Title:
Modular building system and methods thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A steel space-frame construction system includes at least a first stud, a second stud, a channel, a block, and a top cap or a second block. A first end of the first stud resides in the channel and is secured thereto. The block is secured to the first stud. A first end of the second stud resides in the channel, and the second stud is secured to the block and the channel. The block provides a predetermined fixed spacing between the first stud and the second stud. The top cap or a second block is secured to the first stud and the second stud at a second end thereof. The channel is repositioned so that the opposite sides of the first stud, second stud, block, channel, and top cap or second block may be secured together, thereby forming a space-frame.



Inventors:
Berridge, Jack A. (Lake McQueeney, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/978883
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/30/2007
Assignee:
Berridge Manufacturing Company
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.19
International Classes:
E04B1/18; E04B1/19; E04B1/24; E04G21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ADAMOS, THEODORE V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF CHRISTOPHER L. MAKAY (San Antonio, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A steel space-frame construction system, comprising: a first stud; a second stud; a channel, whereby a first end of each stud resides within the channel; and a block securable between the first stud and the second stud.

2. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein the block is adapted to laterally stabilize the first stud and the second stud.

3. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, further comprising a top cap, whereby a second end of each of the first and second studs resides within the top cap.

4. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein the first stud and the second stud each comprise a first side, a second side, and a cross-member therebetween.

5. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 4, wherein the first side and the second side each include a recess.

6. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 5, wherein each recess is adapted to receive at least one fastener therein such that the fastener does not protrude exterior to the recess.

7. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 4, wherein the first side and the second side each terminate in a curved edge, thereby strengthening each of the first stud and the second stud.

8. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein the length of the block provides a predetermined fixed spacing between the first stud and the second stud.

9. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 5, wherein the block comprises a first side, a second side, and a cross-member therebetween.

10. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 9, wherein: the first side includes a tab at a first end and a tab at a second end that facilitate connection of the block between the first stud and the second stud; and the second side includes a tab at a first end and a tab at a second end that facilitate connection of the block between the first stud and the second stud.

11. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 10, wherein each tab includes a recess adapted to fit within the recess in the first side and second side of a stud, whereby a fastener securing the tab to the stud does not protrude exterior to the recess in the tab.

12. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 10, wherein each tab includes an indentation that functions as a guide for a fastener inserted through the tab.

13. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 9, wherein the first side and the second side each terminate in a curved edge, thereby strengthening the block.

14. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein a second block may be secured between the first stud and the second stud to provide additional strength.

15. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein a second block may be secured between the first stud and the second stud at a second end of each of the first and second studs.

16. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein the first stud and the second stud may be sized to provide a structure with one or more levels.

17. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 1, wherein a third stud may be secured to at least the first stud to provide additional strength.

18. A steel space-frame construction system, comprising: a channel; a plurality of studs, whereby a first end of each stud resides within the channel; and a block securable between each of the plurality of studs, whereby the blocks provide a predetermined fixed spacing between the studs.

19. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, wherein the blocks are adapted to laterally stabilize the studs.

20. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, further comprising a top cap, whereby a second end of each stud resides within the top cap thereby forming a space-frame.

21. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, further comprising a second block securable between each of the plurality of studs thereby forming a space-frame.

22. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 21, wherein each of the plurality of studs extends beyond each of the second blocks thereby forming a multi-level space-frame.

23. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, wherein a block may be shortened to accommodate a different spacing requirement between adjacent studs.

24. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, wherein each of the plurality of studs has a predetermined length.

25. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 24, wherein each of the plurality of studs may be shortened to accommodate a different size requirement for a space-frame.

26. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, wherein a second block may be secured between two studs to provide additional strength.

27. The steel space-frame construction system according to claim 18, wherein a stud may be secured to any one of the plurality of studs to provide additional strength.

28. A method of constructing a steel space-frame, comprising: providing a channel; securing a first stud at a first end to channel; securing a first block to the first stud, whereby the first block provides a predetermined fixed spacing between studs; and securing a second stud to the first block.

29. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 28, wherein securing the first block between the first stud and the second stud laterally stabilizes the first stud and the second stud.

30. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 28, further comprising: securing a second block to the second stud, whereby the second block continues the predetermined fixed spacing between studs; and securing a third stud to the second block.

31. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 30, further comprising securing additional blocks and studs until the end of the channel is reached.

32. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 31, further comprising securing the second stud, the third stud, and the additional studs to the channel.

33. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 30, wherein securing blocks between studs laterally stabilizes the studs.

34. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 32, further comprising securing a top cap or a second set of additional blocks at a second end of the first stud, the second stud, the third stud, and the additional studs.

35. The method of constructing a steel space-frame according to claim 34, further comprising: repositioning the channel; securing the first stud, the second stud, the third stud, and the additional studs to the opposite side of the channel; securing the first stud, the second stud, the third stud, and the additional studs to the opposite side of the first block, the second block, and the additional blocks; and securing the first stud, the second stud, the third stud, and the additional studs to the opposite side of the top cap or the second set of additional blocks.

36. A method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system, comprising: forming steel into studs having a predetermined length; forming steel into blocks having a length that provides a predetermined fixed spacing between the studs; and forming steel into channels having a predetermined length.

37. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 36, further comprising forming steel into top caps having a predetermined length the same as that of the channels.

38. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 36, wherein the gauge of the steel used to form the studs, blocks, and channels is the same.

39. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 36, wherein forming steel into blocks, comprises: forming a first side, a second side, and a cross-member therebetween; and forming a recess in the first side and the second side.

40. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 39, wherein forming steel into studs having a predetermined length, further comprises forming the first side and the second side with a curved edge.

41. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 39, wherein forming steel into blocks, comprises: forming a first side, a second side, and a cross-member therebetween; forming a tab at a first end and a second end of the first side; and forming a tab at a first end and a second end of the second side.

42. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 41, wherein forming steel into blocks, further comprises: forming a recess in each tab, whereby the recess is adapted to fit within the recess in the first side and second side of a stud, further whereby a fastener securing the tab to the stud does not protrude exterior to the recess in the tab.

43. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 41, wherein forming steel into blocks, further comprises forming each tab with an indentation that functions as a guide for a fastener inserted through the tab.

44. The method of manufacturing a steel space-frame construction system according to claim 41, wherein forming steel into blocks, further comprises forming the first side and the second side with a curved edge.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to building, and, more particularly, but not by way of limitation to a modular building system including steel components that maybe configured quickly and easily into a structure.

2. Description of the Related Art

Most residential homes are built using wood frames. Typically, wood boards in 2×4 or 2×6 configurations constitute residential frame construction. Using wood provides a contractor with several benefits. Most residential construction workers are trained to build house frames using wood. Therefore, using wood contributes to lower labor costs. Furthermore, wood is adaptable to any job site. For example, increasing or decreasing the number of 2×4's or 2×6's allows an increase or decrease in the strength of a particular frame. For these reasons, wood has become the accepted standard in residential frame construction because of its commonality and adaptability. Using wood in residential frame construction, however, has several disadvantages. First, wood tends to be expensive. Also, the character of wood makes it more susceptible to the elements. Third, a large variability exists in the quality of wood boards which contributes to higher costs. Finally, wood frames tend to be heavy and moving such frames can become highly cumbersome.

When used in space-frame construction, steel overcomes many of the disadvantages of wood. Steel is fireproof and resistant to termites. Furthermore, steel will not rot, mold, or warp because it is resistant to moisture. Steel also acknowledges environmental concerns because it is recyclable. However, using steel in place of wood framing, often, has been cost prohibitive. Finding residential construction workers trained in using steel is difficult. In addition, the construction techniques used in steel space-frame construction are fundamentally different from those used in wood construction. Having to train workers on how to use steel is a time consuming process. Consequently, expenses saved on steel materials may be lost in labor costs. Finally, various gauges of steel must be used to meet the structural strength requirements of a particular job site, which is time consuming and once again, contributes to increased labor costs.

Accordingly, a steel space-frame construction system that incorporates the advantages of wood based systems while eliminating the problems with traditional steel space-frame construction.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a steel space-frame construction system is modular, thereby incorporating the advantages of wood based systems, while eliminating problems plaguing traditional steel space-frame construction. Furthermore, the system's modularity eliminates the need for different gauges of steel and, therefore, lowers the costs of any building project. Component modularity allows the meeting of strength and stability requirements through component configuration and not heavier steel. Specifically, the modular system allows for the stacking of multiple studs to increase strength. This stacking eliminates the need to use different gauges of steel when confronted with different strength requirements of a particular job. The system's modularity allows workers trained in wood framing to adapt very quickly to the steel construction of the present invention, which lowers the cost of labor.

The steel space-frame construction system includes studs, blocks, at least one channel, and, if necessary, at least one top cap. A first end of a first stud is placed in a channel and secured thereto. At least one block is secured to the first stud. A first end of a second stud placed in the channel, and the second stud is secured to the at least one block and channel. The at least one block provides a predetermined fixed spacing between the first stud and the second stud and further provides lateral stability while resisting distortion or racking when loaded axially. Additional studs and blocks are secured together until the end of the channel is reached. The studs are also secured to the channel. A top cap or other blocks are secured to the studs at a second end thereof. The channel is repositioned so that the opposite sides of the studs, blocks, channel, and top cap or other blocks may be secured together, thereby forming a space-frame.

A stud includes a first side, a second side, and a cross-member therebetween. The first side and the second side each include a recess adapted to receive at least one fastener therein such that the fastener does not protrude exterior to the recess. The first side and the second side further each terminate in a curved edge, thereby strengthening the stud.

A block includes a first side, a second side, and a cross-member therebetween. The first side and the second side each terminate in a curved edge that strengthens the block. The first side includes a tab at a first end and a tab at a second end that facilitate connection of the block between studs. Likewise, the second side includes a tab at a first end and a tab at a second end that facilitate connection of the block between studs. Each tab includes a recess adapted to fit within the recess in the first side and second side of a stud such that a fastener securing the tab to the stud does not protrude exterior to the recess in the tab. Each tab further includes an indentation that functions as a guide for a fastener inserted through the tab.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because, although there are steel members presently used in construction, previously there was no method or apparatus that provided lateral stability to a steel space frame during the assembly phase. The steel space-frame construction system allows for lateral stability when erecting a structure due to the ability of adjacent studs connected by at least one block to resist distortion when loaded axially.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because, although there are wooden members presently used in construction, previously there was no method or apparatus that prevented racking of partially constructed or incomplete walls framed from wood due to the inability of a fastener and stud to resist lateral movement. The steel space-frame construction system allows for lateral stability when erecting the structure due to the ability of adjacent studs connected by at least one block and fastened with a fastener to resist distortion or racking when loaded axially.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because, although there are steel members presently used in construction, previously there was no method or apparatus that provided for a self-squaring mechanism of studs and blocks. In particular, adjacent studs are squared through the connection of at least one block therebetween.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because the first and second sides of each stud and block terminate in a curved edge that provides each stud and block with additional strength and the ability to resist axial loading.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because the first and second sides of each stud include a recess that furnishes a single plane surface free of protrusions on which to attach sheetrock, gypsum board, paneling, or other wall surface material thereby avoiding penetrations into the surfaces could result in apparent distortions. Consequently, although there are steel members presently used in construction, previously there was no method or apparatus to conceal the heads of fasteners in a manner that prevented protrusions or telescoping of fasteners from the plane of the stud.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because each tab on a block includes a recess that fits within a recess of a stud such that fasteners securing the tab to the stud do not telescope through the plane of the stud, which results in penetrations into wall surface material that create apparent distortions of the surface. The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because each tab on a block further includes an indentation that establishes a point of purchase for a fastener to be placed consistently and precisely.

The steel space-frame construction system of the present invention improves over existing methods of building because, although there are steel and wood members presently used in construction, previously there was no method or apparatus providing a modular building system and method that permitted the fabrication of steel space-frames rigid enough to facilitate ease of handling during the fabrication and construction phases. Essentially, the steel space-frames are sufficiently rigid to allow fabrication, partial or complete, of wall structures in one location or facility and transport of those structures to another location or facility for use in construction. The steel space-frame construction system accordingly allows structurally stable steel space-frames to be fabricated and transported without the risk of damage or destruction existing with other methods of construction

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan view illustrating a stud according to the preferred embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a rear view illustrating the stud.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating a block according to preferred embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating a stud, a block, and a channel coupled together to create a space-frame.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a stud within a channel.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating the building system in a frame structure.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating two studs coupled together.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating studs and blocks.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating a completed frame structure.

FIG. 9A is a top view illustrating stud within a channel.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating a completed roof frame structure.

FIG. 11 is a side view illustrating a roof frame structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Figures are not necessarily to scale, and some features may be exaggerated to show details of particular components or steps.

FIG. 4 illustrates the components comprising the steel space-frame construction system 5 of the present invention. The components include a stud 10, a block 13 a channel 16, and under certain circumstances a top cap 17. The components are configurable into a space-frame 50, which, in turn, includes at least one channel 16, at least two studs 10, and at least one block 13, and under certain circumstances at least one top cap 17 or a second block 13. While a space-frame 50 may include the minimum components recited, a typical space-frame 50 as illustrated in FIG. 9 will include multiple components and will form a structure or a portion thereof, such as a wall, roof, or the like. As such, the length of the channel 16 and the top cap 17 will depend on the desired length of the space-frame 50. In the same way, the exact number of the studs 10 and the blocks 13 depends on the size and strength requirements of a particular space-frame 50; this will be discussed in greater detail below.

The channel 16 provides the base of the space-frame 50, and when used the top cap 17 will provide the crown. The channel 16 consists of a top face 22, a bottom face 60, a side 21, and a side 23. The top cap 17 consists of an inside face 24, an outside face 61, and sides 25 and 26. The channel 16 and the top cap 17 may be produced in standard lengths, which include, but are not limited to 10 feet. Nevertheless, the length may be special ordered to fit building requirements. There are several methods in which to manufacture the channel 16 and the top cap 17. Typically, the channel 16 and the top cap 17 come in a steel roll which has been ordered in a predetermined width. The roll is fed into a roll machine and bent into the desired shape forming the channel 16 and the top cap 17. The channel 16 and top cap 17 are then fed into another machine that will cut the channel 16 and top cap 17 into the desired lengths. Alternately, the channel 16 and the top cap 17 can be cut to a predetermined size and then roll formed or stamped. Often in the construction process the length of the channel 16 and the top cap 17 will need to change in order to meet specific job requirements. For example, if a wall is to be erected which is 32 feet in length, and the channels 16 and the top caps 17 are shipped to the site in 10 foot lengths or longer, the channels 16 and the top caps 17 can be cut on-site to meet this job requirement. In assembling space-frame 50, the channel 16 is laid out in a predetermined length with one of the sides 21 or 23 facing down so that the space-frame 50 is assembled lying down. In the alternative, the channel 16 can be laid out in a predetermined length with the top face 22 facing up so that the space-frame 50 is assembled standing up. In this manner, the top face 22 provides a base and the sides 21 and 23 will provide mounting points for the stud 10. In the same way, and when a top cap is desired, the inside face 24, and sides 25 and 26 of the top cap 17 provide mounting points for the stud 10.

FIG. 1 illustrates a top plan view of a stud 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The stud 10 is the vertical support structure of the space-frame 50 and includes a cross-member 57 and sides 12 and 70. In addition, the side 12 terminates in a curved edge 11 and the side 70 terminates in a curved edge 75. Still further, the side 12 includes a recess 58 and the side 70 includes a recess 71.

The curved edge 11 increases the amount of steel at the end of the side 12. Similarly, the curved edge 75 increases the amount of steel at the end of the side 70. Increasing the amount of steel at the end of the side 12 and the side 70 increases the stiffness and strength of the stud 10 and prevents flexing and twisting in the stud 10.

The stud 10 includes the recess 58 in the side 12 and the recess 71 in the side 70 to serve as connection points for the channel 16, the block 13, and, if desired, the top cap 17. The recesses 58 and 71 further serve to increase the stiffness and strength of the stud 10, thereby preventing flexing and twisting in the stud 10. FIG. 9A illustrates the connection of the channel 16 and the stud 10 using fasteners such as metal screws. Fasteners are inserted through the sides 21 and 23 of the channel 16 and into the stud 10 at the recesses 58 and 71 until the sides 21 and 23 deform and press into the recess 58 and the recess 71 of the stud 10. Likewise, fasteners may be inserted through the sides 25 and 26 of the top cap 17 and into the stud 10 at the recesses 58 and 71 until the sides 25 and 26 deform and press into the recess 58 and the recess 71 of the stud 10. This places the fasteners inside the recesses 58 and 71 and in line with the sides 21 and 23 of the channel 16 and the sides 25 and 26 of the top cap 17. Consequently, the fasteners do not protrude past the sides 21 and 23 of the channel 16 and the sides 25 and 26 of the top cap 17, resulting in a flush surface for mounting dry wall or any flat fascia or facade.

As with the channel 16 and the top cap 17, the stud 10 may come in a steel roll that has been ordered in a predetermined width. The roll is fed into a roll machine and bent into the desired shape, forming the stud 10. The stud 10 will then be fed into another machine that will cut the stud 10 into the desired lengths. Alternately, the stud 10 can be cut to a predetermined size and then roll formed or stamped. It should be understood that the roll machine or stamp machine includes members that form the curved edges 11 and 75 and the recesses 58 and 71 when the stud 10 is fed into the roll machine or stamp machine.

The desired length of the stud 10 will be determined by the desired size of the space-frame 50. For example, if the space-frame 50 is used for a wall, then the length of the studs 10 will depend on the height of the wall. In residential construction, common wall heights are typically 8 ft, 9 ft, or 10 ft lengths. Therefore, the length of the studs 10 will typically come from the factory in 8 ft, 9 ft, or 10 ft lengths. Nevertheless, the lengths of the studs 10 can be varied, either by cutting the studs 10 on site or by ordering the studs 10 from the factory in a custom length. This distinguishes the present invention from wood, which only comes in standard lengths, requiring the cutting of wood boards on site if a custom length is desired.

FIG. 3 illustrates a block 13, which is the horizontal support structure that connects the stud 10 with a second stud 10. In connecting the stud 10 with a second stud 10, the block 13 provides a predetermined spacing between the stud 10 and the second stud 10, which creates modularity in the assembly of a space-frame 50. Moreover, the block 13 locks the stud 10 with the second stud 10, thereby providing lateral stability between the studs 10 and thus the space-frame 50. Essentially, the block 13 prevents the studs 10 from twisting and failing when axially loaded. Still further, the block 13 self-squares the studs 10 and the resulting space-frame 50 such that the space-frame 50 does not rack when handled during assembly into a structure.

The block 13 includes a cross-member 67, sides 69 and 80, and tabs 15, 72, 73 74. In addition, the side 69 terminates in a curved edge 14 and the side 80 terminates in a curved edge 76. The tabs 15, 72, 73 and 74 include a respective recess 84, 82, 81, and 83 and respective indention 77, 17, 78, and 79.

The curved edge 14 increases the amount of steel at the end of the side 69. Similarly, the curved edge 76 increases the amount of steel at the end of the side 80. Increasing the amount of steel at the edge of the side 69 and the side 80 of the block 13 increases the strength of the block 13, which prevents flexing and twisting in the block 13.

The tabs 15, 72, 73, and 74 are attachment points for the block 13 to a stud 10. The indentions 77, 17, 78, and 79 are guides for a fastener such as a metal screw to be inserted into the tabs 15, 72, 73, and 74. The tabs 15, 72, 73, and 74 include a respective recess 84, 82, 81, and 83 to allow the tabs 15, 72, 73, and 74 to fit inside either the recess 58 or the recess 71 of the stud 10. This allows a fastener to fit completely inside the recess 58 or the recess 71 of the stud 10 and beneath the outer edge of either the side 12 or the side 70. As previously described, this provides a flush mounting surface and prevents the fastener from protruding into dry wall or any other flat fascia or facade. Moreover, the attachment of the tabs 15, 72, 73, and 74 at a respective side 12 or side 70 secures the block 13 across the stud 10 and locks the block 13 to the sides 12 and 70, thereby providing lateral stabilization between the stud 10 and a second stud 10 adjacent thereto.

The block 13 may be formed in a manner similar to the stud 10. The block 13 may come in a steel roll that has been ordered in a predetermined width. The roll is then fed into a punch press machine that forms the basic shape of the block 13 and cuts the block into the desired length. Alternately, the block 13 can be cut to a predetermined size and then roll formed or stamped. The block 13 will require an additional step in order to be formed. After the block 13 has been cut into the desired lengths, the block 13 will then be fed into another machine which will cut and form the tabs 15, 72, 73, and 74, and press the recesses 81, 82, 83 and 84, and indentions 17, 77, 78, and 79 into the block 13. The length of the block 13 is dependent upon the desired spacing of the studs 10. By way of illustration, the stud 10 spacing may be the standard 16 inch or 24 inch on center which makes the block 13 either 17¼ or 25¼ inches in overall length. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize the length may adjust as necessary to meet building requirements.

FIG. 4 illustrates how a channel 16, a top cap 17, a stud 10, and a block 13 fit together to complete a space-frame 50. In assembling space-frame 50, the channel 16 is laid out in a predetermined length with one of the sides 21 or 23 facing down so that the space-frame 50 is assembled lying down. In the alternative, the channel 16 can be laid out in a predetermined length with the top face 22 facing up so that the space-frame 50 is assembled standing up. In this manner, the top face 22 provides a base and the sides 21 and 23 will provide mounting points for the stud 10. In the same way, and when a top cap is desired, the inside face 24, and sides 25 and 26 of the top cap 17 provide mounting points for the stud 10.

If the space-frame 50 is assembled lying down, the stud 10 is placed in the channel 16, between the sides 21 and 23, and a fastener such as a metal screw is inserted into either side 21 or side 23 of the channel 16 anchoring the stud 10 to channel 16, this is illustrated in FIG. 9A. As shown in FIG. 9A, when the fastener is inserted through the sides 21 and 23 of the channel 16 and into the stud 10 at the recesses 58 and 71, the sides 21 and 23 deform and press into the recess 58 and the recess 71 of the stud 10. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that this same procedure can be performed with the channel 16 lying flat on the ground such that the space-frame 50 is assembled standing up.

Referring to FIG. 4, the block 13 is then attached to the stud 10. For the sake of illustration, the block 13 will be described as oriented relative to the stud 10 such that the tab 73 attaches to the side 12 of the stud 10. Nevertheless, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the block 13 may be oriented with a different tab 74, 72, or 15 located at the side 12 of the stud 10. Securing the tab 73 to the side 12 of the stud 10 involves aligning the tab 73 with the side 12 such that the recess 81 of the tab 73 fits into the recess 58 of the side 12. The indention 78 provides a guide for a fastener such as a metal screw to be inserted into the tab 73. Once a fastener is aligned with the indention 78, the fastener is inserted through the tab 73 and the side 12, thereby locking the block 13 into the stud 10. As previously described, the fastener fits completely inside the recess 81 and beneath the outer edge of the tab 73, which provides a flush mounting surface that prevents the fastener from protruding into dry wall or any other flat fascia or facade. It should be noted that the block 13 may be attached at the mid-point of the stud 10 or it can be attached at any point desired along the length of stud 10. Also, multiple blocks 13 can be added to the stud 10 if more strength is required in space-frame 50.

The modularity of the present invention allows for predetermined spacing of studs 10 using the block 13. This is opposite of wood in that wood boards must be cut on site to meet the blocking needs adding to labor costs. Moreover, the block 13 laterally stabilizes the studs 10 and thus the space-frame 50, which prevents twisting and failing of the space-frame 50 when loaded axially. While the blocks 13 permit predetermined stud 10 spacing such that a space-frame 50 may be easily laid out and constructed, the blocks 13 may be cut on-site to accommodate stud 10 spacing necessary to conform a space-frame 50 into the length desired for the structure. At this point the space-frame 50 will consist of a channel 16, a stud 10, and the block 13. A second stud 10 will be added to the channel 16, and the block 13. The block 13 provides predetermined spacing for the second stud 10 allowing easy placement of the second stud 10. The second stud 10 is placed in the channel 16 between the sides 21 and 23 of the channel 16 and between the tabs 72 and 15. Referring to FIG. 4, the block 13 is then attached to the second stud 10 at tab 72 using indention 17 as a guide. After a fastener is inserted through the tab 72 and the side 12 of the second stud 10, the block 13 will be locked into the second stud 10.

If so desired a top cap 17 may be added to the space-frame 50. Alternatively, a block 13 may be added in place of a top cap 17. The tops of the studs 10 are inserted into the top cap 17 between the sides 25 and 26 of the top cap 17. A fastener such as a metal screw is inserted through the side 25 or 26 of the top cap 17 and the side 12 of the stud 10. As with the channel 16, when the fastener is inserted through either the side 25 or 26 of the top cap 17 and into the stud 10 at the recess 58, the side 25 or the side 26 deforms and presses into the recess 58 of the side 12. As previously described, this provides a flush mounting surface and prevents the fastener from protruding into dry wall or any other flat fascia or facade. If a block 13 is used in place of a top cap 17 it will be mounted to the stud 10 as describe above.

At this point the space-frame 50 is comprised of a channel 16, two studs 10, a block 13, and a top cap 17 or a block 13 in place of the top cap 17. If this constitutes a completed side of the space-frame 50, the space-frame 50 is turned over so that fasteners may be inserted in the opposite side of the space-frame 50 in the same manner as previously described. In most instances, however, a space-frame 50 will include multiple studs 10 within a channel 16 and multiple blocks 13 to create a larger structure. It should be recognized that more than one space-frame 50 may be connected together. If this configuration is desired, then fasteners will be inserted into the studs 10 located at one end of the space-frame 50; this will lock the two studs 10 together and ultimately lock the two space-frames 50 together.

FIG. 9 shows a space-frame 50 that includes multiple studs 10 and multiple blocks 13 configured into a wall. As previously described a channel 16 will be laid out, and the studs 10 will be placed within the channel 16. The blocks 13 will connect to the studs 10 as described above and allow the studs 10 to be placed at predetermined intervals. FIG. 8 shows how multiple blocks 13 are added to space-frame 50 when more than two studs 10 are required. If more than two studs 10 are required for a space-frame 50, then the blocks 13 connect the studs 10 at predetermined intervals such that the studs 10 reside along the channel 16 at the predetermined interval. As illustrated in FIG. 8, the second block 13 is attached to the stud 10 either above or below the first block 13. It should be understood that the studs 10, the blocks 13, the channels 16, and the top cap 17 may be configured into and to include spaces for windows and doors.

If more strength is required, then two studs 10 can be used in space-frame 50 as illustrated in FIG. 5. The two studs 10 are inserted into the channel 16 between sides 21 and 23 and placed back to back. Fasteners such as metal screws will be inserted into the side 23 and then the studs 10 will be locked together by placing fastener into the cross-members 57 of the studs 10. In this manner, more strength can be added to the space-frame 50. The modular design of the space frame 50 that allows the space frame 50 to be configured for added strength, either through additional blocks 13 or studs 10, provides an advantage in that the components of the space frame 50 may be constructed from the same light gauge steel, 24 gauge in this preferred embodiment. Using the same light gauge steel reduces the cost of producing a space frame 50 as well as eliminates the necessity of different gauge components that must be assembled in a specific order, which increases labor costs.

FIG. 7 illustrates how a second block 13 is attached when two back to back studs 10 are used for support. When two studs 10 are used for support, there is sufficient room for the blocks 13 to attach across from each other. Whether one stud 10 or two studs 10 are used for support, the process of attaching the studs 10 to the blocks 13 is repeated until the studs 10 reach the end of channel 16.

The modularity of the present invention allows for multiple configurations and great flexibility in meeting particular job requirements. Illustratively, FIG. 6 shows how two studs 10, one longer than the other, may be used to support a beam 65. A first block 13 is attached at the end of the shorter stud 10 using fasteners. A second block 13 is attached to the longer stud 10 opposite to of the first block 13. In this way, the upper portion of the second stud 10 is exposed, allowing the beam 65 to be secured thereto using fasteners. The beam 65 may reside on the shorter stud 10 and first block for added stability. The beam 65 can be an attachment point for a roof, or the beam 65 can be a floor joist, allowing the adding of a second story to the building structure. Moreover, it should be understood that the longer stud 10 may include a length that provides for multiple storied structures. In particular, the longer stud 10 along with each of the longer studs 10 comprising a space-frame 50 would extend over the first level at least to a second level.

The present invention is useful in building all types of frames including roof frames as illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11. A roof frame 66 may include a support frame 52, a ridge beam 53, a roof frame 66, and a joint 91. The support frame 52 may be a space-frame 50 constructed from a channel 16, studs 10, and blocks 13 as previously described and secured to a structure to provide a roof support for the structure. The support frame 52 includes a ridge beam 52 secured thereto using suitable fastening means such as metal screws in the place of either the top cap 17 or the blocks 13. Alternatively, the support frame 52 may be a continuation of studs 10 from a lower level as previously described. If necessary an additional support frame 52 including a support beam 54 may be incorporated into the roof frame 66. The ridge beam 53 and the support beam 54 provide a mounting surface for the roof frame 66. As with the space-frame 50, the roof frame 66 is constructed from a channel 16, studs 10, and blocks 13, and, if necessary a top cap 17, as previously described. A top cap 17 is necessary if the roof frame 66 includes four sides. In the illustration of FIGS. 10 and 11, the roof frame 66 is angled thus eliminating a top cap 17 and requiring the joint 91, which allows for the connection of two roof frames 66. The channel 16 of the roof frame 66 is secured to the ridge beam 53, while the studs 10 are secured to the ridge beam 54. The studs 10 were pre-cut to the proper length or are cut at this time so that the roof frame 66 is the proper size. The stud 10 at the longest end of the roof frame 66 is secured to the structure, and the joint 91 is placed over the roof frame and secured to the channel 16 and the studs 10 of the roof frame 66. In the foregoing manner, roof frames may be constructed using the space-frame 50 according to the preferred embodiment.

Although the present invention has been described in terms of the foregoing preferred embodiments, such description has been for exemplary purposes only and, as will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, many alternatives, equivalents, and variations of varying degrees will fall within the scope of the present invention. That scope, accordingly, is not to be limited in any respect by the foregoing detailed description; rather, it is defined only by the claims that follow.