Title:
Inorganic Composite Building Panel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An inorganic composite is formed from a solution of KH2PO4 mixed with H2O, which is then mixed with a metal oxide and a filler material. The mixture of the solution with the metal oxide and filler material forms a flowable slurry. Fibers are then introduced into the slurry. The fibers chemically or mechanically bond with the slurry. The slurry is then cured to form a composite with fibers bonded with the inorganic cement matrix.



Inventors:
Rigsby, Jack (Grantsburg, IL, US)
Wehrli, Richard F. (Naperville, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/611778
Publication Date:
11/15/2007
Filing Date:
12/15/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/897.32
International Classes:
E04C2/284; B21D47/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LAUX, JESSICA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCANDREWS HELD & MALLOY, LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An integrated inorganic composite building panel comprising: (a) a first exterior member; (b) a second exterior member; and (c) a plurality of interior support members; wherein said first and second exterior members are integrally attached to said plurality of interior support members.

2. The building panel of claim 1, wherein said inorganic composite building panel is integrated by chemical bonding.

3. The building panel of claim 1, wherein said inorganic composite building panel is integrated by mechanically bonding.

4. The building panel of claim 1, wherein said first and second exterior members are bonded to said plurality of interior support members.

5. The building panel of claim 4, wherein said first and second exterior members are chemically bonded to said plurality of interior support members.

6. The building panel of claim 4, wherein said first and second exterior members are mechanically bonded to said plurality of interior support members.

7. The building panel of claim 1, wherein said plurality of interior support members comprise a bonded inorganic composite material.

8. The building panel of claim 7, wherein said inorganic composite material is chemically bonded.

9. The building panel of claim 7, wherein said inorganic composite material is mechanically bonded.

10. The building panel of claim 7, wherein said bonded inorganic composite material comprises cement and a plurality of fibers.

11. The building panel of claim 10, wherein said cement comprises metal oxide and phosphate.

12. The building panel of claim 11, wherein said metal oxide comprises magnesium oxide.

13. The building panel of claim 11, wherein said phosphate comprises potassium phosphate.

14. The building panel of claim 10, wherein said plurality of fibers comprises a fiber mat.

15. The building panel of claim 14, wherein said fiber mat comprises basalt fibers.

16. The building panel of claim 1, wherein said first exterior member comprises a bonded inorganic composite material.

17. The building panel of claim 16, wherein said inorganic composite material is chemically bonded.

18. The building panel of claim 16, wherein said inorganic composite material is mechanically bonded.

19. The building panel of claim 16, wherein said second exterior member comprises a bonded inorganic composite material.

20. The building panel of claim 19, wherein said inorganic composite material is chemically bonded.

21. The building panel of claim 20, wherein said inorganic composite material is mechanically bonded.

22. The building panel of claim 1, further comprising an insulation material disposed between said plurality of interior support members.

23. The building panel of claim 22, wherein said insulation material comprises an insulative gas.

24. The building panel of claim 23, wherein said insulative gas comprises air.

25. The building panel of claim 22, wherein said insulation material is supportive.

26. The building panel of claim 25, wherein said supportive insulation material comprises foam.

27. The building panel of claim 25, wherein said supportive insulation comprises cardboard.

28. A method for manufacturing an integrally bonded inorganic composite building panel comprising attaching a plurality of interior support members to a first exterior member and a second exterior member.

29. The method of claim 28, wherein said plurality of interior support members are bonded to said first and second exterior members.

30. The method of claim 28, wherein said plurality of interior support members are chemically bonded to said first and second exterior members.

31. The method of claim 28, wherein said plurality of interior support members are mechanically bonded to said first and second exterior members.

32. The method of claim 28, wherein said plurality of interior support members comprise a bonded inorganic composite material.

33. The method of claim 32, wherein said inorganic composite material is chemically bonded.

34. The method of claim 32, wherein said inorganic composite material is mechanically bonded.

35. The method of claim 28, wherein said first exterior member comprises a bonded inorganic composite material.

36. The method of claim 35, wherein said inorganic composite material is chemically bonded.

37. The method of claim 35, wherein said inorganic composite material is mechanically bonded.

38. The method of claim 35, wherein said second exterior member comprises a bonded inorganic composite material.

39. The method of claim 38, wherein said inorganic composite material is chemically bonded.

40. The method of claim 38, wherein said inorganic composite material is mechanically bonded.

41. The method of claim 28, further comprising an insulation material disposed between said plurality of interior support members.

42. A system for manufacturing an integrally bonded inorganic composite building panel, said system comprising: (a) a first slurry applicator for applying cement to a fiber material to produce a first exterior member, a second exterior member and a plurality of support members; and (b) an assembly unit for chemically-bonding a plurality of interior support members to said first and second exterior members.

43. The system of claim 42, further comprising a plurality of rollers for impregnating said fiber material with cement to produce said first and second exterior members.

44. The system of claim 42, further comprising a second slurry applicator for applying cement to a first surface of said first exterior member and to a second surface of said second exterior member.

45. The system of claim 42, further comprising a conveyor for transporting said building panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

This application relates to and claims priority benefits from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/751,446, filed Dec. 16, 2005, entitled “Inorganic Composite Building Panel”. The '446 provisional application is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to building panels. More specifically, the presently described technology relates to an inorganic composite building panel and method and system for manufacturing thereof.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cements formed of magnesium phosphate are used in many applications. For example, magnesium phosphate cements have been used as patching materials for roads. In addition, magnesium phosphate cements are also used in dental applications, such as in crowns for teeth. However, magnesium phosphate cements currently used are created in a chemical reaction that is highly exothermic. The reaction occurs at a very high reaction rate. Therefore, it is currently difficult to create large batches of magnesium phosphate cements.

As it is difficult to create large amounts of these cements, it is also difficult to use the cements in applications where a large amount of the cements are required. For example, in the construction industry, it is currently difficult, if not impossible, to use current systems and methods for creating building panels (such as panels for the outside walls of buildings, floor panels, and roof panels) made of magnesium phosphate cements.

In addition, current magnesium phosphate cements exhibit large compressive strengths, but typically weak tensile strengths. Therefore, such cements may not be useful in applications where materials experience large tensile forces. For example, building panels such as floor panels and roof panels experience a large compressive load on the top, or load-bearing side, and large tensile forces on the opposite side of the panels. Therefore, it is difficult to fabricate floor and/or roof panels using currently available magnesium phosphate cements, as these cements may not be capable of withstanding the tensile forces typically experienced in roof and floor panels. While current cements can be used to create roof and floor panels, typically a large amount of cement must be used in order to provide sufficient tensile strength. However, with increasing the amount of cement used in these panels comes added weight to the panel and cost in producing the panel.

Current systems and methods for producing magnesium phosphate cements incorporate chopped fibers into the cement to provide for increased strength. However, these fibers tend to act as crack inhibitors and provide very little additional tensile strength to the cement.

Moreover, current fibers used in the cements do not chemically bond with the cement and leave voids between the chopped fibers and the surrounding cement. These voids can decrease the actual strength of the cement below its potential strength. In other words, while the incorporation of fibers can increase a cement's strength, the increase in strength can be increased even more if chemical bonding existed between the fibers and the cement.

Therefore, there is a need for an inorganic composite building panel. More particularly, there is a need for a low-cost inorganic composite building panel that is lightweight and exhibits improved compressive and tensile strength. Additionally, there is a need for a system and method of manufacturing an inorganic composite building panel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The presently described technology provides an integrated inorganic composite building panel. The building panel includes a first exterior member, a second exterior member, and a plurality of interior support members. The first and second exterior members are attached to the interior support members.

The presently described technology also provides a method for manufacturing an inorganic composite building panel. The method includes providing a plurality of interior support members and attaching the plurality of interior support members to the first and second exterior members.

The presently described technology also provides a system for manufacturing an inorganic composite building panel. The system includes a first slurry applicator for applying cement to a plurality of fibers to produce a first exterior member, a second exterior member, and a plurality of interior support members, and an assembly unit for bonding the plurality of interior support members to said first and second exterior members.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 2 illustrates a flow diagram of a method for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 3 illustrates a system for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flow diagram of a method for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 6 illustrates a system for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 7 illustrates an isometric view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 8 illustrates a plan view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

FIG. 9 illustrates an isometric view of an interior support member, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

FIG. 1 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology. The composite 100 includes cement 110 and a plurality of fibers 120.

The cement 110 can encapsulate the fibers 120. In addition, the cement 110 can be attached to the fiber 120. More particularly, the cement 110 can be chemically and/or mechanically bonded to the fibers 110. Alternatively, the cement 110 can encapsulate only a portion of the fibers 120. The unencapsulated fibers 120 can be attached or chemically and/or mechanically bonded to other inorganic composites 100, as described below.

The cement 110 can include phosphate, water, metal oxide, and filler. The phosphate can include potassium phosphate (KH2PO4) and/or ammonium phosphate, for example. The metal oxide can include one or more of magnesium oxide (MgO), aluminum oxide (Al2O3), titanium oxide (TiO2), iron oxide (Fe2O3), calcium oxide (CaO), and/or copper oxide (CuO or Cu2O), for example. The filler can include C fly ash, boron carbide, sand, calcium silicate, or wollastonite (CaSiO3), for example.

The fibers 120 can include basalt, glass, ceramic, metal, carbon, and/or aramid fibers, for example. The fibers 120 can be continuous or longer than a dimension of an object or structure to be formed with the composite 100. Additionally, continuous fibers can be formed into various shapes, such as a mat. Alternatively, the fibers 120 can be non-continuous or shorter than a dimension of an object or structure to be formed with the composite 100. Non-continuous fibers can include chopped fibers, for example.

FIG. 2 illustrates a flowchart of a method 200 for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology. The method 200 includes mixing phosphate with water to form a solution 210, mixing metal oxide and filler with the solution to form a slurry 220, adding fibers to the slurry 230, and curing the slurry and fiber combination to form a composite 240.

At step 210, phosphate, such as potassium phosphate (KH2PO4) and/or ammonium phosphate, can be mixed with water (H2O) to form a solution. More particularly, the KH2PO4 can be mixed with H2O in a high shear mixture for about 5 to 20 minutes, for example.

At step 220, metal oxide, such as magnesium oxide (MgO), aluminum oxide (Al2O3), calcium oxide (CaO), titanium oxide (TiO2), iron oxide (Fe2O3), and/or copper oxide (CuO or Cu2O), and filler, such as C fly ash, boron carbide, sand, calcium silicate, and/or wollastonite (CaSiO3), can be mixed with the solution to form a cement slurry. More particularly, MgO and C fly ash can be mixed with the KH2PO4 solution in a high shear mixture for about 8 minutes or until a flowable slurry forms, for example.

At step 230, fibers, such as basalt, glass, ceramic, metal, carbon, and/or aramid fibers, can be added to the slurry. More particularly, fibers can be added to the slurry in a batch process. For example, basalt fibers can be placed into a mold. Next, the slurry can be poured into the mold and over the basalt fibers. Alternatively, fibers can be added to the slurry in a continuous process. For example, a basalt fiber mat can be transported by a conveyor. Then, the slurry can be poured over the basalt fiber mat. Next, the slurry can be impregnated into the fiber mat by applying compressive force. For example, the slurry and fiber mat can pass between a plurality of rollers that apply compressive force to the slurry and mat, as described below.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, a wetting agent can be applied to the fibers to decrease the surface tension of fibers prior to introduction into the slurry, as described below.

At step 240, the slurry and fiber combination can be set or cured to form a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1. For example, the slurry can cure or set in air. Alternatively, for example, the slurry can cure or set in water. Additionally, for example, the slurry can cure or set at room temperature. Alternatively, for example, the slurry can cure or set at an elevated temperature. An elevated temperature can include temperatures above room temperature. For example, an elevated temperature can include about 86 degrees Fahrenheit to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, one or more curing agents can be added to the ceramic composite before and/or during curing. For example, one or more of phosphoric acid, a phosphate (such as monopotassium phosphate) and a water soluble metal oxide (such as magnesium hydroxide) can be used.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, one or more of the steps 210-240 can be performed in a vacuum, as described below.

As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, certain steps can be performed in ways other than those recited above and the steps can be performed in sequences other than those recited above.

FIG. 3 illustrates a system for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1. The system 300 includes a wetting agent applicator 310, a first slurry applicator 320, a second slurry applicator 330, a plurality of rollers 340, and a conveying unit 350.

In operation, a mat of fiber moves through the system 300 on the conveying unit 350, such as a conveyor, as shown by direction arrows 360. The mat passes under the wetting agent applicator 310. The wetting agent applicator 310 continuously applies a wetting agent, such as saline, magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2), potassium phosphate (K2HPO4), and/or other surfactant, to the mat. The wetting agent applicator 310 can apply the wetting agent to the mat by spraying, rolling, or brushing the wetting agent onto the mat. The amount of wetting agent applied to the mat can be varied by adjusting the speed at which the mat passes under the wetting agent applicator 310 (that is, the speed of the conveying unit 350) and/or by adjusting the rate at which the wetting agent is expelled from the wetting agent applicator 310.

Next, the mat passes under the first slurry applicator 320. The first slurry applicator 320 continuously applies a ceramic concrete or cement slurry, such as the slurry described in step 220 of FIG. 2, to the mat. The first slurry applicator 320 can apply the slurry to the mat by pouring, rolling, or brushing the slurry onto the mat. The amount of slurry applied to the mat can be varied by adjusting the speed at which the mat passes under the first slurry applicator 320 (that is, the speed of the conveying unit 350) and/or by adjusting the rate at which the slurry is expelled from the first slurry applicator 320.

Next, the mat passes between a plurality of rollers 340. The rollers 340 include rounded surfaces capable of applying compressive pressure to the mat and the slurry applied by the first slurry applicator 320. For example, the rollers 340 can include a non-reactive material shaped in a cylindrical form. In such an example, the rollers 340 can be utilized in a manner similar to dough rollers. For example, a pair of rollers 340, each rotating in the opposite direction, can compress the slurry and the mat. By applying pressure, the fibers in mat can be impregnated with the slurry.

In an embodiment of the presently described technology, one or more of the first slurry applicator 320 and the rollers 340 can be enclosed in a vacuum as the mat passes under and through. For example, the first slurry applicator 320 and/or the rollers 340 can be enclosed in a volume that includes an atmosphere with air pressure less than ambient air pressure. In such an embodiment, the vacuum surrounding the first slurry applicator 320 and/or the rollers 340 can be a partial or total vacuum. Such a vacuum can assist with removing air pockets or voids as the fibers of the mat are impregnated with the slurry.

Next, the mat, impregnated with the slurry, passes under a second slurry applicator 330. The second slurry applicator 330 continuously applies additional ceramic concrete or cement slurry, such as the slurry described in step 220 of FIG. 2, to the mat. Similar to first slurry applicator 320, the second slurry applicator 330 can apply the slurry to the mat by pouring, rolling, or brushing the slurry onto the mat. The amount of slurry applied to mat can be varied by adjusting the speed at which the mat passes under the second slurry applicator 330 (that is, the speed of the conveying unit 350) and/or by adjusting the rate at which the slurry is expelled from the second slurry applicator 330.

Additional slurry can be provided by the second slurry applicator 330 to provide a uniform thickness to the mat and slurry. After passing through the rollers 340, the mat and slurry can have a non-uniform thickness and/or a non-uniform surface (that is, a rough surface). By applying additional slurry, the final composite material can possess a more uniform thickness and/or surface.

Next, the mat and slurry combination can be placed into a position of rest. In other words, the mat and slurry combination stops moving (that is, the conveying unit 350 stops moving). Once the mat and slurry combination stops moving, the ceramic concrete or cement slurry can set or cure.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, an entire mat passes through the system 300 before coming to rest to cure or set. Once the mat and slurry has set or cured, a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1, is formed. The composite can then be cut to a desired length or shape.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, the mat and slurry pass continuously through the system 300. The mat and slurry combination can be cut into a desired length or shape as it passes beyond the second slurry applicator 330. In other words, once a desired amount of the mat and slurry have passed the second slurry applicator 330, the mat can be cut. The cut portion of the mat and slurry can then be placed in a position of rest to cure or set, as described above.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, the ceramic concrete or cement slurry can start to cure or set before the mat is placed in a position of rest. For example, the ceramic concrete or cement slurry can start to cure or set when expelled from the first and second slurry applicators 320, 300. Alternatively, for example, the ceramic concrete or cement slurry can start to cure or set when mixed.

FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel 400, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology. The panel 400 includes a first exterior member 410, a second exterior member 420, a plurality of interior support members 430, and insulation 440.

The first exterior member 410, the second exterior member 420, and the interior support members 430 may be referred to as members, elements, components or trusses. The panel 400 may be referred to as a panel or sheet. Additionally, the terms interior, exterior, top, bottom, front, and back can be interchangeable depending on the orientation and function of a particular embodiment of the presently described technology.

The first exterior member 410 can be oriented substantially parallel to the second exterior member 420. The interior support members 430 can be placed between the exterior members 410, 420. For example, the supports 430 can be oriented substantially perpendicular to the exterior members 410, 420 of the building panel 400. Alternatively, the supports 430 can be oriented at various angles to the exterior members 410, 420, for example. Additionally, the interior support members 430 can be attached to the first and second exterior members 410, 420. For example, the supports 430 can be chemically and/or mechanically bonded to the exterior members 410, 420 of the building panel 400.

The exterior members 410, 420 and supports 430 can include a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1. However, the exterior members 410, 420 and supports 430 can include different chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composites.

Any one or more of the exterior members 410, 420 and supports 430 can include a different thickness of cement and/or volume of fiber. For example, the nominal thickness of the first exterior member or top 410 can be about 0.25 inch (0.64 centimeters). The nominal thickness of the second exterior member or bottom 420 and the interior support members or trusses 430 can be about 0.25 inch (0.64 cm) to about 0.5 inch (1.27 cm), for example. Although a thinner composite can be more cost effective (that is, less material, quicker cure), a thicker composite can provide additional compressive strength. Additionally, for example, one or more of the exterior members 410, 420 and supports 430 can include a fiber volume from about 10 percent to about 40 percent. However, the fiber volume can also be larger or smaller. Although a larger fiber volume can increase the tensile strength of the composite, and thus, the component or member of the building panel, it can also result in a reduction of compressive strength.

Additionally, one or more of the exterior members 410, 420 and supports 430 can be formed differently (that is, formed by different process and under different conditions). As described above, a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1, can be formed by casting (that is, cement poured over fiber in a mold) or impregnation (that is, rollers impregnate fiber mat with cement slurry). One or more of the elements or components of the building panel, particularly, the first and second exterior members 410, 420 and the interior support members 430, can include composites formed by either casting or impregnation. Composites formed by impregnation can be stronger than composites formed by casting because of reduced porosity (that is, better integration of cement and fiber).

Also, as described above, the composite can be formed in atmosphere or in a vacuum. Thus, one or more of the elements or components of the building panel, such as the exterior members 410, 420 and the supports 430, can include composites formed in atmosphere or in a vacuum. Composites formed in a vacuum can be stronger than composites formed in atmosphere because of reduced porosity, as described above.

The insulation 440 between the supports 430 can include air, foam, fiberglass, or cardboard, for example.

The chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel 400 can be useful in a many different types of structures, such as residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. More particularly, the building panels 400 can include the wall panels, roof panels, and/or floor panels in a residential, commercial, or industrial building, for example. Furthermore, the building panels 400 can be stronger (in tension and/or compression) than conventional building panels, as well as lightweight and flame retardant and/or fire resistant.

For example, in concrete roof panels and floor panels used in buildings, the top of the panels typically experience a compressive load while the bottom of the panels typically experience a tensile load. By incorporating the composite described herein into floor and roof panels, the added tensile strength achieved by the composite allows for less total material to be used in order to achieve comparable compressive and tensile strengths. In other words, as the composite described herein is considerably stronger in tension than current concretes, a smaller amount of the composite can be used to achieve similar compressive and tensile strength requirements.

Moreover, the increased tensile strength of the composite cement can provide for lighter and cheaper building panels. For example, as the composite cement is stronger than traditional cements used in building panels, less of the composite cement can be used to replace traditional cements while still providing equal or greater tensile and/or compressive strengths. Therefore, by using less material to achieve the same or greater strength, the total weight of building panels made with the composite cement can be considerably lighter. Similarly, by using less material to achieve the same function, the total cost of producing a building panel decreases.

FIG. 7 illustrates an isometric view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology. FIG. 8 illustrates a plan view of a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology.

Additionally, for example, the composite material can be used as vertical support members, or trusses, in a building panel. FIG. 9 illustrates an isometric view of an interior support member, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology. The ceramic composite can be a useful replacement for vertical support members or trusses made of steel as the composite materials do not corrode (as steel does) and have increased resistance to fire (over steel).FIG. 5 illustrates a flow diagram of a method 500 for manufacturing the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building structure 400 of FIG. 4, according to at least one embodiment of the presently described technology. The method 500 includes providing a plurality of interior support members 510, attaching the interior support members to a first exterior member 520, providing insulation between the interior support members 530, and attaching the interior support members to a second exterior member 540.

At step 510, interior support members, such as the interior support members 430 of FIG. 4, are provided. For example, the supports can be prefabricated. Alternatively, for example, the supports can be manufactured in time with the other components of the building panel, such as the exterior members 410, 420 of the building panel 400 of FIG. 4. As described above, the supports can include a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite, such as the chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1. The chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite 100 of FIG. 1 can be manufactured by the method 200 of FIG. 2 and/or system 300 of FIG. 3.

At step 520, the supports can be attached to a first exterior member, such as the first exterior member 410 of FIG. 4. More particularly, the supports can be chemically bonded to the first exterior member. For example, the supports can be placed into the partially cured cement in the first exterior member as the first exterior member is manufactured. More particularly, some of the fibers in the supports can chemically bond with some of the partially cured cement in the first exterior member. Additionally, some of the cured cement in the supports can chemically bond with some of the partially cured cement in the first exterior member.

At step 530, insulation, such as the insulation 440 of FIG. 4, can be added between the supports. For example, the insulation can include air, foam, fiberglass, or cardboard. More particularly, the insulation can include unsupportive insulation, such as air or other insulative gases. Alternatively, the insulation can include supportive insulation, such as foam, fiberglass, or cardboard. Supportive insulation can provide support to the other components of the building panel during production and assembly, as described below.

At step 540, the supports can be attached to a second exterior member, such as the second exterior member 420 of FIG. 4. More particularly, the supports can be chemically bonded to the second exterior member. For example, the supports, which are already attached to the first exterior member and include insulation in between, can be placed into the partially cured cement in the second exterior member as the second exterior member is being manufactured. More particularly, some of the fibers in the supports can chemically bond with some of the partially cured cement in the second exterior member. Additionally, some of the cured cement in the supports can chemically bond with some of the partially cured cement in the second exterior member.

Alternatively, for example, the second exterior member can be placed onto the supports, which are already attached to the bottom and include insulation in between. More particularly, some of the fibers and cured cement in the supports can chemically bond with some of the partially cured cement in the second exterior member. As described above, the second exterior member can include partially cured cement.

In at least one embodiment of the presently described technology, one or more of the components in the panel can be prefabricated as a core. For example, the core can include supports, such as the supports 430 of FIG. 4, and insulation, such as the insulation 440 of FIG. 4. Prefabricating a core may not only simplify the manufacturing process, but it can also reduce the production time and cost of a building panel, such as the building panel 400 of FIG. 4.

As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, certain steps can be performed in ways other than those recited above and the steps can be performed in sequences other than those recited above.

FIG. 6 illustrates a system 600 for manufacturing a chemically and/or mechanically bonded inorganic composite building panel, such as the building panel 400 of FIG. 4. The system 600 is similar to the system 300 of FIG. 3 and includes all of the elements of the system 500 of FIG. 5. Additionally, the system 600 includes an assembly unit 670. That is, the system 600 includes a wetting agent applicator 610, a first slurry applicator 620, a second slurry applicator 630, a plurality of rollers 640, a conveying unit 650, direction arrows 660, and an assembly unit 670. The wetting agent applicator 610, first and second slurry applicators 620, 630, rollers 640, conveying unit 650, and direction arrows 660 are similar to their respective elements in FIG. 3, and are described above.

As described above, after the fiber mat and cement or concrete slurry travel past the second slurry applicator 630 (as indicated by the direction arrows 660), the mat, impregnated with slurry, comes to a stop so that the slurry can set or cure. While the slurry is partially set or cured, the assembly unit 670 introduces other components of the building panel. For example, as a first exterior member, such as the first exterior member 410 of FIG. 4, cures or sets, the assembly unit 670, positioned above the conveying unit 650, such as a conveyor, can place one or more interior support members, such as supports 430 of FIG. 4, into the partially cured cement slurry of the first exterior member. As described above, the supports are attached or chemically bonded to the first exterior member.

Additionally, for example, as a second exterior member, such as the second exterior member 420 of FIG. 4, cures or sets, the assembly unit 670, positioned above the conveyer 650, can place the supports, which are attached to the first exterior member and include insulation, such as the insulation 440 of FIG. 4, in between, into the partially cured cement or concrete slurry of the second exterior member. As described above, the supports are attached or chemically bonded to the second exterior member.

Alternatively, for example, as the second exterior member cures or sets, the assembly unit 670, positioned at the same level as or slightly below the conveyer 650, can hold the first exterior member, supports, and insulation while the conveyor 650 carries the second exterior member onto the other components of the building panel, as described above.

As described above, the fiber mat and cement slurry may not stop to rest, but rather, can cure or set while traveling along the conveying unit 650. The assembly unit 670 can introduce other elements of the building panel, such as the supports, as the mat and slurry are in motion.

The assembly unit 670 can be stationary or in motion. Additionally, the assembly unit 670 can include robotics or other devices for selecting, moving, and placing the various elements of the building panel.

In an embodiment of the presently described technology, the functions of the conveying unit can be performed by the assembly unit. Alternatively, the functions of the assembly unit can be performed by the conveying unit. In other words, the functions of conveying and assembly, as described above, can be performed by a single unit, referred to as either the conveying unit or the assembly unit.

While particular elements, embodiments and applications of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be understood that the invention is not limited thereto since modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the present disclosure, particularly in light of the foregoing teachings.