Title:
Modular truss system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a truss system that can quickly and easily be field-assembled, through the interconnection of modular panels to form flat and box structural trusses. This system is intended for use across a broad spectrum of applications within the construction and home-improvement industries. At the heart of the invention is the panel composed of a metal tube or equivalent frame solidly connected at all four corners and a one piece structural web where triangular and/or arched geometric patterns are cut, stamped, or formed from sheet metal or equivalent material. The geometric patterns are often disguised within decorative patterns. The web is solidly anchored to the interior face of the frame on all sides. The assembled panel serves as a truss bay. When two or more panels are connected together in the same plane, or in multiple planes for box configurations, a structural truss is formed. The truss structures that are formed can be utilized in either single-end supported (cantilever) or double-end supported applications, without need of intermediate support. The flat and box truss structures that are formed during this assembly process can be used in a broad spectrum of structural applications where straight, curved, or circular trusses are employed, but more easily and economically assembled, transported and installed than traditional factory-built trusses. The present invention is composed of panels, their components, and various interconnection methods and devices that are utilized when truss structures are assembled and utilized in traditional application areas and non-traditional application areas such as, but not limited to, gates, fences, railings, and trusses.



Inventors:
Whyte, Tony Leroy (US)
Whyte, Diana Joy (US)
Application Number:
11/729061
Publication Date:
12/13/2007
Filing Date:
03/28/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOLLOWAY, JASON R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tony Leroy Whyte (Alpine, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular flat truss system comprised of a structural panel, and panel interconnecting hardware; said interconnected panels form a structural flat truss of predetermined strength and load carrying capacity when utilized for stated purposes.

2. The structural panel of claim 1 wherein said panel has predetermined, form, dimensions, material specifications, and components; said form, dimensions, material specifications, and components gives said panel a predetermined strength and load carrying capacity when utilized by its self and when utilized as a modular component or bay of a flat truss structure.

3. The structural panel of claim 2 wherein said components include a solid or tube frame made of steel or equivalent, including frame corner connector, and structural web; said components provide the means of assembly and contribute to the composite strength when all components are assembled into the finished panel.

4. The frame of claim 3 wherein said frame members include, as a preferred embodiment for attachment, slots along the inside face of all frame members; said slots serve to mate with the tabs on the outside edges of the structural web, the size and number of these slots correspond to the number of tabs on the structural web panel.

5. The frame of claim 3 wherein said frame corner connector, as a preferred embodiment for connection, is installed at the ends of the frame's vertical member; Said corner connector, in conjunction with bolts, structurally serves to draw and damp the frame members together at the frame corners.

6. A structural web of claim 3 wherein said form, dimensions and attributes include outside perimeter dimension equal to the inside dimensions of the frame of claim 2, a predetermined web material gauge thickness, single sheet construction, a border or margin, a geometric center pattern, and panel to frame connections as described in claim 4; Said form, dimensions and attributes gives said structural web inherent predetermined strengths that keeps the frame of claim 2 from distorting or collapsing and prevents the structural web its self from moving, twisting, or deforming when the panel is placed under structural loads and stresses.

7. The panel interconnecting hardware of claim 1 wherein said hardware is known as the post and panel connector; Said post and panel connector provide the means to efficiently and solidly interconnect the structural panels of claim 1 into a structural flat truss structure and provide the means to solidly anchor a single panel or a flat truss structure at its end points.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

Provisional Patent Application 60/786,863 Filing date Mar. 28, 2006

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to the design concept in which interchangeable structural panels of various shapes are used to assemble structural/functional/decorative truss structures. These modular truss structures can be assembled in the field in the form of single (flat) and three dimensional (box) straight, bowed, or arched trusses. The trusses formed by this modular approach can be utilized in many applications where structural trusses have traditionally and are commonly utilized. In addition, the present invention relates to the utilization of this modular concept of truss formation for non-traditional uses in the design, fabrication and construction of gates, fences, railings, and other home improvement applications.

The definition of a truss is any of various structural frames based on the geometric rigidity of triangular and circular shapes and composed of straight and arched members' subject only to longitudinal compression, tension, or both. A truss, capable of long spans while carrying large amounts of weight, functions as a beam or cantilever to support bridges, roofs, floors, etc. Trusses are the most commonly used structural device in architecture today. A truss, as used in architecture and engineering, is most often made of steel and wood structural members. The open construction of a truss structure allows it to be lighter than a beam or structured platform, but just as strong. The parts of a truss are chords, vertical supports, and a repeating internal web pattern that provides cross bracing over the length of the truss structure. The distance over which the truss extends is called the span. A flat truss is formed by connecting the ends of straight or arched pieces of metal or wood to the members of the internal web lying in a single plane. A three-dimensional truss is formed by interconnecting the chords of three or more flat truss structures on different planes such that a three-dimensional shape is created. These three-dimensional trusses are commonly referred to as box trusses. The design of all trusses is based on the principal that the geometry of the internal web will not collapse or change its shape under applied loads.

2. Description of the Related Art

Trusses are an invention of man that is just as important as the invention of the wheel. The truss has allowed man to build bridges that cross huge bodies of water, construct tall and large buildings, and design the extremely strong and versatile machinery and scaffolds that aid in the construction and maintenance of these bridges and buildings. All of the original trusses were made of wood. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, cast and wrought iron began to be utilized in whole or in part. Later in the 19th century, steel became the most commonly utilized truss building material. In today's world, trusses are made from many different materials both natural and man-made. The fact is, without the invention of the truss, most of the infrastructure of our highways and cities would not exist.

Trusses utilized in the building industry today are normally factory-assembled and delivered to the job site for installation. The dimensions of these trusses, as manufactured, are unwieldy which makes loading, delivery, and off-loading at the job site cumbersome and expensive. In addition, special equipment is necessary at the job site to lift the truss structures into place.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to a modular truss system for use in a broad spectrum of structural applications where trusses are employed, but more easily and economically assembled, transported and installed, than traditional factory-built trusses. Further, the present invention relates, but is not limited to, use in the home improvement industry for the building of fence, gate, railing, and truss systems. When modular components are securely connected together, a truss structure is formed that can, within stated guidelines, span distances and support loads just as those that are factory built. Modular trusses, just as factory-built trusses, can be utilized in either single-end supported (cantilever) or double-end supported applications without need of intermediate support.

The present invention is a modular truss system composed of a) a structural panel of various geometric shapes, with a non-obvious unique center web to provide the structural strength required by the panel when utilized as a bay module in a truss structure, b) methods and devices utilized for assembling the structural panel, and c) connecting devices and methods for interconnecting the structural panels together to form a flat truss capable of addressing traditional and non-traditional flat truss applications, and d) connecting devices and methods for interconnecting the formed flat truss structures into three dimensional geometric box truss structures (including those shaped like cubes, rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, or any other three-dimensional geometric shapes) capable of addressing traditional and non-traditional box truss applications.

The present invention, because of its modular nature, simplifies planning, shipping, handling, storage, and job site installation while addressing a wide variety of engineered and standardized structural applications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The present invention may be better understood (and its numerous features and advantages made apparent to those skilled in the art) by referencing the accompanying drawings. For ease of understanding and simplicity, common numbering of elements (standard parts) within the illustrations is employed where a part appears in multiple drawings. The standard parts are listed immediately after the listing of Figures.

Figures

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a single panel.

FIG. 2 is an exploded drawing of a single panel.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of section A-A of FIG. 2

FIG. 4 is a front view of a web (This is also standard part number 4)

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a frame corner connector (This is also standard part number 3).

FIG. 5 is a front view of a truss structure where 3 panels are connected directly together to form a straight truss.

FIG. 6 is a detailed view of the area within portion D in FIG. 6.

FIG. 7 is a front view of a truss structure where 3 panels are connected together using a panel connector to form a quick connect straight truss.

FIG. 8 is a detailed view of the area within portion B in FIG. 8.

FIG. 9 is a detailed view of the area within portion C in FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a panel connector (This is also standard part number 6).

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a post (This is also standard part number 5).

FIG. 12 is a front view of an alternate web design (This is also standard part number 4)

FIG. 14 is perspective views of two styles of chord connectors. (This is also standard part number 8).

FIG. 13 is a truss structure where 12 panels are connected directly together.

FIG. 14 is Section E-E of FIG. 15 which shows the connections and assembly of a four sided three dimensional box truss.

FIG. 15 is a Truss a truss structure where 9 panels are connected directly together.

FIG. 16 is Section F-F of FIG. 17 which shows the connections and assembly of a three sided three dimensional box truss.

FIG. 17 is a front view of a truss structure where three bow curved panels are connected directly together to form a radial bow truss.

FIG. 18 is Section G-G of FIG. 19 which shows a top view of a bow truss.

FIG. 19 is a detailed view of the area within portion J in FIG. 19.

FIG. 20 is a front view of a truss structure where three arched panels are connected directly together to form an arched truss.

FIG. 21 is Section H-H of FIG. 22 which shows a top view of an arched truss.

FIG. 22 is a detailed view of the area within portion K in FIG. 22.

FIG. 23 is an illustration that depicts bowed modular panels interconnected to form a circle bow truss.

FIG. 24 is an illustration that depicts arched modular panels interconnected to form a circle arch truss.

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of a connector utilized to interconnect flat trusses together to form three dimensional box trusses.

FIG. 26 is an illustration of the various modular panel shapes that support and complement the present invention modular truss system.

FIG. 27 is a view of a truss structure where three panels are connected directly together to form a straight truss that is anchored by a triangular shaped panel.

FIG. 28 is a detailed view of the area within portion D in FIG. 6.

FIG. 29 is a truss structure where two different panel shapes are combined into a truss structure.

FIG. 30 is a detailed view of the area within portion H of FIG. 31

FIG. 31 is a view of a truss structure where three panels of mixed shapes are connected together to form a straight truss structure.

STANDARD PARTS

    • Part 1 Horizontal frame member
    • Part 1a Horizontal frame member tab slots
    • Part 2 Vertical frame member
    • Part 2a Vertical frame member tab slots
    • Part 3 Frame corner connector
    • Part 4 Frame corner connector
    • Part 5 Square corner
    • Part 6 Triangular corner
    • Part 7 Web
    • Part 8 Border
    • Part 9 Geometric pattern
    • Part 10 Web fastening tab
    • Part 11 Modular truss anchor post
    • Part 11a Modular truss anchor post T-shaped slot
    • Part 12 Modular truss quick connect panel connector
    • Part 12a Modular truss quick connect panel T-shaped slot
    • Part 13 Bolt (stud, pin, rivet, etc.)
    • Part 14a Modular truss chord connector Bowed
    • Part 14b Modular truss chord connector Polygon
    • Part 14c Modular truss chord connector Straight
    • Part 14d Modular truss chord connector Arched
    • Part 15 Modular truss box truss connector
    • Part 16 Assembled structural panel (also FIG. 1)

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following is a detailed description of illustrative embodiments of the present invention. As these embodiments of the present invention are described, with reference to the aforementioned drawings, various modifications or adaptations of the methods and or specific structures described may become apparent to those skilled in the art. All of these teachings of the present invention (and through which these teachings have advanced the art), are considered to be within the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, the devices set forth herein have been characterized as structural building, fence, and truss system components, but it is apparent that other construction, structural, decorative, professional, and training uses may be found for these devices. Hence, these descriptions and drawings are not to be considered in a limiting sense as it is understood that the present invention is in no way limited to the embodiments illustrated.

FIG. 1 is a three-dimensional view of the truss panel/bay module (panel) which is the heart of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a truss panel showing the panel's parts and their relationship to each other. The panel in this drawing is shown in the shape of a rectangle, however, other geometric shapes, as illustrated in FIG. 28, can also be built in a similar manner. The outside perimeter or frame of the panel is constructed of metal tubing or other suitable material that is securely connected at the corners. The top and bottom horizontal members of the frame (standard part 1) serve as the chords of the truss. The vertical members of the frame (standard part 2) serve as vertical supports. The frame is structurally connected at the corners by a frame corner connector (standard part 3) which is a preferred embodiment that also facilitates the coupling of panels together. Other methods of connections e.g. welding, riveting, pinning, etc. can also be employed. The frame is braced by an interior web (standard part 4) that precisely fits into the space inside the frame. This web, because of its geometric patterns, provides the cross-bracing to accommodate the tension and compression forces and loads that are exerted when the panel is installed as a bay within truss structure.

FIG. 3 is a cross section of the panel as shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the web (standard part 4). The web is stamped or cut from a single piece of sheet metal or other suitable sheet material. When stamping, cutting, or forming is completed, there is a border remaining (standard part 4a) around all four sides of the web and a structurally sound geometric pattern inside the border (standard part 4b). On the outside edges of the web's border are tabs which are a preferred embodiment of the panel (standard part 4c).

During assembly of a panel, the web tabs are inserted into slots that have been cut into the inside face of the frame. These slots are shown in FIG. 2 (standard parts 1a and 2a). This interlocking method of attaching the web to the inside of the frame is the preferred embodiment of the present invention, but the present invention also claims other methods of attachment (e.g., welding, clips, etc.). Solid attachment of the geometric web inside the frame prevents the web from moving or twisting when the panel is placed under structural loads and stresses.

The basic design of the web is critical to the structural strength of the panel and its ability to perform. The basic geometric pattern shown within the web in FIG. 3 (standard part 4b) can vary in order to address structural design load requirements and to provide aesthetically pleasing shapes and designs (including, for example the Burr arch truss, a commonly known type of truss structure). However, the pattern will always accommodate the forces of compression and tension such that the resulting force component is longitudinal along each chord. The net result is the balancing or approximate cancellation of vertical force components, and the absorption of longitudinal force components, as well as resistance against torque or twisting forces. Hence, when these panels are utilized as a single bay (FIG. 1) or when two or more panels are securely connected together, a good, strong truss is formed. While a structurally sound geometric web pattern is crucial to the structural integrity of the web, the web pattern design can be embedded/disguised within decorative cutout patterns (FIG. 13) that improve the aesthetic appearance of the panel as a whole. This is especially desirable when the truss is utilized as a gate, fence, railing, or open-beam truss.

The frame corner connector (FIG. 5) as previously cited is a preferred embodiment of the present invention. This connector, fabricated from metal or other suitable material, when installed inside of the horizontal or vertical members of the frame (depicted in the drawings as being installed in the vertical support FIG. 2, (standard part 3) provides a structurally solid core material into which bolts, rivets, pins, or other fastening techniques, can be utilized to tightly draw together and anchor the horizontal and vertical members where they intersect at the corners.

FIG. 6 is a front view of three panels directly connected together to form a basic modular flat truss structure. This is the preferred embodiment when utilizing the present invention as a structural truss. FIG. 7 details how this direct connection is made utilizing bolts (or pins, rivets, etc.) and modular truss chord connectors (FIG. 14c) to tightly fasten the panels together and provide linear continuity of the top and bottom chord from one end of the formed truss structure to the other.

FIG. 19 is a front view of three panels directly connected together to form a bowed modular flat truss structure. FIG. 19 details how this direct connection is made utilizing bolts (or pins, rivets, etc.) and modular truss chord connectors (FIG. 14a) to tightly fasten the panels together and provide linear continuity of the top and bottom chord from one end of the formed truss structure to the other. Bowed top and bottom horizontal chords are utilized to form the panels that are used in this structure. The structural web, because it is a sheet, bows to conform to the bow of the horizontal chords. When modular panels are connected together, an arc is formed as shown in FIG. 20. When the arc is continued until the ends meet, a full circle truss is formed as depicted in FIG. 25.

FIG. 22 is a front view of three panels directly connected together to form an arched modular flat truss structure. FIG. 24 details how this direct connection is made utilizing bolts (or pins, rivets, etc.) and modular truss chord connectors (FIG. 14d) to tightly fasten the panels together and provide linear continuity of the top and bottom chord from one end of the formed truss structure to the other. Arched top and bottom horizontal chords are utilized to form the panels that are used in this structure. The modular panels and structural web design utilized in this truss structure are bapezoidal in shape. When modular panels are connected together, an arc is formed as shown in FIG. 22 and FIG. 23. When the arc is continued until the ends meet, a full circle truss is formed as depicted in FIG. 26.

The modular box truss structures depicted in FIG. 6, FIG. 19 and FIG. 22 are flat truss structures. The present invention because of its modular makeup can be interconnected utilizing the modular box truss connector (FIG. 27) to form multi-sided box truss structures (straight, bowed and arched) as shown in FIG. 15 and FIG. 17. FIG. 15 and FIG. 16 show a four-sided box truss configuration in perspective and from a front view, and FIG. 17 and FIG. 18 show a three-sided box truss configuration in perspective and front a front view.

FIG. 8 is a front view of three panels connected together with quick-connect hardware to form a basic quick-connect truss structure. This quick-connect truss structure is the preferred embodiment when utilizing the present invention as a structural truss for fence, gate, railing, and truss applications. The modular truss quick-connect panel connector (FIG. 11) and the modular truss quick-connect anchor post (FIG. 12) are designed to allow the panels to be quickly and efficiently assembled and connected. Specifically, as shown in the attached drawings, the post and connector brackets are fabricated with ‘T’ shaped slots. The head of bolts that have been installed into the corner connectors of the panel (top and bottom) are slid into the ‘T’ shaped slots in the quick-connect panel connector (FIG. 11, standard part 6a) or quick-connect anchor post (FIG. 12, (standard part 5a) and securely tightened. The quick-connect panel and quick-connect post connectors are fabricated from metal tubing or other suitable material to provide the strength necessary for the formation of a truss structure as panels are connected together. The quick-connect panel connector (FIG. 11) and quick-connect post connector (FIG. 12) are especially suitable for fence, gate, railing, and truss installations where installation time and ease of installation are primary considerations and when standardized compatible hardware and appurtenances (e.g., latches, hinges, etc.) are utilized. The design of the quick-connect panel connector (FIG. 11) especially facilitates the installation of decorative panels where wooden posts, or posts not specifically manufactured to be used as part of this system, are utilized.

Whether the panels are direct-connected or quick-connected, the truss structures that are formed must be anchored at each end. Two basic forms of anchoring are offered by the present invention. They are post anchoring, panel anchoring, and post and panel anchoring. Post anchoring is depicted in FIG. 6, FIG. 19 and FIG. 22 as well as their accompanying details. Panel anchoring is shown in FIG. 29, and FIG. 30. Post and panel anchoring is shown in FIG. 31 and FIG. 32.

In many truss panel structures, especially in applications for gate, fence, railing, and truss systems, different panel shapes can be combined to provide aesthetic interest and artstic diversity. The combining of shapes is shown in FIG. 33.

Not obvious in the overall description of the present invention is that new technological approaches are being applied to truss design, fabrication, and assembly. Specifically; a) stamping, cutting or forming a structurally sound pattern with dimensions that provide the strength necessary to replace traditional web components and that additionally have aesthetic appearance, b) forming, forging, or machining corner and chord connectors that replicate the strength given to flat and box truss structures using traditional chord, vertical post, and web interconnection methods, and c) fabricating panel interconnection hardware with ‘T’ shaped slots that allow for the quick, secure interconnection of panels when utilized in gate, fence, railing and other lighter duty flat truss applications.

The present invention utilizes Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology to economically cut, stamp, or form all panel parts. This technology has only in very recent years become readily available to small-part fabricators. It is because of CNC technology that the present invention is possible. CNC technology provides the ability to make mass-produced interlocking parts and components essential to truss structural strength. The present invention utilizes this technology to invent a new and innovative modular design concept for building flat and box truss structures.