Title:
Method and composition for car ramp concealing fiberglass artificial geological rock formation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a method and composition for producing composite fiberglass artificial geological rock formation facades that can be used for concealing car ramps. In particular, the method and composition of the present invention provides for the production of a semi-unitary artificial geological rock formation facade that is uniquely lightweight, extraordinarily strong and durable, resistant to environmental forces and that has realistic natural rock characteristics, such as texture, sheen and coloration. The composition is comprised of a particular mixture of fiberglass, polyester resin, cabosil dust, ceramic dust and catalyst for curing.



Inventors:
Reed, John (Salem, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/794720
Publication Date:
10/13/2005
Filing Date:
03/05/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B29C70/30; E02D27/00; (IPC1-7): E02D27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAUX, JESSICA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE WEBB LAW FIRM, P.C. (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
1. An artificial geological rock formation facade for use with a car ramp, comprising: a body defining an external surface and an internal surface, said internal surface defining a cavity, said external surface defining a recess for receipt of the car ramp.

2. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 1, wherein the facade has a center portion having a first end and a second end, a first leg and a second leg, said first leg depending from said first end of said center portion and said second leg depending from said second end of said center portion.

3. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 2, wherein said first leg and said second leg slope downwardly from said center portion.

4. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 3, wherein the body is made of a plurality of sections.

5. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 4, wherein the plurality of sections are secured together by bolts and flanges.

6. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 3, wherein the body is made of three unitary sections comprised of said center portion, said first leg and said second leg.

7. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 6, wherein the three unitary sections are secured together by bolts and flanges.

8. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 1, wherein the external surface has the appearance of a geological rock formation.

9. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 8, wherein the facade is comprised of a fiberglass composition layer comprised of a mixture of about 30 to 70%, by volume polyester resin, about 10 to 50% by volume fiberglass, about 5 to 15% by volume cabosil dust, about 3 to 10% by volume ceramic dust, and about 2 to 10% by volume colorant, wherein the fiberglass composition is sprayed into a mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for about 5 to 10 minutes at a temperature of between about 50° to 80° F., and a hardshell layer comprised of a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1, wherein the hardshell layer is sprayed into the mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for about one to eight hours at a temperature of between about 50° to 80° F., and wherein the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer form the composite fiberglass rockcoat, and further wherein the cured composite fiberglass rockcoat is removed from the mold.

10. The artificial geological rock formation facade of claim 8, wherein the facade is comprised of a fiberglass composition layer comprised of a mixture of about 50% by volume polyester resin, about 30% by volume fiberglass, about 10% by volume cabosil dust, about 5% by volume ceramic dust, and about 5% by volume colorant, wherein the fiberglass composition is sprayed into a mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for about 5 minutes at a temperature of about 70° F., and a hardshell layer comprised of a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1, wherein the hardshell layer is sprayed into the mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for about one to eight hours at a temperature of about 70° F., and wherein the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer form the composite fiberglass rockcoat, and further wherein the cured composite fiberglass rockcoat is removed from the mold.

11. A combination car ramp and artificial geological rock formation facade, comprising: a body defining an external surface and an internal surface, said internal surface defining a cavity, said external surface defining a recess for receipt of the car ramp, wherein said car ramp elevates and supports a car, and said recess conceals from view said car ramp.

12. The artificial geological rock formation facade and car ramp of claim 11, wherein the facade has a center portion having a first end and a second end and a first leg and a second leg, said first leg depending from said first end of said center portion, and said second leg depending from said second end of said center portion, each of said legs sloping downwardly from said center portion, and further wherein said body of said facade is made of a plurality of sections that have the appearance of a geological rock formation, said plurality of sections secured together by bolts and flanges.

13. The artificial geological rock formation facade and car ramp of claim 11, wherein the facade has a center portion having a first end and a second end and a first leg and a second leg, said first leg depending from said first end of said center portion, and second leg depending from said second end of said center portion, each of said legs sloping downwardly from said center portion, and wherein said body of said facade is made of three unitary sections comprised of said center portion, said first leg and said second leg, said three unitary sections having the appearance of a geological rock formation, and further wherein said three unitary sections are secured together by bolts and flanges.

14. The artificial geological rock formation facade and car ramp of claim 11, wherein the facade is comprised of a fiberglass composition layer comprised of a mixture of about 50% by volume polyester resin, about 30% by volume fiberglass, about 10% by volume cabosil dust, about 5% by volume ceramic dust, and about 5% by volume colorant, wherein the fiberglass composition is sprayed into a mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for about 5 minutes at a temperature of about 70° F., and a hardshell layer comprised of a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1, wherein the hardshell layer is sprayed into the mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for about one to eight hours at a temperature of about 70° F., and wherein the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer form the composite fiberglass rockcoat, and further wherein the cured composite fiberglass rockcoat is removed from the mold.

15. A method of manufacturing an artificial geological rock formation facade, comprising: applying a layer of a fiberglass composition into a mold, wherein the fiberglass composition is comprised of a mixture of about 30 to 70% by volume polyester resin, about 10 to 50% by volume fiberglass, about 5 to 15% by volume cabosil dust, about 3 to 10% by volume ceramic dust, and about 2 to 10% by volume colorant; curing the fiberglass composition layer with a catalyst; applying a layer of a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1 into the mold to form a hardshell layer; curing the hardshell layer with a catalyst, wherein the fiberglass layer and the hardshell layer form a composite fiberglass rockcoat; and removing the composite fiberglass rockcoat from the mold.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the fiberglass composition layer is comprised of a mixture of about 50% by volume polyester resin, about 30% by volume fiberglass, about 10% by volume cabosil dust, about 5% by volume ceramic dust, and about 5% by volume colorant.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the catalyst is selected from the group consisting of luperox DDM-30 and norox MEKP-925, and further wherein about 2% by volume of the catalyst is used to cure the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer are sprayed into the mold from a spray gun.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the fiberglass composition layer is sprayed into the mold to build up a thickness within the mold of between about ⅛ to 1 inch, and wherein the hardshell layer is sprayed into the mold to build up a thickness within the mold of between about ⅛ to ½ inch.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the spray has a spray temperature parameter that uses a primary heater of about 100° F.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the spray has a spray pressure from between about 500 PSI to 3500 PSI.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the fiberglass composition layer is cured for between about 5 to 10 minutes and the hardshell layer is cured for between about one to eight hours, and wherein the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer are cured at a temperature of about 70° F.

23. An artificial geological rock formation facade manufactured according to the method of claim 15.

24. A composite fiberglass rockcoat facade in the form of a geological rock formation, comprising a fiberglass composition layer and a hardshell layer, said fiberglass layer and hardshell layer comprising the composite fiberglass rockcoat facade, said fiberglass composition layer comprised of a mixture of about 50% by volume polyester resin, about 30% by volume fiberglass, about 10% by volume cabosil dust, about 5% by volume ceramic dust, and about 5% by volume colorant, said hardshell layer is comprised of a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1, wherein the fiberglass composition layer is cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for between about 5 to 10 minutes at a temperature of about 70° F., and wherein the hardshell layer is sprayed into the mold and cured with the 2% catalyst for about one to eight hours at a temperature of about 70° F., and wherein the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer are each sprayed into the mold at a spray temperature parameter that uses a primary heater of about 100° F. and a spray pressure from between about 500 PSI to 3500 PSI, and further wherein the cured composite fiberglass rockcoat facade is removed from the mold.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to artificial rock formations and, more particularly, to artificial rock formation facades for the concealment of car ramps.

2. Description of Related Art

The manufacture of artificial rocks has long been used in landscaping and for other purposes in order to avoid the use of natural rocks, which requires finding suitably shaped rocks, transporting them to the location to be used and then digging ground around the rocks so that they rest within the ground at a suitable height. Because this process is obviously burdensome and time consuming, a variety of alternatives to natural rocks have been developed.

Artificial rocks are actually hollowed out rock liners or shells, which are typically formed of concrete formed into a mold. The mold is formed from a natural rock or simulated rock sculpture that has been selected for its size, shape and design characteristics.

Though contemporary rock liners have significant functional and economic advantages over natural rocks, the current processes for forming such artificial rocks suffer significant shortcomings, resulting in slow production rates and compromised product quality.

One common process for forming artificial rocks typically uses fiberglass molds made by forming a latex skin on the surface of the natural rock, and then constructing the fiberglass mold around the latex skin. Cement is pumped or hand troweled into the inverted fiberglass mold and allowed to set. The only force acting on the cement is its own weight. By the action of gravity, the cement generally moves downward toward the bottom of the mold, i.e., representing the upper portion of the artificial rock when the process is complete. Thus, the resulting product usually does not assume all surface characteristics of the mold, a deficiency that is particularly significant in the upper and side portions of the inverted artificial rock. This deficiency is typically remedied by applying additional cement by hand to the lower outside portions of the completed artificial rock, resulting in surface details which are only vaguely reminiscent of the natural rock. Thus, such concrete artificial rocks frequently are recognized as being imitations even from afar on account of the lack of typical rock structure and coloration of natural rocks. Additionally, they are comparatively heavy in weight, adversely affecting their shipping and setup. Additionally, durability, weathering and resistance to cracking and chipping represent other typical problems encountered with artificial concrete rocks.

Another common process for artificial rock formation uses a mixture solely consisting of polyester resin and fiberglass. This mixture is problematic because it requires spraying a gel coat or barrier coat first into the mold. Polyester resin requires the addition of fiberglass due to the inherent brittleness of the polyester resin. The production rate for this process is slow, typically limited to one or two parts per mold per day.

A further problem encountered is the inability to produce self-supporting, substantially rigid artificial rocks of sufficient durability, strength and hardness so as to withstand the rigors of environmental wear and tear. Artificial rocks that are used outdoors must be able to withstand loads, weathering and physical abuse over a period of time that typically occurs in an outdoor setting.

The present invention addresses these and other problems in the prior art as set forth below.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a composition and method for manufacturing semi-unitary artificial geological rock formation facades that are uniquely lightweight, durable, resistant to environmental forces, and which have realistic natural rock characteristics, such as texture, sheen and coloration. Additionally, the artificial geological rock formation facades can be produced relatively quickly compared to prior art artificial rocks.

In particular, the present invention provides a facade, having the appearance of a geological rock formation, which can be used to conceal car ramps. The artificial geological rock formation facade is comprised of a body that defines an external surface and an internal surface. The internal surface defines a cavity and the external surface defines a recess that can receive a car ramp. The body of the facade has a center portion and two legs that depend from the center portion, both legs sloping downwardly from the center portion of the body. The facade is comprised of a fiberglass composition layer and a hardshell layer, together referred to as a composite fiberglass rockcoat. The body of the facade can be made from a plurality of sections, and the plurality of sections can be bolted together. A typical car ramp concealed by the facade of the present invention is comprised of an angled surface for supporting and elevating a car.

The present invention also provides a method of manufacturing an artificial geological rock formation facade, comprised of applying a layer of a fiberglass composition into a mold, preferably by spray gun, wherein the fiberglass composition is comprised of a mixture of polyester resin, fiberglass, cabosil dust, ceramic dust, and colorant; curing the fiberglass composition layer; applying a hardshell layer comprised of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1 into the mold, preferably by spray gun; curing the hardshell layer with the catalyst; and removing the fiberglass composition layer/hardshell layer, referred to herein as a composite fiberglass rockcoat, from the mold. The thickness of the fiberglass composition layer can range between about ⅛ to 1 inch, and the thickness of the hardshell layer can range between about ⅛ to ½ inch.

As used herein, the phrase “composite fiberglass rockcoat” refers to the combined fiberglass composition layer/hardshell layer that is sprayed into the mold and which forms the artificial rock formation facade of the present invention.

As used herein, the term “semi-unitary” refers to the artificial geological rock formation facade, which is produced by attaching together a plurality of unitary sections of composite fiberglass rockcoats using bolts and flanges.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a top plan view of an artificial geological rock formation facade;

FIG. 1B is a side plan view of the artificial geological rock formation facade;

FIG. 1C is a top plan view of an artificial geological rock formation facade with a car ramp received therein;

FIG. 2A is a front plan view of an artificial geological rock formation facade;

FIG. 2B is a front plan view of an artificial geological rock formation facade with a car elevated on the car ramp which is concealed by the facade;

FIG. 3A is a front elevational view of the artificial geological rock formation facade with the car ramp received therein and a car elevated on the car ramp;

FIG. 3B is a rear elevational view of the artificial geological rock formation facade with the car ramp received therein and a car elevated on the car ramp.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention inheres, in pertinent part, with a method and composition for producing semi-unitary fiberglass composite artificial rock formations that can be used as facades for concealing car ramps. The artificial geological rock formation facades of the present invention can be used and therefore practiced with all manner of mold formation known in the art. In order to establish context, the following brief summary of basic rock mold production is provided below.

A synthetic rubber, such as silicone rubber or a flexible urethane rubber, can be utilized by applying the uncured liquid coating and thereafter curing the synthetic rubber to form the rubber mold. As an example, a flexible silicone rubber mold can be produced using 10 parts of silicone-forming compound with one part curing agent, such as General Electric RTV 630. This provides a liquid uncured rubber-forming material that is applied to the rock used as a model. After application of the liquid uncured material to the rock, the silicone rubber-forming material may be cured at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours or at a temperature of about 300° F. for about one-half hour.

In order to support the rubber mold when it is stripped from the rock model, a cradle is prepared to hold the configuration of the rock model. The cradle is produced by spraying on the exterior of the rubber mold a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1. After the preparation of the silicone rubber mold/cradle, it is carefully demolded from the rock model and allowed to cure at about 75° to 100° F. for about twenty-four to forty-eight hours before use.

The production of rock molds is well known in the art and does not form a central part of the present invention. The method and composition essential to the present invention inheres in the novel fiberglass composition layer and hardshell layer, together referred to as a composite fiberglass rockcoat, which allows for the production of semi-unitary artificial geological rock formation facades that are surprisingly lightweight, highly durable, resistant to environmental forces, quickly produced and which have extraordinarily realistic natural rock characteristics, such as texture, sheen and coloration, characteristics heretofore not encountered in the prior art.

In particular, the present invention provides a facade made out of the composite fiberglass rockcoat having the appearance of a geological rock formation, which can be used to conceal car ramps typically used to support and elevate cars above the ground. As shown in FIGS. 1A, 1C, and 3B, the facade is comprised of a body (10) that defines an external surface (12) and an internal surface (14). The internal surface (14) defines a cavity and the external surface defines a recess (16) that can receive a car ramp (18). The body (10) of the facade has a center portion (20) and a first leg (22) and a second leg (22′), and the center portion (20) has a first end (28) and a second end (28′). The first leg (22) depends from the first end (28) of the center portion (20) and the second leg (22′) depends from the second end (28′) of the center portion (20), and each leg (22, 22′) slopes downwardly from the center portion (20) of the body (10). The body (10) of the facade can be made from a plurality of unitary sections, and the plurality of unitary sections can be secured together by bolts and flanges.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 1A, 1C, 2A, 2B and 3A, the composite fiberglass rockcoat artificial geological rock formation facade is comprised of three unitary sections, the center portion (20), the first leg (22) and the second leg (22′), in which the first leg (22) depends from the first end (28) of the center portion (20), and the second leg (22′) depends from the second end (28′) of the center portion (20), forming a horseshoe-shape. The three unitary sections are attached together by using bolts and flanges. The center portion (20) of the body (10) is approximately ten feet wide and each leg (22, 22′) is about sixteen feet long. Each leg (22, 22′) slopes downwardly from about fifty inches to about eight inches (FIGS. 3A-3B). These dimensions can vary widely, based on the particular dimensions of the car ramp (18). FIG. 1A shows the artificial geological rock formation facade, FIG. 1B shows a side view of the artificial geological rock formation facade, and FIG. 1C shows the artificial geological rock formation facade with the car ramp (18) received in the recess (16) of the body (10). FIG. 3A shows a front elevational view of the artificial geological rock formation facade with the car ramp (18) received in the recess (16) of the body (10) and a car (26) elevated atop and supported by the car ramp (18). FIG. 3B shows a front elevational view of the artificial geological rock formation facade with the car ramp (18) received in the recess (16) of the body (10) and a car (26) elevated atop and supported by the car ramp (18). A typical car ramp concealed by the facade of the present invention has an angled surface for supporting and elevating a car.

The present invention also provides a method of manufacturing an artificial geological rock formation facade comprised of a fiberglass composition layer and a hardshell layer, the fiberglass layer and hardshell layer comprising the composite fiberglass rockcoat facade. The fiberglass composition layer is comprised of a mixture of between about 30 to 70%, preferably 50% by volume polyester resin, between about 10 to 50%, preferably 30% by volume fiberglass, between about 5 to 15%, preferably 10% by volume cabosil dust, between about 3 to 10%, preferably 5% by volume ceramic dust, and between about 2 to 10%, preferably 5% by volume colorant. The hardshell layer is comprised of a mixture of fiberglass and polyester resin in a ratio of about 1:1. The fiberglass composition layer is sprayed into a mold and cured with a 2% by volume catalyst for between about 5 to 10 minutes, preferably 5 minutes, at a temperature of about 70° F. The hardshell layer is sprayed into the mold and cured with the 2% catalyst for about one to eight hours at a temperature of about 70° F. The fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer are each sprayed into the mold at a spray temperature using a primary heater of between about 80° to 110° F., preferably about 100° F., and a spray pressure from between about 500 PSI to 3500 PSI. The thickness of the fiberglass composition layer can range between about ⅛ to 1 inch, and the thickness of the hardshell layer can range between about ⅛ to ½ inch. After curing, the composite fiberglass rockcoat facade is removed from the mold.

In practicing the present invention, any suitable conventional spray equipment can be used to spray the fiberglass composition layer and the hardshell layer into the silicone rubber mold. Examples of spray equipment include, without limitation, Ghusmer, Glascraft, Graco or Binks. The spray molded composite fiberglass rockcoat can be easily separated from the silicone rubber/cradle mold as the cradle typically is self-supporting and has a slight degree of flexibility which allows for the demolding or stripping of the rockcoat from the mold and cradle.

Any suitable brand of fiberglass roving material and wax-free polyester resin can be used to produce the composite fiberglass rockcoat of the present invention. Wax-free polyester resins reduce the necessity for sanding between coat applications. Typically, fiberglass is material made from extremely fine fibers of glass. Polyester resins are viscous, pale colored liquids consisting of a solution of a polyester in a monomer, such as styrene. The addition of styrene in amounts of up to 50% helps to make the resin easier to handle by reducing its viscosity. The styrene also performs the function of enabling the resin to cure from a liquid to a solid by cross-linking the molecular chains of the polyester into a highly complex three-dimensional network without the evolution of byproducts.

Any suitable catalyst known in the art may be used. Examples of suitable catalysts include, without limitation, luperox DDM-30 or norox MEKP-925.

Any suitable colorant may be used in the present invention, such as pigments for polyester resin manufactured by Neste Corp.

It is believed, without being bound by the theory, that the addition of cabosil dust and ceramic dust in the quantities herein disclosed to the fiberglass and polyester resin constituents allows for the particular thickening, viscosity, texture and strength of the composite fiberglass rockcoat facade. Cabosil dust is a synthetic, amorphous, untreated fumed silicon dioxide, which is an extremely fine particle size silicon dioxide aerogel. When mixed into liquid polyester resin, cabosil functions as a resin thickener, i.e., a flow control agent, and sometimes as an anti-settling, anti-caking agent. The cabosil dust is used to hold the liquid polyester resin in place until the curing process is complete. This is necessary because, during the cure cycle, the polyester resin liquid tends to run off of the vertical surfaces of the rock formation and accumulates on the horizontal surfaces. The vertical surfaces thus become resin deprived, whereas valleys become resin rich. The resin-deprived areas cannot achieve expected strength, and the resin rich areas tend to suffer excessive shrinkage and warpage. Both of these undesirable conditions are eliminated with a critical amount of cabosil dust. Furthermore, it is believed, without being bound by the theory, that the thickening and strengthening properties of the cabosil dust is increased dramatically by the addition of the ceramic dust, which is essentially silica particles.

The exceptional strength of the composite fiberglass rockcoat of the present invention thus allows for the production of extraordinarily large and continuous rock formations that are typically encountered in nature but have not been produced from fiberglass composites using a mold process before now.

It should be understood that the embodiments described herein are for illustrative purposes only and that various modifications or changes in light thereof will be suggested to persons skilled in the art and are to be included within the spirit and purview of this application.





 
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