Title:
Defined relative-motion tongue-and-groove building-surfacing-panel interface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A plural-story, external, building-surface panel system securable to a structural building frame, wherein each panel in the system includes (a) a generally planar body having elongate upper, lower and lateral edge-defining structures, (b) elongate tongue structure operatively associated with, and extending along, the upper edge-defining structure generally in the plane of the body, and (c) elongate groove structure operatively associated with, and extending along, the lower edge-defining structure, fittingly compatible with the tongue structure and also disposed generally in the plane of the body. Vertically next-adjacent panels, when positioned appropriately relative to a building frame, are associated with one another in a manner of unidirectional interlock with respect to one another, with the groove structure in the upper panel complementarily and lateral load-transmissively receiving the tongue structure in the lower panel, thus to permit (a) substantially unhindered relative vertical and lateral in-plane motions between the panels, and (b) no appreciable relative inter-panel motion in a direction which is generally normal to the planes of the panels.



Inventors:
Simmons, Robert J. (Hayward, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/243745
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/04/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/582.1
International Classes:
E04H1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CHAPMAN, JEANETTE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JON M. DICKINSON, P.C. (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A plural-story, external, building-surface panel system securable to a structural building frame, each panel in said system comprising a generally planar panel body having elongate upper, lower and lateral edge-defining structures, elongate tongue structure operatively associated with, and extending along, said upper edge-defining structure generally in the plane of said body, and elongate groove structure operatively associated with, and extending along, said lower edge-defining structure, fittingly compatible with said tongue structure generally in the plane of said body, vertically, and substantially coplanar, next-adjacent panels being associated with one another, when positioned appropriately relative to a building frame, in a manner of unidirectional interlock with respect and relative to one another, with the groove structure in the upper panel complementarily, and lateral load-transmissively, receiving the tongue structure in the lower panel to permit (a) substantially unhindered relative vertical and lateral in-plane motions between the panels, and (b) no appreciable relative inter-panel motion in a direction which is generally normal to the planes of the panels.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said tongue and groove structures take the forms, respectively, of components which are operatively attached to the upper and lower edge-defining structures in said panel body.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein said tongue and groove structure are formed each as integral configurations in said upper and lower edge-defining structures, respectively, in said panel body.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein, with respect to vertically, and substantially co-planar, next-adjacent panels, as installed with respect to a building frame, said tongue and groove structures form a connective interface structure between such panels, and the system further includes compliant sealing structure operatively interposed the tongue and groove structures.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein, with respect to a pair of vertically, and substantially coplanar, next-adjacent panels as installed with respect to a building frame, said tongue and groove structures form a connective interface between the panels, and the system further includes elongate flashing structure extending along the lengths of, and operatively interposed, said tongue and groove structures.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein, with respect to a pair of vertically, and substantially coplanar, next-adjacent panels as installed with respect to a building frame, and said tongue and groove structures form a connective interface between the panels, and the system further includes elongate compliant sealing structure, and elongate flashing structure, extending along the lengths of, and operatively interposed, said tongue and groove structures.

7. The system of claim 4 which is configured whereby said sealing structure is UV-shielded in said connective interface.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority, respectively, to two currently pending, prior-filed, U.S. Provisional Patent Applications, Ser. Nos. (a) 60/617,277, filed Oct. 9, 2004 for “Inter-Building-Panel Seal/Drain Interface”, and (b) 60/617,278, filed Oct. 9, 2004, for “Relative-Motion Tongue-and-Groove Building-Panel Interface”. The entire disclosure contents of those two prior-filed provisional applications are hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to building structure, and more particularly to novel vertical interface structure which is provided, in accordance with the invention, in a region of interfacial connection between vertically next-adjacent building-surface modular building skin panels, referred to herein as a building-surface panel system.

In terms of plural-storage building structures, there is a practice now in the building industry to provide different kinds of modular building surface skin structure, typically surfacing panels, which is appropriately attached to the outsides of columns and frames which collectively form a main building frame. With respect to such surfacing panels, it is important, among other things, that they interconnect vertically with one another in an appropriate manner which will provide a good weather seal between the outside and the inside of a completed building, and which, additionally, will arm such panels to withstand, and where necessary to transmit to other components, various loads which may be applied through natural forces, such as wind and earthquake, to a finished building.

In this setting, I have found it also to be important to utilize such surfacing skin panels in a manner which permits a certain limited amount of in-plane relative motions between next-adjacent panels, including, preferably, both horizontal and vertical relative motions. The term “in-plane” refers to the fact that such panels are typically planar in nature, and when installed on a building frame, tend to lie, with respect to a given side of that frame, in a common, upright plane.

In accordance with the invention, two different modifications of which are illustrated and described herein, interfacial connection between vertically next-adjacent panels is accomplished through a style of male/female, tongue-and-groove interfacial configurations. These configurations, by their very natures, permit the kinds of in-plane relative motions mentioned above, while at the same time—importantly—stoutly resisting lateral loads, such as wind loads. As will be seen, lateral loads delivered near the outside base of an “upper” panel are transmitted to the frame of a building directly through a tongue-and-groove type interconnection existing between this “upper” panel and a next-adjacent “lower” panel without passing through elastomeric contact-sealing structure which exists in the interconnection interface between these panels.

Provided in the vertical interfacial connective regions (connections) between two next-adjacent panels, in accordance with the invention, are both a moisture-draining flashing structure, and a moisture, inter-panel sealing structure which, because of the nature of the inter-facial connection, are automatically UV-shielded within the associated connections.

These and other features and advantages which are offered by the invention will become more fully apparent as the description which now follows is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified, fragmentary, isometric view illustrating a portion of a plural-story structural building frame to which have been attached surfacing panels possessing tongue and groove interface structures and relationships made in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged and somewhat exploded view illustrating, isometrically, one form of two vertically next-adjacent building surfacing panel structures employed in the arrangement pictured in FIG. 1 in accordance with the invention. The view angle employed in FIG. 2 differs slightly from that employed in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is view which is very much like that presented in FIG. 2, except here showing a modified form of surfacing panel structure made in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic, cross-sectional view which is relevant to both illustrated forms of the invention, showing an interfacial vertical connection between vertically next-adjacent surfacing panel structures like those pictured in FIGS. 2 and 3. This view specifically illustrates inter-panel-structure moisture flashing and UV-protected sealing structure, and shows how moisture which may collect in a region intermediate a surfacing panel structure and external finishing-skin structure becomes diverted outwardly of a building structure. It also shows, by several “connected” arrows, the load-transfer path which exists between next-adjacent upper and lower panel structures, whereby outside lateral loads applied near the base of the upper panel structure are transmitted to a building frame through the lower panel structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, and referring first of all to FIG. 1, indicated generally, and fragmentarily, at 10 is a plural-story building structure including a main frame structure 12 formed with upright columns, such as the two columns shown at 14, which columns are interconnected by horizontally extending beams (not specifically shown). In FIG. 1, the outer side of frame 12 is illustrated, and appropriately mounted on the outside thereof is a building-surface panel system 16 including plural panels, such as those generally shown at 18, 20, 22, 24, which are (a) modular in nature, (b) generally planar, and (c) rectilinear in perimetral outline. With respect to the several panels illustrated in FIG. 1, these panels lie in a substantially common upright plane, shown by dash-double-dot lines 26. These panels, which, as was just mentioned, are modular in nature, are disposed in a row-and-column arrangement in system 16.

In system 16, vertically next adjacent panels, such as panels 18, 20, “engage” one another through a connective (vertical-connection) interface, generally pointed to at 28 in FIG. 1. The details of this interface will be described shortly. As will be seen, each of these vertical-connection interfaces permits a certain amount of in-plane (plane 26) vertical and horizontal relative motions between vertically next-adjacent panels. Such permitted relative motions are generally illustrated in FIG. 1 by double-headed arrows 30, 32. These same connective interfaces, however, significantly restrain any relative motion between vertically next-adjacent panels in a direction which is normal to the two orthogonal directions illustrated by arrows 30, 32. This “restraint” condition importantly results in outside lateral loads, such as wind loads, being communicated and transmitted directly and “immediately” between vertically next-adjacent panels through the vertical-connection interfaces between these panels, rather than through any relative-motion-permitting structure, such as a compliant contact sealing structure.

In the particular structural arrangement which is pictured in FIG. 1, three stories, S1, S2 and S3, are illustrated, and it will be noted that each of the panels in system 16 has a vertical dimension which is substantially the same as the story heights in building 10. It should be understood that such a vertical dimension for the panels of the invention is not a critical dimension. In other words, panels can be made in accordance with the present invention which may have different, specific, vertical dimensions in relation to a single, building-story height.

Completing a description of what is shown in simplified schematic form in FIG. 1, suitably attached to the outer sides of the panels, such as panels 18, 20, 22, 24, are generally planar surfacing skins which are shown at 34, 36, 38, 40, respectively. The specific constructions of these surfacing skins do not form any part of the present invention.

Directing attention now to FIG. 2, here, panels 18, 20 are shown in vertically separated, somewhat exploded dispositions, with a previously referred to connective interface 28 shown in an open condition.

Panels 18, 20, which are vertically next-adjacent panels, are essentially the same in construction, and include generally planar panel bodies formed with upper and lower, generally horizontal beam components 18b, 18c and 20b, 20c, respectively, which are joined adjacent their respective opposite ends by upright lateral components 18d, 18e and 20d, 20e, respectively. Beam components 18b, 18c 20b, 20c along with lateral components 18d, 18e 20d, 20e, are referred to herein appropriately as upper (18b, 20b), lower (18c, 20c), and lateral (18d, 18e, 20d, 20e) edge-defining structures.

With respect to the embodiment of the present invention which is specifically pictured in FIG. 2, one will see that components 18b, 20b are each formed in what is referred to herein as an integral configuration, including, respectively, elongate, upwardly extending tongue structures, shown at 18f, 20f. Further, components 18c, 20c are also referred to herein as being (and possessing) integral configurations, including elongate, horizontally extending groove structures 18g, 20g, respectively. As will be observed, these tongue and groove structures are designed in a complementary fashion to engage with one another to form a connective interface between vertically next-adjacent panels, such as interface 28 between panels 18, 20. One will note that inter-engaged tongue and groove structures like those just described will, in accordance with one important feature of the present invention, permit the previously mentioned in-plane vertical and horizontal relative motions pictured by arrows 30, 32 in FIG. 1.

Before further describing the nature of an established connective interface between vertically next-adjacent panels, the alternative embodiment of the invention which is pictured in FIG. 3 will first be described.

In FIG. 3, and for the sake of simplicity herein, the two vertically separated, vertically next-adjacent panels which are shown here are also given reference numerals like those employed with respect to the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 2. Here, however, overhead beam components 18b, 20b are not formed with integral, elongate tongue structures, and lower beam components 18c, 20c are not formed with integral, elongate groove structures. Rather, in the embodiment of FIG. 3, components 18b, 20b possess unaltered rectilinear cross-sectional configurations, and components 18c, 20c are formed as U-shaped channels.

In this form of the invention, attachable components are employed to provide functional, complementary tongue and groove structures, with the additional components which provide the tongue structures for panels 18, 20 being shown at 42, 44, respectively, and the additional components which form the complementary groove structures for panels 18, 20 being shown at 46, 48, respectively. These additional tongue and groove structures, which are shown with somewhat separated dispositions in FIG. 3 relative to panel bodies 18a, 20a are, of course, appropriately attached to the upper and lower beam components in the two illustrated panels.

One will recognize immediately that an interfacial connection in accordance with the structures pictured in FIG. 3 between vertically next-adjacent panels will essentially permit the same kinds of in-plane relative vertical and horizontal motions shown by arrows 30, 32 in FIG. 1.

With respect to both modifications of the invention discussed so far herein, it will additionally be apparent that interconnecting tongue and groove structures will constrain vertically next-adjacent panels from exhibiting any noticeable normal-to-plane relative motions, i.e., in a direction normal to arrows 30, 32 in FIG. 1.

Turning attention finally to FIG. 4 in the drawings which schematically illustrates a tongue and groove interfacial connection, such as connection 28, this figure should be understood to be employed herein as an illustration of connections created with either one of the two tongue and groove configurations described so far. In this figure, a direct anchoring connection 49 is shown between the upper portion of lower panel 20 and frame 12.

In accordance with the invention, appropriately disposed, as generally illustrated in FIG. 4, in an interfacial connection, such as connection 28 between panels 18, 20, are three additional components proposed by the present invention, including an elongate, typically metallic, angular-cross-section flashing structure 50 disposed as shown, and a pair of elongate, compliant, typically elastomeric seals, or sealing structure, 52, 54.

Flashing structure 50 cooperates in the provision of a moisture barrier between panels 18, 20, and further functions to deflect, outwardly away from building structure 10, any moisture which might collect in the regions between panels 18, 20, for example, and surfacing skins 34, 36, respectively. In FIG. 4, moisture drainage is indicated generally by dashed-droplet line 56.

Another matter to notice is that, with seals 52, 54 deployed as illustrated in FIG. 4, these seals are effectively automatically UV-shielded within a connective interface.

A further matter to notice in FIG. 4 is that outside lateral loads applied near the base of upper panel 18 are transmitted, as illustrated by arrows 58, 60, 62, to frame 12 through the upper portion of panel 20 without also passing through contact seals 52, 54. Thus, such loads couple substantially “immediately” between vertically interconnected panels, without any “hesitation” being introduced between panels due to the inevitable time-delaying behavior of deformation compliance structure, such as compliant contact sealing structure.

Thus, two preferred embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein regarding a unique interfacial connection which can be employed between vertically next-adjacent panels in a building-surface panel system, such as system 16. The included, elongate, complementary tongue and groove (male/female) structures complementarily interlock between vertically next-adjacent panels, permitting limited amounts of in-plane vertical and horizontal relevant motions, while essentially inhibiting any normal, out-of-plane relative motions.

The tongue and grove interfacial connections uniquely allow functional incorporation therein of elongate moisture flashing structure and UV-shielded compliant sealing structure, such as those structures clearly pictured in FIG. 4.

Accordingly, while preferred embodiments of the present invention have been specifically illustrated and described herein, it is appreciated that other variations and modifications of the invention are possible which will come within the scope of the claims herein directed to the present invention.





 
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