Title:
Quick frame construction system and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A structural wall system including a plurality of structural members, a plurality of preformed connecting elements and a skin positioned thereover. The plurality of structural members include a first structural member having a first receiving channel and a second structural member having a second receiving channel. The plurality of preformed connecting elements include a connecting element positioned in the first receiving channel and in the second receiving channel. The skin is positioned over a side of the plurality of structural members and the connecting element.



Inventors:
Miller, Lester D. (Ligonier, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/050084
Publication Date:
09/01/2005
Filing Date:
02/03/2005
Assignee:
MILLER LESTER D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/24; E04B2/00; E04B1/58; (IPC1-7): E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CAJILIG, CHRISTINE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Todd T. Taylor (Avilla, IN, US)
Claims:
1. A structural wall system, comprising: a plurality of structural members including a first structural member having a first receiving channel and a second structural member having a second receiving channel; a plurality of preformed connecting elements, at least one of said connecting elements being positioned in said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel, and a skin positioned over a side of said plurality of structural members and a side of said connecting element.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel each include a first wall and a shorter second wall, said second wall being substantially parallel with said first wall.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein said receiving channel includes at least one protrusion along a side of at least one of said first wall and said second wall.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein said connecting element includes a plurality of engaging portions including a first engaging portion and a second engaging portion, said first engaging portion being inserted into said first receiving channel and said second engaging portion being inserted into said second receiving channel.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein said plurality of engaging portions each include an edge enhancement that coacts with said at least one protrusion to cause said connecting element to be retained in said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein said edge enhancement is at least one of a bent edge and a thickened portion.

7. The system of claim 1, comprising an other skin positioned on an other side of said plurality of structural members and at least a portion of said plurality of connecting members.

8. A construction joint, comprising: a plurality of structural members proximate to each other including a first structural member having a first receiving channel and a second structural member having a second receiving channel; and a preformed connecting element positioned in said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel.

9. The construction joint of claim 8, wherein said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel each include a first wall and a shorter second wall, said second wall being substantially parallel with said first wall.

10. The construction joint of claim 9, wherein said receiving channel includes at least one protrusion along a side of at least one of said first wall and said second wall.

11. The construction joint of claim 10, wherein said connecting element includes a plurality of engaging portions including a first engaging portion and a second engaging portion, said first engaging portion being inserted into said first receiving channel and said second engaging portion being inserted into said second receiving channel.

12. The construction joint of claim 11, wherein said plurality of engaging portions each include an edge enhancement that coacts with said at least one protrusion to cause said connecting element to be retained in said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel.

13. The construction joint of claim 12, wherein said edge enhancement is at least one of a bent edge and a thickened portion.

14. A construction method, comprising the steps of: positioning a plurality of structural members proximate to each other including a first structural member having a first receiving channel and a second structural member having a second receiving channel; and inserting a preformed connecting element into said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel each include a first wall and a shorter second wall, said second wall being substantially parallel with said first wall.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said receiving channel includes at least one protrusion along a side of at least one of said first wall and said second wall.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said connecting element includes a plurality of engaging portions including a first engaging portion and a second engaging portion, said first engaging portion being inserted into said first receiving channel and said second engaging portion being inserted into said second receiving channel during said inserting step.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said plurality of engaging portions each include an edge enhancement that coacts with said at least one protrusion to cause said connecting element to be retained in said first receiving channel and said second receiving channel.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said edge enhancement is at least one of a bent edge and a thickened portion.

20. The method of claim 14, further comprising the step of attaching a skin on top of said plurality of structural members and said connecting member.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a non-provisional application based upon U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/548,060, entitled “QUICK FRAME CONSTRUCTION METHOD”, filed Feb. 26, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method of wall construction, and, more particularly, to a method of joining structural members in a wall.

2. Description of the Related Art

Construction of frames and walls are often undertaken utilizing a jig for the placement of metal members, which are then subsequently welded together to form the structural frame or wall unit. Welding is a technique requiring a high skill level in order to yield high quality welds for a structural unit. The high skill level equates to a high level of pay for individuals who are employed as welders. The heat from welding can sometimes cause a warping in the frame even though it is laid out at a jig.

In the recreational vehicle industry, long structural walls are utilized for the exterior framing of the recreational vehicle. The exterior of the vehicle includes a skin which is connected to the frame with adhesive and/or fasteners. The recreational vehicle industry is highly competitive and requires adaptive methods to produce new models each year.

What is needed in the art is an adaptive, cost effective method for constructing wall systems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a frame construction method that requires only a low skill level for implementation.

The invention comprises, in one form thereof, a structural wall system including a structural wall system including a plurality of structural members, a plurality of preformed connecting elements and a skin positioned thereover. The plurality of structural members include a first structural member having a first receiving channel and a second structural member having a second receiving channel. The plurality of preformed connecting elements including a first connecting element positioned in the first receiving channel and in the second receiving channel. The skin is positioned over a side of the plurality of structural members and the first connecting element.

An advantage of the present invention is that the structural members may be positioned and connected with a low skill level worker.

Another advantage of the present invention is that welding is not required for the connection of the structural members.

Yet another advantage is that the structural system of the present invention does not require a cool down from a welding operation before the application of the skin thereover.

Still another advantage of the present invention is that it is very cost effective as compared to convention construction methods.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above-mentioned and other features and advantages of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention will be better understood by reference to the following description of an embodiment of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an embodiment of the structural wall system of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the detail of one of the joints of the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the wall system of FIGS. 1 and 2 additionally showing a laminate applied thereover;

FIG. 4 is an enhanced perspective view of a structural element of the wall system of FIGS. 1-3;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a connecting element of the wall system of FIGS. 1-4; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the wall system of FIGS. 1-4.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. The exemplification set out herein illustrates one preferred embodiment of the invention, in one form, and such exemplification is not to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention in any manner.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1-3, there is shown a structural wall assembly 10 including structural members 12, gussets 14 and a skin layer 16. Wall assembly 10 can be any structural construct even though here illustrated as a side panel for a recreational vehicle. Structural members 12 are positioned on a jig (not shown) and gussets 14 are installed utilizing a hammer to completely seat gussets 14, thereby connecting gussets 14 to structural members 12. Gussets 14 are applied to at least one side of each intersection of structural members 12. When an intersection of a structural member with another structural member is utilized to enclose an opening for a window, door or an access opening, gussets 14 may be omitted on one side of the intersection of structural members 12. Even though structural members 12 may additionally be held in place with a welding operation, significant strength of wall assembly 10 comes from the unitizing of the assembly by way of the adherence of skin 16 over a surface of structural members 12 and gussets 14.

Now, additionally referring to FIG. 4, structural members 12 may be an extrusion having a hollow core. Structural members 12 each include channels 18 each having a first wall 20 and a second wall 22. First wall 20 includes at least one protrusion 24 along the length thereof. Additionally, first wall 20 is shorter than second wall 22, and does not extend to the level of the surface of structural member 12, in order to accommodate the thickness of gussets 14. Gussets 14 are installed against a end of wall 20, the outer side of gusset 14 being substantially coplanar with a surface of structural members 12. This advantageously provides for a flat surface for the lamination of skin 16 over both structural members 12 and gussets 14. Protrusions 24, although only shown on first wall 20 may also be positioned on second wall 22. Protrusions 24 interact with a feature of gusset 14 to enhance the retaining of gusset 14 in channels 18.

Now, additionally referring to FIG. 5, a gusset 14 is illustrated including an angular portion 26, a first engaging portion 28 and a second engaging portion 30 all shown in a perspective view. Angular portion 26 provides structural strength to wall assembly 10 when gusset 14, also known as connecting element 14, is assembled with structural members 12. As can be seen in FIG. 2, first engaging portion 28 interacts with a channel 18 of one structural member 12 and second engaging portion 30 interacts with another channel 18 of another structural member 12.

Connecting element 14 additionally includes an edge enhancement 32 along an edge of both first engaging portion 28 and second engaging portion 30. Edge enhancement 32 may be simply a bending of the edge to effectively increase the cross section, which interacts with channel 18 and protrusions 24 therein. Additionally, edge enhancement 32 may be a thickened portion of material positioned along an edge of gusset 14.

Now, additionally referring to FIG. 6, during the assembly of wall assembly 10, structural members 12 are precut and positioned on a fixture (not shown). Where structural members 12 intersect, gussets 14 are positioned with engaging portions 28 and 30 positioned to enter channels 18 of adjacent structural members 12. A hammering operation, utilizing a mallet (not shown), seats gusset 14 in channels 18 thereby connecting structural members 12 together. The thickness of the material used in forming gusset 14 may be the same width as channel 18 or somewhat thinner. Edge enhancement 32 interacts with protrusions 24 to retain gusset 14 in channels 18. Advantageously, the skill level of the individual applying gussets 14 to structural members 12 is only that of a semi-skilled worker rather than a skilled worker such as a welder.

A skin 16 is laminated over the assembly of structural members 12 and gussets 14 utilizing an adhesive and/or mechanical fasteners. Skin 16 may be a plastic, a composite material, a thin metal and/or a combination thereof The lamination of skin 16 provides structural integrity of structural members 12 along with gussets 14 to thereby unitize wall assembly 10. While this method is described and illustrated for one side of structural members 12, the method also applies equally to an opposite side of structural members 12.

Although the structural method has been illustrated in the use of substantially perpendicular intersections between structural members 12, any angle of interaction accompanied by a gusset of a corresponding angle can likewise be utilized in wall assembly 10. Additionally, even though illustrated in a planar sense, structural members 12 can have three-dimensional variations with appropriate gussets applied thereto.

Advantageously, no special tools are required for assembly and no specially trained workforce is needed for producing the assembly. This advantageously allows for a start-up manufacturer to make framing with very little investment in tools. Once the joint between gusset 14 and structural members 12 is made, shorter wall 20 allows gusset 14 to be substantially coplanar with a surface of structural members 12. This allows for easy lamination of the assembly of members 12 and gussets 14. Additionally, an insulation or filler may be placed between structural members 12, which can likewise be adhered or laminated to skin layer 16.

While this invention has been described as having a preferred design, the present invention can be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains and which fall within the limits of the appended claims.