Title:
Pre-Fabricated Steel Wall Panel Assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Embodiments of the invention are directed to a system of pre fabricated steel panels and associated components. Panels may be locked together via a hem lock tongue of a second panel being inserted into a hem lock groove of a first panel. The second panel is then hinged within the hem lock groove, which automatically aligns the first and second panels. The panels may then be inserted into top and bottom tracks. The panels may have tabs on them that cooperate with formations in the top and bottom tracks to automatically lock the panels into the tracks.



Inventors:
Enevoldson, Danny (Poteau, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/771656
Publication Date:
05/29/2008
Filing Date:
06/29/2007
Assignee:
Benjamin Case, LLP (Kailua, HI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRIGGS, ANDREW J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BANNER & WITCOFF, LTD. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A construction panel system comprising: at least one construction panel, wherein each of the at least one construction panels includes: a main panel portion, a hem lock tongue portion, a hem lock groove portion, a first side portion that is connected to a first end of the main panel at a first end of the first side panel and that is connected to the hem lock groove at a second end of the first side portion such that the hem lock groove portion is configured to initially receive a hem lock tongue of a second construction panel at an acute angle relative to the first side portion and is configured to then allow the second construction panel to hinge in the hem lock groove toward the first side portion of the first construction panel thereby locking the hem lock tongue of the second construction panel in the hem lock groove of the first construction panel, and a second side portion that is connected to a second end of the main panel at a first end of the second side panel and that is connected to a hem lock tongue at a second end of the second side portion of the first construction panel; a bottom track configured such that a bottom portion of the at least one construction panel fits into and can be fastened to the bottom track; and a top track configured such that a top portion of the at least one construction panel fits into and can be fastened to the top track.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein, once the hem lock tongue of the second construction panel is locked in the hem lock groove of the first construction panel, the hem lock tongue of the second construction panel abuts a first hem lock groove portion of the first construction panel.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein, once the hem lock tongue of the second construction panel is locked in the hem lock groove of the first construction panel, the second side portion of the second construction panel abuts the first side portion of the first construction panel.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the top track includes a first deadwood tracking ledge.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein the top track includes second deadwood tracking ledge.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one construction panel includes tabs and the bottom track and the top track include formations that cooperate with the tabs to lock the at least one construction panel into the bottom track and into the top track.

7. An apparatus comprising: a top track configured such that a top portion of at least one construction panel fits into and can be fastened to the top track, wherein the top track includes a first deadwood tracking ledge.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the top track includes a second deadwood tracking ledge.

9. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the at least one construction panel includes tabs and the top track includes formations that cooperate with the tabs to lock the at least one construction panel into the top track.

10. An apparatus comprising: an interior wall coupler that fits into a construction panel and that provides solid corners and deadwood blocking for an interior wall.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

Priority is claimed to the Jun. 30, 2006, filing date of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/806429, which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

Embodiments of the invention relate to a system of panels and related components used in construction of buildings.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Prefabricated steel wall panel assemblies are known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,979,136 to Marschak, dated Nov. 9, 1999, and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2006/0059808, in the name of Nguyen, published Mar. 23, 2006, disclose systems of this type. In practice, the systems disclosed by these references include panels that need to be manually lined up with one another and fastened together with screws where each pair of adjacent panels meets.

As such, wall panels that align themselves automatically, can be assembled more easily and efficiently than conventional panels, and that are simpler and less expensive to manufacture would advance the art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention are directed to a system of pre fabricated steel panels and associated components. Panels may be locked together via a hem lock tongue of a second panel being inserted into a hem lock groove of a first panel. The second panel is then hinged within the hem lock groove, which automatically aligns the first and second panels. The panels may then be inserted into top and bottom tracks. The panels may have tabs on them that cooperate with formations in the top and bottom tracks to automatically lock the panels into the tracks.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent upon reviewing the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary of the invention, as well as the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, is better understood when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which are included by way of example, and not by way of limitation with regard to the claimed invention.

FIG. 1 shows a top view and two perspective views of a standard wall panel 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 shows a top view and two perspective views of a C panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows a top view and two perspective views of a locking panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 shows a top view and two perspective views of a corner panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 shows a top view and two perspective views of a lapping panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 shows how a hem lock tongue and a hem lock groove of separate standard panels may be used to lock the two standard panels together in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of a top and bottom track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 shows a top view and a perspective view of a wall T in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 shows corner caps in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 shows a T track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of an interior top track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 12 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of an exterior top track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 shows a door box header that may be formed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 14-16 show various types of door and window headers that may be formed in accordance with various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 17 is similar to FIG. 1, but shows a standard panel with wedge shaped tabs that cooperate with formations on the top and bottom track to automatically lock the standard panel into the top and bottom track when the panel is inserted into the top and bottom track.

FIG. 18 shows a side view and a perspective view of an upside-down top track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 19 shows an exterior wall top track that is similar to the interior wall top track shown in FIG. 18.

FIG. 20 shows a bottom track suitable for use with an exterior wall in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a top view and two perspective views of a standard wall panel 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The wall panel includes a main panel portion 102, a first side portion 104, and a second side portion 106. The first side portion 104 is connected to a hem lock groove 108, which is formed by a first hem lock groove portion 112 and a second hem lock groove portion 114. The second side portion 106 is connected to a hem lock tongue 110.

FIG. 6 shows how a hem lock tongue and a hem lock groove of separate standard panels may be used to lock the two standard panels together in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In FIG. 6, standard panel 100-1 is shown already locked together with standard panel 100-3, and standard panel 100-2 is shown with its hem-lock tongue 110 inserted into the hem lock groove of standard panel 100-1, but panels 100-1 and 100-2 are not yet locked together. To lock panel 100-2 and 100-1 together, the hem lock tongue 110 hinges such that it rotates toward, and into contact with, the first hem lock groove portion 112. In this way, panel 100-2 rotates toward panel 100-1 until the second side portion 106 of panel 100-2 comes into contact and abuts the first side portion 104 of panel 100-1, which results in the main panels 102-1 and 102-2 automatically being aligned with one another.

In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, both the bottom and the top of a group of panels that have been locked together as discussed above in connection with FIGS. 1 and 6 may be inserted into, and fastened to, respective tracks. FIG. 7 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of a top and bottom track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Each panel may be fastened to the top and bottom tracks with an appropriate number of self-tapping sheet metal screws or any other suitable type of fasteners.

In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, panels may have tabs on them that cooperate with a groove or other suitable formation on the top and bottom track to automatically prevent the panels from coming out of the top and bottom tracks once the panels have been inserted into the tracks, thereby reducing the number of fasteners needed to keep the panels in the tracks. FIG. 17 is similar to FIG. 1, but shows a standard panel with wedge shaped tabs that cooperate with formations on the top and bottom track to automatically lock the standard panel into the top and bottom track when the panel is inserted into the top and bottom track.

FIG. 18 shows a side view and a perspective view of an upside-down top track 1800 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Formations 1802-1 and 1802-2, which may have a generally hook-shaped cross section, cooperate with the wedge shaped tabs discussed above in connection with FIG. 17 to keep panels locked into the top track while reducing the amount of fasteners used to fasten the top track 1800 to the panels. Top track 1800 includes a deadwood tracking ledge 1804, which eliminates the need to install deadwood tracking, which conventionally must be installed so that the sheets of drywall of an interior ceiling can be fastened to the deadwood tracking. In accordance with the embodiment, sheets of drywall may be fastened directly to deadwood tracking ledge 1804, thereby saving labor time and cost traditionally associated with installation of conventional deadwood tracking.

FIG. 19 shows an exterior wall top track 1900 that is similar to the interior wall top track 1800 shown in FIG. 18, but the exterior wall top track 1900 has deadwood tracking ledges 1804-1 and 1804-2 on both sides, instead of on just one side, as is the case for interior wall top track 1800. Top track 1900 is suitable for use on top of an interior wall for which drywall ceiling will be installed on both sides of the interior wall. Top track 1800, on the other hand, is suitable for use on an exterior wall for which drywall ceiling sheets will be installed on the interior side of the wall, but not on the exterior (i.e., outside) of the wall.

FIG. 20 shows a bottom track suitable for use with an exterior wall in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. As shown in FIG. 20, the bottom track includes formations for cooperating with the wedge shaped tabs on panels to automatically lock them into the bottom track. The bottom track is configured to hang over the edge of a building foundation thereby preventing water from entering the building between the bottom track and the top of the building's foundation.

FIG. 8 shows a top view and a perspective view of a wall T (also referred to as an interior wall coupler) in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The wider side (the top half in the top view) is configured to fit into a standard construction panel. The narrower half (the bottom half in the top view) forms comers and deadwood blocking for drywall wall sheets to be fastened on one or both sides of the wall T. FIG. 10 shows a T track, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention, which acts as a top track for the wall T shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 2 shows a top view and two perspective views of a C panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The C panel may be used at openings for doors and windows so that the hem of a standard panel does not protrude into the opening for the door or window.

FIG. 3 shows a top view and two perspective views of a locking panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The locking panel has a hem lock groove on both sides and may be used to lock together a C panel and a standard panel.

FIG. 4 shows a top view and two perspective views of a corner panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The corner panel continues the hem lock/hem lock groove pattern around corners. Corner panels may be made from heavier gauge material to increase a building's ability to withstand wind loads/wind shear.

FIG. 5 shows a top view and two perspective views of a lapping panel in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The lapping panel may be used to take up any growth or shrinkage in dimension of a building's foundation and may be cut to size on site.

FIG. 7 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of a top and bottom track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The top and bottom track shown in FIG. 7 is similar to the top and bottom tracks discussed above, but the track shown in FIG. 7 does not include any formations for locking the panels into the track and does not include any deadwood ledges.

FIG. 9 shows corner caps in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Corner caps may be used essentially as top and bottom tracks at corners.

FIG. 11 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of an interior top track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The interior top track shown in FIG. 11 is similar to the interior top track discussed above, but the interior top track shown in FIG. 11 does not include any formations for locking the panels into the track.

FIG. 12 shows a side elevation view and a perspective view of an exterior top track in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The exterior top track shown in FIG. 12 is similar to the exterior top track discussed above, but the exterior top track shown in FIG. 12 does not include any formations for locking the panels into the track.

FIG. 13 shows a door box header that may be formed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The box header provides added structural support for window and door openings. Similarly, FIGS. 14-16 show additional types of door and window headers that may be formed in accordance with various embodiments of the invention.

The system components (e.g., construction panels, top and bottom track, and the like) may be formed initially as a flat sheet and then bent at selected positions on a brake press. A roll former may be used instead of the brake press. The components may be cut to a desired size, holes may be punched in selected components so that utility cables and the like may be run through the components.

What has been described above is merely illustrative of the application of the principles of the invention. Those skilled in the art can implement other arrangements and methods without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.