Title:
STRUCTURAL INSULATED PANEL SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A structural insulated panel system includes a frame including a first vertical frame member and a second vertical frame member and a top frame member and a bottom frame member. A first siding member is attached to one side of the frame and a second siding member is attached to an opposite side of the frame to form a cavity and an insulation material is provided within the cavity. A tongue portion includes a projection formed from the first vertical frame member disposed laterally outward from one vertical edge of the first and second siding members. A groove portion includes a recess formed from the second vertical frame member disposed laterally inward from an opposite vertical edge of the first and second siding members, so that the tongue portion from one panel is configured to mate with the groove portion of another panel to provide an assembly of multiple panels.



Inventors:
Mathis, John P. (Covington, GA, US)
Houlihan-mockoski, John W. (Covington, GA, US)
Finney, Mark L. (Loganville, GA, US)
Finney, Steven D. (Oxford, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/875307
Publication Date:
04/23/2009
Filing Date:
10/19/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/794.1, 220/592.02, 52/745.19
International Classes:
E04C2/34; E04B2/90; E04C2/10; E04C2/38; F25D23/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ADAMOS, THEODORE V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A structural insulated panel system, comprising: a frame including a first vertical frame member and a second vertical frame member and a top frame member and a bottom frame member; a first siding member attached to at least a portion of one side of the frame and a second siding member attached to at least a portion of an opposite side of the frame, the frame and the first and second siding members forming a cavity; an insulation material within the cavity; a tongue portion comprising a projection formed from the first vertical frame member disposed laterally outward from one vertical edge of the first and second siding members; and a groove portion comprising a recess formed from the second vertical frame member disposed laterally inward from an opposite vertical edge of the first and second siding members; wherein the tongue portion from one panel is configured to mate with the groove portion of another panel to provide an assembly of multiple panels.

2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a retractable fastener having a hook portion and a pin portion and wherein the hook portion is disposed within one of the first vertical frame member and the second vertical frame member and the pin portion is disposed within the other of the first vertical frame member and the second vertical frame member.

3. The system of claim 1 further comprising a corner panel assembly including a first corner panel and a second corner panel.

4. The system of claim 3 wherein the first corner panel includes a groove portion and a tongue portion, and the second corner panel includes a tongue portion and a flat surface.

5. The system of claim 4 wherein the flat surface of the second corner panel is configured to mate with the tongue portion of the first corner panel to form the corner panel assembly.

6. A prefabricated structural insulated panel, comprising: a frame; a first siding member attached to a first side of the frame and a second siding member attached to a second side of the frame; an insulation material disposed within a cavity formed by the frame and the first and second siding members; the frame comprising a first vertical member disposed outwardly of a vertical edge on one side of the first and second siding members to form a tongue portion, and a second vertical frame member disposed inwardly of a vertical edge on an opposite side of the first and second siding members to form a groove portion.

7. The panel of claim 6 wherein the frame comprises frame members made from a material selected from the group consisting of wood and high density foam.

8. The panel of claim 6 wherein the insulation material comprises a polyurethane foam material injected into the cavity.

9. The panel of claim 6 further comprising a retractable fastener integrated with the first and second vertical frame members.

10. The panel of claim 6 further comprising extension members extending between the first vertical member and the vertical edge on the one side of the first and second siding members.

11. The panel of claim 6 first vertical frame member of the tongue portion comprises beveled edges.

12. A method of making a structural insulated panel system, comprising: providing a frame including a first vertical frame member and a second vertical frame member and a top frame member and a bottom frame member; attaching a first siding member to at least a portion of one side of the frame and attaching a second siding member to at least a portion of an opposite side of the frame to form a cavity; injecting an insulation material into the cavity; positioning the first vertical member outwardly of a vertical edge on one side of the first and second siding members to form a tongue portion, and positioning a second vertical frame member inwardly of a vertical edge on an opposite side of the first and second siding members to form a groove portion.

13. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of providing a hook portion of a retractable fastener within one of the first vertical frame member and the second vertical frame member and providing a pin portion of the retractable fastener within the other of the first vertical frame member and the second vertical frame member.

14. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of adjusting a width of the panel system by removing a first portion of the tongue portion, and removing a second portion of the first and second siding members along the vertical edge on the opposite side of the first and second siding members; the first portion and the second portion having substantially the same thickness.

15. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of adjusting a width of the panel system by adding a shim to the tongue portion.

16. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of providing a corner panel assembly including a first corner panel and a second corner panel.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the step of providing a corner panel assembly further includes providing a groove portion and a tongue portion on the first corner panel, and providing a tongue portion and a flat surface on the second corner panel, and wherein the flat surface of the second corner panel is configured to mate with the tongue portion of the first corner panel to form the corner panel assembly.

18. The method of claim 17 further comprising the step of joining the tongue portion of one panel to the groove portion of the first corner panel, and joining the groove portion of another panel to the tongue portion of the second corner panel assembly.

19. A walk-in cooler, comprising: at least two walls, each wall comprising at least one prefabricated structural insulated panel; and at least one corner panel assembly joining the at least two walls; each prefabricated structural insulated panel comprising: a frame including a first vertical frame member and a second vertical frame member and a top frame member and a bottom frame member; a first siding member attached to at least a portion of one side of the frame and a second siding member attached to at least a portion of an opposite side of the frame, the frame and the first and second siding members forming a cavity; an insulation material within the cavity; a tongue portion comprising a projection formed from the first vertical frame member disposed laterally outward from one vertical edge of the first and second siding members; and a groove portion comprising a recess formed from the second vertical frame member disposed laterally inward from an opposite vertical edge of the first and second siding members; the corner panel assembly comprising: a first corner panel having a groove portion and a tongue portion; a second corner panel having a tongue portion and a flat surface; wherein the flat surface of the second corner panel mates with the tongue portion of the first corner panel to form the corner panel assembly; wherein the groove portion of the first corner panel mates with a tongue portion of the prefabricated structural insulated panel of one wall, and the tongue portion of the second corner panel mates with the groove portion of the prefabricated structural insulated panel of the other wall.

20. The walk-in cooler of claim 19 further comprising a retractable fastener having a hook and a pin and wherein the hook is disposed within the tongue portion of the prefabricated structural insulated panel and the tongue portion of the second corner panel, and the pin is disposed within the groove portion of the prefabricated structural insulated panel and the groove portion of the first corner panel.

Description:

FIELD

The present invention relates to a structural insulated panel. The present invention relates more particularly to a structural insulated panel system for assembling an insulated enclosure. The present invention relates more particularly to a prefabricated structural insulated panel system that is quickly and easily assembled and readily accommodates tolerance variations.

BACKGROUND

It is generally known to provide insulated panels or walls for temperature controlled storage areas (e.g. walk-in coolers, etc.) or for other structures or enclosures where a thermal boundary is desired. Such known walls or panels typically include wall or paneling structures where a layer of an insulation material is installed (e.g. blankets, sheets, etc.) within a cavity of a wall during construction of the wall or structure, or is applied (e.g. spraying a foam material, etc.) to a surface of the wall or structure after construction is complete. Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a structural insulated panel system that provides pre-fabricated structural insulated panels that connect to one another rapidly, conveniently, and having improved strength and air-tightness qualities.

SUMMARY

According to one embodiment, a structural insulated panel system includes a frame including a first vertical frame member and a second vertical frame member and a top frame member and a bottom frame member. A first siding member is attached to one side of the frame and a second siding member is attached to an opposite side of the frame to form a cavity and an insulation material is provided within the cavity. A tongue portion includes a projection formed from the first vertical frame member disposed laterally outward from one vertical edge of the first and second siding members. A groove portion includes a recess formed from the second vertical frame member disposed laterally inward from an opposite vertical edge of the first and second siding members, so that the tongue portion from one panel is configured to mate with the groove portion of another panel to provide an assembly of multiple panels.

According to another embodiment, a prefabricated structural insulated panel includes a frame and a first siding member attached to a first side of the frame and a second siding member attached to a second side of the frame, and an insulation material provided within a cavity formed by the frame and the first and second siding members. The frame includes a first vertical member positioned outwardly of a vertical edge on one side of the first and second siding members to form a tongue portion, and a second vertical frame member is positioned inwardly of a vertical edge on an opposite side of the first and second siding members to form a groove portion.

According to another embodiment, a method of making a structural insulated panel system includes the steps of providing a frame including a first vertical frame member and a second vertical frame member and a top frame member and a bottom frame member, attaching a first siding member to one side of the frame and attaching a second siding member to an opposite side of the frame to form a cavity, injecting an insulation material into the cavity, positioning the first vertical member outwardly of a vertical edge on one side of the first and second siding members to form a tongue portion, and positioning a second vertical frame member inwardly of a vertical edge on an opposite side of the first and second siding members to form a groove portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A-1B are schematic images of a perspective view of a conventional structural insulated panel and connection device.

FIG. 2A is a schematic image of a front elevation view of a structural insulated panel according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 2C is a schematic image of a cross sectional view of a structural insulated panel along lines 2C-2C in FIG. 2A, according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 2D is a schematic image of an exploded perspective view of a structural insulated panel assembly according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3A is a schematic image of a perspective view of a structural insulated corner panel assembly according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3B is a schematic image of a cross sectional view of a structural insulated corner panel assembly along lines 3B-3B in FIG. 3A, according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3C is a schematic image of a cross sectional view of a structural insulated corner panel assembly along lines 3C-3C in FIG. 3A, according to an exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 2A-3C, a structural insulated panel system 100 for use in assembling an enclosure (e.g. walk-in cooler, refrigerated storage area, etc.) or other type of structure (e.g. residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, etc.) having a thermal boundary is shown according to one embodiment. The panels are prefabricated with a frame and siding arrangement that permits rapid and secure assembly of the panels to one another (e.g. in a “plug-and-play” type manner, etc.). The system includes a first type of panels intended for use in planar segments of an enclosure, such as for assembling walls, ceilings, roofs, etc., and a second type of panels intended for use in assembling corners or other suitable junctions between the walls, ceiling, or roof of the enclosure. The panels may be provided in a wide variety of sizes (e.g. height and width) that may be provided as “standard” sizes (such as within a range of six inches to 48 inches wide, and 8 to 10 feet high) or may also be provided in a wide range of custom order sizes (such as up to 12 feet wide and up to 16 feet high) intended to suit a particular application. The panels may also be provided in various thicknesses as “standard” thicknesses corresponding to a range of desired thermal performance characteristics, or may be provided in custom thicknesses intended to suit a particular application. The thickness of the panels may be varied by changing the thickness of either or both of the siding and the frame. Although the system is shown and described by way of example as having rectangular shaped panels and right-angle corners, the system may be used with any of a wide variety of shapes and corner assembly configurations. Further, the panels may be modified for use in particular areas of the enclosure, such as for use as roof panels, etc. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be within the scope of the invention as disclosed in reference to the embodiments illustrated and described herein.

Referring to FIGS. 1A-1B, a conventional structural insulated panel and connection device are shown. The conventional panels 10 are shown to include structural frame pieces 12 that are flush with the edges of the siding portion 14 of the panels. The conventional connection device includes two wooden strips 16 (e.g. “splines”) that are inserted within slots 18 provided along the frame pieces at the adjoining edge of each of the panels. The strips are then fastened to each of the panels (e.g. by nails or screws) to hold the panels together. The conventional panels and connection devices are generally difficult and time-consuming to assemble, and do not provide a desired ease-of-construction. The conventional panels are also generally not well suited to adjusting the width of the panels, for example when necessary to accommodate tolerance stack up when combining multiple panels together, or when necessary to accommodate the size requirements of the installation location. For example, when additional width is desired, the conventional panels often require extending the width of the strips between two or more panel joints to expand the width of the panel installation, and then filling the gap between the ends of the panels with a filler or spacer, which tends to weaken the strength and sealing quality of the joint(s). When reduced width is desired, the conventional panels often require cutting or trimming the adjoining edges of one or more panels to remove a desired width (which results in the slots becoming more shallow), and then cutting or trimming the strips to fit within the shallower slots to reduce the overall width of the panel installation, which tends to weaken the strength and sealing quality of the joint(s).

Referring to FIGS. 2A-2C, a first type of prefabricated structural insulated panels 110 and connection device 140 of the system 100 intended for use in assembling wall, ceilings, roofs, etc., is shown according to an exemplary embodiment. Panels 110 are shown to include a frame 112 having first and second vertical frame members 113, 114 and a top frame member 115 and a bottom frame member 115a, a first siding member 116, a second siding member 120, and an insulation fill material 130, and connection devices. According to one embodiment, the frame 112 is formed from structural members, such as “2×4” wood lumber, although other size lumber (e.g. 2×2, 2×6, 2×8, etc.) may be used to provide panels having a greater or lesser width (e.g. thickness) to suit a desired thermal, fire and/or environmental boundary performance. The frame 112 is also shown formed in the shape of a rectangle having two vertical and two horizontal structural members, each located generally along a perimeter of the panel. However, additional (i.e. internal) structural members may be included (e.g. within the perimeter and extending side-to-side and/or top-to-bottom and/or corner-to-corner) to provide additional structural support as desired for a particular application. According to alternative embodiments, the structural members of the frame may be provided by high density foam rails, particularly where exceptional insulating performance is desired. According to further alternative embodiments, the rails may be provided from a material such as steel, aluminum, or suitable composites, particularly where increased strength is desired or higher fire rating is desired.

First and second siding members 116, 120 are attached on opposite sides (e.g. front and back, inside and outside, etc.) of the frame 112 to provide a structural panel having a cavity 118 defined by the siding members 116, 120 and the frame 112 (or multiple cavities in the event that the panel includes one or more internal structural members). The siding members may be provided as any type of siding having a desired strength and appearance for a particular application. According to one embodiment, the siding members are oriented strand board (OSB) having a thickness of approximately 7/16 inches (or other thicknesses as determined by performance specifications for a particular enclosure), but may be other types of panels or siding having any suitable thickness and desired architectural appearance to provide a desired thermal, fire and/or environmental boundary performance and appearance for use in a particular application. For example, the siding members may include (or be formed from, or have applied thereto) a fire resistant or fire retardant material, and/or an antibacterial or antimicrobial treatment. Further, multiple skin options may be used with varying materials and/or thicknesses to provide specific or custom-tailored thermal, fire, or environmental performance boundaries. The siding members may be attached to the frame using any suitable method and components such as nails, screws, staples, adhesive (glue, etc.) or combination thereof, to provide a panel “shell”. The cavity(ies) 118 of the shell are then filled with the insulation material 130 to provide the first type of structural insulated panel. According to one embodiment, the insulation material is a polyurethane foam that is injected into the cavity(ies) through a suitable small hole (not shown) cut or drilled into one of the siding members at a location corresponding to a generally central location of the cavity. The polyurethane foam is injected into the one or more cavities to provide a desired density corresponding to the desired thermal performance characteristic of the panel. According to one embodiment, the density of the insulation foam material is within a range of approximately 2.0-2.6 pounds per cubic foot.

Referring further to FIGS. 2A-2C, a connection device 140 for joining the structural insulated panels 110 of the system 100 is shown according to an exemplary embodiment. Connection device 140 includes a projection (e.g. tab, male portion, etc. —shown as a tongue portion 142) and a receptacle (e.g. pocket, recess, female portion, etc. —shown as a groove portion 144) that are integrally formed as part of the panel 110 through an arrangement of the frame members 113, 114 and siding members 116, 120 relative to one another. Tongue portion 142 having a width A is formed by placing or extending one vertical frame member 114 laterally outward a distance B beyond the side edges 117, 121 of siding members 116, 120. In order to obtain a tongue portion having a desired extension distance B, the frame member 114 may be located laterally outward and beyond the side edges 117, 121, in which case extension members 126 (e.g. spacers, bridges, etc.) may be provided to extend the location of the frame member 114 beyond the side edges 117, 121. Alternatively, the outwardly extending frame member may overlap the side edges and be attached directly to the siding members. According to another alternative embodiment, multiple vertical frame members may be used (e.g. “stacked”, etc.) to obtain the desired extension distance for the tongue portion and the extension members may be eliminated. According to one embodiment, the outward vertical edges on frame member 114 may be beveled or chamfered to enhance the ease of tongue and groove assembly of the panels during field construction.

Groove portion 144 having a width C is formed by placing or retracting (e.g. insetting, etc.) the vertical frame member 113 laterally inward a distance D within the side edges 118, 122 of siding members 116, 120. According to one embodiment where the frame members are 2×4 wood lumber, width A is approximately 3½ inches and distance B is approximately 1⅞ inches and width C is approximately 3½ inches and distance D is approximately 2 inches. However, other distances that provide desired joint strength and leak tightness characteristics may be used. For example, according to alternative embodiments, the distance dimensions for the tongue and groove portions may be within the range of approximately ½ inch to 6 inches. Further, each panel is shown to also include a horizontal groove portion 128 along a bottom of the panel 110 for use in positioning and retaining the panel over a sill plate (or other suitable structure—not shown) at the field installation location. The bottom frame member may also include a dado (e.g. groove, trench, slot, recess, etc.) to adapt the panel for sill plate bolt/nut clearance.

The tongue and groove portions 142, 144 of each panel 110 are also configured to accommodate the need to expand or contract the overall width of an assembly of panels. For example, in the illustrated embodiment using 2×4 lumber and OSB siding members, a reduction in panel width may be accomplished by cutting-off up to 1 inch from the outward face of vertical frame member 114 of tongue portion 142 and cutting the same amount from the edges 118, 122 of the siding members 116, 120 extending from the groove portion 144 on the adjoining panel 110 and assembling the two panels 110 together. Similarly, an expansion in panel width may be accomplished by attaching up to 1 inch of filler material (e.g. wood strip, blocks, spacer, shim, etc.) to the vertical frame member 113 in the groove 144 and then assembling the two panels together; a strip or gap may remain between the siding members on the two panels corresponding to the thickness of the filler material in the groove portion, which may be readily filled with a strip of siding material.

Referring further to FIGS. 2A-2C, the connection device 140 may also include a retractable fastener 150, such as a cam-lock type connector for drawing together and locking the tongue portion 142 and groove portion 144 into engagement with one another. According to one embodiment, the retractable fastener 150 includes a hook-and-pin device where a pin 152 is recessed into the vertical frame member 114 of the tongue portion 142 and a retractable hook 154 is recessed into the vertical frame member 113 of the groove portion 144. The hook 154 may be extended and retracted using a suitable tool, such as a T-wrench or hexagonal wrench extended through a suitable access hole (not shown) cut or drilled into the siding member 120 and frame member 113 to extend and retract the hook 154. According to a preferred embodiment, the retractable fastener 150 is a Kason Panelock™ fastener commercially available from Kason Industries, Inc. According to alternative embodiments, the orientation of the pin and the hook on the tongue and groove portions may be reversed, and multiple retractable fasteners may be provided on each of the tongue and groove portions to provide increased strength and air tightness at the joint between the panels.

Two or more of the structural insulated panels 110 (having any desired width) may be assembled together by mating (e.g. joining, nesting, connecting, etc.) the tongue portion 142 and groove portion 144 of adjacent panels 110 to provide an extended assembly of multiple panels such as may be used for a wall, floor, ceiling or roof of an enclosure. As the tongue portion 142 of a first panel 110 is inserted into the groove portion 144 of a second panel 110, the siding members 116, 120 corresponding to the groove 144 of the second panel 110 overlie the vertical frame member 114 of the tongue portion 142 on the frame 112 of the first panel 110. For embodiments that include retractable fasteners 150, the hook 154 from one panel 110 is extended and placed in position over the pin 152 on the other panel 110 as the tongue and groove portions 142, 144 are joined, then a suitable tool is inserted through an access hole (not shown) in one of the siding members to actuate the hook 154 to a closed position that captures and draws the pin 152 to “pull” and lock the two panels 110 together into a tight fitting engagement. The access hole may be subsequently filled with a suitable insulating material.

The panels may then be more permanently joined by fastening the siding members 116, 120 of the groove portion 144 to the vertical frame member 114 of the tongue portion 142 using suitable components (e.g. nails, screws, staples, adhesives, etc.). According to one embodiment, prior to mating of the tongue portion 142 and the groove portion 144, a layer (e.g. “bead”, etc.) of a sealant (not shown) may be provided along the height of the vertical frame member 114 of tongue portion 142 and/or the vertical frame member 113 of groove portion 144 to enhance the air-tightness of the joint between the panels 110 (e.g. in the manner of a gasket or weather-strip or the like). The sealant may be an adhesive material or have adhesive qualities, and may also have desired thermal insulation properties. According to one embodiment, the sealant is a polyurethane foam material that may be compressed between the tongue portion 142 and the groove portion 144 during assembly of the panels 110 to one another.

Referring to FIGS. 3A-3C, a structural insulated panel corner assembly 160 of the system 110 is provided for use in corner locations of an enclosure or other structure, according to an exemplary embodiment. Corner assembly 160 includes a first corner panel 162 and a second corner panel 180. First corner panel 162 and second corner panel 180 are similar to panel 110 as previously described (including an insulation fill material 130), but include additional features adapted to form a corner assembly. First corner panel 162 includes a groove portion 164 on one vertical side (shown as a “free” side, adapted to engage a tongue portion 142 from a panel 110 in a wall section of an enclosure), and a tongue portion 166 on an opposite vertical side, where the tongue portion 166 is formed by an extension of siding member 168 that extends beyond vertical frame member 172. The second corner panel 180 includes a tongue portion 182 formed from a vertical frame member 192 on one vertical side (shown as a “free” side, adapted to engage a groove portion 144 from a panel 110 in a wall section of an enclosure), and a flat surface 184 on an opposite vertical side, where a frame member 186 is generally flush with the edges of the siding members 188, 190.

The first and second corner panels 162 and 180 are readily assembled by mating the flat surface 184 of the second corner panel 180 with the tongue portion 166 of the first corner panel 162, and joining them with suitable fastening components (as previously described). According to alternative embodiments, the free side of the first and second panels may be provided with either a tongue portion or a groove portion as appropriate for mating with other panels of the enclosure. The first and second corner panels of the corner assembly may also include retractable fasteners as previously described.

According to any preferred embodiment, the structural insulated panel system provides a system of panels for use in planar segments and corner assemblies of an enclosure having a thermal boundary, and connectors that are provided as integral members of the prefabricated panel. The panels are formed as a single integrated unit to include a frame and siding members that are arranged to form a tongue and groove portion on each panel. The tongue and groove members of the frame and the siding members form a shell with one or more cavities that are filled with a thermal insulation material to provide stand-alone panels that are readily connectable to one another in a simplified and expedient manner. The panels of the assembly are conveniently and readily assembled into a desired structure or enclosure by mating the tongue and groove portions of the various panels and securing them in place, without the use of additional strips or splines. The widths of the panels may also be adjusted in a simple manner to accommodate tolerance variations or unanticipated conditions at an installation location.

It is also important to note that the construction and arrangement of the elements of the structural insulated panel system as shown schematically in the FIGURES is illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in location and orientation of tongue and groove portions, locations of retractable fasteners, configurations of panel elements in corner assemblies, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter recited.

It should also be noted that the system may include any suitable type of siding members attached to frame members made from wood, foam or other suitable material to form one or more cavities filled with any type of suitable thermal insulation material, where the frame and siding members of the panel are arranged to provide a tongue and groove type fastening system for joining the panel segments together and may further include retractable fasteners for further strengthening joints between the panels. Further, the frame members may include one or more internal members forming multiple cavities within a shell of the panel for filling with the insulation material. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, construction, assembly, and arrangement of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present invention.

The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. In the claims, any means-plus-function clause is intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating configuration and arrangement of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present inventions as expressed in the appended claims.





 
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