Title:
Roofing system for use in high-wind zones
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A roofing system that includes a plurality of mounting brackets that are fixedly attached to a roof sub-surface. The roofing system further includes a plurality of panels that are configured to attach to the mounting brackets in a manner that allows the panels to slide laterally relative to the mounting brackets. Each mounting bracket is attached to two separate panels via the first panel's c-shaped first attachment portion and the second panel's c-shaped second attachment portion. An intermediate member is positioned between the first panel's first attachment portion and the second panel's second attachment portion to allow the first and second panels to slide independently adjacent the mounting bracket.



Inventors:
Heusel, Heinz (Kirchentellinsfurt, DE)
Application Number:
10/159824
Publication Date:
06/12/2003
Filing Date:
05/29/2002
Assignee:
HEUSEL HEINZ
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/537, 52/462
International Classes:
E04D3/362; E04D3/3645; (IPC1-7): E04D1/36; E04C3/00; E04D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KWIECINSKI, RYAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALSTON & BIRD LLP (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A roofing system for installation adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said roofing system comprising: a mounting bracket comprising a base portion and an elongate panel-attachment portion, said mounting bracket being configured for installation adjacent said roofing sub-structure; a first panel configured for installation adjacent said elongate panel-attachment portion so that said first panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to said panel-attachment portion; a second panel configured for installation adjacent said elongate panel-attachment portion so that said second panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to said panel-attachment portion; and an intermediate member configured for installation adjacent said mounting bracket, said intermediate member being configured to separate at least a portion of said first panel from at least a portion of said second panel when said intermediate member is installed adjacent said mounting bracket.

2. The roofing system of claim 1, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said panel-attachment portion of said mounting bracket is substantially constrained from moving laterally relative to said roofing sub-structure.

3. The roofing system of claim 2, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said intermediate member is substantially constrained from moving laterally relative to said roofing sub-structure.

4. The roofing system of claim 1, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said intermediate member is substantially constrained from moving laterally relative to said panel-attachment portion.

5. The roofing system of claim 1, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said first panel slideably engages at least a portion of said mounting bracket.

6. The roofing system of claim 5, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said first panel slideably engages at least a portion of said intermediate member.

7. The roofing system of claim 6, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said second panel slideably engages at least a portion of said intermediate member.

8. The roofing system of claim 1, wherein said roofing system is configured so that after said roofing system is installed, said second panel slideably engages at least a portion of said intermediate member.

9. The roofing system of claim 1, wherein said intermediate member comprises a lateral movement restricting portion, said lateral movement restricting portion being configured for engaging a lateral side of said mounting bracket to at least partially restrict the lateral movement of said intermediate member relative to said mounting bracket.

10. The roofing system of claim 9, wherein said lateral movement restricting portion is a bracket that is configured to extend adjacent said lateral side of said mounting bracket.

11. The roofing system of claim 9, wherein said lateral side is a first lateral side, said lateral movement restricting portion is a first lateral movement restricting portion, and said intermediate member includes a second lateral movement restricting portion, said second lateral movement restricting portion being configured for engaging a second lateral side of said mounting bracket to further restrict the lateral movement of said intermediate member relative to said mounting bracket.

12. The roofing system of claim 11, wherein said first lateral movement restricting portion is a first bracket and said second lateral movement restricting portion is a second bracket, and wherein said first bracket is configured to extend adjacent said first lateral side of said mounting bracket, and wherein said second bracket is configured to extend adjacent said second lateral side of said mounting bracket.

13. The roofing system of claim 1, wherein said intermediate member is configured to be fixedly attached to said mounting bracket.

14. A roofing system for installation adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said roofing system comprising: a mounting assembly defining a first mounting portion and a second mounting portion, said first and second mounting portions cooperating to form a sliding chamber, and said second mounting portion defining a sliding surface; a first panel comprising a first roofing portion and a first attachment portion adjacent said first roofing portion, said first attachment portion being configured for sliding engagement within said sliding chamber; and a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent said second roofing portion, said second attachment portion being configured for sliding engagement with said sliding surface.

15. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said mounting assembly is configured to allow said first attachment portion to slide substantially freely within said sliding chamber.

16. The roofing system of claim 15, wherein said mounting assembly is configured to allow said second attachment portion to slide substantially freely on said sliding surface.

17. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said mounting assembly is configured to allow said second attachment portion to slide substantially freely on said sliding surface.

18. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said mounting assembly and said first panel are configured so that when said first attachment portion slides within said sliding chamber, said first panel moves laterally relative to said mounting assembly.

19. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said mounting assembly and said second panel are configured so that when said second attachment portion slides on said sliding surface, said second panel moves laterally relative to said mounting assembly.

20. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said mounting assembly, said first panel, and said second panel are configured so that both said first panel and said second panel are substantially free to slide laterally relative to said mounting assembly, and so that said first panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to said mounting assembly independently of said second panel.

21. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said second mounting portion is configured to separate at least a portion of said first panel from at least a portion of said second panel.

22. The roofing system of claim 14, wherein said first and second mounting portions are mounted so that they can not move substantially in a lateral direction relative to said roofing sub-structure.

23. A roofing system for installation adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said roofing system comprising: a mounting bracket, said mounting bracket comprising a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion, said head portion comprising a head-portion exterior surface; a first panel comprising a first roofing portion, and a first attachment portion adjacent said first roofing portion, said first attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said head-portion exterior surface, and said first attachment portion comprising a first-panel exterior surface; an intermediate member, said intermediate member comprising an intermediate-member interior surface that is formed to substantially mate with said first-panel exterior surface, said intermediate member further comprising an intermediate-member exterior surface; a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent said second roofing portion, said second attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said intermediate-member exterior surface; and wherein: said intermediate member is configured to separate at least a portion of said first panel from at least a portion of said second panel; and said mounting bracket, said first panel, said intermediate member, and said second panel are configured so that after said roofing system is installed adjacent said roofing sub-structure, said first panel and said second panel are substantially free to slide laterally relative to said mounting bracket.

24. The roofing system of claim 23, wherein said first and second attachment portions are generally c-shaped.

25. The roofing system of claim 23, wherein said head portion includes a substantially planar first interior portion, said first interior portion facing, and being spaced apart from, said base portion, and said first interior portion forming an angle of less than 90 degrees with at least a portion of said elongate body portion of said mounting bracket.

26. The roofing system of claim 25, wherein said first interior portion forms an angle of less than 80 degrees with at least a portion of said elongate body portion of said mounting bracket.

27. The roofing system of claim 25, wherein said first interior portion is adjacent a first side of said body portion, and wherein said head portion includes a substantially planar second interior portion, said second interior portion facing, and being spaced apart from, said base portion, and wherein said second interior portion is adjacent a second side of said body portion, said second side being opposite said first side, and wherein said second interior portion forms an angle of less than 90 degrees with at least a portion of said elongate body portion of said mounting bracket.

28. The roofing system of claim 27, wherein said first and second interior portions each form an angle of less than 80 degrees with at least a portion of said elongate body portion of said mounting bracket.

29. A method of providing a wind-resistant roof structure adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said method comprising the steps of: mounting a mounting bracket adjacent said roofing sub-structure, said mounting bracket comprising a base portion and an elongate panel-attachment portion; mounting a first panel adjacent said elongate panel-attachment portion so that said first panel can slide laterally relative to said panel-attachment portion; mounting a second panel adjacent said elongate panel-attachment portion so that said second panel can slide laterally relative to said panel-attachment portion; and mounting an intermediate member adjacent said mounting bracket so that said intermediate member separates at least a portion of said first panel from at least a portion of said second panel when said intermediate member is installed adjacent said mounting bracket.

30. The method of claim 29, further comprising the step of crimping said second panel about a portion of said mounting bracket, and wherein said crimping step is executed so that, after said crimping step: (1) the movement of said second panel relative to said mounting bracket is at least partially restricted; and (2) said second panel is substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to said mounting bracket.

31. The method of claim 30, wherein: said panel attachment portion comprises a head portion; and said step of crimping comprises crimping a generally c-shaped portion of said second panel about said head portion.

32. The method of claim 30, wherein said crimping step is executed so that, after said crimping step: (1) the movement of said first panel relative to said mounting bracket is at least partially restricted; and (2) said first panel is substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to said mounting bracket.

33. The method of claim 32, further comprising the step of crimping a generally c-shaped portion of said first panel about a head portion of said panel attachment portion, and wherein: said step of crimping said second panel comprises crimping a generally c-shaped portion of said second panel about said head portion.

34. The method of claim 29, further comprising the step of: crimping said first panel, said second panel, and said intermediate member about a portion of said mounting bracket so that, after said crimping step: (1) the movement of said first and second panels relative to said mounting bracket is at least partially restricted; and (2) said first and second panels are substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to said mounting bracket.

35. The method of claim 34, wherein: said panel attachment portion comprises a head portion; and said step of crimping comprises crimping both a generally c-shaped portion of said first panel, and a generally c-shaped portion of said second panel about said head portion.

36. A method of providing a wind-resistant roof structure adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said method comprising the steps of: providing a mounting bracket comprising a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion, said head portion comprising a head-portion exterior surface; providing a first panel comprising both a first roofing portion and a first attachment portion, said first attachment portion being adjacent to said first roofing portion, said first attachment portion comprising a first-panel exterior surface, and said first attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said head-portion exterior surface; providing an intermediate member, said intermediate member comprising an intermediate-member interior surface that is formed to substantially mate with said first-panel exterior surface, said intermediate member further comprising an intermediate-member exterior surface; providing a second panel comprising both a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion, said second attachment portion being adjacent said second roofing portion, and said second attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said intermediate-member exterior surface; mounting said mounting bracket adjacent said roofing sub-structure; mounting said first panel, said second panel, and said intermediate panel so that: (1) said first attachment portion substantially mates with said head-portion exterior surface; (2) said intermediate-member interior surface substantially mates with said first-panel exterior surface; and (3) said second attachment portion substantially mates with said intermediate-member exterior surface; and crimping said second panel about a portion of said mounting bracket so that, after this crimping step, the movement of said first panel relative to said mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, but said first panel is substantially free to move laterally relative to said mounting bracket.

37. The method of claim 36, wherein said crimping step is executed so that, after said crimping step, the movement of the second panel relative to said mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, but said second panel is substantially free to move laterally relative to said mounting bracket.

38. The method of claim 36, further comprising the step of crimping said first panel about a portion of said mounting bracket; and wherein, said steps of crimping said first and second panels are executed so that, after said crimping steps, the movement of said second panel relative to said mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, but said second panel is substantially free to move laterally relative to said mounting bracket.

39. A roofing system for installation adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said roofing system comprising: a mounting bracket, said mounting bracket comprising a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion, said head portion comprising a head-portion exterior surface; a first panel comprising a first roofing portion, and a first attachment portion adjacent said first roofing portion, said first attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said head-portion exterior surface, and said first attachment portion comprising a first-panel exterior surface; an intermediate member, said intermediate member comprising an intermediate-member interior surface that is formed to substantially mate with said first-panel exterior surface, said intermediate member further comprising an intermediate-member exterior surface; a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent said second roofing portion, said second attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said intermediate-member exterior surface; and wherein: said intermediate member is configured to separate at least a portion of said first panel from at least a portion of said second panel; and said mounting bracket, said first panel, said intermediate member, and said second panel are configured so that after said roofing system is installed adjacent said roofing sub-structure, said first panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to said mounting bracket.

40. A roofing system for installation adjacent a roofing sub-structure, said roofing system comprising: a mounting bracket, said mounting bracket comprising a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion, said head portion comprising a head-portion exterior surface; a first panel comprising a first roofing portion, and a first attachment portion adjacent said first roofing portion, said first attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said head-portion exterior surface, and said first attachment portion comprising a first-panel exterior surface; an intermediate member, said intermediate member comprising an intermediate-member interior surface that is formed to substantially mate with said first-panel exterior surface, said intermediate member further comprising an intermediate-member exterior surface; and a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent said second roofing portion, said second attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with said intermediate-member exterior surface; and wherein: said intermediate member is configured to separate at least a portion of said first panel from at least a portion of said second panel; and said mounting bracket, said first panel, said intermediate member, and said second panel are configured so that after said roofing system is installed adjacent said roofing sub-structure, said second panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to said mounting bracket.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to roofing systems and, more particularly, to roofing systems that are configured to withstand high winds.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Standard roofing systems include shingles or panels that are typically attached to a roof sub-structure using simple fasteners, such as nails, or more complex systems, such as the panel/anchor system described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,649,684 to Petree. One object of these systems is to hold the shingles or panels in place relative to the roof sub-structure so that the shingles or panels protect the roof sub-structure from harmful elements such as rain or wind.

[0003] One problem associated with prior art roofing systems is that the panels and shingles of these prior art roofing systems often blow off of the roof sub-structure when the roofing systems are exposed to high winds. While prior art panel/anchor roofing systems are more effective in withstanding high winds than standard shingle-based roofing, the anchors of these systems still often detach from the roof sub-structure during exposure to high winds. This occurs because, when high winds pass over the roofing panels that are attached to the anchors, the panels vibrate and move relative to the roof sub-structure. Because the panels are typically rigidly attached to the anchors, the anchors are urged to move along with the panels. As a result, the panels often work the anchors free from the roof sub-structure. Once this happens, high winds passing over the panels often blow the panels and the anchors away from the roof sub-structure. In such situations, the anchors and panels must be replaced, which can be time consuming and expensive. Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an improved roofing system that can withstand high winds without becoming detached from the roofing sub-structure on which the roofing system is installed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention provides a roofing system that can withstand high winds without becoming detached from the roofing sub-structure on which it is installed. As described in greater detail below, the system accomplishes this by providing a roofing system that includes a plurality of mounting brackets that are fixedly attached to the roof sub-structure and a plurality of panels that are configured to attach to the mounting brackets in a manner that allows the panels to slide laterally to the mounting brackets.

[0005] One significant advantage of the present invention is that it is configured so that when the roofing system is exposed to high winds, the panels dissipate much of the energy transferred to the roofing system by the high winds by sliding laterally on the mounting brackets. Because the motion of the panels dissipates the energy imparted on the roofing system by the winds, very little wind-related energy is transferred to the mounting brackets or to the portions of the panels that are attached to the mounting brackets. Thus, even in very high winds, both the mounting brackets and the panels remain properly affixed to the roof sub-structure.

[0006] More particularly speaking, a preferred embodiment of the invention comprises: (1) a mounting bracket comprising a base portion and an elongate panel-attachment portion, the mounting bracket being configured for installation adjacent a roofing substructure; (2) a first panel configured for installation adjacent the elongate panel-attachment portion so that the first panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to the panel-attachment portion; (3) a second panel configured for installation adjacent the elongate panel-attachment portion so that the second panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to the panel-attachment portion; and (4) an intermediate member configured for installation adjacent the mounting bracket, the intermediate member being configured to separate at least a portion of the first panel from at least a portion of the second panel when the intermediate member is installed adjacent the mounting bracket. In one embodiment of the invention, the intermediate member is configured to be fixedly attached to the mounting bracket.

[0007] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the roofing system is configured so that after the roofing system is installed, both the panel-attachment portion of the mounting bracket and the intermediate member are substantially constrained from moving laterally relative to the roofing sub-structure. By the same token, the roofing system is also preferably configured so that after the roofing system is installed, the intermediate member is substantially constrained from moving laterally relative to the mounting brackets' panel-attachment portion.

[0008] The roofing system is further preferably configured so that after the roofing system is installed, the first panel slideably engages at least a portion of the mounting bracket, and also slideably engages at least a portion of the intermediate member. Furthermore, the roofing system is preferably configured so that after the roofing system is installed, the second panel slideably engages at least a portion of the intermediate member.

[0009] A further aspect of a preferred embodiment of the invention is that the intermediate member comprises a first lateral movement restricting portion that is configured for engaging a first lateral side of the mounting bracket to restrict the lateral movement of the intermediate member relative to the mounting bracket in a first direction. Similarly, the intermediate member also preferably comprises a second lateral movement restricting portion that is configured for engaging a second lateral side of the mounting bracket to restrict the lateral movement of the intermediate member relative to the mounting bracket in a second direction that is opposite to the first direction. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first and second lateral movement restricting portions are brackets.

[0010] A roofing system according to a further embodiment of the invention comprises: (1) a mounting assembly defining a first mounting portion and a second mounting portion, the first and second mounting portions cooperating to form a sliding chamber, and the second mounting portion defining a sliding surface; (2) a first panel comprising a first roofing portion and a first attachment portion adjacent the first roofing portion, the first attachment portion being configured for sliding engagement within the sliding chamber; and (3) a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent the second roofing portion, the second attachment portion being configured for sliding engagement with the sliding surface.

[0011] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the mounting assembly is configured to allow the first attachment portion to slide substantially freely within the sliding chamber and the mounting assembly is configured to allow the second attachment portion to slide substantially freely on the sliding surface. Furthermore, the mounting assembly, first panel, and second panel are preferably configured so that: (1) when the first attachment portion slides within the sliding chamber, the first panel moves laterally relative to the mounting assembly; and (2) when the second attachment portion slides on the sliding surface, the second panel moves laterally relative to the mounting assembly.

[0012] In the further embodiment of the invention described above, the mounting assembly, the first panel, and the second panel are preferably configured so that both the first panel and the second panel are substantially free to slide laterally relative to the mounting assembly, and so that the first panel is substantially free to slide laterally relative to the mounting assembly independently of the second panel. In this embodiment of the invention, the second mounting portion is configured to separate at least a portion of the first panel from at least a portion of the second panel. The first and second mounting portions are preferably mounted so that they can not move to any substantial extent in a lateral direction relative to the roofing sub-structure.

[0013] A roofing system according to yet another embodiment of the invention comprises: (1) a mounting bracket that includes a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion having a head-portion exterior surface; (2) a first panel that includes a first roofing portion, and a first attachment portion that is adjacent the first roofing portion and that is formed to substantially mate with the mounting bracket's head-portion exterior surface; (3) an intermediate member that includes an intermediate-member interior surface that is formed to substantially mate with an exterior surface of the first panel; (4) a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent the second roofing portion, the second attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with an exterior surface of the intermediate-member. In this embodiment of the invention, the intermediate member is configured to separate at least a portion of the first panel from at least a portion of the second panel. In addition, the mounting bracket, the first panel, the intermediate member, and the second panel are configured so that after the roofing system is installed adjacent the roofing sub-structure, the first panel and the second panel are substantially free to slide laterally relative to the mounting bracket.

[0014] In the embodiment of the invention described above, the first and second attachment portions are preferably generally c-shaped. Furthermore, the head portion of the mounting bracket preferably includes a substantially planar first interior portion that is adjacent a first side of the body portion of the mounting bracket and that faces, and is spaced apart from, the mounting bracket's base portion. The first interior portion forms an angle of less than 90 degrees (and preferably less than 80 degrees) with at least a portion of the body portion of the mounting bracket. Furthermore, the head portion preferably includes a substantially planar second interior portion that is adjacent a second side of the body portion of the mounting bracket and that faces, and is spaced apart from, the mounting bracket's base portion. The second interior portion forms an angle of less than 90 degrees (and preferably less than 80 degrees) with at least a portion of the body portion of the mounting bracket.

[0015] A roofing system according to yet another embodiment of the invention comprises: (1) a mounting bracket that comprises a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion, the head portion comprising a head-portion exterior surface; (2) a first panel comprising a first roofing portion and a first attachment portion adjacent the first roofing portion, the first attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with the head-portion exterior surface; (3) an intermediate member that is formed to substantially mate with an exterior surface of the first-panel; and (4) a second panel comprising a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion adjacent the second roofing portion that is formed to substantially mate with an exterior surface of the intermediate-member. In this embodiment of the invention, the intermediate member is configured to separate at least a portion of the first panel from at least a portion of the second panel. Similarly, the mounting bracket, the first panel, the intermediate member, and the second panel are configured so that after the roofing system is installed adjacent a roofing sub-structure, the first panel, the second panel, or both the first panel and the second panel are substantially free to slide laterally relative to the mounting bracket.

[0016] A further embodiment of the invention comprises a method of providing a wind-resistant roof structure adjacent a roofing sub-structure. This method comprises the steps of: (1) mounting, adjacent the roofing sub-structure, a mounting bracket that includes a base portion and an elongate panel-attachment portion; (2) mounting a first panel adjacent the elongate panel-attachment portion so that the first panel can slide laterally relative to the panel-attachment portion; (3) mounting a second panel adjacent the elongate panel-attachment portion so that the second panel can slide laterally relative to the panel-attachment portion; and (4) mounting an intermediate member adjacent the mounting bracket so that the intermediate member separates at least a portion of the first panel from at least a portion of the second panel when the intermediate member is installed adjacent the mounting bracket.

[0017] This method preferably further includes the step of crimping the second panel about a portion of the mounting bracket so that the movement of the second panel relative to the mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, and so that the second panel is substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to the mounting bracket. Furthermore, this method further comprises the step of crimping a generally c-shaped portion of the first panel, a generally c-shaped portion of the second panel, or c-shaped portions of both the first panel and the second panel about a head portion of the mounting bracket. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the crimping step is executed so that, after the crimping step, the movement of the first panel relative to the mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, and the first panel is substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to the mounting bracket.

[0018] A further embodiment of the invention comprises a method of providing a wind-resistant roof structure adjacent a roofing sub-structure that comprises the steps of: (1) providing a mounting bracket comprising a base portion, an elongate body portion, and a head portion that includes a head-portion exterior surface; (2) providing a first panel comprising both a first roofing portion, and a first attachment portion adjacent to the first roofing portion, the first attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with the head-portion exterior surface, and the first attachment portion defining a first-panel exterior surface; (3) providing an intermediate member that defines an intermediate-member exterior surface and an intermediate-member interior surface that is formed to substantially mate with the first-panel exterior surface; (4) providing a second panel comprising both a second roofing portion and a second attachment portion that is adjacent the second roofing portion, the second attachment portion being formed to substantially mate with the intermediate-member exterior surface; (5) mounting the mounting bracket adjacent the roofing sub-structure; and (6) mounting the first panel, second panel, and intermediate panel so that: (a) the first attachment portion substantially mates with the head-portion exterior surface; (b) the intermediate-member interior surface substantially mates with the first-panel exterior surface; and (c) the second attachment portion substantially mates with the intermediate-member exterior surface; and (7) crimping the second panel about a portion of the mounting bracket so that the movement of the first panel relative to the mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, but the first panel is substantially free to move laterally relative to the mounting bracket.

[0019] A preferred embodiment of the method described above further comprises the step of crimping the first panel about a portion of the mounting bracket. Also, the crimping step is preferably executed so that, after the crimping step, the movement of the second panel relative to the mounting bracket is at least partially restricted, but the second panel is substantially free to move laterally relative to the mounting bracket.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

[0021] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a roofing system according to a preferred embodiment of the invention that is shown installed on the upper surface of a building.

[0022] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a roofing panel according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

[0023] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a mounting bracket according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the first end of a first panel, the second end of a second panel, a mounting bracket and an intermediate member according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

[0025] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a panel/bracket assembly according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

[0026] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an intermediate member according to an alternative embodiment of the invention.

[0027] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a panel/bracket assembly according to an alternative embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0028] The present invention will now be described more fully below with reference to the accompanying drawings, which show various preferred embodiments of the invention. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

[0029] Overview of Roofing System

[0030] A roofing system according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is depicted in FIGS. 1-5. As may be understood from these figures, the roofing system preferably comprises a plurality of panels 10, 200, 400, and a plurality of mounting brackets 100 that are used to anchor the panels 10, 200, 400 to a roof sub-structure 30.

[0031] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, each panel 10, 200, 400 extends between two rows of mounting brackets 20, 30, 40. For example, a first panel 200, which is shown in FIG. 1, extends between a first row of mounting brackets 20, and a second row of mounting brackets 30. As will be understood by one skilled in the relevant field, each row of mounting brackets 20, 30, 40 includes a plurality of mounting brackets 100 that are spaced evenly and laterally apart from each other by a pre-determined distance that is selected based on applicable roof design requirements. Such configurations of roofing anchor devices are discussed in greater detail in U.S. Pat. No. 4,649,684 to Petree et al., which is hereby incorporated by reference.

[0032] As may be understood from FIG. 2, which shows a panel 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention, each panel is configured to attach to a first row of mounting brackets via a first end 11 of the panel 10, and to attach to a second row of mounting brackets via a second end 12 of the panel 10. As is discussed in greater detail below, the panel's first and second ends 11, 12 include specially-formed attachment portions 50, 70 for use in attaching the first and second ends 11, 12 of the panel 10 to their respective rows of mounting brackets.

[0033] More particularly, the first end 11, 211 of each panel 10, 200, 400 includes a first attachment portion 50, 250 that is configured for attaching directly to a row of mounting brackets 20, 30, 40. As is shown in regard to a particular first panel 200 in FIG. 4, this first attachment portion 50, 250 is configured to conform generally to head portions 120 of the mounting brackets 100 within the row of mounting brackets 20, 30, 40 to which the first attachment portion 50, 250 is attached. Similarly, as is shown in regard to a particular second panel 400 in FIG. 4, the second end 12, 412 of each panel includes a second attachment portion 70, 470 that is configured for attaching to a row of intermediate members 300 that serve to separate the first panel's first attachment portion 50, 250 from a second panel's second attachment portion 70, 470 when these attachment portions are attached to a single row of mounting brackets as shown in FIG. 5 and discussed in greater detail below.

[0034] For the purposes of simplicity, the below discussion will focus on the structure and use of a single panel/bracket assembly 475 (see FIG. 5). However, it should be understood that each of the other panel/bracket assemblies 475 within the roofing system is preferably configured in the same manner as the single panel/bracket assembly 475 discussed below.

[0035] As may be understood from FIGS. 4 and 5, a panel/bracket assembly 475 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention includes: (1) a mounting bracket 100; (2) a first end 211 of a first panel 200 that includes a first attachment portion 250; (3) a second end 412 of a second panel 400 that includes a second attachment portion 470; (4) and an intermediate member 300 that is configured for installation between the first panel's first attachment portion 250 and the second panel's second attachment portion 470. The intermediate member 300 is preferably configured to allow the first panel 200 and the second panel 400 to slide independently of one another in a lateral direction relative to the mounting bracket 100. Each of the component parts of a single mounting panel/bracket assembly 475 is shown in FIG. 4, and an assembled panel/bracket assembly 475 is shown in FIG. 5. As will be understood by one skilled in the art, in use, each end of each panel 10, 200, 400 will preferably be attached to several mounting brackets 100 within a given row of mounting brackets in the manner described below.

[0036] Structure of a Panel/Bracket Assembly

[0037] As noted above, a panel/bracket assembly according to a preferred embodiment of the invention comprises: (1) a mounting bracket 100; (2) a first end 211 of a first panel 200; (3) a second end 412 of a second panel 400; and (4) an intermediate member 300 that is configured for installation between the first panel's first attachment portion 250 and the second panel's second attachment portion 470. The structure of each of these components is described in detail below.

[0038] Mounting Bracket

[0039] A mounting bracket 100 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 3-5. As may be understood from FIG. 3, the mounting bracket 100 comprises a base portion 105 and an elongate panel attachment portion 110. The panel attachment portion 110 preferably comprises an elongate body portion 115, and a head portion 120. The mounting bracket's base portion 105 is preferably substantially planar and rectangular and comprises a first foot member 106 that extends between the mounting bracket's body portion 115 and first transverse edge 108 of the mounting bracket 100. Similarly, the base portion 105 comprises a second foot member 107 that extends between the mounting bracket's body portion 115 and a second transverse edge 109 of the mounting bracket 100. The first and second foot members 106, 107 include a plurality of fastener openings 145 that are configured, as known in the art, to receive a screw or other fastener to facilitate attaching the mounting bracket 100 to a roofing sub-surface 30.

[0040] As shown in FIG. 3, the mounting bracket's elongate body portion 115 is preferably a rectangular and planar member that defines a first face 116 and a second face 117. The first face 116 is preferably parallel to, offset from, and opposite the second face 117. Similarly, the body portion 115 defines first and second lateral sides 140, 141 that are preferably parallel to, and offset from, one another, and that are disposed adjacent opposite lateral sides of the body portion's first and second faces 116, 117. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the mounting bracket 100 is configured so that the body portion 115 extends upwardly from, and substantially perpendicular to, a top surface of the base portion 105.

[0041] The body portion 115 is preferably oriented so that its first and second faces 116, 117 are parallel to the base portion's first and second transverse edges 108, 109, and so that the body portion's first and second lateral sides 140, 141 are perpendicular to the base portion's first and second transverse edges 108, 109. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the body portion 115 is positioned so that it is spaced equally apart from the base portion's first and second transverse edges 108, 109.

[0042] As may be understood from FIG. 3, the mounting bracket's head portion 120 is preferably uniform in cross-section and comprises: (1) an upper semicircular portion 121; (2) a first lip 122 that is disposed immediately below and to one side of the upper semicircular portion 121; and (3) a second lip 123 that is also disposed immediately below and to one side of the upper semicircular portion 121, and immediately adjacent the first lip 122. As shown in FIG. 3, the mounting bracket's head portion 120 is oriented and dimensioned so that the major axis of the head portion 120 is substantially parallel to the first and second faces 116, 117 of the body portion 115.

[0043] In addition, the head portion 120 is configured so that the first lip 122 extends outwardly from a top end 118 of the body portion 115 so that the bottom surface 130 of the first lip 122, which is preferably substantially planar, forms an angle of less than 90 degrees, and preferably less than 80 degrees, with the first face 116 of the body portion 115. Similarly, the head portion 120 is configured so that the second lip 123 extends outwardly from the top end 118 of the body portion 115 so that the bottom surface 135 of the second lip 123 forms an angle of less than 90 degrees, and preferably less than 80 degrees, with the second face 117 of the body portion 115. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the bottom surfaces 130, 135 of the first and second lips 122, 123 are substantially planar. For the purposes of this disclosure, the bottom surface 130 of the first lip portion 122 and the bottom surface 135 of the second lip portion 123 may also be referred to, respectively, as the head portion's first and second interior surfaces.

[0044] First End of First Panel

[0045] A first end 211 of a first panel 200 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. As may be understood from these figures, the first end 211 includes a first roofing portion 201, a first end central member 230, a first foot member receiving portion 207 that extends between the first roofing portion 201 and the first end central member 230, and a first attachment portion 250. The structure of these various components is discussed in greater detail below.

[0046] As may be understood from FIG. 4, the first roofing portion 201 is a substantially flat, planar, roofing panel that includes an upper face 202, which forms the surface of a roof after the panel is installed on a roof sub-surface 30. As is well known in the relevant field, such roofing panels may include ridges that facilitate the removal of water from the panels and add strength to the panels.

[0047] The first roofing portion 201 defines an inner edge 208 along which it is attached to the first foot receiving portion 207. This first foot receiving portion 207 is configured to receive the mounting bracket's first foot member 106 within a first foot member recess 206 that is defined by the first foot receiving portion 207 and a roofing sub-surface 30 on which the first panel 200 is mounted. More specifically, the first foot receiving portion 207 is preferably a flat planar member that is bent to form three distinct portions. These portions include a first transitional portion 203, a first member coverage portion 204, and a second transitional portion 205. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first transitional portion 203 extends diagonally upward from the inner edge 208 of the first roofing portion 201 to an outer edge 209 of the first foot member coverage portion 204, which is preferably substantially planar and substantially parallel to the first roofing portion 201. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first foot member coverage portion 204 is attached along its inner edge 213 to a second transitional portion 205 that is configured for attaching the first foot member receiving portion 207 to a lower portion of the first end central member 230. It should be understood that the first foot receiving portion 207 and the other components described above may be embodied in a variety of different configurations.

[0048] As may be understood from FIG. 4, the first end central member 230 is a flat planar member that defines an exterior face 234 that is adjacent the second transitional portion 207, and an interior face 232 that is parallel to, offset from, and opposite the central member's exterior face 234. The first end central member 230 is preferably perpendicular to both the roofing portion 201 and the first foot member coverage portion 204, and parallel to both the inner edge 208 of the first roofing portion 201 and the outer edge 209 of the first foot receiving portion 207.

[0049] As shown in FIG. 4, the first end central member 230 is attached to a generally c-shaped first attachment portion 250. This first attachment portion 250 is preferably a rectangular, planar piece of metal that has been bent to form first, second, and third concave portions 252, 254, and 256. As may be understood from FIG. 4, the first concave portion 252 is preferably c-shaped and is oriented to open in a direction that is substantially perpendicular to the first end central member's interior face 232. The first concave portion 252 is immediately adjacent the second concave portion 254, which is oriented to open in a substantially downward-facing direction. Similarly, the second concave portion 254 is immediately adjacent the third concave portion 256, which is oriented so that the open portion of the third concave portion 256 faces the open portion of the first concave portion 252.

[0050] Generally speaking, the first end 211 of the first panel 200 is configured to conform to the exterior surfaces of the mounting bracket's first foot member 106, first intermediate face 116, and head portion 120. More particularly, the first foot member receiving portion 207 is configured to substantially conform to the exterior surface of the mounting bracket's first foot member 106. Similarly, the interior face 232 of the first end central member 230 is configured to substantially conform to the mounting bracket's first intermediate face 116. By the same token, the interior surface of the first attachment portion 250 is configured to substantially conform to an exterior surface 122 of the mounting bracket's head portion 120.

[0051] Intermediate Member

[0052] As may be understood from FIG. 4, the intermediate member 300 comprises a preferably rectangular and planar body portion 310 that defines an interior face 312 and an exterior face 314 that is preferably parallel to, offset from, and opposite the intermediate member's interior face 312. Similarly, the body portion 310 defines first and second lateral sides 316, 318 that are preferably parallel to, and offset from, one another, and that are disposed adjacent opposite lateral sides of the body portion's interior and exterior faces 312, 314.

[0053] The intermediate member's body portion 310 is attached to a generally c-shaped intermediate member attachment portion 320. This intermediate member attachment portion 320 is preferably a contiguous, rectangular, planar piece of metal that has been bent to form a seat portion 322, a lip portion 331, and a concave portion 328 that extends between the seat portion 322 and the lip portion 331.

[0054] As may be understood from FIG. 4, the intermediate member's seat portion 322 is preferably substantially planar and extends outwardly adjacent a top portion 321 of the intermediate member's exterior face 314 so that the seat portion 322 is substantially perpendicular to the intermediate member's exterior face 314. The seat portion 322 is adjacent the intermediate member attachment portion's concave portion 328, which is preferably in the form of a substantially downwardly-facing arc. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the seat portion 322 is configured to conform to at least a portion of the bottom surface 135 of the mounting bracket's second lip portion 123.

[0055] As noted above, the intermediate member attachment portion 320 further includes a lip portion 331 that is adjacent the concave portion 328 and that extends outwardly relative to the concave portion 328. This lip portion 331 is preferably configured to substantially conform to a portion of the exterior surface of the first panel's first panel attachment portion 250. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the lip portion 331 is configured to conform to a channel 271 that is formed by the exterior surfaces of the first attachment portion's first and second concave portions 252, 254.

[0056] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the intermediate member 300 includes a preferably substantially planar first lateral movement restricting member 340 that extends from the first lateral side 316 of the intermediate member's body portion 310 so that the first lateral movement restricting member 340 is adjacent the interior face 312 of the intermediate member's body portion 310. The first lateral movement restricting member 340 is preferably operable to restrict the lateral movement of the intermediate member 300 relative to the mounting bracket 100 in a first direction.

[0057] Similarly, the intermediate member 300 also includes a preferably substantially planar second lateral movement restricting member (not shown) that extends from the second lateral side 308 of the intermediate member's body portion 310 so that the second lateral movement restricting member (not shown) is adjacent the interior face 312 of the intermediate member's body portion 310. The second lateral movement restricting member (not shown) is preferably operable to restrict the lateral movement of the intermediate member 300 relative to the mounting bracket 100 in a second direction opposite the first direction referenced above.

[0058] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first and second lateral movement restricting members are substantially perpendicular to the interior face 312 of the intermediate member's body portion 310. Furthermore, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first and second lateral movement restricting portions are brackets.

[0059] Second End of Second Panel

[0060] A second end 412 of a second panel 400 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. As may be understood from these figures, the second end 412 includes: (1) a second roofing portion 401; (2) a second end central member 430, a second foot member receiving portion 407 that extends between the second roofing portion 401 and the second end central member 430; and (3) a second attachment portion 470. The structure of these various components is discussed in greater detail below.

[0061] As may be understood from FIG. 4, the second roofing portion 401 is a substantially flat, planar roofing panel that includes an upper face 402, which forms the surface of a roof after the panel is installed on a roof sub-surface 30. As noted above, such roofing panels may include ridges that facilitate the removal of water from the panels and add strength to the panels.

[0062] The second roofing portion 401 defines an inner edge 408 along which the second roofing portion 401 is attached to the second foot member receiving portion 407. This second foot member receiving portion 407 is configured to receive the mounting bracket's second foot member 107 within a second foot member recess 406 that is defined by the second foot member receiving portion 407 and a roofing sub-surface 30 on which the second panel 400 is mounted. More specifically, the second foot member receiving portion 407 is preferably a contiguous flat planar member that is bent to form three distinct portions. These portions include a third transitional portion 403, a second foot member coverage portion 404, and a fourth transitional portion 405.

[0063] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the third transitional portion 403 extends diagonally upward from the inner edge 408 of the second roofing portion 401 to an outer edge 409 of the second foot member coverage portion 404, which is preferably substantially planar and substantially parallel to the second roofing portion 401. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the second foot member coverage portion 404 is connected, along its inner edge 413, to a fourth transitional portion 405 that is configured for attaching the second panel's second foot member receiving portion 407 to a lower portion of the second end central member 430. It should be understood that the exact configuration of the second foot receiving portion 407 and the second roofing portion 401 may be embodied in a variety of different configurations.

[0064] As may be understood from FIG. 4, the second end central member 430 is preferably a flat planar member that defines an exterior face 434 that is adjacent the fourth transitional portion 405, and an interior face 432 that is parallel to, offset from, and opposite the second end central member's exterior face 434. The second end central member 430 is preferably perpendicular to both the second roofing portion 401 and the second foot member coverage portion 404, and parallel to both the inner edge 408 of the second roofing portion 401 and the outer edge 409 of the second foot member receiving portion 407. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the second end central member 430 is configured so that the interior face 432 of the second end central member 430 is configured to substantially conform to the mounting bracket's second intermediate face 117.

[0065] As shown in FIG. 4, the second end central member 430 is attached to a generally c-shaped second attachment portion 470. This second attachment portion 470 is preferably formed from a single, contiguous planar sheet of metal that has been shaped so that the interior surface 456 of the second attachment portion 470 generally conforms to the exterior surface 328 of the intermediate member attachment portion 320, and to a portion of the exterior surface of the first concave portion 252 of the first panel's first attachment portion 250. In particular, the second attachment portion 470 defines a seat portion 452 adjacent the second panel central member's exterior face 434 that is preferably substantially perpendicular to the second panel central member's exterior face 434. Similarly, the second attachment portion 470 defines an outer lip 454 adjacent the outer end of the second attachment portion 470 that is configured to conform to the exterior surface 264 of the first concave portion 252 of the first panel's first attachment portion 250. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the second attachment portion 470 forms an arc of greater than 270 degrees, and of preferably about 320 degrees.

[0066] Installation and Use of a Preferred Embodiment of the Invention

[0067] To install a roofing system according to a preferred embodiment of the invention, a user first attaches a plurality of mounting brackets 100 to a roofing sub-surface using fasteners (such as screws) that extend through openings 145 defined by the mounting brackets' first and second foot members 106, 107. As is discussed in greater detail in U.S. Pat. No. 4,649,684 to Petree et al., which is incorporated herein by reference, the mounting brackets 100 are spaced an equal distance apart and aligned so that the major axis of the mounting brackets' head portions 120 are positioned along a common line. This makes it possible for a single panel to attach to a plurality of the mounting brackets 100 within a given row via one of the panel's attaching portions 50, 70, 250, 470.

[0068] After the first row of mounting brackets 100 is installed, the user installs a second row of mounting brackets 100, in the manner described above, so that the two rows of brackets are parallel and spaced apart by the length of the roofing system's panels 10, 200, 300. As noted above, this process is known in the relevant field. The user then attaches one or more panels 10, 200, 300 to the two rows of mounting brackets 100 using a technique described in detail below. After the panels 10, 200, 300 are attached to the mounting brackets 100, each panel 10, 200, 300 extends between two rows of mounting brackets 100 and is attached to the rows of mounting brackets 100 by the panel's end portions. In this configuration, the panels 10, 200, 300 are substantially free to slide laterally in respect to the rows of mounting brackets 100 to which they are attached. The technique above is repeated as necessary for additional panels 10, 200, 300 and rows of mounting brackets 100 until the roofing sub-surface 30 is completely covered with panels 10, 200, 300.

[0069] The installation of a single mounting panel/bracket assembly 475, 575 will now be described in detail. To install a single panel/bracket assembly 475, 575, the user first secures a mounting bracket 100 to a roofing sub-surface 30 as described above. The user then positions the first end 211 of a first panel 200 so that: (1) the first panel's first attachment portion 250 extends around, and substantially conforms to, the exterior surface 125 of the mounting bracket's head portion 120; (2) the interior face 232 of the first end central member 230 is immediately adjacent and facing the mounting bracket's first intermediate face 116; and (3) the first foot receiving portion 207 receives the first foot member 106 within the first foot member recess 206 defined by the first foot receiving portion 207. In this configuration, the seat portion 260 of the first attachment portion 250 is positioned immediately adjacent the bottom surface 130 of the mounting bracket's first lip 122. Similarly, the mounting bracket's first lip 122 is disposed within a channel 253 that is defined by the first attachment portion's first concave portion 252. By the same token, the mounting bracket's upper semi-circular portion 121 is disposed within a channel 255 defined by the first attachment portion's second concave portion 254. Also, the mounting bracket's second lip portion 123 is preferably disposed within a channel defined by the mounting bracket's third concave portion 256.

[0070] Next, the user positions the intermediate member 300 adjacent the mounting bracket 100 so that: (1) the intermediate member attachment portion 320 extends around and over the first attachment portion 250; (2) the lip portion 331 of the intermediate member attachment portion 320 substantially conforms to the channel 271 defined by the exterior surfaces of the first attachment member's first and second concave portions 252, 254; (3) the intermediate member attachment portion's seat portion 322 is immediately adjacent the bottom surface 135 of the mounting bracket's second lip 123; (4) the interior face 312 of the intermediate member 300 is immediately adjacent and facing the mounting bracket's second intermediate face 117; and (5) the first lateral moving restricting member 340 and the second lateral movement restricting member (not shown) are, respectively, immediately adjacent the mounting bracket's first and second lateral sides 140, 141.

[0071] The user then positions the second end 412 of a second panel 400 so that: (1) the second attachment portion 470 extends around and over the intermediate member attachment portion 320 and the first attachment portion 250; (2) the seat portion 452 of the second attachment portion 470 is adjacent to an exterior surface 326 of the intermediate member attachment portion's seat portion 322; (3) the interior surface 455 of the second attachment portion's lip portion 454 is adjacent an exterior surface 264 of the first concave portion's seat portion 260; (4) the interior face 432 of the second end central member 430 is immediately adjacent and facing the exterior face 314 of the intermediate member's body portion 310; and (5) the second foot member receiving portion 407 receives the second foot member 107 within the second foot member recess 406 defined by the second foot member receiving portion 407. When the second end 412 of the second panel 400 is positioned as described above, the intermediate member 300 preferably separates at least a portion of the first panel 200 from at least a portion of the second panel 400.

[0072] Once the first end of the first panel 211, the intermediate member 300, and the second end of the second panel 412 are positioned relative to the mounting bracket 100 as described above, the user crimps the first attachment portion 250, the intermediate member attachment portion 320, and the second attachment portion 470 about the mounting bracket's head portion 120. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the first attachment portion 250 is crimped so that the first attachment portion's interior surface 262 conforms loosely to the exterior surface 125 of the mounting bracket's head portion 120. Furthermore, the first attachment portion 250 is preferably crimped so that the interior surface 262 of the first attachment portion's seat portion 260 is substantially parallel to the bottom surface 130 of the mounting bracket's first lip 122. In addition, the first attachment portion 250 is preferably crimped so the first end of the first panel 211 is slideably attached to the mounting bracket's head portion 120. Thus, the crimping step is executed so that, after the crimping step, the movement of the first panel 200 relative to the mounting bracket 100 is at least partially restricted, but so that the first panel 100 is substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to the mounting bracket 100.

[0073] In preferred embodiment of the invention, the intermediate attachment portion 320 is crimped so that: (1) the interior surface 330 of the intermediate attachment portion 320 conforms loosely to the exterior surface 264 first panel's first attachment portion 250; (2) the seat portion 322 of the intermediate member attachment portion 320 is substantially parallel to the bottom surface 135 of the mounting bracket's second lip 123. Furthermore, the intermediate attachment portion 320 is preferably crimped so as not to substantially restrict the lateral movement of the first panel 200 relative to the mounting bracket 100. In one embodiment of the invention, the intermediate attachment portion 320 is crimped so that the first panel's first attachment portion 250 slideably engages at least a portion of the intermediate member 300. In addition, the intermediate attachment portion 320 is preferably crimped so that the intermediate member 300 is substantially constrained from moving laterally relative to the roofing sub-surface 30. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the intermediate member's first and second lateral movement restriction members substantially prevent the intermediate member 300 from moving laterally relative to the mounting bracket 100.

[0074] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the second attachment portion 470 is crimped so that the second attachment portion's interior surface 456 conforms loosely to the exterior surface 328 of the intermediate member attachment portion 320. Furthermore, the second attachment portion 470 is preferably crimped so that the inner surface 453 of the second attachment portion's seat portion 452 is substantially parallel to the exterior surface 326 of the intermediate member's seat portion 322. In addition, the second attachment portion 452 is preferably crimped so the second attachment portion 452 slideably engages both the exterior surface 328 of the intermediate member attachment portion 320 and the exterior surface 264 of the first panel's first concave portion 252. Thus, the crimping step is executed so that, after the crimping step, the movement of the second panel 400 relative to the mounting bracket 100 is at least partially restricted, but so that the second panel 400 is substantially free to move in a direction that is substantially lateral to the mounting bracket 100.

[0075] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, after the crimping process described above is complete, a first mounting portion (e.g., the mounting bracket 100) and a second mounting portion (e.g., the intermediate member 300) form a mounting assembly. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, in this configuration, the first and second mounting portions 100, 300 cooperate to form a sliding chamber 472, and the exterior surface of the second mounting portion 315 defines a sliding surface 328. In this embodiment of the invention, the first panel's first attachment portion 250 is configured for sliding engagement within the sliding chamber 472. Furthermore, the second panel's second attachment portion 470 is configured for sliding engagement with the sliding surface 328.

[0076] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the mounting assembly is configured to allow the first attachment portion 250 to slide substantially freely within the sliding chamber 472 and the mounting assembly is configured to allow the second attachment portion 470 to slide substantially freely on the sliding surface 328. Furthermore, the mounting assembly, the first panel 200, and the second panel 400 are preferably configured so that: (1) when the first attachment portion 250 slides within the sliding chamber 472, the first panel 200 moves laterally relative to the mounting assembly; and (2) when the second attachment portion 470 slides on the sliding surface 328, the second panel 400 moves laterally relative to the mounting assembly.

[0077] As may be understood by the above discussion, the mounting assembly described above is configured to allow the first and second panels 200, 400 to slide laterally relative to the mounting bracket 100 and the intermediate member 300 in a substantially unrestricted manner. Furthermore, because the intermediate member 300 preferably separates at least a portion of the first panel 200 from at least a portion of the second panel 400, the first and second panels 200, 400 may move independently of one another. The provides additional freedom in the lateral movement of the panels 200, 400 relative to the mounting bracket 100 and the intermediate member 300.

[0078] As a result of this configuration, when the assembly is subjected to high winds, the first and second panels 200, 400 may freely move and vibrate laterally relative to the mounting bracket 100 and the intermediate member 300. This serves to dissipate energy imparted upon the roofing system by the high winds in a manner that is not destructive to the roofing system. Thus, this functionality serves to increase the life span of the roofing system and reduce the costs associated with maintaining the system.

[0079] Alternative Embodiment of the Invention

[0080] An alternative embodiment of intermediate member is depicted in FIG. 6. As may be understood from this figure, this intermediate member 500 is substantially identical to the intermediate member described above in relation to the preferred embodiment of the invention, except that the alternative embodiment of the intermediate member 500 includes an intermediate member foot portion 560 that is configured to allow the intermediate member 500 to be fixedly attached to the mounting bracket 100 and the roofing sub-surface 30 as shown in FIG. 7. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the intermediate member foot portion 560 is configured to substantially conform to the upper surface of the mounting bracket's second foot member 107 and defines a plurality of fastener holes 504 for facilitating the attachment of the intermediate member foot portion 560 to the mounting bracket and roofing sub-surface via traditional fasteners.

[0081] An assembled panel/bracket assembly 575 that includes this alternative embodiment of the intermediate member 500 is shown in FIG. 7. The primary advantage of this alternative panel/bracket assembly 575 is that the intermediate member foot portion 560 serves to assure that the intermediate member 500 is unable to move laterally relative to the mounting bracket 100 and the roofing sub-surface 30. In a further alternative embodiment of the invention, the mounting bracket 100 and the intermediate member 500 are constructed from a single piece of material.

[0082] Materials

[0083] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the roofing system's mounting brackets 100 are comprised of a rigid metal (or other material), such as aluminum. Furthermore, the system's first and second panels 200, 400 and intermediate member 300, 500 are preferably comprised of a metal (or other material) that is sufficiently malleable to allow the first attachment portion 250, intermediate member attachment portion 315, and second attachment portion 470 to be crimped as described above, but that is sufficiently rigid to maintain the panels 200, 400 and intermediate member 300 in place on the mounting brackets 100 after the crimping process is complete.

CONCLUSION

[0084] Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.





 
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