Kind Code:

A sectional door includes a plurality of panels. Each panel can include two or more plies which can be made of thermally compatible material. A panel of such sectional door includes an outer ply including a thermoplastic material and a sash frame including a thermoplastic material. The outer ply forms an outer face of the door. The sash frame is secured to the outer ply. The outer ply and the sash frame include thermoplastic materials which have substantially the same rate of thermal expansion. A desired design can be formed in the outer face of the door.

Aquilina, Anthony George (Milton, CA)
Aquilina, Joseph (Ontario, CA)
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAY SHARPE LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
What is claimed is:

1. A panel for a sectional door, comprising: an outer ply, comprising an extruded thermoplastic material, forming an outer face of the door; a sash frame comprising a thermoplastic material; a means for securing said sash frame to said outer ply; and, wherein said outer ply and said sash frame comprise thermoplastic materials which have substantially the same rate of thermal expansion.

2. The panel of claim 1 wherein the thermoplastic material for both said outer ply and said sash frame comprises an extruded cellular PVC material.

3. The panel of claim 1 wherein said means for securing comprises an adhesive.

4. The panel of claim 1 wherein said means for securing comprises a fastener.

5. The panel of claim 1 further comprising a reinforcing member connected to said sash frame.

6. The panel of claim 5 wherein said reinforcing member comprises a metal.

7. The panel of claim 6 further comprising a means for securing said reinforcing member to said sash frame which accommodates differential rates of thermal expansion between said reinforcing member and said sash frame.

8. The panel of claim 7 wherein said means for securing comprises an elongated aperture located in said reinforcing member and a fastener extending through said elongated aperture and into said sash frame.

9. The panel of claim 6 wherein the metallic reinforcing member includes a flange which cooperates with said outer ply.

10. The panel of claim 9 wherein said flange is accommodated in a groove of said outer ply.

11. The panel of claim 9 wherein said flange contacts an edge of said outer ply.

12. The panel of claim 6 wherein said reinforcing member includes a channel for accommodating an edge of said outer ply.

13. The panel of claim 1 further comprising a layer of insulating material positioned between said outer ply and said sash frame.

14. The panel of claim 1 further comprising an inside skin layer positioned between said outer ply and said sash frame.

15. The panel of claim 1 wherein the thermoplastic material of said outer ply is so chosen that it can be worked by routing or milling to impart a desired design thereinto.

16. The panel of claim 1 wherein said sash frame is thicker than said outer ply.

17. The panel of claim 1 further comprising a hinge mounted to said sash frame, to enable the panel to be secured to another panel of the sectional door.

18. A method of manufacturing a panel for a sectional door, comprising: a) providing an outer ply of an extruded thermoplastic material; b) providing a sash frame of the same thermoplastic material; c) securing the sash frame to the outer ply; and, d) forming a desired design in an outer surface of the outer ply.

19. The method of claim 18 further comprising securing a reinforcing member to the sash frame.

20. The method of claim 18 further comprising forming a desired edge shape on the panel.

21. The method of claim 18 wherein steps a)-d) are performed in a continuous manufacturing process.

22. The method of claim 18 wherein step d) is performed via routing of the outer ply.


This application claims priority from provisional application Ser. No. 60/962,226 dated Jul. 27, 2007, the subject matter of which is incorporated by reference hereinto in its entirety.


The present disclosure relates to doors and other closures. It finds particular application with regard to composite sectional doors, such as are used for garages, and methods for manufacturing such doors. However, it is to be appreciated that the present disclosure will have wide application for a variety of closures.

Garage doors are known to be made from various materials, including wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass composites, MFD Board (Medium Fiber Density), recycled wood fiber, and lignocellulose material such as is described in U.S. Patent Publication 2006/0272253 dated Dec. 7, 2006, among others. The foregoing materials have been the materials of choice for the production of garage doors based on material availability and the ability to use these materials to make various types of garage and other doors in various designs.

Garage doors formed from wood suffer many drawbacks. Wood can be heavy and is costly, and over time wood is susceptible to degradation and damage from weathering and from insects. An advantage of wood doors, however, is that they are easily made with aesthetically pleasing designs. In this regard, they can be stained or painted in either single colors or multiple colors, they can have designs worked into the wood or added over top of the wood. Moreover, wood doors are plentiful and easily available. As was stated above, however, wood doors do suffer the drawbacks of being very heavy, of being constructed from costly materials, and of being susceptible to damage from weather, boring insects, and mold and mildew. In addition, wood doors require maintenance on a regular basis in order to maintain an aesthetically pleasing exterior.

Given these drawbacks, wood doors in a garage setting, for example, have been replaced by steel and aluminum doors in some instances. These doors can be constructed to be much lighter and easier to manipulate, and are not susceptible in general to rotting, insect infestation, and mold and mildew damage. However, steel and aluminum doors are not generally thought to be aesthetically pleasing in and of themselves. Therefore, if a decorative surface is desired, such doors require an overlay of a material which may include some type of aesthetic design. Further, painting and staining steel or aluminum can be difficult, and such painted doors may require special maintenance. If a design on a metal door is desired, manufacturing such a door requires large, heavy and very costly equipment to form a design on the exterior face of the door. Such designs can be stamped on the door by means of a hydraulic press and a die to emboss or deboss a design or pattern. Every time a different design is needed, however, the stamping die has to be changed, which can be expensive and labor intensive.

A serious problem with metal doors is that they provide no insulation for the space they enclose. Thus, a thermal break design has been developed for such doors. In some doors, the two metal panels forming the exterior and interior surfaces of the door are separated by a foam core to provide better insulation. It is also known to construct garage doors from multi-layered materials wherein the layers are laminated or otherwise affixed to a frame. Another problem with steel and aluminum is the ease with which they can be dented or damaged. For these reasons, steel and aluminum doors often have overlays created from vinyl, plastic, fiberglass, or a very thin layer of pressboard or solid wood. The underlying door, in these instances, is generally formed by a manufacturing technique called “roll manufacturing” or is referred to as being “roll formed”.

A roll former is needed in order to shape the sides of a metal panel of the garage door in order to adapt the panels to each other. Linear grooves normally are added to the exterior surface of the metal panel to stiffen the thin sheet metal, and at the same time give an aesthetic look to the door, instead of having a plain flat panel. Most garage door panels which are made from a solid and machinable material would have the same type of surface texture, such as stucco wood grain or another pattern. But, this is not true with metal panels. There, a surface design has to be added to the panel.

A problem with doors, whether they are made of metal or other material, such as vinyl or fiberglass, is that they require expensive dies and molds, each time the surface design of the door is changed. When designs are changed, on most occasions, extensive labor is required to change the dies and molds. Even so, the manufacturer is still limited to a certain number of designs or patterns.

A recent trend in garage doors has been to make them resemble the wooden doors which were manufactured a long time ago, such as carriage house type doors or the like. Of course, wooden doors, both in the past and those manufactured in accordance with today's processes, have a limited number of designs, such as a raised panel design, linear grooves, oriented horizontally or vertically, or a flush door with a lay on or overlay to create a Tudor or carriage house look, or any other antique type of look. Such designs on garage doors can still be seen in some European countries.

Many garage doors in the past were opened to the side via side mounted hinges. Others were one piece doors lifted with a spring mechanism. More recently, garage doors have been constructed from a series of horizontal panels which are hinged together. This can be done using a pivoting bracket instead of conventional hinges. When the door is fully closed, the panels are aligned in a single plane. The panels separate at the joints between individual panels so that the door may be raised to open. To this end, the door is mounted on rollers, fitted in roller guides that carry the door vertically up and then horizontally into the interior space of a building. Such doors, termed sectional doors, are used for garages in residential buildings and have a variety of uses in industrial and commercial settings as well.

Garage doors may be of a width sized for a single vehicle or of a width for multiple vehicles. In those instances where the garage door width is intended for more than a single vehicle, the garage door may be formed from a single, extended horizontal panel spanning the entire width of the opening, or from several horizontal panels fitted end-to-end to span the horizontal width of the opening.

Regardless of the makeup of the door itself, it is common for the exterior surface of the panels of the door to take on various appearances, such as smooth, embossed, textured, ribbed, raised panel, inset panel, and many other designs, including carriage house designs. Designs may be molded or stamped into the panels. But, this can be costly, depending on the underlying material used. More often, an overlay carrying the design is adhered to the door panel, as a separate piece or structure.

The drawbacks to each of the foregoing overlap the various product types, and no option currently available addresses all of the problems of such sectional doors, including cost, weight, weathering, insulation, ease of construction, and ease of use. There exists a need for a sectional door product that can be manufactured in a continuous line process, wherein the door panels can have an unlimited variety of designs or patterns formed on the outer surface of the panel.


In one embodiment, there is provided a panel for a sectional door. The panel comprises an outer ply, comprising an extruded thermoplastic material, forming an outer face of the door and a sash frame comprising a thermoplastic material. A means is provided for securing a sash frame to the outer ply. The outer ply and the sash frame comprise thermoplastic materials which have substantially the same rate of thermal expansion. A design can be formed in or provided on the outer surface of the outer ply.

In accordance with another embodiment, a method of manufacturing a panel for a sectional door is provided. The method comprises providing an outer ply of an extruded thermoplastic material and a sash frame of the same thermoplastic material. The sash frame is secured to the outer ply. A desired design is formed in an outer surface of the outer ply.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exterior face of a sectional door, such as a garage door, according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged rear elevational view of a single panel of the door of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the single door panel of FIG. 2 made of an extruded thermoplastic material, and including a sash frame.

FIGS. 4A-4D are side elevational views of garage door panels illustrating various panel interlock configurations.

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of a sash frame for a door panel, with no exterior ply according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of an external ply of the door panel according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of a ribbed panel according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of a raised panel according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of a carriage house type panel design according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of a vertical ribbed panel according to another design of the present disclosure.

FIG. 11 is a side cross sectional view of a door panel according to one embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 12 is a side cross sectional view of another door panel according to another embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 13 is a top plan view in cross section of a portion of a panel according to still another embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 14 is a reduced perspective view of the panel of FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a front elevational view of a door according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 16 is a front elevational view of another door according to the present disclosure.

FIG. 17 is a flow chart of a manufacturing process for a door panel according to the present disclosure.


The subject disclosure relates to the use of an extruded thermoplastic material, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a PVC composite as the material for the construction of a closure, such as a sectional garage door. Use of a PVC material provides advantages with regard to such features as: exterior design; weight of the door; durability with regard to weather; resistance to mold and mildew, boring insects and rust/rot; denting; maintenance; and a custom finish capability in order to produce aesthetically pleasing sectional doors, such as garage doors. If desired, the entire sectional door, other than the hinges, can be made from the chosen extruded thermoplastic material.

Sheets of cellular PVC material are available worldwide and known for use on molding trims, siding, fascia and the like. Such material is not solid but has a core made of fine cells similar to weather foam but with smooth, solid exterior surfaces. It is termed a cellular PVC material and is known in the art. Extruded cellular PVC sheets are available from several manufacturers and are available under different trade names and trademarks, such as Trim Board, DuraBoard and the like. Another such material is available under the Versatex brand name from Wolfpac Technologies of Leetsdale, Pa. These sheets are available in various thicknesses, such as ¼ inch, ⅜ inch, ½ inch, ⅝ inch, ¾ inch and 1 inch (0.6315, 0.953, 1.27, 1.59, 1.91 and 2.54 cm). They are available in lengths up to a maximum of 20 feet (6.1 m) long. Normally, these sheets are made in 4 foot (1.22 m) widths and are provided with a smooth plain surface or with a wood grained texture.

Although cellular PVC sheets are mainly available in a light color, color can be impregnated in the PVC material in order to eliminate finish painting of the panel. On the other hand, the panels can be painted to any desired light and medium colors using a vinyl-type adherent paint. The panels can also be painted with a urethane type of process paint with UV inhibitor, which would protect the surface of the panel from the rays of the sun.

Polyvinyl chloride as a garage door construction material provides many advantages. Unlike garage doors constructed partially or wholly from wood, thermoplastic garage doors are not subject to rotting and resist mildew and fungus growth. In addition, the PVC material as described herein has an excellent “R” value, which is the insulation value of the door. Also, the PVC material exhibits superior surface hardness, making it more resistant to denting and other surface degradation.

Another advantage of using PVC material for the sectional door disclosed herein is that the door can be produced in various colors. If painted, the PVC composite door retains the painted coating without requiring maintenance as often as other known garage door materials, i.e., steel, wood or aluminum, for example. In one known method of manufacture, the PVC material can be extruded.

ASTM Test DescriptionUnitPVCPine
ASTM D-2395Densityg/cc0.620.39
ASTM D-2250Shore D Surface Hardness0.710.53
ASTM D-1761Screw Holdinglb.400363
ASTM D-1761Nail Holdinglb.0.610.83
ASTM D-638Tensile Strengthpsi.29844940
ASTM D-570Water Absorption%0.474.6
ASTM D-662Smoke18.08106.0
ASTM D-648Heat Deflection TemperatureF.150N/A
ASTM D-4726Dimensional Stability%1.7N/A
ASTM D-696Coefficient of Thermalin/in-F.0.00002450.000021
ASTM D-518Thermal ConductivityBTU0.4201.20
UL E-84Tunnel Test (Fire Rating)14.3199.0 (red oak)

Table 1 above provides a comparison of one type of extruded cellular PVC material, which can be used for the sectional door panels disclosed herein, to a conventional wood panel material. Extruded cellular PVC material from other manufacturers would likely have somewhat different properties. Also, other types of wood, such as fir or cedar will likely have different properties than the pine described above. Nevertheless, it can be seen that the extruded cellular PVC material has advantageous properties when compared to wood.

Extended cellular PVC material can be machined in the same way as wood, using the same equipment. It is important to note that cellular PVC provides excellent weather resistance, does not absorb moisture, does not split or crack and is resistant to insect damage. Moreover, it does not rot.

Cellular PVC sheets are flexible due to the nature of the material. As such, use of this material for door panels requires lateral reinforcement to stiffen the sheet and to provide rigidity to the structure of the panel. For panels where the sheet is 1 inch thick or thinner, the sheet can, in one embodiment, be glued onto a sash frame. For example, a common size of minimum 8 foot wide garage door made of PVC sheet material and held from each end horizontally will deflect or bow a minimum of 3 inches (7.62 cm). Without a reinforcement element, such as a metal beam (for example steel or aluminum or the like), it would be impossible to construct such a garage door from extended cellular PVC sheet material. It is also known that the cellular PVC material can be reinforced with a variety of reinforcing materials, such as, e.g., wood materials or fibers, such as carbon or glass fibers or the like. For sake of economy, wood material are preferred. A wood composite extruded cellular PVC material is sold under the trademark PuraBoard—PW by South Asia Plastics Group of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Perhaps a narrow door made of a wood composite PVC material would not need any type of metal reinforcing element. Nevertheless, for wider doors used in industrial settings, perhaps even a wood material reinforced extruded cellular PVC door would need one or more metal reinforcing elements. It should be appreciated that since the wood material is encapsulated by the thermoplastic material, such a door would not be subject to environmental degradation as with conventional wood doors.

While the sectional doors illustrated herein are described with reference to use for personal dwellings, they may also be used for other applications, such as warehouses, storage facilities, commercial garages, and the like. They can also be used for sectional doors on trucks or other commercial vehicles. In such environments, characteristics with regard to fire rating, strength, hardness, and the like become even more important. In addition, when intended for commercial use, a company logo or other indicia may be engraved directly into a door formed according to the instant disclosure.

With reference to the Figures, FIG. 1 shows a sectional door constructed from the PVC material referred to herein. In FIG. 1, sectional door 10 which could be a garage door is constructed from four (4) horizontal panels 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, each constructed from a cellular PVC material (whether reinforced or not). Of course, any number of panels could be employed as may be required for a particular application. Each of panels 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d can be made of multiple PVC plies that are glued to form a single piece structure. The cellular PVC material can be glued to itself by means of a PVC cement, plumbing pipe glue or the like conventional adhesive which may have a fast curing time. PVC material contracts and expands a fair amount. However, when the entire panel is made of plies of PVC material, such contraction and expansion will be consistent. On the other hand, if the PVC material is only employed for the purpose of providing the outer covering for the door panel, a sheet of ¼ inch (0.635 cm) thickness at a minimum can be adhered or glued to an underlying substrate. While a door panel may comprise a single, 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick, ply of PVC material, this is not preferred as the door would then be too heavy. The whole door may also require framing.

With respect to FIG. 2, a rear side of panel 12a is shown. The same structure can be used for all panels of the door. However, the exterior appearance of the panels may be varied along the height or width of the door as may be desired. With reference now also to FIG. 3, the panel 12a can include a PVC sheet, ply or “skin” 13 forming the outer surface of the door, which would exhibit a width in keeping with the size of the opening for the garage door, and would have a thickness, at certain locations, of about a minimum of one to two inches (1″-2″) (2.54-5.08 cm), but may be thicker depending on the use. The skin 13 can comprise two or more plies of material. Such plies are preferably thermally compatible so they do not delaminate upon changes in temperature. For the sake of convenience, it will be referred to herein as a “ply”, even if it includes more than one ply of material. An outer ply of the door panel can be one-quarter to three-eighths inch (¼″-⅜″) thick (0.635-0.953 cm), while the inner reinforcing member or beam or rail can be on the order of about one inch (1″) thick (2.54 cm) or thicker. These two elements can be secured together via a conventional PVC adhesive. The height of each panel is also variable and depends upon the number of panels that will be included in a door, i.e., two, three, four, or more. As was stated hereinabove, however, each panel can have a substantially similar construction.

With reference again to FIG. 2, there are shown horizontal narrow rails 14, 14′ which are placed on the upper and lower perimeters of one side of the panel 12a for reinforcement. The rails 14, 14′ can be formed of the same PVC material as the skin 13 or from a similar material so that there are no thermal mismatch problems. For example, the rails 14, 14′ can comprise the composite PVC material discussed above. In addition, vertical rails, sometimes termed stiles, 16, 16′ are placed on either side edge of the panel on the same side as the horizontal rails 14, 14′ also for reinforcement. The horizontal rails 14, 14′ and vertical rails 16, 16′ can contact each other and can be secured together. Optionally, one or more vertical reinforcement beams or rails 18 may be included anywhere along the horizontal length of the panel, between the rails 16 and 16′ and spanning the height of the panel from top rail 14 to bottom rail 14′. It is only the rails 14-18 that are about one inch (1″) (2.54 cm) or so or thicker, as shown in FIG. 3. The several rails can be secured together by a conventional PVC adhesive and can form a sash frame 11 in the embodiment illustrated. Of course, other embodiments are also possible. The outer ply 13 forming the exterior face of the door can, as mentioned, be only one quarter to three-eighths inches (¼″-⅜″) thick (0.635-0.953 cm).

In one embodiment, the several rails are glued and mounted to the inner surface of the ply 13 in FIG. 3. The purpose of the rails is to frame the panel and provide support therefor. Other means of fastening the rails 14-18 to the outer ply 13 can be used, such as mechanical fasteners, including corrugated staples, screws, rivets, bolts or the like. It should be appreciated that the entire door panel 12a can be on the order of about two inches (2″) (5.08 cm) thick at the locations of the rails 14-18.

As mentioned, the rails may be adhered to the PVC ply 13 using any type of known fastening device, including but not limited to drywall screws, nails designed for trim application, or other fasteners. However, one preferred method of adhering the rails to the panels is via the use of an adhesive. The adhesive may be, for example, a polyvinyl acetate glue or a hot melt glue, among others. Commercially available adhesives that are suitable for use to adhere the rails to the PVC panels include known PVC cements or other commercially available suitable adhesives. Use of an adhesive has the practical effect of rendering the one or more plies of the PVC skin 13 and the additional panel layers formed by the several rails 14-18 as a one piece structure. A layer of adhesive 29 is illustrated in FIG. 3 located between vertical rail or stile 16 and bottom rail 14′. A suitable adhesive can cure very quickly and bond so tightly that delamination is all but impossible. As was stated, although mechanical fasteners such as nails or screws may be used, the same are likely unnecessary when using an adhesive of the type disclosed herein to connect the several sections of thermoplastic material disclosed herein together to form the panels of the door.

In construction, the thickness of each of the two or more plies of each panel may be varied according to need. For example, the skin 13 may be as thin as one-quarter (¼) inch (0.635 cm) or as thick as an inch (2.54 cm) or more. On the inside face of the skin or outer ply, horizontal and vertical rails, which can be of the same material as the panels, can be adhesively applied to frame and reinforce the panel. These rails may be of any thickness desired, for example about 1 to 2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) thick. The overall thickness of a panel 12a, then, including the thickness of the rail and the several plies of the skin may be varied and achieved using different thicknesses of plies and rails without limitation. For example, three or more plies can be employed to form a particularly strong door panel for larger width garage openings. Thus, the overall thickness of the door panel may be thicker than two inches (2″) (5.08 cm), in the area of the reinforcing rails.

With continued reference to FIG. 3, it can be seen that the top rail 14 and bottom rail 14′ are provided, respectively, with a longitudinally extending protrusion 20 and indentation 22. These features enable adjacent panels to interlock with each other to give the sectional door additional stiffness. In one embodiment, one or more metal reinforcing elements, such as variously shaped beams 24 and 26, can be employed to further stiffen the panel 12a. Each of these can be secured to one or more of the rails 14-18 via suitable fasteners 28 as shown in FIG. 3. The several rails 14-18 of the sash frame 11 also serve as supports to which conventional hinges (not shown) can be fastened in order to link the several door panels 12a-12d together. This can be done using conventional lag screws or the like. These screws can be mounted directly into the PVC material of the rails without cracking or splitting the rails. The several rails 14-18 also provide surfaces for mounting the hinges of the door (not illustrated) as well as the roller brackets (not illustrated) which allow the door to slide on suitable tracks.

One method for constructing the door illustrated in FIG. 3 is to provide the outer ply 13 and secure to it the sash frame 11. However, the center reinforcing beam 18 can be applied after securing the metal reinforcing members 24 in place on the beams 14 and 14′ and before mounting the center metal reinforcing element 26 in place. To this end, the upper and lower reinforcing elements or members 24 can be provided with cutouts to accommodate the beam 18 and allow it to be adhesively secured to the backside of the ply 13. Such beam 18 may not be necessary on narrower width doors.

Moreover, it should be appreciated that the respective reinforcing elements 24 and 26 include elongated apertures 25. Such apertures are advantageous because they allow relative movement between the sash frame 11 and the reinforcing members 24 and 26. Because these are made of different materials, they have different thermal expansion and contraction rates. As mentioned, the reinforcing members 24 and 26 can be made of steel or aluminum or the like metal. Thus they must be attached or fastened in such a way to the sash frame 11 as to allow a movement of the reinforcing members and the sash frame in relation to each other, due to contraction and expansion of the PVC material of the sash frame in relation to the metallic material of the reinforcing members.

As with other styles of garage doors, the PVC panels disclosed herein display a weathering joint feature so that in the fully closed or fully opened position, the door appears to be one sheet of material. FIGS. 4A-4D show different types of joint structures that can be used to achieve this purpose. However, the illustrated structures are in no way intended to limit the various known configurations that could be used. FIG. 4A shows a structure known as a shiplap configuration, FIG. 4B is a common tongue-in-groove configuration, FIG. 4C is a finger protection configuration, and FIG. 4D is another basic tongue-in-groove configuration. As is apparent from FIG. 4A, two or more plies of material 30, 32, 34 can be employed to form a panel 36 of the door. FIG. 4C shows two plies 30″ and 32″. Alternatively, a single ply may suffice for the door panel in some applications.

In each of FIGS. 4A-4D a top portion of the panel 37, 37′, etc. is the portion that would be found on the upper horizontal surface of the sectional door panel, for example 14 in FIG. 2. This portion would engage with the adjacent portion 38, 38′ etc. located on the lower horizontal surface of the sectional door panel just above this panel, for example, in FIG. 1, panels 12a and 12b. As two vertically adjacent panels are brought together and the lower portion of one panel contacts the upper portion of the adjacent panel, the weathering joint feature would be engaged as at 20 and 22 in FIG. 3. A variety of known joints is shown in FIGS. 4A-4D.

FIG. 5 illustrates the sash frame 11 by itself. FIG. 6 illustrates the outer, skin, cover or face ply 13 by itself. As mentioned in connection with FIG. 4A, the skin 13 can include more than one ply of material. For example, the cover or skin 13 can be insulated with any suitable insulation material placed between the sash 11 and the panel 13. A portion of a layer or ply of one suitable known insulation material is identified by the numeral 27 in FIG. 6. Such insulation can be applied at the factory. Alternatively, it can be added at a later date in the field on an installed door. The insulation material should be chosen to have a rate of thermal expansion similar to that of the panel 13 and sash 11 to forestall delamination. The panel can also be provided with an inside skin 31 (FIG. 5) which can be as thin as craft paper or can be a layer of a thin vinyl sheeting attached or glued to the surface of the rails 14-18 comprising the sash frame 11.

Each panel may be configured to display a desired exterior design. For example, with reference to FIGS. 7-10, available sectional door panel designs popular in the garage door industry include, but are certainly not limited to, a horizontal ribbed panel 41 (FIG. 7), or a raised panel 42 (FIG. 8). Other panel designs include a carriage door design 43 (FIG. 9) and a vertical ribbed design 44 (FIG. 10). Also, textured, embossed, or debossed designs may be easily produced according to the present disclosure.

As noted above, with other garage door materials, creating these designs in the panel surface may require the use of costly, complicated, and heavy machinery, such as roll formers, hydraulic presses and die formers. Alternatively, overlays may be made using these techniques and then applied to the door surface. Often, however, such overlays are made from a different material than the door itself, creating an opportunity for thermal mismatch of the door materials, which can to cause delamination. The present disclosure pertains to a door in which the components of the panels can be formed from a single type of material (other than the reinforcing members and the hardware of the door), thereby eliminating any thermal mismatch issues. As mentioned, any thermal mismatch between the material of the reinforcing members 24 and 26 and the sash 11 can be accommodated via the slotted openings 25 shown in FIG. 3.

With reference now to FIG. 11, another door according to the present disclosure can include two adjacent panels 50a and 50b, each having an outer layer or ply 52, 52′ and one or more reinforcing members, beams or rails, which can extend horizontally, such as 54, 54′. These can be connected to the ply 52 via an adhesive layer (not shown). Mounted to the rails can be suitable beam or channel-like reinforcing members 56, 56′ made of a metallic material. Also shown is a lower edge rail 57 secured to the upper outer panel 52 and an upper edge rail 58 secured to the lower outer panel 52′. These can be made of metal. Connecting the two panels 50a and 50b of the sectional door is a suitable hinge 60. Also provided are respective metallic panel edge reinforcing members 61 and 62. Securing both the hinge and the metallic reinforcing members to the respective reinforcing rails 57, 58 of the sash of each door panel are suitable conventional fasteners 64.

Also, there can be provided between the panels 50a and 50b a weather resistant joint 66, including a rubber seal 68 in the joint. Such seals are known in the art. As mentioned, the joint can be a tongue in groove joint or any other known type of joint. The thickness of the outer ply 52, 52′ can be on the order of ½ to 1 inch (1.27-2.54 cm), for example, ⅝ of an inch (1.59 cm). A slot 70 can be provided in the ply in order to accommodate a flange 72 of the respective reinforcing member 61 and 62. Such reinforcing members can be roll formed to adopt the shape of the panel 50a, 50b. The slot 70 can be cut at a location on the edge of the ply closer to the inside surface of the outer ply 52, 52′, but with enough material (for example, ⅛ of an inch (0.32 cm) thick) allowing the exterior of the outer ply with the other side of the cut being a minimum of ⅜ of an inch (0.95 cm) thick. This thickness becomes important when vertical grooves (such as illustrated in FIG. 10) are required so that the groove doesn't become routed into the slot 70. The purpose for attaching the reinforcing member 61 to panel 52 (or element 62 to panel 52′) is to allow the panel to expand and contract freely, laterally, relative to the lengths of the reinforcing members. The metal center reinforcing rail member 56 can have a reverse C-shaped configuration, the flanges 74 of which will be accommodated in slots 76 defined in the center rail or block of thermoplastic 54 that would be adhesively secured to the inside surface of the ply 50. When the thermoplastic ply 52 and the center rail 54 expand and contract, the PVC material of the center rail will slide within the C-channel of the metal reinforcing element 56 as required.

In one embodiment, the end rails can be made of metal. With reference now to FIG. 13, an end rail 80 made of metal can include a pocket or “channel” 81 defined by a pair of opposed flanges 82 and 83 which can accommodate a front ply or skin 84 of a door. Such ply 84 is made of an extruded thermoplastic material. In one embodiment, and with reference now to FIG. 14, the channel 82 can be formed in the end rail 80 by notching a square shaped hole 86 cut only on three sides to form a tab to define a pocket-type channel. The pocket can be provided with a cushion material 88 (FIG. 13), such as medium density rubber, to allow for relative contraction and expansion between the thermoplastic panel 84 and the metal end rail 80. The means for securing the end rail 80 to the ply 84 is not illustrated in this embodiment, but can be along the lines of the several designs discussed previously.

Another embodiment of a sectional door is illustrated in FIG. 12. In this embodiment, an extruded thermoplastic outer ply or layer 90 has a bottom edge 92 accommodated in a metal end rail 94. To this end, the end rail 94 includes a vertically oriented channel 96 defined on its outer end. As is evident from a comparison of FIGS. 11 and 12, the ply 90 can be thinner than the ply 50, since the distal end of the end rail encloses the lower edge of the panel, instead of being accommodated in a slot in the lower edge of the panel. It should be appreciated that in all of these designs, care must be taken to prevent water from becoming trapped in the channel holding the lower edge of the panel. Therefore, in this embodiment, one cannot use vertically oriented grooves on the panel, such as the grooves illustrated in FIG. 10. Another consideration for all of the designs illustrated herein is that the relative movement or thermal expansion and contraction between any metal reinforcing members (top or bottom rails or reinforcing elements) and the thermoplastic plies of the door has to be accommodated in order to allow for relatively free movement of the outside facing door ply or skin 13, 52, 84 and 90 in the several embodiments illustrated herein.

With reference now to FIG. 15, another embodiment of a door design, among many others, according to the present disclosure is there illustrated. In this embodiment, a door 100 includes a plurality of panels, such as panels 102, 104, 106, 108, wherein each of the panels has a different outer surface design. For example, panel 102 is provided with a plurality of windows 110. Panel 104 is provided with a pair of grooves 112 and 114 via routing. These grooves continue onto panels 106 and 108 as well. A similar spaced pair of grooves 116 and 118 is also provided. Together, the two sets of grooves form two Xs on the outer surface of the door 100. Dividing the two Xs from each other are a pair of vertically oriented parallel grooves 120 and 122. Located on these can be handles 124 (or designs which appear to be handles). The overall appearance of the outer surface of the door is, therefore, that of a carriage door. Note that an outer “framing” set of grooves 126 can also be provided, to frame the entire door. The outer surface of each panel 102-108 can be formed by suitable milling or routing into the outer thermoplastic ply of each panel of the door. Any desired design can be formed in the outer ply of each panel by suitably programming the router.

Alternatively, the various designs on the door 100 can be formed by overlay strips (which can be made of the same thermoplastic as the outer ply or skin of each panel 102-108) which can be adhesively secured to the outer ply. While this would produce a more realistic design effect than routing grooves into the skin or outer ply of each panel, it would be at a cost. Such a design would be much more time consuming and result in a heavier weight door. As an alternative to the foregoing, it is also conceivable to sell a sectional door with a smooth outer surface and provide on the inside surface of the sectional door a template which would enable a homeowner, or after sale installer, to add overlay strips to the outer surface of the door, by securing them via fasteners extending from the inner surface of the door (at the locations indicated by the template) through the skin layer and into the overlay strips. In this way, the fasteners would not be visible on the outer surface of the door. It should be appreciated that adhesive could also be used together with, or in place of, fasteners.

In fact, one can envision the sale of kits which have the necessary template for each panel of the door and the various components or strips which are to be added or secured in place to the outer panel surfaces of the sectional door. Once a homeowner has decided to redecorate the outer surface of his or her sectional door, they would shop for a design. Having bought the desired design, they would secure the templates in place on the back side of each panel of the door and secure the necessary overlay strips via fasteners extending through the panel at the locations indicated by the template. Perhaps decorative hardware could be secured to the front surface of the door in the same manner. This, then, would give the homeowner a different look to their sectional door, such as a garage door. Many such overlay strip designs and templates could be produced, thereby giving the homeowner a wide choice of possible designs.

With reference now to FIG. 16, a further embodiment of the door 130 is there illustrated. In this embodiment, the door comprises a plurality of panels 132, 134, 136, 138. Again, each panel has a somewhat different design but the overall design is that of another version of a carriage type door. Located on each panel is at least one strip 140. Moreover, located on each panel is a plurality of horizontally extending grooves 142. As with the design of FIG. 15, the surface pattern on each panel can be accomplished by forming the outer surface via routing or the like.

A process of manufacturing such a thermoplastic door from, for example, extruded PVC panels in a continuous manufacturing process includes extruding cellular PVC door panels which can be anywhere from 18 inches (45.72 cm) to 24 inches (61 cm) wide, for example, in order to form the outer ply of each panel of the door. The ply can be on the order of ⅜ inches (0.95 cm) thick. These would then be cut to the desired size. The outer ply or skin can be placed manually or automatically at the beginning of a continuous process where a PVC cement or the like adhesive is applied to the top perimeter of the sheet forming an inner surface of the door. A sash frame made of the same extruded cellular PVC material (which can be on the order of 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick) can be preassembled (such as by cementing or fastening the various components together) and cemented by a known PVC cement to the door panel sheet.

With reference now to FIG. 17, one process for manufacturing a door panel according to the present disclosure includes ripping or cutting rails from a larger sheet of thermoplastic material (after one or more sheets of ply has been formed, such as by extrusion) as shown at step 150. An exterior surface of outer layer, ply or skin would be placed facing downwardly with the interior surface of the several rails (made of extruded cellular PVC material and cut to the desired size) of the sash frame facing upward. However, this can be reversed so as to have the exterior surface of panel facing upwardly. To do this, a jig may be required to position the rails so that the panel will be placed on top of the glued sash frame without having the sash frame misaligned with the panel. This would take place at step 152. The panel can be glued manually or automatically to the sash frame. The cemented frame is placed on the cemented sheet. Any necessary metal reinforcing elements (see FIG. 3) can be then secured to the sash by means of fasteners and slotted holes, with the exception of the reinforcement 26 of FIG. 3.

A linear motion hold down clamping system is then activated on both sides of the panel and feeds the panel while it is being cured. Thus, the door panel so formed can be fed through a continuous moving hold down press as illustrated in step 154, at a desired speed. That speed can be approximately 4 feet per minute (1.2 m/s), or any other suitable speed. The panels will then be fed at a set speed into a shaping and routing station, as illustrated at step 156. At the same time, grooves can be routed into the outer surface of the panel. For example, designs, such as illustrated in FIGS. 8-10, or a door design such as is illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16 can be formed in the panel. The design will be programmed via a computer, such as a PLC. The edges of the panel can be shaped according to the type of joint selected. FIGS. 4a-4d show several different types of joints and FIG. 3 shows a further embodiment.

A programmable CNC router can be employed to rout a specific chosen program design on the panel from underneath. An electronic monitor can be used so that manufacturing personnel can view the design being routed onto the panel as it moves in the process. A side cutter can be employed to shape the desired specific joint shape (as is shown in FIGS. 4a-4d, for example). Ribs and grooves can also be routed into the panel at the same time as the sides of the panel are being shaped. If additional routing is desired, then additional routing of the material can take place to complete the design, i.e., such as with vertical grooves, as at step 158. As the panel exits the continuous process extrusion line, the door panel is considered to be completed unless it requires painting with a different color than the original color of the thermoplastic material, such the extruded cellular PVC discussed herein.

The PLC can be programmed so as to rout or engrave different patterns in each of the panels (as in FIGS. 15 and 16) so that when all the panels are put together, they will form the selected design. The type of pattern can look like an overlay. However, an add on or an overlay strip (not shown) of the same material can be applied over a plain graphic to give a raised effect. The overlay can also be of a different color when the ply contains an impregnated solid color, such as beige or almond. The extruded cellular PVC sheet is normally available in a white color. However, two other colors are available, namely, almond or beige and sand tone. These colors can be impregnated so that the entire thickness of the PVC sheet is the desired color. Moreover, the outer ply of the panel can be painted with an ultraviolet protective coating in order to lessen harm to the thermoplastic material of the door due to sun exposure.

For example, a white strip can be employed over a beige or sandstone color door. Such add-ons can be applied at a later date in the field by the home owner or a handyman fastening or gluing a strip of material on the outside of the door panels. These add-ons or overlays can be made from a strip of material (which can be on the order of ¼ inch or ⅜ inch thick (0.635-0.953 cm) ply). As mentioned, such material can be glued or mechanically fastened from the inside of the panel using fasteners, such as screws. To aid in such fastening, a printed center line can be made by the PLC on the interior surface of the panel to aid in securing one or more additional layers or plies of material to the outer surface of the door. At the routing station discussed in step 164, the necessary cycles are completed.

Then it is determined whether painting of the door panel is necessary at step 160. If so, it can be conducted as at step 162. The panel is then fed to a paint drying area, as at step 164. With continued reference to FIG. 17, after painting or if no painting is needed, the material can be delivered to the process stage where the reinforcing material is installed at step 166. At this time, a suitable window, such as 134 shown in FIG. 15, can also be installed in one or more of the panels of the door. Also, the necessary hardware, such as, e.g., brackets for holding rollers or the hinges illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12, can be installed. Moreover, handles, such as at 124, can be secured to the outer face of a panel. As mentioned, at least some of the reinforcing elements can be secured to the sash frame before it is secured to the outer ply at step 152. Thus, the reinforcing members can be placed on the lateral rails of the sash frame at the beginning of the assembly process before the sash frame is cemented to the panel or thereafter as the panel exits the process and before it is assembled to the remaining panels to form the door. When the panel is finished, it along with other panels, can be packaged, as at step 168.

The door panels made from extruded cellular PVC do not require conventional manufacturing techniques, nor do they require overlays. Rather, conventional routing devices can be used to create any desired design with ease and in a much less costly manner. For example, a computer numerically controlled (CNC) router or other similar router may be used to engrave a design on the exterior surface of the panel. Alternatively, multiple routers may be used together. In this regard, such routers are programmable to create the desired design to suit panel width and height. For ribbed designs, such features are generated in the same manner and can be formed in the panel along with the routing of the weather joint features at the top and bottom edges of the panel.

In another embodiment, the thermoplastic material sheet of the panel can be extruded in such a way as to have the lateral sides thereof extruded in a specific shape for panels which can be mated to each other. In other words, with such a design, there may not be any need to mechanically shape the top and bottom edges of the panel in the process. Such an extrusion would deliver a long strip of the desired panel height. Then, the panels would be cut to the desired width.

The disclosed method of manufacturing and the thermoplastic material used are advantageous from the perspective that designs can be duplicated without the use of heavy and expensive equipment. Moreover, an unlimited number of designs and patterns can be obtained at relatively little cost. This is possible because of the extruded thermoplastic material, such as the cellular PVC discussed herein, and the use of a fast curing adhesive. These enable a continuous manufacture of composite garage door panels having edges formed with the necessary joints in order to provide a weather tight seal between adjacent door panels. Thus, a relatively maintenance free sectional door panel with any desired pattern on its outer face is achieved in an advantageous manner. This can be accomplished via a continuous manufacturing process.

The disclosure has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments. Modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding this specification. It is intended to include all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.


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