Flat foldable building structural panel
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An essentially rectangular, flat, foldable building structural panel has a series of horizontal and oblique flexible joints made of silicone rubber impregnated fabric located on the inside of the panel. The horizontal and flexible joints create a series of geometric triangles that can be formed and folded into multiple configurations. The geometric configurations are composed of rigid triangular facet sections and flexible joints between adjacent edges of the triangular facet sections. Alternating the direction of the folds allows the user to create a three-dimensional freestanding structure of various dimensions and geometric configurations. Poles can be included for the purpose of raising the structure to produce a canopy. Since the triangular facets are rigid and the joints between the edges of the facets are flexible, quick erection of the structure may be accomplished. The structure is fastened to the ground by use of ground grommets and stakes. The panel consists of laminations of various fabrics, adhesives and triangular panel facets with fasteners and loops for stiffing rods and tension lines.

Beyer, James L. (Edwardsville, IL, US)
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Primary Examiner:
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1. A building structural panel, comprising: (1) a flat panel having a series of horizontal foldable edges therein; (2) a series of oblique foldable edges running across said horizontal edges oriented at an angle to said horizontal edges, said oblique edges creating a series of triangular sections; (3) a plurality of upper structural grommets located near the center of said panel for supporting and separating said triangular sections; (4) a plurality of ground grommets located along the outer edge of said structural panel for securing said structure to the ground.

2. A building panel as in claim 1, further comprising horizontal structural spacers located between said upper structural grommets and a biasing means to separate said structural spacers

3. A building panel as in claim 2, wherein said biasing means comprises a bungee cord located inside said upper structural spacer.



This invention relates to the field of temporary building structures. More particularly, a flat, foldable building structural panel is disclosed which may be configured into various types of portable building structures.

In the building structure industry, many different types of building methods are available. For example, a structure such as a garage may be built upon a concrete foundation. A wood structure is then built up and a roof is attached. This is a permanent type of building structure.

Another type of building structure is the prefabricated garage or home. These homes are built in prefabricated sections and may be erected by connecting the prefabricated sections together. Yet another type of building structure is found in the corrugated metal industry. Prefabricated roofs may be attached to vertical poles to create a simplified structure. Other types of structures could include tents, cabanas, or carports.

In the construction industry, it would be advantageous to find a simple, foldable panel that could be arranged in a manner so as to create an overhead structure. Samples of these structures could be in the form of a garage or carport, in the form of a tent, or in the form of a cabana or other structure. It is a primary object of this invention to provide a foldable and flexible flat panel that may be shaped to form a structure that is quickly and economically erected.

One problem with the construction of a house, prefabricated garage, or corrugated carport is that these structures require trucks and heavy equipment to move and erect the buildings. It is another object of this invention to provide a flat, foldable building panel that may be easily transported to the job site and that may be easily erected into a desired form of building without using heavy equipment.

One other advantage of the instant invention lies in the adaptability of the panel. It is disclosed below that unique flat, foldable building panels may be configured in different ways to create different types of structures. It is a still further object of this invention to provide a foldable and bendable flat building panel which is multifaceted and which may be used to construct different types of building structures.

Other and further objects of this invention will become obvious upon reading below described specifications.


A flat, foldable building structural panel is essentially rectangular with a height and a length. Generally, the structural panel has a series of horizontal foldable edges parallel to the length of the building panel. A series of oblique foldable edges are also prefabricated into the building pane. The oblique foldable edges and the horizontal foldable edges form a series of triangles. Since the building panel may be folded along either the horizontal or oblique foldable edges, or both, the flat panel may be configured into different types of structures, including a roof type structure, a tent structure, a cabana, an alcove, a building, or various other types of structures. In addition to the flexible folds, a series of stabilizing grommets are located in the panel. A number of ground grommets are also available to attach the foldable panel, once fabricated into the desired shape, to the ground. The panel, once folded appropriately, may be erected using bungee or elastic cords and horizontal spacers along the top of the panel. The panels are foldable and portable and may be used for temporary structures and/or covers, for example in the camping or shelter industry, to make a playhouse, storage shed, carport or boat cover. Different types of structures may be formed from a single panel making the versatility and usefulness of the device obvious.


FIG. 1 is a plan view of the flat, foldable building structural panel configured in a 2:1 ratio.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the simple configuration fabricated from the flat panel shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the simple configuration shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a partial view of the flat foldable panel shown in a 6:1 ratio configuration.

FIG. 5 is a front view of the 6:1 flat panel configuration shown in FIG. 4, shaped as a roof for a carport or other structure.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the panel shown in FIG. 5 also showing the underneath structure of the carport or shelter embodiment shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a front view of a simulated tent structure.

FIG. 8 is a side view of the simulated tent structure.

FIG. 9 is an end view of the structure shown in FIG. 7 and 8 in the compressed condition.

FIG. 10 is a front view of a heptahedron structure.

FIG. 11 is a side view of a cabana structure.

FIG. 12 is a perspective exploded view of the bungee or elastic cord and horizontal spacer for the upper structural support.

FIG. 13 is a detailed view of the structure showing the ground grommet stake and attachment of the structure to the ground.


A flat, foldable building structural panel is best shown in FIG. 1. The panel can be formed and folded into multiple configurations. The essentially rectangular structural panel is composed of rigid triangular facets and flexible joints between adjacent edges of the triangular facets.

The triangular panels may be made of foam, wood laminates, plastic, cloth rigidified with resin, or cardboard. This listing of compositions from which the panels may be formed is meant as a means of illustration only and not as a limitation. Various other types of building panel composites may be utilized in practicing this invention while still keeping within the spirit and disclosure herein.

Turning to FIG. 1, the foldable flexible panel is shown. It has height dimension 1 which is usually shorter than the length dimension 2. In practice, when the structure is formed, the height dimension 1 is generally shorter than the length of the panel, although this particular shape ratio is not necessarily the configuration required in practicing this invention.

The foldable flexible building panel has a number of horizontal foldable edges 3. These horizontal foldable edges 3 are generally parallel to the length dimension 2 and are spaced at appropriate places throughout the panel as shown. Also prefabricated into the building panel are oblique foldable edges 4. These oblique foldable edges 4 cut across the panel as shown and form a series of triangles. The horizontal 3 and oblique 4 foldable edges comprise flexible joints, which may be made of silicone rubber-impregnated cloth fabric or polyurethane foam rubber. The key to the composition of the flexible joints 3 and 4 is that they are flexible yet also has a structural memory so that they are capable of holding position when formed into a structure. The stiff structural panels 5 and 6 are meant to be rigid. However, the flexible joints between the triangles 5 and 6 are meant to make the flat panel building structure stiff yet bendable. Other materials may be utilized to form the flexible foldable edges 3 and 4. However, silicone rubber-impregnated cloth fabric and polyurethane foam rubber are preferred.

The horizontal 3 and oblique 4 foldable flexible edges form a series of triangles. At each corner of the panel is a rigid right triangle 5. The other panels comprise a plurality of rigid obtuse structural triangular panels 6. The obtuse structural panels 6 consist of one obtuse and two acute angles.

One good method of describing the dimensions for the structural panels is to define the ratio of the sides of the right triangles 5. As shown in FIG. 1, a 2:1 right triangle is located at each corner of the rectangle. This 2:1 ratio repeats at the four corners. The remaining triangles are the obtuse triangles 6. As best shown in FIG. 1, the 2:1 corner triangle 5 has a length dimension 8 and a height dimension 7. The ratios may be varied across the length of the panel to affect various rates of bend or curvature. This length to height ratio remains constant and is 2:1. The 2:1 ratio is shown in FIGS. 1-3. The structure shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 is uniquely fabricated from the basic flat panel shown in FIG. 1 having a 2:1 ratio.

Once the foldable panel has been fabricated to the desired shape, it may be erected using structural securing grommets 9 and ground securing grommets 10. Located along the central portion of the flat panel are a number of structural securing grommets 9. These structural securing grommets are utilized with structural spacers, bungee or elastic cords and ropes to erect the panel. The erection of the structure will be shown and described later in this Specification.

As best shown in FIG. 2, a typical structure may be created from the basic 2:1 panel shown in FIG. 1. This structure, when erected, has rigid right triangular corners 5 secured to the ground by ground securing grommets 10. Rigid obtuse structural panels 6 having been folded as shown, to form the structure shown in FIG. 2. Spacers 18 separate the structural obtuse triangular panels 6 by utilizing grommets 9. The structural spacers 18 are shown partially in FIG. 3 and will be described in more detail later in the Specification.

Turning now to FIGS. 4-6 a 6:1 corner triangle ratio dimension is shown. This 6:1 ratio structure has a corner triangle length dimension 12 and a height corner dimension 11. In this structure, the length to height ratio is 6:1. This 6:1 ratio creates taller rigid right triangle corners 5′ and longer (greater obtuse angle) rigid obtuse structural triangular panels 6′.

As best shown in FIG. 5, this 6:1 ratio structural panel can be formed to create a wider roof system. The roof system in FIGS. 5 and 6 is much wider than the roof system shown in the structure described in FIG. 2.

Turning now to FIG. 6, this 6:1 ratio structure is shown as it may be placed to create a carport or pole barn. This 6:1 ratio structure has right triangle rigid corners 5′ and long rigid obtuse structural triangular panels 6′. They are attached to the pole structure 13 by means of the ground securing grommets 10. In addition, structural securing grommets 9, located as shown on drawing FIG. 6, are utilized to create the geometric configuration for the roof shown.

Turning now to FIG. 7, a simulated tent structure 14 is shown. This simulated tent structure may be formed from the essentially flat, foldable building structural panel shown in FIGS. 1 and 4.

The essentially rectangular flat panels are scalable to applications of varying sizes. The ratio of the right corner triangles 5, the distance between the horizontal lines 3 and the number, spacing and angle of the oblique foldable edges 4 determines the geometric capability of the panel structure itself. Obviously, many variations of the dimensions and formation of the rigid right triangle and obtuse structural triangular panels are well within the contemplation and spirit of this disclosure. Since the spacing, ratios and distances of the foldable edges is virtually limitless, the versatility and many applications of the foldable panels disclosed herein is practically infinite.

As best shown in FIG. 8, the multiple structures that may be fabricated from the flat structural building panels may also have additional structures attached end-to-end. This, in effect, could create an infinite length of structures.

In addition to the structures already described, other typical structures may be formed utilizing the method and building materials described above. For example, a heptahedron structure 16, as shown in FIG. 10, may be created from the simple flat structural panel Likewise, a cabana type structure 17 shown in FIG. 11 may also be constructed. The cabana structure uses a ground stake 21 at one end and a support pole 22 to support the structure.

Turning now FIG. 12, one typical upper structural support brace is shown. The upper support brace structure would be comprised of horizontal structural spacers 18. These spacers 18 have a male end and a female end and may be inserted between the grommet holes 9 shown in FIG. 1. The horizontal structural spacers 18 are held together in compression by an inner bungee or elastic cord 19. The horizontal structural spacers 18 are inserted through the grommets 9 by pulling the horizontal spacer handle 20 in the clockwise direction as shown by the arrow in FIG. 12. When the handle 20 is positioned parallel to the spacers 18 the horizontal structural spacer elements 18 fit in between the grommets. The rigidity of the horizontal spacers 18 hold the grommets apart while the tension of the inner bungee or elastic cord 19 pulls the spacers together. This tension and compression mechanism creates the roof system best shown in FIG. 6.

Another method of erecting the structures utilizes a rigid fiberglass rod inserted through the upper structural grommets 9. A tensioner mechanism (such as a bungee cord) would be used in conjunction with the rod to pull the peaks of the upper structure apart.

Yet another alternative means of erecting this structure would be to utilize a rope on each end of the structure (connected to a grommet 9) and tension (bungee) lines between the internal grommets. This type of cooperation between outer ropes and inner tension lines would create a structure that is quickly and easily set up as shown in FIG. 7 and easily compressed for storage and portability as shown in FIG. 9.

The structures may be conveniently attached to the ground using ground securing grommets 10 and ground stakes 21.

The flexible joints 3 and 4 can be pre-biased for certain applications. This pre-biasing of the flexible joints 3 and 4 could suggest the shape of the final structure, whether it is a carport, tent, cabana, alcove or other type of structure previously described. Absent pre-biasing of the structure, the final geometric configuration of the structure is limited only by the folds and placement of the user.

The structure, once erected, could also be covered with canvas, plastic, nylon or Tyvek™ (a Dupont Company product) to make the structure waterproof.

The structure may be folded in either a concave or convex orientation along the flexible joint lines to create a myriad of different types of designs and geometric structures.


Reference A: Monetti U.S. Pat. No. 5,465,686

Monetti discloses a collapsible house for pets. The Monetti pet house if foldable from a unitary blank of material received in a flat state and is thus somewhat similar to the instant invention. See FIG. 2 of Monetti. However, Monetti differs from the instant device in that it has a series of essentially rectangular panels created to form the pet house rather than a series of triangles that may be configured into various different types of shapes. Monetti is of general interest in the field.

Reference B: Eshpar U.S. Pat. No. 6,871,686

Eshpar discloses an articulated planar structure that has a number of rigid beams of substantial trapezoidal cross section. The structure may be rolled into a compact cylindrical package and then unrolled in a flat state to form a cot, canopy, or super structure. Eshpar is of interest because it utilizes a flat plainer structure that may then be shaped into a super structure such as a hut. However, does not utilize the particular rigid triangles and flexible joints that may be formed into various types of structures shown in the instant patent.

Reference C: Axelrod U.S. Pat. No. 5,950,568

Axelrod described a collapsible and foldable structure that has a roof and bottom structure and walls. The structure of Axelrod has the sidewalls pivotally attached to the roof The sidewall collapses inwardly for transportation and portability. Axelrod discloses an attempt to make various types of structure by using folding material& However, the Axelrod structure does not utilize the rigid triangles and flexible joints as shown and described in the instant application. Axelrod is of general interest in the field.

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