Title:
Spandrel construction
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides spandrels comprising non-visionary masking material carried by insulating glass units, monolithic panes, and other substrates. In certain embodiments, there is provided a spandrel comprising at least one pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces at least one of which is a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering comprising a plurality of strips of opacifier film. Further, certain embodiments provide a method of constructing a spandrel. The method comprises; providing a pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces; and applying a plurality of strips of opacifier film to one of the major surfaces of the pane to define a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering.



Inventors:
Spindler, Robert G. (Eden Prairie, MN, US)
Trpkovski, Paul (Loganville, WI, US)
Application Number:
10/323594
Publication Date:
07/03/2003
Filing Date:
12/18/2002
Assignee:
SPINDLER ROBERT G.
TRPKOVSKI PAUL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
C03C27/06; B05B15/04; B29C63/02; C03C27/10; E04B2/90; E04F13/14; E04G21/30; E06B5/00; E06B9/24; E04B1/76; E06B3/66; (IPC1-7): E04B1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
A, PHI DIEU TRAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FREDRIKSON & BYRON, P.A. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A spandrel comprising at least one pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces at least one of which is a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering comprising a plurality of strips of opacifier film.

2. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the pane is mounted adjacent a concealed portion of a building.

3. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the strips of opacifier film are disposed in a sequentially-overlapped fashion with each subsequent strip overlapping a portion of a preceding strip.

4. The spandrel of claim 3 wherein the strips of opacifier film extend substantially in parallel across the covered surface of the pane.

5. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the non-visionary covering is disposed over the entire covered surface of the pane.

6. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the covered surface of the pane has an uncovered apron between an outer periphery of said non-visionary covering and an outer periphery of the pane.

7. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the opacifier film is opaque.

8. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the opacifier film comprises a film material selected from the group consisting of vinyl, polyester, and polyethylene.

9. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the opacifier film is a black plastic film.

10. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the opacifier film is secured adhesively to the covered surface of the pane.

11. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the opacifier film is polyester and is secured to the covered surface of the pane with a solvent-based adhesive.

12. The spandrel of claim 1 wherein the spandrel is monolithic.

13. The spandrel of claim I wherein the spandrel comprises a multiple-pane insulating glass unit of which said pane is part.

14. A method of constructing a spandrel, the method comprising: providing a pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces; and applying a plurality of strips of opacifier film to one of the major surfaces of the pane to define a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering.

15. The method of claim 14 further comprising mounting the spandrel adjacent a concealed portion of a building.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein the strips of opacifier film are applied in a sequentially-overlapped fashion with each subsequent strip overlapping a portion of a preceding strip.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the strips of opacifier film are applied so as to extend substantially in parallel across the covered surface of the pane.

18. The method of claim 14 wherein the strips of opacifier film are applied so as to cover the entire covered surface of the pane.

19. The method of claim 14 wherein the strips of opacifier film are applied so as to leave the covered surface of the pane with an uncovered apron between an outer periphery of the non-visionary covering and an outer periphery of the pane.

20. The method of claim 14 wherein the strips of opacifier film are applied by securing them adhesively to the covered surface of the pane.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application filed Aug. 28, 2001 and assigned Ser. No. 09/940,970, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. In addition, the present application claims priority to the U.S. patent application filed Feb. 12, 2002 and assigned Ser. No. 10/076,211, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to spandrels comprising non-visionary masking material carried by insulating glass units, monolithic panes, and other substrates. More particularly, this invention relates to spandrels carrying particularly advantageous configurations of non-visionary masking material.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] In most industrialized countries, windows touch people's lives everyday. Wherever people work and live there are windows. Windows allow occupants of a building to view the outside world while allowing sun light to enter the interior of the building. Sunlight is a natural antidepressant and helps the human body produce vitamin D. Thus, a certain amount of sunshine is essential to mental and physical well being. Since windows deliver sunshine, they can be seen to contribute to the mental and physical well being of the community.

[0004] Many skyscrapers and other buildings have exterior facades that are defined largely by glass (e.g., curtainwalls). In such buildings, the glass facades commonly include both visionary and non-visionary areas. Visionary areas are referred to as windows, while non-visionary areas are referred to as spandrels. Spandrels are designed to visually conceal portions of a building that are preferably not visible from the exterior of the building (e.g., floor slabs, areas between floors, vertical spans between floors and ceilings or between successive viewing closures, insulation, heating and air conditioning components, etc.).

[0005] Spandrels are commonly either monolithic or insulating glass. That is, a spandrel commonly includes either a single pane or a multiple-pane insulating glass unit (i.e., an IG unit). The pane or IG unit of a spandrel is rendered opaque, commonly by one of two basic methods. The first method involves applying a ceramic frit onto a glass surface and subsequently firing the pane in a tempering furnace to form a permanent bond between the frit and the pane. Ceramic frit is somewhat limited in its applicability, though, since it may burn or otherwise damage any underlying coating when fired. As a consequence, ceramic frit is typically only used on the uncoated surfaces of IG units because most coated glasses cannot withstand the temperatures required for firing the frit. Thus, the versatility of ceramic frit is somewhat limited.

[0006] The second basic method of creating a spandrel involves applying an opacifier film to a glass surface. The opacifier film, which is commonly black or otherwise opaque, may be formed of plastic, vinyl, polyester, polyethylene, or the like. The film is typically applied to the glass with a water or solvent based adhesive. When opacifier film is used in a monolithic spandrel, the film is typically applied over the #2 surface of the glass, commonly over a reflective coating born directly on the #2 surface. When opacifier film is used in an insulating glass spandrel, the film is commonly applied to the #2 surface, #3 surface, or #4 surface. The terms used to denote the particular surfaces of a pane or IG unit (e.g., “#1 surface”, “first surface”, “#2 surface”, etc.) are defined below.

[0007] Opacifier film is conventionally applied in the form of a single sheet sized to cover the whole of the pane surface that is to be opacified. Using one large sheet on each opacified surface, however, has its limitations. For example, consider a sheet of opacifier film that is discarded after being inadvertently miscut (e.g., cut to dimensions not matching the intended surface), mislaid (e.g., poorly applied to the intended surface), damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable. If this sheet has been sized to cover the whole opacified surface, then a relatively large amount of opacifier film will be discarded. This wastes an unnecessary amount of opacifier film, which then must be removed from the manufacturing facility and thrown out, recycled, or otherwise discarded, thus increasing costs in multiple respects.

[0008] Further, applying large, single sheets of opacifier film is unnecessarily complicated for manufacturers who produce a variety of spandrels of different sizes and shapes. For example, such manufacturers would either have to stock film of different widths to accommodate panes of different size, or stock film of great enough width to accommodate their largest pane size and then, when smaller panes are to be covered, cut the width of each sheet to match the particular width of a given smaller pane. The former alternative is less than ideal in that the manufacturer has to stock rolls of opacifier film of different widths (e.g., possibly one roll size per each pane size produced). The former alternative also renders the film-application process unduly complicated, particularly if the process is automated, in that it imposes an additional roll-selection/changing step on the film-application process. The latter alternative is less than ideal in that it involves an additional width-cutting step, creates unnecessary waste (i.e., the cut-away portions of film), and may require an additional waste-removal step (e.g., removing the cut-away film from the pane and/or from the film-application station). Thus, it can be appreciated that the conventional methods of applying opacifier film, and the resulting spandrel constructions, are less than ideal.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] Certain embodiments of the invention provide a spandrel comprising at least one pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces at least one of which is a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering comprising a plurality of strips of opacifier film.

[0010] Further, certain embodiments of the invention provide a method of constructing a spandrel. The method comprises: providing a pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces; and applying a plurality of strips of opacifier film to one of the major surfaces of the pane to define a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a spandrel assembly in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention;

[0012] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of a spandrel in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;

[0013] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional top view of a vertical spandrel-mounting construction in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;

[0014] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional perspective view of a spandrel assembly in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;

[0015] FIG. 5A is a front view of a glazing having both a spandrel area and a window area in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention;

[0016] FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional side view of the glazing of FIG. 5A taken along lines 5B; and

[0017] FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary method in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0018] The following detailed description is to be read with reference to the drawings, in which like elements in different drawings have been given like reference numerals. The drawings, which are not necessarily to scale, depict selected embodiments and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

[0019] The invention provides a spandrel comprising at least one pane. As can be appreciated with reference to FIG. 1, the pane is typically a generally flat, sheet-like substrate. Thus, the substrate typically has two generally-opposed major surfaces, which preferably are planar and substantially parallel to each other. In most cases, the substrate will be a sheet of transparent material. For example, the substrate may be a sheet of glass, clear plastic, or the like. One commonly-used type of glass is soda-lime glass. Soda-lime glass is a preferred substrate. Of course, other types of glass can be used as well, including those generally referred to as alkali-lime-silicon dioxide glass, phosphate glass, and fused silicon dioxide. When the present spandrel comprises one or more panes of glass, it will typically be preferred to employ glass that is heat treated, heat strengthened, or tempered in order to reduce the opportunity for thermal breakage. In addition, heat treated glass would be more suitable in meeting wind requirements. It will be well within the purview of those skilled in the present art to select appropriate substrate materials (e.g., heat-strengthened glass versus fully-tempered glass) for different spandrel applications.

[0020] Thus, the spandrel comprises a pane having first and second generally-opposed major surfaces. A non-visionary covering (described below) is disposed over one of the major surfaces of the pane (this major surface is referred to herein as the “covered surface”). In certain embodiments (e.g., where the whole area of the pane is opaque), the non-visionary covering is disposed over substantially the entire area of the covered surface. For example, the covered surface of the pane may have an uncovered peripheral apron (i.e., the non-visionary covering may have a “cut-back”), but otherwise may be entirely covered by the non-visionary covering. In one such embodiment, the non-visionary covering is disposed over a central portion of the covered surface, which central portion spans at least about 75%, more preferably at least about 80%, and perhaps optimally at least about 85%, of the area of the covered surface. In embodiments where the non-visionary covering has a cut-back, sealant can be applied directly to the pane at its uncovered peripheral apron. In other embodiments, the non-visionary covering does not have a cut-back, but rather is disposed over the entire area of the covered surface. In such cases, sealant may be bonded directly to the non-visionary covering. Further, the invention provides embodiments wherein there is provided a pane or IG unit having both a non-visionary spandrel area and a visionary window area, as described with reference to FIGS. 5A and 5B. Skilled artisans will appreciate that the opacifier strip configurations of this invention can be used advantageously with any desired spandrel or spandrel area.

[0021] As noted above, the present spandrel may be monolithic or it may be insulating glass. In embodiments where the spandrel is monolithic, the non-visionary covering is preferably carried on the #2 surface of the pane, optionally over a reflective coating 40 born directly on the #2 surface. In embodiments where the spandrel comprises an IG unit, the non-visionary covering is preferably carried on the #2 surface, #3 surface, or #4 surface of the IG unit. In such embodiments, the IG unit may be provided with a reflective coating 40. This coating 40 would commonly be born directly on the #2 surface. For example, the IG unit may bear a reflective coating 40 on the #2 surface, while the non-visionary covering 120 may be carried on the #3 or #4 surface. In both monolithic and insulating glass spandrel embodiments, any conventional reflective coating for spandrels can be used. Coatings of this nature are well known in the art.

[0022] The terminology used to refer to particular major surfaces will now be described. As is conventional in the art, the terms “first surface” and “#1 surface” refer to the major surface that is exposed to (i.e., communicates with) the outdoor environment. In FIGS. 2, 3, and 5, the outer surface 14 or 104 of the pane 2A or 102 is the so-called first surface. Moving from the #1 surface toward the interior of the building 99, the next major surface is the “second” (or “#2”) surface. With continued reference to FIGS. 2, 3, and 5, the inner surface 24 or 114 of the pane 2A or 102 is the so-called second surface. In the monolithic embodiment of FIG. 2, the #2 surface is exposed to a cavity 350 between the spandrel and the building 99. In the insulating glass embodiment of FIG. 5B, the #2 surface is exposed to the between-pane space 15 of the IG unit 36. In such an embodiment, the next major surface (moving from the #2 surface further toward the interior of the building) is the “third” (or “#3”) surface, followed by the “fourth” (or “#4”) surface. With reference to FIG. 5B, the inner surface 24′ of the pane 2B is the so-called third surface, and the outer surface 14′ of this pane 2B is the so-called fourth surface.

[0023] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a monolithic spandrel assembly 100 in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. This spandrel assembly 100 includes a single pane 102 having two generally-opposed major surfaces 104, 114. At least one of these major surfaces is a covered surface bearing a non-visionary covering. In the monolithic spandrel embodiments of this invention, the non-visionary covering 120 is born on the pane surface 114 that, following mounting adjacent a concealed portion of a building 99, will be the #2 surface of the spandrel. This is perhaps best appreciated with reference to FIG. 2, which illustrates a monolithic spandrel comprising a pane 102 mounted adjacent a concealed portion of a building 99. In this embodiment, it can be appreciated that the non-visionary covering 120 is carried on the pane surface 114 that is oriented toward, and exposed to, the cavity 350 between the spandrel and the concealed portion of the building 99. The concealed portion of the building may be a floor slab, an area between floors, a vertical span between floors and ceilings or between successive viewing closures, insulation, a heating and air conditioning component, or any other part of the building that is preferably not visible from the exterior of the building.

[0024] With continued reference to FIG. 1, it can be appreciated that the non-visionary covering 120 comprises a plurality of strips of opacifier film. As illustrated, the strips of opacifer film preferably are disposed in a sequentially-overlapped fashion with each subsequent strip overlapping a portion of a preceding strip. The non-visionary covering 120 shown in FIG. 1 includes a first strip 130A and a second strip 130B that partially overlaps the first strip 130A. In this embodiment, the non-visionary covering 120 also includes a third strip 130C that partially overlaps the second strip 130B. Thus, one embodiment of the invention provides a non-visionary covering 120 comprising at least three, and perhaps more preferably at least four, contiguous strips of opacifier film applied in a sequentially-overlapped configuration. The non-visionary covering 120 may comprise any plural number of strips without deviating from the scope of the invention.

[0025] In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the overlapped strips of opacifier film are applied in a particularly desirable configuration wherein the strips are generally parallel to one another. That is, the pane 102 has a plurality of elongated strips of opacifier film extending substantially in parallel across the pane surface 114. Preferably, the overlapped strips of opacifier film are applied in a configuration wherein all of the strips are precisely parallel to one another. It is also preferable to apply all of the strips at precisely the same length. Thus, the strips can be applied in a configuration wherein they are precisely parallel and have precisely the same length. Configurations of this nature are especially advantageous in cases where the pane 102 has a square or rectangular shape. For example, a square or rectangular non-visionary covering can be applied in this manner with a great deal of accuracy. In more detail, each peripheral edge (of the non-visionary covering 120) that is defined by multiple strips (i.e., each composite peripheral edge 121C) can be precisely aligned by applying the overlapped strips in this manner. Preferably, the ends of the strips that define each composite peripheral edge 121C are precisely aligned with one another, such that each composite peripheral edge 121C is uniformly parallel to, and uniformly equidistant from, the adjacent edge of the pane. In most cases, it will be optimal to configure the non-visionary covering 120 such that all of its peripheral edges 121 (not just the composite peripheral edges 121C) are uniformly parallel to, and uniformly equidistant from, respective adjacent edges of the pane.

[0026] The overlapped strips of opacifier film can be configured to extend in any direction across the covered surface of the pane. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the strips of opacifier film are applied such that their length (i.e., their major dimension) extends across the width (i.e., the minor dimension) of the pane surface, rather than across the length (i.e., the major dimension) of this surface. It may be preferable, though, to apply the strips of opacifier film across the length of the pane surface.

[0027] Thus, the non-visionary covering 120 preferably comprises a plurality of strips of opacifier film applied in a sequentially overlapping fashion. The amount by which adjacent strips overlap one another (i.e., the “overlap dimension”) can be varied as desired. This is perhaps best appreciated with reference to FIG. 1, wherein the overlap dimension is denoted by the reference character “D”. The overlap dimension D is equal to the distance between two adjacent overlapped edges 13, 16. The overlap dimension D is selected, in conjunction with the number of strips, to yield a non-visionary covering 120 of the desired size. An illustrative range for the overlap dimension D is between about {fraction (1/16)} inch and about 2 inches, or perhaps more preferably between about ⅛ inch and about 1½ inches. However, the overlap dimension can be varied as desired.

[0028] As noted above, the non-visionary covering 120 is provided with a cut-back in certain embodiments, i.e., in structural glazing applications. For example, the covered surface of the pane may have an uncovered apron (i.e., an uncovered surface area) between an outer periphery 126 of the non-visionary covering 120 and an outer periphery 128 of the pane 102. FIG. 1 depicts one embodiment of this nature, wherein the surface 114 of the pane 102 is entirely covered with the exception of an uncovered peripheral apron 124. In this embodiment, the uncovered apron 124 extends between a complete outer periphery 126 of the non-visionary covering 120 and a complete outer periphery 128 of the pane 102. That is, the entire periphery of the pane surface 114 is uncovered. A cut-back of this nature allows sealant 55 to be bonded directly to the pane, rather than to the opacifier film, as is perhaps best appreciated with reference to FIG. 3.

[0029] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional top view of a vertical spandrel-mounting construction in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3 depicts two adjacent spandrels mounted to a vertical structural framing member 95. Each spandrel comprises a pane 102 joined at each vertical side region to a vertical structural framing member 95 by a sealant joint 55 and a spacer 88. The sealant joint 55 is typically a structural silicone joint. In FIG. 3, a weather seal 56 is illustrated between the confronting edges of the panes. If provided, the weather seal 56 typically comprises silicone. The mounting construction of FIG. 3 is merely one example of the manner in which the present spandrel may be mounted to a building. Thus, it is to be appreciated that the present spandrel can be mounted to a building with any suitable mounting construction.

[0030] In embodiments like that shown in FIG. 3, the non-visionary covering 120 is sized, shaped, and positioned on the pane surface such that, when the pane is secured to a confronting mounting surface 67, a peripheral edge 121 of the non-visionary covering 120 comes just to (e.g., abuts, but does not extend beneath) the inner edge of the mounting surface 67. That is, the width W of the unmasked apron 124 is equal to the dimension OD by which the mounting surface 67 extends over the surface 114 of the pane 102. In FIG. 3, the mounting surface 67 is defined collectively by a sealant joint 55 and a spacer 88. In this embodiment, a peripheral edge 121 of the non-visionary covering 120 comes just to the inner edge of the sealant joint 55 (which is contiguous to the spacer 88). Thus, the width W of the unmasked apron 124 in this embodiment is equal to the dimension OD by which the sealant joint 55 and the spacer 88 collectively extend over the surface 114 of the pane 102. While FIG. 3 depicts an embodiment where the mounting surface 67 is defined by a sealant joint and a spacer, it will be appreciated that the spandrel can be secured to a variety of other mounting surfaces.

[0031] For example, FIG. 5B depicts an embodiment wherein the pane 2B is secured to a mounting surface 67 defined by a frame 68. In this embodiment, the non-visionary covering 120 is sized, shaped, and positioned on the pane surface 14′ such that, when the pane 2B is secured to the mounting surface 67, a peripheral edge 121 of the non-visionary covering 120 comes just to the inner edge 69 of the frame 68. Thus, the width W of the unmasked apron 124 in this embodiment is equal to the dimension OD by which the frame 68 extends over the surface 14′ of the pane 2B.

[0032] In the embodiments of FIGS. 3 and 5B, the peripheral edge 121 of the non-visionary covering 120 does not extend beneath the mounting surface 67. However, this is by no means a requirement. Rather, the non-visionary covering 120 may extend beneath the mounting surface 67 to any desired extent. In fact, the non-visionary covering 120 may not have any cut-back, and thus may be secured directly to a mounting surface 67, if so desired.

[0033] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an insulating glass spandrel assembly 200 in accordance with certain embodiments of the invention. The illustrated spandrel assembly 200 comprises an IG unit 36 having two spaced-apart panes 2A, 2B joined at their peripheral confronting surfaces by a spacer 38. It is to be understood that the spandrel assembly 200 can comprise an IG unit of any type. In the insulating glass spandrel embodiments of this invention, at least one of the panes of the IG unit bears a non-visionary covering 120. For example, the IG unit 36 shown in FIG. 4 has a non-visionary covering 120 on the outer surface 14′ of the pane 2B. Preferably, the non-visionary covering 120 is carried on the #2 surface, #3 surface, or #4 surface of the IG unit 36. For example, FIG. 5B depicts an embodiment wherein the non-visionary covering 120 is carried on the #4 surface. The IG unit 36 is preferably provided with a reflective coating 40, as described above, which will commonly be born on the #2 surface of the IG unit.

[0034] In the present insulating glass spandrel embodiments, the non-visionary covering 120 comprises a plurality of strips of opacifier film. These strips of opacifier film are preferably disposed in a sequentially-overlapped configuration with each subsequent strip overlapping a portion of a preceding strip. This preferred strip configuration is thoroughly described above. Further, the non-visionary covering 120 may be provided with a cut-back (i.e., the non-visionary covering 120 may have an uncovered peripheral apron 124), as has also been described.

[0035] FIGS. 5A and 5B depict an alternate embodiment of the invention wherein there is provided an IG unit 36 having both a non-visionary spandrel area 48 and a visionary window area 46. In this embodiment, the spandrel area 48 conceals a structural member 78 and other parts 75 of the building 99, while the window area 46 facilitates viewing from inside, and light passage into, the building 99. The spandrel area 48 is defined by a non-visionary covering 120, which in FIGS. 5A and 5B is carried on the lower portion of the IG unit 36. Of course, the non-visionary covering 120 can be located on different portions of the IG unit 36 (e.g., on an upper or middle portion, rather than the lower portion), depending on the position of the building structure to be concealed. In FIGS. 5A and 5B, the non-visionary covering 120 is carried on the #4 surface of the IG unit 36, although this covering 120 can alternatively be carried on the #2 or #3 surface. Further, the IG unit 36 in this embodiment can be replaced with a monolithic pane having both spandrel and window areas.

[0036] The non-visionary covering 120 in the embodiment of FIGS. 5A and 5B comprises a plurality of strips of opacifier film. Preferably, these strips are disposed in a sequentially-overlapped fashion, as has been described. In FIG. 5B, the peripheral edge 121 of the non-visionary covering 120 has a cut-back. However, this is by no means required. For example, the non-visionary covering 120 in this embodiment can alternatively extend all the way to the edge LE of the pane 2B.

[0037] The non-visionary covering 120 can comprise any desired type of opacifer film. A variety of opacifer films are known in the art, and the invention is not limited to any particular type of opacifier film. While the opacifier film will typically be opaque, translucent films may be used in some cases. In certain embodiments, the opacifier film comprises a film material selected from the group consisting of vinyl, polyester, polyethylene, or the like. The opacifier film will commonly be a black plastic film. Preferably, the opacifier film is secured to the pane with a water or solvent based adhesive. In one particular embodiment, the opacifier film comprises polyester (e.g., Mylar) secured to the pane with a solvent-based adhesive. U.S. Pat. No. 4,610,115, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference, describes opacifier films and adhesives that are suitable for use in the present invention.

[0038] The invention provides simplified processes for applying opacifier film to panes of varying size. For example, a supply (e.g., a roll) of opacifier film can be selected such that the width of the opacifier film corresponds to a known minimum pane size. In one embodiment, there is provided a roll of opacifier film having a width that corresponds to (e.g., is equal to or slightly less than) the width of a known minimum pane size. When it is desired to apply the film to a pane of the known minimum size, the whole non-visionary covering 120 can be formed by a single sheet of the opacifier film. On the other hand, when it is desired to apply the film to a larger pane, the non-visionary covering 120 can be formed by applying multiple sheets of the opacifier film in the overlapping fashion described herein. The number of sheets applied, and the overlap dimension D of the sheets, is selected to achieve the desired pane coverage. Whether one or multiple sheets of opacifier film are applied, the length of each sheet is preferably selected to correspond to (e.g., to be equal to or slightly less than) the length of the pane.

[0039] Thus, it can be appreciated that a supply of opacifier film can be conveniently used to opacify panes of many different sizes. For example, the present method avoids the need to stock rolls of opacifier film of different widths to accommodate panes of different size. In fact, it is only necessary to stock rolls of opacifier film having a single width corresponding to a known minimum pane size. Moreover, in embodiments where an uncovered apron is left on the pane, the opacifier film can be applied without having to cut or otherwise affirmatively remove marginal portions of the non-visionary covering. This affords significant efficiency in terms of time, labor, and money. It also prevents any damage that might otherwise be done to the pane during removal (e.g., cutting) of marginal portions of the opacifier film. This may be particularly advantageous in cases where the covered surface bears a reflective coating, which may be vulnerable to abrasion by cutting wheels and the like.

[0040] FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary method of the invention. The method of FIG. 6 includes a step of providing a spandrel assembly (e.g., a pane or IG unit) to be opacified. For example, this step may comprise providing a pane (which may be monolithic or part of an IG unit) having two generally-opposed major surfaces. The method of FIG. 6 includes the step of providing a desired width of the pane area to be covered to a coverage calculator. For example, a pane or IG unit may be moved into a film-application station. In the film-application station, a total width of the pane or IG unit may be detected or input by an operator, and this total width may be used to determine the desired width of the pane area to be covered. For example, a controller associated with the film-application station may utilize this total width in determining the width of the desired film coverage area.

[0041] The method of FIG. 6 also includes the step of providing opacifier film having a width. In a preferred method, the width of the opacifier film is selected to correspond to the width of the desired film coverage area for a small pane or IG unit. In this preferred method, a small pane or IG unit can be opacified by applying a single strip of opacifier film to a surface of the pane or IG unit. Larger panes and IG units can be opacified by applying multiple strips of opacifier film in a sequentially overlapping fashion until the desired coverage area is achieved.

[0042] The method of FIG. 6 also includes the step of determining an optimal number of strips. As described above, for a small pane or IG unit, the optimal number of strips may be one. For other panes and IG units, multiple strips may be desired. The method of FIG. 6 also includes the step of calculating an overlap dimension D. The width of the opacifier film and the optimal number of strips can be used to calculate a desired overlap dimension D.

[0043] The method of FIG. 6 also includes the step of applying the optimal number of strips. For example, the optimal number of strips of opacifier film may be applied to a major surface of a pane or IG unit. In one method, the strips are applied in a sequential fashion with each subsequent strip partially overlapping the preceding strip by the calculated overlap dimension D.

[0044] The present invention is concerned with the configuration of opacifier film on a substrate in a way that is new in the present art, hence producing a spandrel that is also new in this art. The present methods of constructing a spandrel involve applying a plurality of opacifier strips over a substrate, preferably in a sequentially-overlapped fashion, such that a lateral edge portion (i.e., a side portion) of each strip is covered by, or covers, a lateral edge portion of another strip. While this technique leaves two overlapped layers of opacifier film at each overlap area, the opacifier film is preferably opaque such that the overlapped areas are not more visible than the non-overlapped areas.

[0045] In certain preferred embodiments of the invention, the overlapped opacifier strips that are utilized in constructing the spandrel generally have the same width (e.g., have substantially equal widths). For example, the width of each individual strip may not vary (i.e., may be uniform) from one strip to the next (e.g., all of the strips of the spandrel may have the same, or substantially the same, width). In embodiments of the invention in which the widths of different strips do vary from one strip to the next, it will generally be preferred that no one strip has a width (the term width is used here to refer to the distance between the lateral edges of an opacifier strip) that is more than twice as wide as another strip of the same spandrel. Preferably, no one strip will have a width that varies by more than 50% from any other strip of the same spandrel. More preferably, no one strip will have a width that varies by more than 20% from any other strip of the same spandrel. In certain particularly preferred embodiments, the spandrel comprises a plurality of overlapped strips of opacifier film, all of which have the same (or substantially the same) width.

[0046] In selected embodiments of the invention, the assembled spandrel does not have any portion where more than two opacifier strip plies are overlapped (i.e., no portion of the spandrel has a thickness that is formed by more than two plies of opacifier film). This can be appreciated with reference to the embodiment in FIG. 1, which shows an assembled spandrel. At every junction between overlapping strips of opacifier film, e.g., 130A and 130B, the overlapped portion is no more than two plies thick, where one of the overlapping edges is placed on top of the other. If insulation is used in an area next to a spandrel, it will commonly be desirable to keep the insulation a certain minimum distance from the opacifier film to prevent the film from experiencing excessively high temperatures. By limiting the number of plies at each overlapped portion on a spandrel to no more than two, there is less potential for exposing the overlapped strips to excessively high temperatures. Moreover, the appearance of the spandrel could be less uniform and undesirably noticeable at overlapped regions if more than two plies were overlapped at these regions.

[0047] In certain embodiments of the invention, whether a spandrel is utilized with an IG unit or a monolithic pane, the glazing surface that caries the opacifier film is oriented towards an enclosed (or “encased”) environment, such that this surface is exposed to a protected environment (i.e., not an outdoor environment). For example, in an insulating-glass spandrel, the opacifier film, if mounted on the #2, #3, or #4 surfaces as previously described, will be oriented toward either a pane of glass or a building interior, and thus, will either be exposed to the between-pane space of the IG unit or the protected atmosphere between the building and the spandrel. In regards to a monolithic spandrel, which only has a single pane, the spandrel, if mounted on the #2 surface as previously described, will likewise be oriented toward a building interior, and thus, be exposed to the protected atmosphere between the building and the spandrel. Thus, in both IG and monolithic applications, the spandrel is constructed with the opacifier strips being applied to a surface that is protected against (i.e., concealed from) exposure to environmental elements, such as periodic contact with rain and other inclement weather, even though in certain embodiments, the opacifier strips are formed of a material that is not permeable (e.g., non-porous) to water.

[0048] In certain embodiments of the invention, the overlapped opacifier strips of an assembled spandrel generally have the same thickness (the term thickness is used here to refer to the distance between the top and bottom major surfaces of an opacifier strip, where the thickness is the smallest dimension of a strip). Preferably, the thickness of each individual strip does not vary substantially from one strip to the next. This can help to establish a highly uniform, opaque appearance. Each strip will commonly be at least {fraction (1/64)}″ thick. However, the thickness of each opacifier strip may vary from spandrel to spandrel; for example, film thicknesses may range between about {fraction (1/256)}″ and about ¼″. Thus, while the thickness encountered in differing spandrels may vary, the thickness of the opacifier strips utilized on any particular spandrel preferably does not vary substantially. In certain embodiments, the thickness of the opacifier film forming to the spandrel is less than about ¼″, preferably less than about ⅛″, and perhaps optimally less than about {fraction (1/16)}″. Preferably, though, the opacifier film forming the present spandrel is thick enough to be self-supporting (e.g., well above 10,000 angstroms, preferably above 50,000 angstroms, more preferably above 10 microns, and perhaps optimally above 100 microns).

[0049] In certain preferred embodiments of the invention, the overlapped opacifier strips are held down (i.e., secured to the pane) exclusively by adhesive or static cling. In these embodiments, no other attachment device is utilized. For example, no nails, tacks, anchors, or other fasteners are used. As indicated previously, the strips are typically applied to the pane with a water or solvent based adhesive. Other embodiments utilize other adhering mechanisms, e.g., cling wrap, static wrap, tacking, or a combination of these mechanisms. Further, the overlapped opacifier strips preferably are adhered permanently to the window. In other words, the strips are adapted for permanent attachment to the pane, and ultimately are permanently adhered to the pane (e.g., such that trying to pull the strips off the pane results in tearing of the strips). Referencing U.S. Pat. No. 6,489,024, the entire teachings of which are incorporated herein by reference, the degree to which an adhesive may be removed can be evaluated on a scale from 0-10. A score of 0 indicates that the adhesive was readily transferred and showed little anchorage, scores of 5-7 indicate some anchorage, and a score of 10 indicates little or no transfer of adhesive and significant anchorage, even under stress. Using this scale in regards to the adhesive used in this invention on the opacifier strips in fabricating a spandrel, it should be understood that the adhesive preferably exhibits an “adhesivity score” ranging from 7 to 10, more preferably at least 8 or 9, and perhaps optimally 10, indicating significant anchorage even under stress. Thus, while there is always some potential to remove the opacifier strips from the window even after the spandrel is assembled, the opacifier film preferably is adhered permanently to the pane, as will be well understood by skilled artisans. Thus, the attempted removal of opacifier strips should preferably result in the opacifier strips being ripped, as a result of the permanent manner in which they are adhered to the pane.

[0050] In selected embodiments of the invention, the whole pane area is opacified and thus, the whole pane has an opaque appearance. In other words, the pane has no vision area, but rather is entirely opacified by the overlapped strips. As such, a building portion can be readily concealed entirely simply by placing a spandrel in front of that building portion. In turn, the spandrel would have no frontal visual or viewing area through which a passerby could see with the naked eye. Further, the spandrel of the invention preferably has no visibly-perceptible variance in terms of color (including lightness, hue, and chroma). Preferably, all of the opacifier strips have a uniformly opaque appearance (and the strips preferably have no gaps therebetween and holes or other openings therein). The entire area of each opacifier strip on the spandrel may be opaque, such that the entire area of the pane/spandrel is opacified. Thus, the appearance of the whole spandrel area may have substantially uniform lightness, hue, and chroma. In light of the foregoing, the spandrel preferably comprises a plurality of overlapping opaque strips that are applied to the pane surface such that little if any visible radiation (i.e., “light”) passes through the spandrel. That is, substantially the entire area of a major surface of a pane is preferably covered by the overlapped strips of opacifier film such that the spandrel as a whole allows substantially no visible radiation to pass through the spandrel. The material from which the opacifier film is formed preferably has a low transmission of visible radiation (i.e., no or substantially no transmission), and in turn, since the strips are overlapped and preferably cover substantially the entire pane, the spandrel as a whole allows little if any transmission of visible radiation. The opacifier film is preferably formed of material that (at one ply thickness) has an overall transmission of visible radiation of less than 20%, more preferably less than 10%, and perhaps optimally 5% or less (e.g., about 0-2%). Preferably, all of the overlapped strips of opacifier film are applied (i.e., positioned) so as to form a single contiguous opacified area, which opacified area preferably covers substantially the entire vision area of a pane so substantially no visible radiation is able to pass between any of the strips. For example, the overlapped strips of opacifier film are preferably arranged on the pane such that there are no gaps between adjacent strips.

[0051] In certain preferred embodiments of the invention, a majority of the opacifier strips of a spandrel are laid out in a parallel (or at least substantially parallel) orientation to one another as the spandrel is assembled. For example, all of the opacifier strips of such a spandrel may be parallel to one another. Certain particularly preferred embodiments of the invention provide a spandrel comprising a plurality of opacifier strips together forming an opacified pane area where all (or all but a few, e.g., all but 3-7) of the overlapped strips are generally parallel to one another. In certain embodiments, the spandrel comprises at least one pane (which may be transparent prior to the application of the strips of opacifier film), wherein the entire area (or at least a major portion thereof, or substantially the entire area) of at least one major surface of the pane is covered by a plurality of overlapped strips (which preferably are generally parallel to one another) of opacifier film, wherein the pane is so covered by at least two but no more than ten such strips, preferably between two and eight strips, more preferably between three and six strips.

[0052] Several forms of invention have been shown and described, and other forms will now be apparent to those skilled in the art. It will be understood that the embodiments shown in the drawings and described above are merely for illustrative purposes, and are not intended to limit the scope of invention.