Title:
ASSEMBLY JIG AND USE THEREOF FOR ASSEMBLING DOME SECTION PANELS CURVED IN TWO DIMENSIONS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable jig for assembling curved section panels of a dome structure includes a support surface, multiple arm guide members disposed on the support surface and multiple drives independently moving each of the guide members to position the arm guide members along an arc of a desired curvature. Each arm guide member further includes an adjustable bracket positioning horizontal and vertical components of the curved section panels and a gripping device securing these horizontal and vertical components.



Inventors:
Eldeib, Salah (Vancouver, CA)
Application Number:
11/688018
Publication Date:
01/31/2008
Filing Date:
03/19/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/32
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Primary Examiner:
WILSON, LEE D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTROLENK FABER LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for assembling section panels of a dome structure, comprising: a support surface; a plurality of guide members disposed on the support surface, each guide member further comprising an adjustable bracket positioning horizontal and vertical components of the section panels and a gripping device selectively securing horizontal and vertical components of the section panels; and a plurality of drives independently moving each of the guide members to position the guide members along an arc of a desired curvature.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the guide members are arm carriages.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein each of the arm carriages houses a pair of the adjustable brackets.

4. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein a distance between the adjustable brackets on each arm carriage is adjustable to accommodate the vertical components, such that the distance between the adjustable brackets defines a first dimension of the section panels.

5. An apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the adjustable brackets are configured to rotate to engage ends of the vertical components.

6. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the adjustable brackets are configured to rotate to engage ends of the vertical components.

7. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the gripping device selectively securing the vertical and horizontal components is a clamp.

8. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the drives independently moving each of the guide members are configured to position the guide members along an arc that defines a second dimension of the section panels.

9. An apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the drives independently moving each of the guide members is configured to move the guide members individually along designated curved paths, the curved paths being concentrically arranged.

10. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein each of the drives independently moving each of the guide members comprises a worm gear.

11. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein each of the drives independently moving each of the guide members comprises a hydraulic mechanism.

12. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein each of the drives independently moving each of the guide members comprises a pneumatic mechanism.

13. An apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the means for independently moving each of the guide members is configured to move the guide members individually along designated straight paths, the straight paths being radially arranged on a semi-circular surface.

14. An apparatus according to claim 13, wherein each of the drives independently moving each of the guide members comprises a worm gear.

15. An apparatus according to claim 13, wherein each of the drives independently moving each of the guide members comprises a hydraulic mechanism.

16. An apparatus according to claim 13, wherein each of the drives independently moving each of the guide members comprises a pneumatic mechanism.

17. A method for assembling a dome section panel curved in two dimensions comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of guide members positioning horizontal and vertical components of the dome section panel, each guide member further comprising adjustable brackets positioning the horizontal and vertical components; adjusting a distance between the adjustable brackets to accommodate dimensions of vertical ribs of the dome section panel; adjusting positions of the guide members to define a desired radius of curvature; placing a lower horizontal frame plate of the dome section panel on a lowermost of the adjustable brackets; securing the lower horizontal frame plate; placing an upper horizontal frame plate on an uppermost of the adjustable brackets; securing the upper horizontal plate; placing a lower posterior shoulder plate, oriented perpendicular to the lower horizontal frame plate, on the lowermost of the adjustable brackets; fastening the lower posterior shoulder plate to the lower horizontal frame plate; placing an upper posterior shoulder plate, oriented perpendicular to the upper horizontal frame plate, on the uppermost of the adjustable brackets; fastening the upper posterior shoulder plate to the upper horizontal frame plate; placing the vertical ribs between the lowermost and the uppermost horizontal frame plates, oriented perpendicular to the horizontal frame plates; placing a lower anterior shoulder plate, oriented perpendicular to the lower horizontal frame plate, on the lowermost of the adjustable brackets; fastening the lower anterior shoulder plate to the lower horizontal frame plate; placing an upper anterior shoulder plate, oriented perpendicular to the upper horizontal frame plate, on the uppermost of the adjustable brackets; and fastening the upper anterior shoulder plate to the upper horizontal frame.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 11/496,299 filed Jul. 31, 2006, in the name of Salah Eldeib, and entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR MODULAR CONSTRUCTION OF A DOME STRUCTURE AND ASSEMBLY COMPONENTS FOR FACILITATING SAME, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a jig for assembling dome section panels curved in two dimensions.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Dome structures are noted for their strength and stability. They are highly hurricane resistant since they are aerodynamic and earthquake resistant as a result of their ability to distribute and efficiently dissipate the applied stresses. Monolithic dome structures are typically constructed by elaboration of a concrete ring foundation and require that all tools and machinery to be used are brought to the site of construction. A different method of constructing a dome structure involves creating a first circular segment, having a given diameter and height, which is secured to the ground. The circular segment itself is created by connecting a plurality of individual panels which are curved in both their length and height dimension. Circular segments having a successively decreased diameter are subsequently introduced to complete construction of a dome structure. This was disclosed in a previous patent “System and Method for Modular Construction of a Dome Structure and Assembly Components for Facilitating Same.” It necessitates a method for preparing panels curved in two dimensions.

An assembly jig for assembling and preparing each panel curved in one dimension was disclosed in Canadian Patent CA 1,228,976. The aforementioned teaches an apparatus comprised of a series of parallel ribs which are connected together and can be moved simultaneously to create a curved surface for assembly of a panel. Since all the ribs are connected and move simultaneously as one unit, the apparatus suffers from the limitation that the curved surface can be in the form of a circular arc or an elliptical arc, but not both. A more significant limitation lies in the absence of a means for introducing or accommodating curvature in a second dimension. Thus, there is a need for an assembly jig that can be utilized to prepare panels curved in two dimension.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses the need for a jig that can be employed to assemble a dome section panel that is curved in two dimensions. According to the present invention, an apparatus incorporates an odd number of guide arms that function to guide and secure the positioning of horizontal and vertical components while they are being fastened to form the section panel. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, each guide arm possesses an arm carriage that houses a lower bracket and an upper bracket for positioning lower and upper plates, respectively, which define the frame of the curved section panel. The apparatus allows vertical components, which impart strength to the curved section, to be positioned between the lower and upper plates, oriented perpendicular to the lower and upper plates and fastened to the lower and upper plates. The brackets can be rotated to accommodate vertical components that are curved in their height (vertical) dimension, which determines the vertical curvature of the section panel.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, each arm carriage is supported by a base carriage. With the exception of the central base carriage, each base carriage can be moved independently along a curved path, such that the guide arms can be arranged, collectively, in the form an arc. This determines the curvature in the length dimension of the section panel. The location of the base carriages is adjusted according to the desired spacing between vertical components of an assembled curved panel and the desired degree of curvature in the length dimension of an assembled curved panel. Since each guide arm can be moved independently, the guide arms collectively provide a method for introducing curvature either in the form of a circular arc or an elliptical arc. Together, these unique features allow a single apparatus to be employed for the assembly of panels that are curved in two dimensions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an assembled panel curved in two dimensions.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a vertical component (a “rib”) to be incorporated into the panel.

FIG. 3a is a side view of a rib and FIG. 3b is a side view of a rib with upper frame plate, lower frame plate, and all shoulder plates fastened thereto.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an assembly jig according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side view of an assembly jig according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a elevation view of a guide arm according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a plan view of the assembly jig according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8a is a elevation view of the first step in the process of assembling a curved panel according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8b is a elevation view of the second step in the process of assembling a curved panel according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8c is a elevation view of the third step in the process of assembling a curved panel according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8d is a elevation view of the fourth step in the process of assembling a curved panel according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an assembly jig according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The assembly jig according to the present invention is specifically adapted for the assembly of dome section panels curved in two dimensions. In order to understand the present invention, an exemplary assembled panel 20 curved in two dimensions is shown in FIG. 1. The curvature in the length dimension of the assembled section panel is indicated by the dashed line. Each assembled panel includes an upper frame plate 22, a lower frame plate 24, an upper anterior shoulder plate 26, an upper posterior shoulder plate 28, a lower anterior shoulder plate 30 and a lower posterior shoulder plate 32. The aforementioned plates 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 32 can be formed from any suitable engineering material, including OSB (oriented strand board) sheets, plywood, particle board, press board, plastic or steel. The length of the aforementioned plates determines the length dimension of the assembled curved section panel 20.

The upper 22 and lower 24 frame plates are fastened to vertical components, termed ribs 34. Ribs 34 can be formed from any suitable engineering material showing suitable strength characteristics. The height of the ribs 34 determines the height of the assembled curved section panel 20. A typical rib 34 is illustrated in FIG. 2. Each end of rib 34 has a portion 36 cut-away on the anterior and posterior face that allows rib 34 to be nestled between anterior and posterior shoulder plates 26-32. The curvature in the height dimension of a rib 34, which leads to curvature in the height dimension of the assembled curved section panel 20, is indicated by the dashed line in FIG. 2. FIG. 3a illustrates a side view of rib 34 and FIG. 3b illustrates a side view of rib 34 with continuous upper frame plate 22, continuous lower frame plate 24 and continuous shoulder plates 26-32 assembled thereto.

A preferred embodiment of the assembly jig 40 is illustrated in FIG. 4. The assembly jig includes a plurality of guide arms 42 connected to a flat horizontal surface 44. Guide arms 42 function to position horizontal and vertical components during the assembly of curved section panels 20. An odd number of guide arms 42 are incorporated into the assembly jig 40. While a preferred embodiment of the present invention is described as having seven guide arms 42, it is within the scope of the present invention that the assembly jig may incorporate any suitable odd number of guide arms 42, specifically, five, seven or nine guide arms. In one of its aspects, the assembly jig 40 has all of its seven guide arms 42 aligned in a row along one of the edges of the horizontal surface 44, as illustrated in FIG. 5.

With reference to FIG. 6, each guide arm 42 includes a base carriage 46 resting on the horizontal surface 44 and an arm carriage 48 extending from and pivotally connected to the base carriage. As shown in FIG. 7, base carriage 46 of a central arm 42 is fixed in its position on the horizontal surface 44. The remaining base carriages 46 are movable along a curved path 50 on the horizontal surface 44. Independent movement of each base carriage 46 in either direction along its respective path 50 is controlled by a suitable mechanical means such as a worm gear, hydraulic mechanism or pneumatic mechanism. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, worm gears 52 (shown, for example, in FIG. 5) are operated manually, although it is within the scope of the present invention that this operation is automated. When the assembly jig 40 is viewed from above, a concentric pattern of curved paths 50 is formed, wherein the length and radius of curved paths 50 increases on moving from the central guide arm 42 to the outermost guide arm 42, on both the right and left side of the central guide arm 42, as illustrated in FIG. 7. The position of each base carriage 46 on its curved path 50 is chosen according to the desired degree of curvature in the length dimension and the desired spacing between ribs 34 of the assembled curved section panel 20.

Each arm carriage 48 can be rotated from its upright position, from 0 to 90 degrees, about an axis that lies perpendicular to the length of the arm carriage 48. This rotation path 54 is depicted in FIG. 6. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a cylindrical rod 56 connected at one end to the arm carriage 48 is pivotally connected at its other end to a component on the base carriage 46 which bears a grooved bore that can receive a worm gear 58. Thus, rotation of the worm gear 58 effects rotation of the arm carriage 48. While the worm gear 56 has been used in the preferred embodiment, any suitable mechanical means for effecting rotation of the arm carriage 48 can alternatively be employed. It is also within the scope of the present invention that rotation of the arm carriages be automated.

As illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 8, each arm carriage 48 includes a lower bracket 60 which is fixed in its position on the arm carriage 48 and serves to position components during assembly of the curved section panel. Each arm carriage 48 further includes an upper bracket 62 located at the terminal end of the arm carriage 48. It also serves to position components during the assembly of the curved section panel, and its position along the length of the arm carriage 48 can be adjusted to accommodate different heights of ribs 34. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the position of the upper bracket 62 is adjusted by means of a worm gear 64 (shown in FIG. 64), although any suitable mechanical means for effecting movement of the upper bracket 62 along the length of the arm carriage 48 can be employed. Lower bracket 60 and upper bracket 62 can rotate from 0 to 20 degrees and from 0 to 15 degrees, respectively, about an axis that lies perpendicular to the length of the arm carriage 48. This rotation allows the brackets to accommodate ribs 34 curved in its height (vertical) dimension, indicated by the dashed line in FIG. 2.

Prior to assembling the curved section panel 20, the height of the upper bracket 62 on every arm carriage 48 is adjusted to match the height of ribs 34 (and, consequently, of plates 20) that are to be used in the assembly. The angle of each the lower and upper bracket 60, 62 is then adjusted to match the curvature in the height (vertical) dimension of ribs 34. The angle at which arm carriages 48 lie is set to a predetermined value that facilitates access to both the lower and upper ends of ribs 34 during assembly. With the exception of the central base carriage 48, each base carriage 48 is moved to a predetermined position on its associated curved path 50, which will determine the required curvature, in the length dimension, and the required spacing between ribs 34 in the assembled curved section panel.

With reference to FIG. 8a, the process of assembling a curved section panel begins with placement of the lower frame plate 24 along the lower bracket 60 of the arm carriages 48. The lower frame plate 24 is held in place by a clamp (not shown) positioned on each arm carriage 48. The upper frame plate 22 is placed in the upper bracket 62 of the arm carriages 48 and held in place by a clamp (not shown) positioned on the arm carriage 48. The clamps are known in the prior art and are not a feature of novelty in the present invention. The lower posterior shoulder plate 32 is placed in the lower bracket 60 and fastened to the lower frame plate 24, as shown in FIG. 8b. The upper posterior shoulder plate 28 is then placed in the upper bracket 62 and fastened to the upper frame plate 22. As illustrated in FIG. 8c, one rib 34 is placed longitudinally between the lower bracket 60 and upper bracket 62 of each arm carriage 48, wherein the cut-away portion 36 at the lower and upper end of each rib 34 is fitted with the lower posterior shoulder plate 32 and upper posterior shoulder plate 28, respectively. In a final step, the lower anterior shoulder plate 30 is place atop the row of ribs 34 within the lower cut-away portion 36 and the upper anterior shoulder plate 26 is placed atop the row of ribs 34 within the upper cut-away portion 36, as shown in FIG. 8d. The lower and upper anterior shoulder plates 30, 26 are then fastened to the ribs 34. The assembled curved section panel 20 is then removed from the assembly jig 40 and the process is repeated to form additional assembled curved section panels. It is also within the scope of the present invention that the assembly and fastening processes be performed through an automated system.

As shown in FIG. 9, a second embodiment of the assembly jig is also designed for the assembly of dome section panels curved in two dimensions. With reference to FIG. 9, the second embodiment of the assembly jig 70 includes five guide arms 72 arranged on a semi-circular shaped support surface 74 and spaced equidistantly from each other. Although the second embodiment is illustrated as utilizing five guide arms 72, any odd number of guide arms can be utilized. Each of the five guide arms 72 includes a platform 76, a base carriage 78 and an arm carriage 80 pivotally connected to the base carriage 78. With the exception of the central guide arm 72 (which is centrally secured), platforms 76 can be moved in either direction along a linear path (not shown) on the support surface 74. Further, each base carriage 78 moves along a linear path (not shown) on its respective platform 76. In the second embodiment of the present invention, movement of base carriages 78 is effected by means of a worm gear 82, although any suitable mechanical means can be employed. Since guide arms 72 are arranged in a semi-circular manner by virtue of the shape of the support surface 74, the assembly jig 70 is predisposed to assemble section panels curved in its length dimension. The location of platforms 76 and base carriages 78 along their respective paths determines the degree of curvature in the length dimension and the spacing between ribs 34 of the assembled curved section panel.

Each arm carriage 80 includes a lower bracket 84 and an upper bracket 86 for positioning and securing horizontal and vertical components during the assembly of the curved section panel. The distance between the lower and upper brackets 84, 86 can be adjusted to accommodate ribs 34 of different height, and brackets 84, 86 can be rotated to accommodate ribs 34 that are curved in their height (vertical) dimension, as described in more detail above with respect to the first preferred embodiment of the present invention. Arm carriages 80 can be rotated from an upright position, perpendicular to the plane of the support surface, from 0 to 90 degrees. In the second embodiment of the present invention, the aforementioned movements are effected by means of worm gears 88 and 90, respectively although any suitable mechanical means can be employed.

While there have been shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that various omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the devices and methods illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements and/or method steps which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.