Title:
Panel system having shaped fold
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a panel system and manufacturing method in which a shaping member is used to form and support a similarly shaped fold in a panel. The shaping member can be held in position against the fold using one or more stiffening members.



Inventors:
Mitchell, Jed D. (Lakewood, CO, US)
Application Number:
09/905605
Publication Date:
02/21/2002
Filing Date:
07/13/2001
Assignee:
MITCHELL JED D.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/801.1, 52/800.1
International Classes:
B21D5/00; E04B2/90; E04C2/26; (IPC1-7): E04C2/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LE, TAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sheridan Ross PC (Denver, CO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A panel system for engagement with a structural member, comprising: at least one panel having a radiused fold wherein the radius is less than fifteen times the thickness of the panel; and a radiused shaping member contacting the interior surface of the fold and extending at least a substantial length of the fold.

2. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the shaping member has a circular shape.

3. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the shaping member has an elliptical shape.

4. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the shaping member has a parabolical shape.

5. The panel system of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of stiffener supports spaced at intervals along the length of and contacting the shaping member.

6. The panel system of claim 3, further comprising one or more perimeter extrusions engaging one or more peripheral edges of the at least one panel.

7. The panel system of claim 4, wherein the plurality of stiffener supports each contact a perimeter extrusion.

8. The panel system of claim 5, wherein the plurality of stiffener supports contact a common perimeter extrusion at distal ends of the supports and wherein proximal ends of the supports contact the shaping member.

9. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

10. The panel system of claim 2, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

11. The panel system of claim 3, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

12. The panel system of claim 4, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

13. The panel system of claim 5, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

14. The panel system of claim 6, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

15. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the radius of the radiused fold is no more than about ten times the thickness of the panel.

16. The panel system of claim 2, wherein the panel is metal.

17. The panel system of claim 3, wherein the panel is metal.

18. The panel system of claim 4, wherein the panel is metal.

19. The panel system of claim 5, wherein the panel is metal.

20. The panel system of claim 6, wherein the panel is metal.

21. A panel system for engagement with a structural member, comprising: at least one panel having a shaped fold; at least one perimeter extrusion engaging at least one peripheral edge of the at least one panel; a shaping member contacting the interior surface of the fold, extending a substantial length of the fold, and having at least substantially the same shape as the fold; and a plurality of stiffening members engaging the shaping member on a proximal end and a perimeter extrusion on a distal end to hold the shaping member in position against the interior surface.

22. The panel system of claim 21, wherein the shaping member has one of a circular, elliptical, parabolical, triangular, quadrilateral, and polygonal shape.

23. The panel system of claim 21, wherein the panel has a plastic layer sandwiched between opposing metal layers and wherein one or the metal layers is at least partially removed adjacent to the shaping member.

24. The panel system of claim 22, wherein the panel has a plastic layer sandwiched between opposing metal layers and wherein one or the metal layers is at least partially removed adjacent to the shaping member.

25. The panel system of claim 21, wherein a plurality of perimeter extrusions engage the peripheral edges of the panel.

26. The panel system of claim 22, wherein a plurality of perimeter extrusions engage the peripheral edges of the panel.

27. The panel system of claim 23, wherein a plurality of perimeter extrusions engage the peripheral edges of the panel.

28. The panel system of claim 21, wherein the plurality of stiffener supports contact a common perimeter extrusion.

29. The panel system of claim 21, wherein the proximal ends of the plurality of stiffener supports have at least substantially the same shape as the shaping member.

30. The panel system of claim 21, wherein the panel has at least one metal layer and at least one plastic layer.

31. The panel system of claim 9, wherein the panel is metal.

32. A jig for manufacturing a panel assembly, comprising: first and second substantially planar surfaces and a radiused corner located between and in contact with the first and second substantially planar surfaces.

33. The jig of claim 32, wherein the first and second substantially planar surfaces form an acute angle therebetween.

34. The jig of claim 32, further comprising one or more plungers located at or near a peripheral edge of the first and/or second substantially planar surfaces to advance a panel towards the radiused corner.

35. A method for manufacturing a panel assembly, comprising the steps of: removing a portion of a surface of a panel; engaging at least one radiused shaping member with the removed portion of the surface of the panel; and folding the panel about the at least one shaping member to form a radiused fold having at least substantially the same shape as at least a portion of the shaping member.

36. The method of claim 35, further comprising after the folding step: placing at least one stiffening member adjacent to the panel surface and in contact with the at least one shaping member to hold the at least one shaping member in position.

37. The method of claim 35, further comprising before the folding step: engaging one or more perimeter extrusions with one or more edges of the panel.

38. The method of claim 35, wherein at least one proximal end of the at least one stiffening member contacts the shaping member and at least one distal end of the at least one shaping member contacts a perimeter extrusion.

39. The method of claim 38, wherein the at least one stiffening member has at least one second distal end in addition to the at least distal end and the at least one second distal end contacts a second perimeter extrusion that is different from the perimeter extrusion.

40. A panel assembly manufactured by the method of claim 35.

41. A method for manufacturing a panel assembly, comprising the steps of: engaging at least one shaping member with at least one panel, at least one perimeter extrusion engaging at least one peripheral edge of the at least one panel; folding the at least one panel about the at least one shaping member to form at least one fold having at least substantially the same shape as at least a portion of the at least one shaping member; and engaging at least one stiffening member with the at least one shaping member and the at least one perimeter extrusion to hold the at least one shaping member in position against the interior surface.

42. The method of claim 41, further comprising after the folding step: placing at least one stiffening member adjacent to the panel surface and rotating the at least one stiffening member into contact with the at least one shaping member and the at least one perimeter framing member.

43. The method of claim 41, further comprising before the engaging step: engaging the at least one perimeter extrusion with the at least one peripheral edge of the panel.

44. The method of claim 41, wherein the at least one stiffening member has at least one second end in addition to the at least one end and the at least one second end contacts a second of the at least one perimeter extrusion.

45. A panel assembly manufactured by the method of claim 41.

46. A method for manufacturing a panel assembly, comprising: contacting a shaping member with a surface of a panel; and folding the panel around at least a portion of the shaping member and engaging the panel with a form having at least substantially the same shape as the shaping member to form a fold having at least substantially the same shape as the shaping member.

47. The method of claim 46, wherein in the engaging step a first surface of the panel contacts the form and an opposing second surface of the panel contacts the shaping member.

48. A panel system for engagement with a structural member, comprising: at least one panel having a bend; means for shaping said panel; said means contacting the interior of said bend and extending substantially along the length of said bend; and stiffening means for holding the shaping means in position against the interior of said bend.

49. A panel system for engagement with a structural member, comprising: at least one panel having a core and a radiused fold; said panel also having a portion wherein the core of the panel is exposed; and a radiused shaping member contacting the interior surface of the fold at the exposed portion and extending at least a substantial length of the fold.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims the benefits under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Ser. No. 60/218,240, filed Jul. 14, 2000, which is incorporated herein by reference. The present application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/334,124, filed Jun. 15, 1999, and Ser. No. 09/360,444, filed Jul. 26, 1999, all of which are incorporated herein by this reference

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is directed generally to panel systems and specifically to panel systems having decorative shapes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Panel systems are typically used to protect the exteriors of structures, such as office buildings, stores, and other business structures, from terrestrial fluids in the environment while providing an aesthetically pleasing appearance. A common type of panel used in such systems is a composite material sold under the trade name “ALUCOBOND™”. This panel has opposing exterior metal (aluminum) layers with a plastic layer (polyethylene) located or sandwiched between the metal layers. ALUCOBOND™ is typically used in facades because it is stable and yet flexible, weather-resistant, unbreakable, shock-resistant, and vibration absorbent.

[0004] Panels are fabricated in a variety of two- and three-dimensional shapes. In some applications, panels, such as ALUCOBOND™ have been cut or thinned along fold lines to permit the panel to be folded into desired shapes. However, this process does not produce easily repeatable or symmetrical folds. In other applications, a stamping or press braking process (using top and bottom dies) has been employed to produce radiused folds, though at high cost. This type of press braking process requires the use of expensive equipment and is slow and time and labor intensive. In addition, this type of process cannot produce a bend with a small radius. The minimum achievable radius by the press breaking method is fifteen (15) times the thickness of the panel. Small radius bends can be produced through custom extrusion processes, using an extruded member as the fold that engages the panels and is located between the panels; however, these processes are even more expensive, time and labor intensive than the press braking process. In yet other applications, a bending process using a clamped pipe and a hinged form have been employed to form radiused folds. This process has, however, failed to produce repeatable and consistent results. Additionally, the minimum radius realizable by this process is similar to that realizable by the press braking process.

[0005] Although many shapes have been constructed using such composite materials, there is a need for a method for manufacturing shapes in a repeatable fashion in high volume at a low cost. In addition, there exists a need to produce small radius bends in panels without resorting to custom extrusion processes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The panel system and method of the present invention can provide a series of decoratively shaped folds or corners, including small radius bends.

[0007] In one embodiment, the decoratively shaped folds or corners use a shaping member located adjacent to a rear surface of the fold or corner to shape and support the fold or corner. The shaping member is typically left in position after the fold is formed and when the panel assembly is mounted on a structural member. In this manner, the shaping member helps the fold retain its shape after installation while also providing additional support to the fold or corner. Stiffening member(s) may be employed to hold the shaping member rigidly or fixedly in position.

[0008] In another embodiment, a panel system for engagement with a structural member, such as a metal support beam or wall member, is provided that includes:

[0009] (a) at least one panel having a radiused fold; and

[0010] (b) one or more radiused shaping members contacting the interior surface of the fold and extending at least a substantial length of the fold. The radiused shaping member(s) can have any of a number of radiused shapes, such as a circular, elliptical, and parabolical shape. Where a number of shaping members are employed, the axes of symmetry of the members are typically parallel to the center line of the fold.

[0011] The use of a shaping member permits the panel assembly to be manufactured inexpensively and in high volumes. The shaping member can provide a relatively simple manufacturing process and thereby eliminates labor intensive steps. The shaping member further ensures uniformity and consistency in the fold shapes and dimensions among manufactured panel assemblies. This is particularly important where panel assemblies are to be connected to one another along the edges intersecting the fold.

[0012] The radius (outer and/or inner radii) of the fold can have a wide range of magnitudes. Typically, the radius of the fold ranges from about 5 mm to about 500 mm and more typically from about 12 mm to about 112 mm. Typically, the inner fold radius ranges from about 100 to about 5000% of the panel thickness and more typically from about 300 to about 2800% of the panel thickness. Thus, the inner fold radius can be less than 1500% of the panel thickness. As will be appreciated, the prior art press brake process typically can produce a fold radius of no less than 1500% of the panel thickness.

[0013] In one configuration, each peripheral edge of the panel engages one or more perimeter framing members. As will be appreciated, perimeter framing members are employed to attach the panel system to the structural member of the structure. Any design of perimeter framing members may be employed that is suitable for the specific application. A preferred perimeter framing member design is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,809,729; 5,916,100; and 6,082,064, all of which are incorporated herein by this reference.

[0014] In one configuration, the panel system includes one or more stiffener supports or stiffening members spaced at intervals along the length of and contacting the shaping member to support and/or hold the shaping member in position. Typically, the stiffening members are anchored by being contacted at one or more ends with a perimeter extrusion. In most applications, the stiffening members contact a common perimeter extrusion at one or more ends of the members and the shaping member at another end of the supports.

[0015] The panel can be any suitable material. Examples include composite materials such as “ALUCOBOND™”, and “STEELOBOND™”, and noncomposite materials such as metal sheets, and metal plates. To facilitate bending or folding, a portion of the panel material is typically removed, such as by a router, from the rear surface panel at and/or near the center line of the fold.

[0016] In yet another embodiment, the present invention is a panel system that includes:

[0017] (a) one or more panels having one or more shaped folds;

[0018] (b) one or more perimeter extrusions engaging at least one peripheral edge of the panel(s);

[0019] (c) one or more shaping members contacting the interior surface of the fold(s), extending a substantial length of the fold(s), and having at least substantially the same shape as the fold(s); and

[0020] (d) one or more stiffening members engaging the shaping member(s) on a proximal end and a perimeter extrusion(s) on a distal end to hold the shaping member(s) in position against the interior surface. The shaping member(s) can have one of a radiused shape (e.g., circular, elliptical, and parabolical, etc. in shape), triangular shape, quadrilateral shape, and polygonal shape (e.g., pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, etc. in shape).

[0021] In a further embodiment, a jig is provided for manufacturing the panel assembly. The jig includes:

[0022] (a) first and second substantially planar surfaces and

[0023] (b) a radiused corner located between the first and second substantially planar surfaces. The first and second substantially planar surfaces typically form an acute angle there between.

[0024] In one configuration, the jig includes one or more plungers located at or near a peripheral edge of the first and/or second substantially planar surfaces to advance a panel towards the radiused corner and thereby cause the panel to be folded in the desired shape.

[0025] In yet another embodiment, a method for manufacturing the panel assembly is provided that includes the steps of:

[0026] (a) engaging one or more radiused shaping member(s) with a surface of a panel(s); and

[0027] (b) folding the panel(s) about the shaping member(s) to form a radiused fold having at least substantially the same shape as at least a portion(s) of the shaping member(s).

[0028] In one configuration, the method further includes, after the folding step, the step of placing one or more stiffening members adjacent to the panel surface and in contact with the shaping member(s) to hold the shaping member(s) in position.

[0029] In one configuration, the method further includes, before the folding step, the step of engaging one or more perimeter extrusions with one or more edges of the panel.

[0030] In yet a further embodiment, a method for manufacturing the panel assembly is provided that includes the steps of:

[0031] (a) engaging one or more shaping member(s) with a surface of one or more panel(s), wherein one or more perimeter extrusions engage one or more peripheral edges of the panel(s);

[0032] (b) folding the panel(s) about the shaping member(s) to form one or more folds having at least substantially the same shape as at least a portion of the shaping member(s); and

[0033] (c) engaging one or more stiffening member(s) with the shaping member(s) and the perimeter extrusion(s) to hold the shaping member(s) in position against the interior surface.

[0034] This summary is intended to be neither exhaustive nor limiting. As will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, the various features of the present invention can be combined selectively or collectively in a large number of different ways. These different ways fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0035] FIG. 1 is a plan view of a panel milled along the center line of the fold;

[0036] FIG. 2 is a plan view of the shaping member and stiffening members laid out in position on a flat panel (before folding);

[0037] FIG. 3 is a side view of the fold showing the shaping member and proximal end of the stiffening member;

[0038] FIG. 4 is another side view of the panel assembly when mounted on a structural member;

[0039] FIG. 5 is a plan view of a stiffening member prior to folding;

[0040] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the stiffening member after folding along the fold lines;

[0041] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the proximal end of the folded stiffening member;

[0042] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the distal end of the folded stiffening member;

[0043] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the distal end of the folded stiffening member locked into position with a perimeter framing member;

[0044] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the proximal end of the folded stiffening member locked into position against the shaping member;

[0045] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a plurality of completed panel assemblies stacked for shipping;

[0046] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a completed panel assembly showing the stiffening members, shaping member, perimeter extrusions, and silicon sealant;

[0047] FIG. 13 is a side view of the completed panel assembly showing the shaping member, stiffening member, and perimeter extrusions;

[0048] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the completed panel assembly;

[0049] FIG. 15 is a rear view of the fold of the completed panel assembly;

[0050] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a jig used to manufacture the panel assembly;

[0051] FIG. 17 is a side view of the panel assembly positioned in the jig during manufacture;

[0052] FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the jig showing the plungers, and protective covering;

[0053] FIG. 19 is a rear view of the jig;

[0054] FIG. 20 is a plan view of a plunger;

[0055] FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a cut and milled panel;

[0056] FIG. 22 is another view of the cut and milled panel;

[0057] FIG. 23 is a perspective view of the cut and milled panel after installation of the perimeter framing members;

[0058] FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the panel assembly of FIG. 23 with the shaping member and two stiffening members in position (prior to placement in the jig);

[0059] FIG. 25 is a perspective view of the panel assembly of FIG. 24 placed in the jig to form the fold;

[0060] FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the panel assembly being forced into the jig to form the fold;

[0061] FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the panel assembly after the fold is formed, showing the placement of additional stiffening members;

[0062] FIG. 28 is a perspective view showing the proximal end of a stiffening member being knocked into position against the shaping member;

[0063] FIG. 29 is a side view of a completed panel assembly showing the sealant applied to the stiffening members;

[0064] FIG. 30 is a perspective view of the panel assembly in the jig;

[0065] FIG. 31 is another perspective view of the panel assembly in the jig prior to the assembly's removal;

[0066] FIG. 32 illustrates a sectional view of the panel of FIG. 1; and

[0067] FIG. 33 is a plan view of a stiffening member before assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The Panel Assembly

[0068] The panel assembly 100 will be described with reference to FIGS. 1-15. The panel assembly includes a panel 104, a plurality of perimeter framing members 108, a plurality of stiffening members 112, and a shaping member 116.

[0069] The panel 104 can be composed of any suitable type of material, with a composite material sold under the trade name “ALUCOBOND™” being preferred. As can be seen from FIG. 1, the peripheral edge(s) of the panel 104 has a number of cut lines (shown as dashed lines 120) to permit the edge to be folded for engagement with the perimeter framing members. The panel further includes a flat milled strip 124 for the fold, with the width “W” of the strip being the desired length of the curvature of the fold.

[0070] The perimeter framing members 108 can be of any suitable design. The preferred design is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,809,729; 5,916,100; and 6,082,064, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.

[0071] The stiffening members are depicted in FIGS. 5-10 and 33. Referring to FIG. 5, though the stiffening members can be composed of any rigid material and have any suitable design, the preferred material is the same as the material composing the panel and the preferred design includes tabs 128a,b on the distal end 132 of the stiffening member 112 for engaging the interior face 136 of the perimeter framing member 108 on the panel edge 140 (see FIG. 9), tabs 144a,b on the proximal end 148 of the stiffening member 112 for engaging the interior face 152 of the perimeter framing member 108 on the panel edge 156 (see FIG. 12), and radiused faces 160a,b also on the proximal end 148 for engaging the interior face 164 of the shaping member 116 (see FIG. 10).

[0072] The shape of the exterior of the shaping member 116 is at least substantially the same shape as the radiused faces 160a,b on the proximal end 132 of the stiffening member 112. Stated another way, in one configuration the curvature of the radiused face(s) 160a,b is at least substantially the same as the curvature of the interior face 164 of the shaping member. For a circularly shaped or cylindrical shaping member, the outer radius of curvature of the interior surface 164 of the shaping member is substantially the same as the radius of curvature of the radiused faces 160a,b of the stiffening member 112.

[0073] As shown in FIG. 1, the stiffening member 112 (which is typically formed of the same material as the panel) includes a pair of cut lines 168 (which are typically formed by a router and are shown as dashed lines) about which the sides 172a,b of the stiffening member are folded as shown in FIGS. 6-8.

[0074] The shaping member 116 can be of any suitable rigid or semi-rigid material, with a preferred material being a plastic such as PVC. Although a segmented shaping member or a series of shaping members can be used, it is preferred that a unitary or integral shaping member be employed for ease of manufacture. Although the present embodiment is shown as having a circular shape, it is to be appreciated that any angular or arcuate shape may be utilized.

[0075] Referring to FIGS. 12-15, the perimeter framing members 108 on opposing ends of the panel 104 and the stiffening members 112 hold (by contacting) the shaping member in position after the fold is formed.

The Jig

[0076] Referring to FIGS. 16-20, the jig used in manufacturing the panel assemblies will now be discussed. The jig 200, is formed from a plurality of wood or metal structural members 204 and 208 which define first and second planar surfaces 205, 206. A radiused corner 212 is located between and connects the surfaces 205, 206. The radiused corner 212 typically has at least substantially the same shape curvature (e.g., the same radius of curvature) as the shaping member 116 to facilitate the folding and shaping operation.

[0077] The first and second planar surfaces 205 and 206 typically form an angle “⊖” between them. The angle ⊖ typically ranges from about 15 to about 135 degrees.

[0078] The jig 200 can include plungers 216 on one or both of the edges 220, 224 of the first and second planar surfaces 205, 206, respectively. The plungers 216 have an extension 228 that moves laterally to force the panel against the radiused corner or nose portion 212 of the jig 200 by displacement of the lever 232 (FIG. 20).

[0079] The jig surfaces 205 and 206 can include a protective material 236 to prevent the jig from scratching or damaging the exterior surface of the panel 104. The protective material is typically a woven or carpet-type material.

[0080] Foam blocks 240 are located along edge 220 of the jig 200 to prevent the panel from contacting (and being damaged by) the plungers 216 during placement of the panel in the jig 200.

The Manufacturing Method

[0081] Referring to FIGS. 21 to 31, the manufacturing method will now be described.

[0082] Referring to FIGS. 21 and 22, the panel 104 is cut and milled for assembly. The milled strip 124, which runs lengthwise on the panel 104, is caused by the removal of the rear metal layer. Thus, the milled strip 124 is the exposed plastic core of the “ALUCOBOND™” panel, shown in FIG. 32. Milling is typically done by a router. The depth of the router cut depends on the application but typically ranges from the thickness of the metal layer (which is typically about 0.020 inches) to about 50% of the thickness of the panel 104 (which is typically about 0.079 inches). As noted, the width of the strip is typically the arc or curvature length of the curved portion of the folded panel.

[0083] Referring to FIG. 23, the perimeter extrusions 108 are cleaned, sealed, and applied to the panel by known techniques. As can be seen from FIG. 23, no perimeter extrusion 108 is attached at or near the end of the strip 124. Otherwise, the fold could not be made by the jig 200.

[0084] Referring to FIG. 24, two stiffening members 112a and 112b are placed in position at either end of the panel 104 and the shaping member 116 is engaged with the radiused surfaces at the proximal end of each stiffening member. As will be appreciated, the length of the stiffening members is sufficient for the center line of the shaping member and the center line of the fold to form or define a plane that is at least substantially normal to the flat planar surfaces of the panel 104. Stated another way, the center line of the shaping member and the center line of the milled strip 124 are offset at least substantially the same distance from each of the longitudinal edges 140 and 156 of the panel 104.

[0085] Referring to FIG. 25, the partially completed panel assembly is next placed in the jig 200 with the perimeter framing member 108 being positioned at or near the edge 224 of the planar surface 206. In this orientation, the panel assembly is at least partially folded by the jig by being forcibly placed in the jig.

[0086] Referring to FIG. 26 when the panel assembly is inserted into the jig 200, the panel 104 is pushed or laterally displaced in the jig by the plungers 216. As noted, the shape of the first and second planar surfaces and radiused surface (or jig nose) at least substantially match the desired or final profile of the panel.

[0087] Referring to FIG. 27, after the panel is fully folded and while the panel assembly is still in the jig the remaining two stiffening members 112 are locked into position (against the perimeter framing members 108 and shaping member 116) in the central portion of the panel assembly. As shown in FIG. 28, the fit of the stiffening members is tight enough that a hammer may be required to rotate the stiffening members into the locked position.

[0088] As shown in FIG. 29, the tabs 128 and 160 on the ends 132 and 168 of the stiffening members lock under the adjacent perimeter extrusions 108, while pushing the shaping member 116 into the nose or fold of the panel. These interactions create a tight fit between the shaping member 116 and the panel 104 at the fold, thereby forcing the panel to retain the finished profile of the fold.

[0089] Referring to FIG. 30, the distances “D” between adjacent stiffening members are preferably substantially equal so that the stiffening members substantially evenly distribute the forces to the fold in the panel. In this manner, the fold maintains a substantially uniform profile along its length.

[0090] Referring to FIG. 31, the stiffening members are adhered to the panel's planar surface 280 using a suitable sealant/adhesive 284, with silicon sealant being preferred. A bead of sealant is placed on either side of each stiffening member.

[0091] The now completed panel assembly may be removed from the jig and packaged for shipping.

[0092] While various embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail, it is apparent that modifications and adaptations of those embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art. However, it is to be expressly understood that such modifications and adaptations are within the scope of the present invention, as set forth in the following claims.