Title:
Process for making insulated concrete tilt-up walls and resultant product
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In a method of making insulated concrete tilt-up panels, an insulating material such as polystyrene is formed into a desired shape corresponding to the panel shape. Attachment grooves are formed across the surface of the insulating material. Preferably, the attachment grooves have a substantially triangular cross-section. The insulating material is laid groove-side-up in a concrete form and wet concrete is poured into the form. The concrete fills the grooves, attaching the insulation to the concrete panel. When the concrete is cured, the panel may be stood up and set in place so that the insulating material forms the exterior surface of the panel. A finishing material may be applied to the exterior surface of the panel. A panel set for use in constructing low-income residential housing includes four concrete tilt-up panels. The insulating material and concrete forms may be prepared in the quantity desired for the entire construction project and transported to a casting area at the construction site. The panels may be rapidly cast and assembled, reducing the time and labor required to complete the project.



Inventors:
Chouinard, Daniel (Fountain Hills, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/215185
Publication Date:
12/25/2008
Filing Date:
06/25/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.09
International Classes:
E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAUX, JESSICA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ETHERTON LAW GROUP, LLC (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An insulated tilt-up wall panel comprising: a. an insulating material; b. one or more attachment grooves formed in the insulating material; and c. concrete attached to the insulating material by the attachment grooves.

2. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 1 wherein the insulating material has substantially the same shape and perimeter as the concrete.

3. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 1 wherein the insulating material has substantially the same shape as the concrete and a shorter perimeter than the concrete.

4. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 1 wherein the insulating material comprises a plurality of adjacent segments.

5. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 4 wherein the insulating material further comprises an insulating filler, attached to the interior surface of the insulating material, which covers a seam between two adjacent segments.

6. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 5 wherein the insulating filler is expanding foam glue.

7. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 1wherein the insulating material comprises an interior surface and an exterior surface and the attachment grooves are formed on the interior surface of the insulating material.

8. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 7 wherein each attachment groove is narrower at the interior surface of the insulating material than the groove is inside the insulation material.

9. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 8, wherein at least a portion of the attachment groove has a substantially triangular cross section.

10. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 1 further comprising a reinforcement structure.

11. The insulated tilt-up wall panel of claim 10 wherein the reinforcement structure comprises rebar.

12. A method of making an insulated tilt-up wall panel, the method comprising: a. forming an insulating material into a desired shape; b. forming one or more attachment grooves in the insulating material; c. placing the insulating material onto a substantially horizontal casting surface and within a concrete form such that the opening of the attachment grooves faces up; and d. pouring a desired amount of concrete into the concrete form, wherein the concrete substantially fills the attachment grooves and is attached to the insulating material when it cures.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the insulating material comprises a plurality of segments, and forming the insulating material into a desired shape comprises: a. arranging the segments into a desired shape; and b. attaching each segment to one or more adjacent segments.

14. The method of claim 12 further comprising positioning one or more reinforcement structures within the concrete form.

15. A method of building a structure at a construction site using the tilt-up wall panel of claim 1, the method comprising: a. placing a plurality of tilt-up wall panels in a desired location such that the exterior surface of the insulating material of each panel is substantially vertical, and each panel forms a joint with at least one other panel; b. at each joint, permanently attaching the tilt-up wall panels to each other; c. sealing a seam between the insulating material of adjacent panels; and d. applying a finishing material to the exterior surfaces of the insulating material of each panel.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising covering each joint with an insulating insert.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein permanently attaching the tilt-up wall panels forming the joint to each other comprises welding one or more stainless steel fasteners to one or more stainless steel welding posts protruding from the concrete in each tilt-up wall panel.

18. A set of insulated tilt-up wall panels for building a residential structure, the set comprising: a. a standard panel; b. a jamb panel; c. a lintel panel; and d. a sill panel; wherein each panel comprises: i. an insulating material; ii. one or more attachment grooves formed in the insulating material; and iii. concrete attached to the insulating material by the attachment grooves.

19. The set of insulated tilt-up wall panels of claim 18 wherein the standard panel, lintel panel, and sill panel are substantially rectangular and the jamb panel is substantially L-shaped.

20. A method of building a plurality of residential structures using the set of insulated tilt-up wall panels of claim 19, the method comprising: a. placing a plurality of each of the standard panels, the jamb panels, the lintel panels, and the sill panels in desired locations such that the insulating material of each panel forms a substantially vertical exterior surface, and each panel forms a joint with at least one other panel; and b. at each joint, permanently attaching the panels to each other.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of co-pending provisional application No. 60/937,027 filed Jun. 25, 2007.

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to concrete wall construction. This invention relates particularly to a process for creating insulated concrete tilt-up wall panels and the resultant products.

BACKGROUND

Building structures using tilt-up concrete wall panels are well known in the art. They can significantly reduce the initial cost of construction, increase the life of the structure and reduce maintenance cost. Tilt-up panels are made under controlled conditions and the exterior surface can be inexpensively finished with rollers to shape an attractive product. Such panels can be pre-cast, fabricated and stored in the factory and then transported to the building site, or made in-situ, forming the panels at the building site. Walls, and therefore buildings, can be assembled rapidly using the panels.

In general, tilt-up concrete panels are made by attaching a concrete form having the dimensions of the desired panel to a casting surface, then filling the cavity of the concrete form with freshly mixed concrete and letting the concrete cure. Concrete forms are conventionally constructed on-site as needed for each building and made of wood or metal; these forms are removed after the panel is cured. Alternatively, the forms may be pre-made forms of foam, plastic or metal into which the concrete is poured; these forms become integral with the panel. Metal ties such as rebar span the forming panels to connect and maintain the positions of the opposed forming panels as the concrete is placed. Often the ties are formed into grids, webs, chairs, or a combination thereof. The ties are left in the concrete as it hardens, and thus reinforce the strength of the panels, as well as provide support for connecting the formed panels to each other when constructing a continuous wall. The edges of the tilt-up panels may be beveled to provide some tolerance when placing the panels together in the wall, and the joints created between the tilt-up panels are caulked.

Concrete walls have large thermal mass, but are poor insulators. That is, once the heat or cold is absorbed by the concrete, it is conducted unfortunately rather well. It would therefore be advantageous to insulate a concrete tilt-up panel. Further, it would be more advantageous to insulate the tilt-up panel along its exterior surface, so that the thermal mass of the concrete is cooled or heated by the environment inside the structure rather than from the outside. A wall using such panels would reduce energy consumption of heating and air conditioning units by regulating the temperature of the interior space.

Some known methods of insulating tilt-up panel walls use insulating materials commonly known in the construction industry, such as rigid pre-formed foam panels or spray foam that hardens. However, it is difficult to attach rigid foam panels to the relatively smooth finished exterior surface of a concrete tilt-up wall, and spray foam does not stick in place long enough to harden. A common solution is to insert a layer of insulation between two layers of concrete, either during formation of a single panel or once the panels are in place in the wall. This solution does not take full advantage of the thermal mass of the tilt-up wall, allowing part of the wall to heat or cool without insulation while providing a smaller thermal mass for regulation of the interior temperature. Further, the uneven heating and cooling of the wall may weaken its structural integrity. A tilt-up wall with a fully insulated thermal mass is needed.

Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide a process for creating insulated tilt-up concrete panels. It is a further object that the tilt-up concrete panels be individually insulated on the exterior surface. It is another object of the invention to provide a process for creating insulated tilt-up concrete panels which improves the efficiency of on-site panel construction.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention is a method of making insulated concrete tilt-up panels and the resultant products. An insulating material is formed into a desired shape. Preferably, the insulating material is pre-formed rigid polystyrene. A standard panel typically has a substantially rectangular insulating material, while custom panels may have irregular shapes, such as cutouts for a door or window. Multiple panels of a given shape may be pre-made for use in a construction project where the panel shapes are repeatedly used.

One or more attachment grooves are formed across the surface of the insulating material. Preferably, the attachment grooves have a substantially triangular cross-section. One edge of the insulating material may be formed with a tongue and the opposing edge formed with a groove, or the edges may be interlocking, such that one panel may be easily and securely attached to another panel.

One or more segments of insulating material are laid horizontally within a conventional concrete tilt-up panel form. If multiple segments are used in a single form, each seam between the segments may be sealed to prevent seeping of wet concrete. The attachment grooves face up to receive the concrete. The concrete is poured onto the insulating material until the form is filled. The concrete fills the triangular grooves, thus attaching the insulation to the concrete panel. When the concrete is cured, the panel may be stood up and set in place so that the insulating material forms the exterior surface of the panel.

A combination of four panels, each having a different shape, is disclosed which may be used to build the exterior walls of multiple models of residential homes, such as those in a subdivision of low-income housing. The insulating material may be prepared in the quantity desired for the entire construction project and transported to a casting area at the construction site. The panels may be rapidly cast and assembled, reducing the time and labor required to complete the project.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of insulating material with the attachment grooves facing up.

FIGS. 2a-2f are cross-section views of various shapes of the attachment grooves.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of insulating material showing the attachment grooves in combination with attachment perforations.

FIG. 4a is a cross-section view of an attachment perforation.

FIG. 4b is a top view of an attachment perforation.

FIGS. 5a-d are perspective views of various edge shapes which may be used on the insulating material or its segments.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of three segments of insulating material connected to each other and lying on a casting surface and within a concrete form.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the segments of insulating material of FIG. 6 connected to each other with glued seams.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of three segments of insulating material and spacing material within a concrete form.

FIG. 9a is a partial end view of two segments of insulating material connected to each other with a glued seam.

FIG. 9b is partial, isometric end view of an insulated tilt-up panel, in which the insulating material is resting atop the concrete.

FIG. 10a is a perspective view of the casting surface, concrete form, and insulating material of FIG. 6 with rebar added to the concrete form.

FIG. 10b is a cross section view of an insulated tilt-up panel, illustrating the rebar chair supporting the rebar.

FIGS. 11a-f are cross-section views of various methods of sealing a joint.

FIG. 12 is a front view of a panel set for building low-income homes.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-12 illustrate a concrete tilt-up wall panel 10 in accordance with the present invention. The exterior walls of a structure are formed by erecting and arranging a plurality of concrete tilt-up wall panels, referred to herein as panels 10, and permanently connecting the panels 10 to each other. A panel 10 comprises concrete 11, which may be any building concrete desired by the builder, and an insulating material 12.

Insulating Material

The insulating material 12 is preferably a substantially rigid insulating foam which may be cut with a hot knife and will not be damaged when wet concrete is poured onto it as explained below. Further, the insulating material 12 preferably has an R-value, used in the art to measure resistance to heat flow, of four per inch or higher. Two examples of such material which are known in the art are molded expanded polystyrene (“MEPS”) and extruded expanded polystyrene (“EEPS”). In the present invention, EEPS is preferred due to its higher resistance to water vapor and heat flow. The insulating material 12 most preferably has an R-value of 4.5 per inch. Other polymer foams having a higher density and R-value, such as polyisocyanurate or polyurethane, may be used.

Some MEPS and EEPS insulating foam has a thin material, called facing, applied to its outer surfaces in order to protect the foam from damage during handling. Some types of facing may also form a vapor barrier and increase the insulating material's 12 resistance to heat flow. The facing may be a polymeric film, aluminum foil, kraft paper, or another thin protective layer. In the present invention, insulating foam having facing has been shown to perform better than foam without facing. Preferably, a facing is used that has increased vapor impermeability, such as a polymeric film.

To make a panel 10, the insulating material 12 is formed into a desired shape and thickness. As used in the present disclosure, “shape” refers to the two-dimensional outline of a component. For example, the insulating material 12 may have the shape of a rectangle and a thickness of two inches or more. See FIG. 1. The insulating material 12 may be formed as a single piece for each panel 10, or it may be formed in segments 13 which are fit together in a panel 10, as shown in FIG. 6 and described below.

One or more attachment grooves 14 are cut, such as by a hot knife, into the insulating material 12. The attachment grooves are shaped so that when concrete hardens in them the concrete is prevented from being pulled out of the groove because the foam acts as a physical barrier to block it. In other words, the maximum width of the portion of the attachment groove 14 that extends into the insulating material 12 is wider than the opening of the attachment groove 14 on the surface of the insulating material 12. In the preferred embodiment, at least part of the attachment groove 14 has a substantially triangular cross-section, as shown in FIGS. 2a-2e. These figures are not exhaustive, and various angles, base widths, sizes, and heights will suffice, depending on the material properties, cost, and manufacturing factors of the insulating materials, cutting tool, and concrete. The triangle shape may also have a neck attached, as shown in FIG. 3a. Alternatively, any groove shape that prevents hardened concrete from being pulled out of the groove will suffice, such as oval, spherical, elliptical, or trapezoidal shapes. Again, this list is not exhaustive, and various shapes, angles, widths, diameters, and heights will suffice, depending on factors such as the material properties, cost, and manufacturing factors of the insulating materials, cutting tool, and concrete.

Preferably there are at least two attachment grooves 14 per segment 13 of insulation material 12. The attachment grooves 14 may run parallel or perpendicular to the structure foundation, but preferably are perpendicular to it. In an alternative embodiment, attachment perforations 15 are made in the foam panel. See FIGS. 3 and 4a-b. These attachment perforations 15 may be used alone or in conjunction with the attachment grooves. In the alternative embodiment, the attachment perforation 15 is a substantially cylindrical groove formed in the insulation. The attachment perforations 15 may be formed by machines similar to lawn aerators, with pegs extending from a rolling cylinder. Preferably the attachment perforations do not extend entirely through the foam panel, but they may do so, depending on factors such as material properties, cost, and manufacturing factors of the insulating materials, cutting tool, and concrete.

The edges 16 of the insulating material 12, including the edges 16 of any individual segments 13, are preferably squared off to provide a smooth contact surface when separate pieces of insulating material 12, or separate segments 13, are laid next to each other. See FIG. 5a. Alternatively, the edges 16 may be fashioned into joint structures such as a tongue and groove, mortise and tenon, or interlocking pattern. See FIGS. 5b-c.

Casting

Referring to FIG. 6, a panel 10 is formed on a casting surface 30, preferably a substantially smooth concrete slab that is larger than the panel 10, such as the pad of a foundation of a house, or a parking lot. The insulating material 12 is placed flat on the casting surface 30, grooved side up, within a concrete form 31 which will determine the shape of the panel 10. If the insulating material 12 is divided into segments 13, the segments 13 are fit together within the concrete form 31. The segments 13 are then attached together, and the seams 18 between them sealed, by a sealant 17. See FIG. 7. The sealant 17 may be any type of adhesive compound or other substance that will adhere to the insulating material 12 and seal the seam 18, such as adhesive-backed paper or plastic, duct tape, joint tape, caulk, joint compound, or expanding foam glue, and preferably has insulating properties similar to the insulating material 12. In the preferred embodiment, the sealant 17 is a heat- and water-resistant expanding foam glue. Examples of such a glue are made by Hilti® and Touch ‘n’ Seal®.

In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 6, the shape of the insulating material 12 is the same as the shape of the concrete form 31. This embodiment is useful when casting a complete wall as a single panel 10. The joints between walls can then be capped as described below. In another embodiment, shown in FIG. 8, the shape of the insulating material 12 is smaller than the shape of the concrete form, leaving space between the insulating material 12 and the concrete form 31 on at least one side. This space may be filled by a spacing material 32 which is composed of or coated with a material that will not bond to wet concrete. Preferably, the spacing material 32 has the same thickness as the insulating material 12 and is sized to completely fill the empty space. The resulting panel 10 would have a solid concrete component 11 which extends past the insulating material 12 on any side on which the spacing material 32 was used during casting. As described below, and illustrated in FIGS. 11b-c, this allows two such panels 10 to be erected and attached to each other from outside the structure, and the joint between two such panels 10 to be covered by additional insulation when the panels 10 are erected.

Once the insulating material 12 and any spacing material 32 is in place within the concrete form 31, wet concrete 11 is poured into the concrete form 31 on top of the insulating material 12. The wet concrete 11 fills the attachment grooves 14 and any attachment perforations 15. See FIG. 9. Once the concrete form 31 contains the desired amount of concrete 11, the surface tension of the concrete 11 against the insulating material 12 may cause the concrete 11 to adhere to the insulating material 12. Further, some of the wet concrete may seep into the interstitial space within the insulating material 12. If this adhesion is not desired, it may be prevented by using an insulating material 12 that has a facing as described above. Another effect of the weight of the wet concrete 11 is that it may press as much concrete 11 into the attachment groove 14 as possible, partially compressing the insulating material 12 into the sides of the groove and more firmly attaching the concrete 11 to the insulating material 12.

Referring to FIG. 10a, one or more reinforcement structures 33 may be added to the concrete form 31 to strengthen the panel 10. The reinforcement structures 33 are positioned so they are at least partially encased by the concrete 11 when it is poured into the concrete form 31, and may extend out of the concrete 11 so that they may be used to align the panel 10 or to attach other structures to the panel 10. For example, the reinforcement structures 33 may be metal ties, such as rebar, which span the panel 10 and will connect and maintain the positions of additional panels 10 when the panels 10 are erected as described below. A reinforcement structure 33 may also be a conventional rebar chair for reinforcing the strength of the concrete panels, as shown in FIG. 10b. Other examples of reinforcement structures 33 are a weld post, which protrudes from the concrete 11 near an edge; a threaded anchor bolt sleeve, which is encased in the concrete 11 except for at its mouth, which is open for receiving an anchor bolt; and a roof hanger, which may be partially or fully encased within the concrete 11 and is positioned to receive a roof truss. Additional reinforcement structures 33 are contemplated, which may be fully encased within the concrete 11 or project outward from any surface of the panel 10. Once the desired amount of concrete 11 is poured into the concrete form 31, the interior surface 41 of the concrete 11 may be floated or otherwise finished as desired. It is referred to as the interior surface 41 because it will face into the structure when erected, so that wall studs, drywall, or other interior building material may be attached to it.

When the concrete 11 cures, the panel 10 is finished. The interior surface 41 of the panel 10 is concrete 11 and the exterior surface 42, which faces away from the structure, is insulating material 12.

Erecting

Once cured, the panel 10 is tilted up, by means known in the art, and set in place in the structure. In one embodiment, the panel 10 is a complete wall which is moved into place and then fastened to other walls in the structure. In another embodiment, the panel 10 is part of a complete wall which comprises more than one panel 10. In this embodiment, each panel 10 is set in place and fastened to adjacent panels 10.

A joint 50 is formed at each intersection of panels 10. The procedure of fastening panels 10 together at each joint 50 may depend on how each panel 10 is cast. If a panel 10 is cast without a spacing material 32, the concrete 11 will be flush with the insulating material 12 at each edge of the panel 10, as shown in FIG. 11a. In this case, one or more fasteners 51 are attached to adjacent panels 10 on the interior surface 41 of each panel 10, over the joint 50. A fastener 51 may be any fastener capable of attaching tilt-up panels to each other and securing them in place. Preferably, the fastener 51 is one or more welds, wherein weld posts 53 are inserted into the concrete 11 while it is curing, and welding plates are attached to the weld posts 53 of adjacent panels 10. The seam 18 between the insulating material 12 of adjacent panels 10 may be sealed by the sealant 17, applied from the exterior of the structure.

As shown in FIG. 11b, when a panel 10 is cast using a spacing material 32 on the panel 10 edges that are perpendicular to the structure foundation, the joint 50 between two such panels will have spans of concrete 11 on either side which are not covered by insulating material 12. One or more fasteners 51 may be attached on the structure's exterior side, and an insulating insert 52, preferably composed of the same material as the insulating material 12, may be placed over the space to seal the joint 50, cover the uncovered concrete 11, and maintain continuity between the exterior surfaces 42 of the panels 10. The insulating insert 52 may be adhered to the concrete 11 using an adhesive, or it may be held in place by insulating filler 17 or another sealant applied to the seams 18 between the insulating material 12 of each panel 10 and the insulating insert 52. As shown in FIGS. 11c-e, the same procedure and materials may be used for capping corners formed by the intersection of two panels 10 and sealing the joint 50 created at the intersection, as well as for covering connections to the roofing and foundation of the structure. Due to increased exposure to water, the fasteners 51 used on the exterior of the structure should be stainless steel to avoid oxidation and weakening of the welds.

Once the panels 10 are secured in place, the exterior surface 42 of each panel 10 may be coated in a finishing material. The finishing material (not shown) may be any material which is used to create the desired appearance of the structure from the outside, and which will not degrade the insulating material 12. Examples include house paint, stucco, shotcrete or other pneumatic concrete, and Gunite®. If an insulating material 12 having a facing was used, it may be necessary to remove the facing on the exterior surface 42 in order to apply the finishing material.

Example Panel Set—Low Income Housing

Referring to FIG. 12, a panel set of four panels 10a-d includes all of the tilt-up wall panel shapes needed to build the exterior walls of every home in a subdivision of low-income housing. The panels 10a-d are shown with triangular attachment grooves 14, but without any reinforcement structures 33 so the shape of each panel 10a-d is clearly shown. For efficiency, the door and window heights and widths in each home are predetermined and uniform so that no panel shapes need to be customized for individual homes. The panel shapes are: a standard panel 10a, which is preferably rectangular and is used for wall sections that do not require a door or window; a jamb panel 10b, used where a door or window should be placed and having the same dimensions as the standard panel 10a, but having a substantially rectangular cutout at the top of one side to receive the lintel, making the jamb panel 10b substantially L-shaped; a lintel panel 10c, which is preferably rectangular and forms the top of a door jamb or window frame, fitting into the cutout in the jamb panel 10b for support; and a sill panel 10d, which is preferably rectangular and forms the bottom of a window frame.

By limiting the panels 10a-d to four shapes, the panels may be quickly mass-produced. Only four shapes of insulating material 12 and four concrete forms 31 are needed. The insulating material 12, concrete forms 31, concrete 11, and other required building materials may be transported to and stored at the subdivision construction site. Labor is greatly reduced during production of the panels 10a-d because no customizing is necessary. Further, wall assembly workers will be able to follow a uniform assembly process for each home. As a result, effectively insulated homes may be produced at a lower overall cost in time, labor and materials.

While there has been illustrated and described what is at present considered to be the preferred embodiment of the present invention, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the true scope of the invention. Therefore, it is intended that this invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.