Title:
Rigid wall panel system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention is a prefabricated rigid wall panel assembly constructed of a plurality of C-shaped studs inserted into kerfs in a foam block. The closed ends of the C-shaped studs and the foam block form substantially planar longitudinal edges of the panel assembly capable of abutting an adjacent panel assembly. Optionally, a header and/or footer plate inserted is into a transverse kerf such that the plate overlaps the ends of the studs, and the header and/or footer plate and the foam block form a substantially planar transverse edge of the panel assembly. Adjacent panel assemblies are preferably secured to one another using a clip, the shape of which depends on the angle at which the panel assemblies abut. Each panel assembly may also have a wire chase.



Inventors:
Barton, Steven (Bella Vista, AR, US)
Application Number:
12/205526
Publication Date:
03/05/2009
Filing Date:
09/05/2008
Assignee:
GREENSTEEL TECHNOLOGY, INC. (Bentonville, AR, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/270
International Classes:
E04C1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GITLIN, MATTHEW J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark Murphey Henry (FAYETTEVILLE, AR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A rigid wall panel assembly comprising: a foam block having a center, an exterior surface, and an interior surface; a plurality of longitudinal kerfs spaced across the interior surface of the foam block that do not puncture the exterior surface of the foam block; and a plurality of C-shaped studs having an open edge and a closed edge wherein a portion of the C-shaped studs are located within the longitudinal kerfs, and wherein two of C-shaped studs are oriented with respect to the foam block such that the open edge of the two C-shaped studs are oriented towards the center of the foam block, and wherein the closed edge of the two C-shaped studs and the foam block form two substantially planar longitudinal edges of the rigid wall panel assembly.

2. The rigid wall panel assembly of claim 1, further comprising: a transverse kerf in the foam block; a U-shaped top/bottom plate having an open edge and a closed edge, wherein a portion of the U-shaped top/bottom plate is located within the transverse kerf, and wherein the U-shaped top/bottom plate is oriented with respect to the foam block such that the open edge of the U-shaped top/bottom plate is directed towards the center of the foam block, and wherein the closed edge of the U-shaped top/bottom plate and the foam block form at least one substantially planar transverse edge of the rigid wall panel assembly.

3. The rigid wall panel assembly of claim 1, further comprising one or more wire chases within a recess between a wallboard mounted to the studs and an interior surface of the foam block.

4. A wall, comprising a plurality of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies, each rigid wall panel assembly further comprising: a foam block having a center, an exterior surface, and an interior surface; a plurality of longitudinal kerfs spaced across the interior surface of the foam block that do not puncture the exterior surface of the foam block; and a plurality of C-shaped studs having an open edge and a closed edge wherein a portion of the C-shaped studs are located within the longitudinal kerfs, and wherein two of C-shaped studs are oriented with respect to the foam block such that the open edge of the two C-shaped studs are oriented towards the center of the foam block, and wherein the closed edge of the two C-shaped studs and the foam block form two substantially planar longitudinal edges of the rigid wall panel assembly.

5. The wall of claim 4, each rigid wall panel assembly further comprising: a transverse kerf in the foam block; a U-shaped top/bottom plate having an open edge and a closed edge, wherein a portion of the U-shaped top/bottom plate is located within the transverse kerf, and wherein the U-shaped top/bottom plate is oriented with respect to the foam block such that the open edge of the U-shaped top/bottom plate is directed towards the center of the foam block, and wherein the closed edge of the U-shaped top/bottom plate and the foam block form at least one substantially planar transverse edge of the rigid wall panel assembly.

6. The wall of claim 4 wherein the longitudinal edges of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies abut along a plane.

7. The wall of claim 4 wherein the longitudinal edges of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies abut along a plane, further comprising one or more parallel clips having tabs formed to engage the open edge of two of the C-shaped studs forming the longitudinal edges of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies.

8. The wall of claim 4 wherein the longitudinal edges of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies abut along a line. The wall of claim 4 wherein the longitudinal edges of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies abut along a line, further comprising one or more angled clips having tabs formed to engage the open edge of two of the C-shaped studs forming the longitudinal edges of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES

This application claims priority to U.S. Application Ser. No. 60/967,502, filed Sep. 5, 2007.

GOVERNMENTAL RIGHTS

None.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a preformed rigid wall panel system that is durable and easy to manufacture, transport, and install on-site.

Wall structures for buildings are generally manufactured on either a wooden or metal skeletal system of spaced-apart vertical studs bordered by a top plate and a bottom plate. Such wall structures have historically been built on-site with workers manually joining together the vertical studs and top and bottom plates, then raising the wall structure into place and securing it to the floor system of the building. A surface covering is then applied over the frame section, such as gypsum board, drywall, or plaster. Often, insulation is positioned between the vertical studs prior to installation of the surface covering.

In recent years, manufacturers have begun preparing prefabricated wall framing sections off-site and transporting them to the construction location. Piecing the prefabricated wall sections together is done using conventional methods. Specific to the instant invention, prefabricated wall sections manufactured with metal studs and plates are insulated with EPS foam. These wall systems are intended for use in commercial construction, although they can be used in residential construction as well. The known wall systems are generally manufactured by spacing apart metal studs and inserting foam insulation into the void between the stud spacing. The foam is often attached to the metal studs using a variety of conventional means, such as adhesives. Prefabricated wall panels may also be attached to one another using conventional means such as adhesives, bolts and flat plates, or tongue and groove connectors. It is an object of the invention to provide a foam wall panel system that is easy to transport and assemble and that has integrated means for securing adjacent panels.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,167,624 (the “'624 patent”), issued to Lanahan et al., discloses a prior art foam panel having embedded metal studs. The lateral, vertical edges of the panel have a tongue-and-groove connector formed into the foam block. Adjacent panels are fitted together using the tongue-and-groove connectors. The '624 patent is representative of the deficiencies in the prior art, as no prior art wall panel known to the inventor has disclosed a method of joining the vertical edges of adjacent wall panels together using structural materials. Rather, prior art methods utilized top and bottom plates overlapping the horizontal edges of the panels to secure the panels together. This method presents serious structural deficiencies insofar as the adjacent panels are held together with foam, rather than stronger structural materials such as metal. It is an object of the invention to provide a foam wall panel in which vertical edges of adjacent panels are secured using metal structural materials to provide the panel with additional strength.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The rigid wall panel of the instant invention is more rigid than those produced in the prior art due to the spacing and placement of the metal studs with respect to the foam block. The instant invention utilizes a plurality of spaced-apart, C-shaped studs that are inserted into a foam block. A C-shaped stud is also provided at each end of each wall panel section so that when two panels are joined together, two C-shaped studs abut to form a rigid connection point. Optionally, the foam block may receive top and bottom plates that communicate at three points of contact with each stud forming the panel. Preferably, the panel may be secured together using clips that engage with and are secured to each of the abutted metal studs.

These and other advantages provided by the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description which, when viewed in light of the accompanying drawings, disclose the embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF TIE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the rigid wall panel assembly.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the rigid wall panel assembly.

FIG. 3a is a perspective view of a foam block utilized in the rigid wall panel assembly.

FIG. 3b is a perspective view of a stud utilized in the rigid wall panel assembly.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing the installation of a stud into a foam block.

FIG. 5a is a perspective view showing the installation of a top/bottom plate on the rigid wall panel assembly.

FIG. 5b is a perspective view of a top/bottom plate once installed on the rigid wall panel assembly.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of two parallel rigid wall panel assemblies abutted together at the longitudinal edges of the rigid wall panel assemblies.

FIG. 7 is a top view of a clip connecting together two parallel rigid wall panel assemblies.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of two angled rigid wall panel assemblies abutted together at the longitudinal edges of the rigid wall panel assemblies.

FIG. 9 is a top view of a clip connecting together two angled rigid wall panel assemblies.

Listing of Components

101—rigid wall panel assembly

103—C-shaped studs

105—foam block

107—longitudinal edge

109—longitudinal kerfs

111—exterior surface

113—interior surface

115—recess

117—wallboard

119—transverse kerfs

121—top/bottom plate

122—transverse edges

123—first lip

125—second lip

127—points of contact

129—parallel clip

131—tabs

133—angled clip

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The instant invention is drawn to a rigid wall panel assembly for use in residential and commercial construction.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the rigid wall panel assembly 101 of the instant invention is formed by spacing apart a plurality of C-shaped studs 103, preferably metal, wherein a sufficient number of C-shaped studs 103 are used to provide the desired length for rigid wall panel assembly 101. While the dimensions of the C-shaped studs 103 can be varied greatly, it is preferable that each C-shaped stud 103 is approximately five and one-half (5½) inches in width. The spacing between C-shaped studs 103 will largely be determined by building codes and construction requirements for the location where rigid wall panel assembly 101 will be utilized. The C-shaped studs 103 are inserted into a foam block 105, preferably made of EPS foam, which allows C-shaped studs 103 to maintain the desired spacing. Each rigid wall panel assembly 101 has a C-shaped stud 103 at each longitudinal edge 107, preferably such that the open edges of C-shaped studs 103 point toward the center of foam block 105 and the closed edges of C-shaped studs 103 are flush with longitudinal edge 107.

The method of constructing rigid wall panel assembly 101 is shown in more detail in FIGS. 3a, 3b, and 4. Foam block 105 has a plurality of longitudinal kerfs 109, which are preferably evenly spaced across the transverse axis of foam block 105. Longitudinal kerfs 109 preferably run along the weight-bearing axis of rigid wall panel assembly 101, which typically lies in the vertical plane for standard wall installations. However, rigid wall panel assembly 101 may be used in other applications, such as roof framing, in which case longitudinal kerfs will not be in the vertical plane. Longitudinal kerfs 109 have a cross-section that is substantially identical to a predetermined portion of the cross section of C-shaped studs 103; however, in order for the closed edge of C-shaped studs 103 to be flush with both longitudinal edges 107, the longitudinal kerfs 109 at the two longitudinal edges 107 must be mirror images of each other. Foam block 105 and C-shaped studs 103 form longitudinal edges 107 such that longitudinal edges are substantially planar. To assemble rigid wall panel assembly 101, C-shaped studs 103 are inserted into longitudinal kerfs 109, either manually or by using machinery such as that disclosed in commonly-owned U.S. application Ser. No. 12/218,678.

Longitudinal kerfs 109 are shaped such that a portion of C-shaped studs 103 are recessed within foam block 105 so that a predetermined width of foam, typically 1.5 inches according to many local building codes, remains between C-shaped studs 103 and the exterior surface 111 of foam block 105. Also preferably, C-shaped studs 103 also protrude from the interior surface 113 of foam block 105 to allow wire chases or other necessary materials to be installed in the recess 115 between interior surface 113 of foam block 105 and wallboard 117 that is mounted to rigid wall panel assembly 101.

Optionally, as shown in FIGS. 5a and 5b, foam block 105 may have one or more transverse kerfs 119 for receiving a top/bottom plate 121. Together, foam block 105 and each top/bottom plate 121 form a substantially planar transverse edge 122. Top/bottom plate 121 is generally U-shaped, and the open edge of top/bottom plate 121 points toward the center of rigid wall panel assembly 101. Transverse kerfs 119 receive a first lip 123 of the open edge of top/bottom plate 121, and a second lip 125 of the open edge of top/bottom plate 121 abuts the portion of C-shaped stud 103 protruding from foam block 105. Top/bottom plates 121 may be secured to C-shaped studs 103 by various methods, including rivets, self-tapping screws, or other methods known in the art. Thus configured, each top/bottom plate 121 provides three points of contact 127 with each C-shaped stud 103, which allows rigid foam panel assembly 101 to be much stronger than prefabricated panels of the prior art. Furthermore, such strength does not sacrifice insulation capabilities of rigid wall panel assembly 101, as transverse kerf 119 is cut such that foam block 105 is flush with the closed edge of top/bottom plate 121.

Depending on the height and width of rigid wall panel assembly 101, longitudinal kerfs 109 may be shorter than, the same length as, or longer than transverse kerfs 119. Persons having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the terms longitudinal and transverse are used for the convenience of the reader and are not intended as a functional limitation of the dimensions of the rigid wall panel assembly 101 disclosed herein.

As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a plurality of rigid wall panel assemblies 101 may be placed parallel to one another such that longitudinal edges 107 (and corresponding C-shaped studs 103) of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies 101 abut along a plane. C-shaped studs 103 forming longitudinal edges 107 may then be fastened together using conventional fastening means. Optionally, however, one or more parallel clips 129 may be used to secure adjacent C-shaped studs 103. The cross-section of parallel clip 129 is generally C-shaped and includes one or more tabs 131. Tabs 131 allow one longitudinal side of parallel clip 129 to be fitted over C-shaped stud 103 such that parallel clip 129 can then be rotated into place (as seen in FIG. 7). Tabs 131 are then formed so as to overlap the open edge of C-shaped stud 103 to secure parallel clip 129 to C-shaped stud 103.

As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a plurality of rigid wall panel assemblies 101 may be placed adjacent to one another at a predetermined angle such that C-shaped studs 103 corresponding to longitudinal edges 107 of adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies 101 abut along a line. The predetermined angle shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 is a perpendicular angle, although the invention is not limited to any particular angle. Due to the minimal amount of communication between adjacent C-shaped studs 103 forming longitudinal edges 107, conventional fastening means are not well suited to fastening together adjacent rigid wall panel assemblies abutting at an angle. However, one or more angled clips 133 may be used to secure adjacent C-shaped studs 103. The cross-section of angled clip 133 is generally W-shaped and includes one or more tabs 131. Tabs 131 allow one longitudinal side of angled clip 133 to be fitted over C-shaped stud 103 such that angled clip 133 can then be rotated into place (as seen in FIG. 9). Tabs 131 are then formed so as to overlap the open edge of C-shaped stud 103 to secure angled clip 133 to C-shaped stud 103.

While the inventors have described above what they believe to be the preferred embodiments of the invention, persons having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other and additional changes may be made in conformance with the spirit of the invention and the inventors intend to claim all such changes as may fall within the scope of the invention.