used to maintain the positions of the panel members in a secured relation with respect to one another according to the methods disclosed herein to define the dwelling structures according to the present invention. The engagement means 24 shown in FIG. 5(a) is commonly known as a base plate by those skilled in the construction art, and can be used to provide support for base panels, as shown in FIG. 1(a), for example. FIGS. 5(b), 5(c) and 5(d) respectively show examples of commonly known “H,” “I,” and “U” type engagement connectors, represented by reference numerals 25, 26 and 27, respectively. FIG. 5(e) shows an angled engagement means 28 having a shape that substantially corresponds to an upside-down “V” that can be used to form angular panel configurations, such as at the pitched portion of the roof shown FIG. 1(a), for example. Similar pieces could be used at corner junctions, if needed. FIG. 5(f) is a “T-shaped” engagement means 29 that comprises a number of angled flanges and straight flanges and corresponding fasteners. The types, configurations, and materials of the engagement means are not limited, and in particular, are not limited to the examples described herein.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a panel member 60 according to another embodiment of the present invention, including reinforcement members 601 embedded therein. As shown, the reinforcement members 601 are shaped like I-beams and are positioned to run along a length dimension of the panel member 60. The shapes, sizes and materials of the reinforcement members provided within the panel members according to the present invention are not limited. For example, the reinforcement members can also have a cylindrical core shape, or a round structure shape, for example, and can range in size from 1″ in diameter or cross-section to 5″, and can have any length required. Preferably, the reinforcement members are made form a material selected form the group consisting of plastics, fiberglass, metals and composites. In addition, more than one reinforcement member can be provided within the panels. Moreover, although it is not shown in the drawings, the reinforcement members 601 can be positioned to extend in a perpendicular or diagonal direction with respect to the reinforcement members shown in FIG. 6 to impart added strength as needed.

The reinforcement members can be inserted or embedded during the molding process, such that the panels are ready for assembly after removal from the mold. Even if the panel members are subsequently tooled to form the corresponding mating surface configurations, the arrangement and positions of the reinforcement members can be designed and controlled according to the desired properties of the panels.

In some cases, special considerations are taken in building the corners of residential and commercial structures, with respect to providing improved strength and insulation features. FIG. 7(a) shows a top view of an insulated and reinforced corner unit 200 that has been used in the construction of commercial buildings. FIG. 7(b) is a top view of a reinforced corner unit 700 according to the present invention, which can be used in commercial applications, as well as in conjunction with residential structures, when enhanced insulation and structural fortification is needed.

As it can readily be seen from FIG. 7(a), many different components and manufacturing steps are needed to provide the conventionally known corner unit structure, which is more complex, less insulating and significantly more expensive, both time-wise and monetarily speaking, than the rubber corner unit 700 according to the present invention.

For example, in FIG. 7(a), two wood corner structures 201 are provided as the base for the conventional corner unit 200. Insulation 202 is provided between the two wood corner pieces on the interior sides thereof defining the interior wall space of the wall corner. Reinforcement braces 204, such as rerods made of steel or another similar type of strength-enhancing material, are arranged in an appropriate manner among the insulation and between the wood corners in the interior wall space, which is then filled with a concrete material 203. Although it is not shown, the rerod or reinforcement braces penetrate into and through the insulation 202 and through the wood corner structures 201. Another layer of insulation board 205 is provided on the outer surface of the outer wood corner piece, and concrete skim 206 or some other exterior siding material is attached to the insulation board. While this conventional design may offer enhanced structural strength at the corners of buildings, the R rating of this structure is known to be less than 20, which indicates that the insulative properties of the conventional corner unit 200 are undesirably low.

On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 7(b), the corner unit 700 according to the present invention can be made using pre-molded rubber panel corner form pieces 701, or rubber panel members that are joined to one another at right-angles to define the corners. No further interior insulation is required within the interior wall space between the rubber corner forms. Reinforcement members 704 such as rerod bars are arranged in an appropriate manner between the rubber corner forms to provide added reinforcement. Again, although it is now shown, it should be understood that the reinforcement members 704 can and may desirable penetrate at least a portion of the rubber corner pieces 701. The space between the corner forms that defines the interior wall space is provided with concrete fill 703. Without needing to add any exterior insulation board, a siding material of choice, such as concrete skim 706, can be attached directly to the rubber corner form to complete the unit. This structure according to the present invention offers an R rating that is greater than 40, takes less time to manufacture and ultimately costs less than the conventional corner structures.

The rubber panel member corner forms 701 can be fabricated according to the methods described above, and can be made to have any height and width desired. Typically, a height of 2-10′ and a length of 2-12′ are useful for most buildings, though this could vary depending upon the number of stories to be built and is not limited herein. These types of novel corner units are useful in residential dwellings, where enhanced corner strength is particularly desired for multi-story structures. The corner units 700 according to the present invention can be ordered and provided on an a 1a carte basis for industrial and commercial applications, for example, or as part of the modular dwelling structure kit according to the present invention.

As it can be seen from the foregoing, the modular dwelling structure, kit for assembling a modular dwelling a structure and method for assembling a modular dwelling structure provided by the present invention offer significant advantages over conventional building materials and methods. Stronger homes that can better withstand the forces of many natural disasters as well as, mother nature's other damaging weather conditions, can now be built faster and at a lower cost, and can also be refurbished and repaired in less time. Dwelling structures according to the present invention are not susceptible to insect infestation, are substantially water-tight, and do not ignite as readily as wooden homes. The compressed crumb rubber materials comprising the panel members that define the dwelling structures provide superior insulative properties, which eliminates the need for additional insulation materials, allows home heating and cooling systems to be more efficiently operated, and provides significant heating and cooling cost savings.

International and National Disaster Relief Applications

It should be noted that the dwelling structures, kits and methods according to the present invention can be used in a variety of global applications, in times of great need as well as for ordinary commercial residential development applications. For example, the low-cost dwelling structures can be quickly erected in war-torn or damaged areas in a matter of days by military or other agents conducting humanitarian efforts to aid the citizens of countries that have recently experienced a devastating phenomena. Homes in areas that are continually stricken with harsh environmental conditions, such as floods in Southeast Asia, or hurricanes in Florida and the Keys, for example, can be rebuilt using the low-cost dwelling structures according to the present invention rather than the prior methods and means of construction to ensure that future conditions will not have such devastating effects, and such that the dwellings can merely be refurbished instead of completely rebuilt a damaging event. Given the fact that the modular dwelling structures according to the present invention can be built to suit substantially any architectural design and can be cosmetically enhanced to resemble typical homes, the dwelling structures can be quickly assembled in times of need not only in impoverished third world nations and poor economic regions, but even in areas where homes are large and more luxurious, such as resort areas. Plants for producing the compressed crumb rubber panels used in the construction of the dwelling structures according to the present invention can be easily established in any region given the overall availability of recycled tires as raw materials for the compressed crumb rubber panels in most areas of the nation and the world.

As mentioned above, while the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the preferred mode as illustrated in the drawings, it will be understood by one skilled in the art that various changes in detail may be effected therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the claims.