Title:
Panel Structure
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A panel structure system is disclosed. The panel structure system comprises a panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face; a perimeter member matingly coupled one side, with a channel having retainers formed in the perimeter member; a key having a first portion coupled to a second portion and a notch feature; and an assembly of panels including an interior and an exterior defined by the panels, with the panels arranged adjacent and coplanar in a wall structure coupled to a floor, wherein the assembly includes a roof structure formed by additional panels and positioned on top of the wall structures. The panels in the wall structure and roof structure are joined along the perimeter members of respective adjacent panels and couple the perimeter members with a key inserted into the at least one channel and the retainers retain the notch.



Inventors:
Burns, Gregory (Gardnerville, NV, US)
Application Number:
12/308962
Publication Date:
03/04/2010
Filing Date:
06/29/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/783.1, 52/745.13
International Classes:
E04B2/08; E04B1/00; E04C2/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AHMAD, CHARISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tobin Carberry O'Malley Riley & Selinger (New London, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. 1-48. (canceled)

49. A panel structure system comprising: a panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face; a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of said four opposing sides, said perimeter member having at least one channel formed in said perimeter member, said channel including retainers proximate a receiver, said receiver being distal from said at least one of said four opposing sides; at least one key having a first portion coupled to a second portion and a notch feature formed between said first portion and said second portion; and an assembly of said panel, said assembly including an interior and an exterior defined by said panels, said panels arranged adjacent and coplanar in a wall structure coupled to a floor, wherein said assembly includes a roof structure formed by additional said panels and positioned on top of said wall structures; wherein said panels in said wall structure and in said roof structure are joined along said perimeter members of respective adjacent panels and matingly couple said perimeter members with said at least one key, said at least one key is insertable into said at least one channel and said retainers retain said notch.

50. The panel structure system of claim 49, wherein said at least one key comprises an angular feature between said first portion and said second portion, said first portion and said second portion are aligned in separate planes to form an angle between said separate planes, wherein said at least one key is configured to join said panels of said roof structure to said panels of said wall structure.

51. The panel structure system of claim 49, further comprising: at least one other key having a body with a triangular void, a first portion with an extension, a first retainer, and a second retainer, and a second portion with an extension, a first retainer, and a second retainer, said least one other key is insertable into said at least one channel and said retainers hold said first retainer and said second retainer of said at least one other key, wherein said at least one other key is configured to join two of said panels of said roof structure at a roof ridge.

52. The panel structure system of claim 49, wherein said channel includes a cross section shape to mate with a cross section of at least one of said first portion and said second portion of said at least one key.

53. The panel structure system of claim 49, further comprising: an anchor coupled to said floor and said channel of said perimeter member.

54. The panel structure system of claim 49, wherein at least two of said panels in said wall structure form at least one corner with said at least one key inserted in said channel of said at least two of said panels.

55. The panel structure system of claim 49, wherein said panel comprises a body having an interior skin and an exterior skin.

56. The panel structure system of claim 49, wherein at least one of said front face and said back face of said panel includes an additional material.

57. The panel structure system of claim 49, further comprising: at least one tension member coupled to said at least one key.

58. The panel structure system of claim 49, further comprising: at least one hinge member coupled to said panel and to another said panel.

59. A panel comprising: a body having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face; a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of said four opposing sides, said perimeter member having at least one channel formed in said perimeter member, said channel including retainers proximate a receiver, said receiver being distal from said at least one opposing side; wherein said perimeter member is configured to receive and retain another said perimeter member of another said body.

60. The panel of claim 59, wherein said body includes cutout portions formed through said front face and said back face.

61. The panel of claim 59, wherein said channel includes a cross section shape to mate with a cross section of at least one of said first portion and said second portion of said at least one key.

62. The panel of claim 59, wherein said body includes an interior skin and an exterior skin.

63. A method of building a panel structure comprising: providing a floor; attaching a first panel of a plurality of panels to said floor, said first panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face, said first panel having a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of said four opposing sides, said perimeter member having at least one channel formed in said perimeter member, said channel including retainers proximate a receiver, said receiver being distal from said at least one of said four opposing sides; attaching a second panel to said first panel to form a wall structure, said second panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face, said second panel having a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of said four opposing sides, said perimeter member of said second panel having at least one channel formed in said perimeter member, said channel including retainers proximate a receiver, said receiver being distal from said at least one of said four opposing sides; interlocking said perimeter member of said second panel with said perimeter member of said first panel with at least one key, said at least one key having a first portion and a second portion coupled to said first portion and a notch feature formed between said first portion and said second portion, wherein said at least one key is insertable into said at least one channel and said retainers retain said notch; attaching a third panel to said wall structure, said third panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face, said third panel having a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of said four opposing sides, said perimeter member of said third panel having at least one channel formed in said perimeter member, said channel including retainers proximate a receiver, said receiver being distal from said at least one of said four opposing sides; interlocking said perimeter member of said third panel with said perimeter member of at least one of said first panel and said second panel with at least one top key, wherein said at least one top key comprises an angular feature between a first portion and a second portion at a notch, said first portion and said second portion are aligned in separate planes to form an angle between said separate planes, said at least one top key is insertable into said at least one channel and said retainers retain said notch; joining said wall structure to said third panel of a roof structure with said at least one top key; attaching a fourth panel to said third panel, said fourth panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face, said fourth panel having a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of said four opposing sides, said perimeter member of said fourth panel having at least one channel formed in said perimeter member, said channel including retainers proximate a receiver, said receiver being distal from said at least one of said four opposing sides; interlocking said perimeter member of said fourth panel with said perimeter member of said third panel with at least one ridge key, said at least one ridge key having a body with a triangular void, a first portion with an extension, a first retainer, and a second retainer, and a second portion with an extension, a first retainer, and a second retainer, said least one ridge key is insertable into said at least one channel and said retainers hold said first retainer and said second retainer of said at least one ridge key; and joining said third panel to said fourth panel at a roof ridge with said at least one ridge key.

64. The method of claim 63, wherein said floor is a portable trailer.

65. The method of claim 63, wherein each of said plurality of panels comprises a material selected from at least one of transparent materials, opaque materials and translucent materials.

66. The method of claim 63, wherein said panel comprises a body having an interior skin and an exterior skin.

67. The method of claim 63, further comprising: coupling at least one tension member to said at least one key.

68. The method of claim 63, further comprising: coupling at least one hinge member to said panel and to another said panel.

Description:

PRIORITY STATEMENT

This Application is the National Stage Application under 35 U.S.C. §371 of PCT International Application No. PCT/US07/15086 which designated the United States of America and which claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/818,021 filed Jul. 1, 2006 and entitled “Panel Structure”, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

The need for affordable easily shipped and assembled shelters has existed throughout human history. Mankind has always produced shelters that are portable and lightweight. However, the prior art structures have fallen short of providing complete shelter, protection from the elements, quality insulating properties, portability, ease of construction and affordability.

In antiquity, transient populations have relied on wooden structures covered in animal hides or woven cloth covering the wooden structure. The solutions of antiquity were considered acceptable means for shelter. In recent time, advanced water/weatherproof fabrics have been utilized to construct a variety of tents and other portable structures for the population that can afford the advanced materials. Despite the advanced materials, the tent structures are not suitable for cold weather, or hostile weather conditions, such as high winds.

In regions of the world where the populations do not develop the wealth for the advanced materials, wooden shelters with cardboard and scrap metal are utilized as building materials. These building materials provide irregular and often unstable structures. The irregular structures are not easily portable and cannot be reconstructed in a rapid manner. Even in regions of the world that have the wealth to acquire exotic materials, natural disasters can wreak havoc on established communities leaving those communities without shelter.

Despite the legacy of portable shelters, the prior art has not sufficiently resolved the need for affordable, easily portable, and weather tight shelters.

SUMMARY

The following presents a simplified summary of the present disclosure in order to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the present disclosure. This summary is not an extensive overview of the present disclosure. It is not intended to identify key or critical elements of the present disclosure or to delineate the scope of the present disclosure. Its sole purpose is to present some concepts of the present disclosure in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented herein.

The disclosure is directed towards a panel structure system. The panel structure system comprises a panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face. The panel structure system also comprises a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of the four opposing sides, with at least one channel formed in the perimeter member, such that the channel includes retainers proximate a receiver, with the receiver being distal from the at least one of the four opposing sides. The panel structure system also comprises at least one key having a first portion and a second portion coupled to the first portion and a notch feature formed between the first portion and the second portion. The panel structure system also comprises an assembly of the panels including an interior and an exterior defined by the panels, with the panels arranged adjacent and coplanar in a wall structure coupled to a floor, wherein the assembly includes a roof structure formed by additional panels and positioned on top of the wall structures. The panels in the wall structure and in the roof structure are joined along the perimeter members of respective adjacent panels and matingly couple the perimeter members with at least one key, such that the at least one key is insertable into the at least one channel and the retainers retain the notch.

The disclosure is also directed towards a panel. The panel comprises a body having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face. The panel also comprises a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of the four opposing sides, with at least one channel formed in the perimeter member, such that the channel includes retainers proximate a receiver, with the receiver being distal from the at least one of the four opposing sides. The perimeter member is configured to receive and retain another perimeter member of another body.

The disclosure is directed towards a method of building a panel structure. The method comprises providing a floor and attaching a first panel of a plurality of panels to the floor. The first panel has four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face and a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of the four opposing sides. The perimeter member has at least one channel formed in the perimeter member with retainers proximate a receiver, and the receiver being distal from the at least one of the four opposing sides. The method also comprises attaching a second panel having four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face to the first panel to form a wall structure. The second panel has a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of the four opposing sides. The perimeter member has at least one channel formed in the perimeter member with retainers proximate a receiver, and the receiver being distal from the at least one of the four opposing sides. The method also comprises interlocking the perimeter member of the second panel with the perimeter member of the first panel with at least one key. The key has a first portion and a second portion coupled to the first portion and a notch feature formed between the first portion and the second portion, such that the key is insertable into the at least one channel and the retainers retain the notch. The method also comprises attaching a third panel to the wall structure. The third panel has four opposing sides forming a perimeter about a front face opposite a back face. The third panel has a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of the four opposing sides. The perimeter member has at least one channel formed in the perimeter member with retainers proximate a receiver, and the receiver being distal from the at least one of the four opposing sides. The method also comprises interlocking the perimeter member of the third panel with the perimeter member of at least one of the first panel and the second panel with at least one top key. The top key comprises an angular feature between a first portion and a second portion at a notch, such that the first portion and the second portion are aligned in separate planes to form an angle between the separate planes and the top key is insertable into the at least one channel and the retainers to retain the notch. The method also comprises joining the wall structure to the third panel of a roof structure with the top key. The method also comprises attaching a fourth panel to the third panel. The fourth panel has a perimeter member matingly coupled to at least one of the four opposing sides. The perimeter member has at least one channel formed in the perimeter member with retainers proximate a receiver, and the receiver being distal from the at least one of the four opposing sides. The method also comprises interlocking the perimeter member of the fourth panel with the perimeter member of the third panel with at least one ridge key. The ridge key has a body with a triangular void, a first portion with an extension, a first retainer, and a second retainer, and a second portion with an extension, a first retainer, and a second retainer. The ridge key is insertable into the at least one channel and the retainers hold the first retainer and the second retainer of the at least one ridge key. The method also comprises joining the third panel to the fourth panel at a roof ridge with the ridge key.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES

Referring now to the figures, wherein like elements are numbered alike:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary panel structure;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an exemplary green house panel structure;

FIG. 3 is a sectional side view of a manufacturing method for a panel;

FIG. 4 is a sectional side view of another manufacturing method for a panel;

FIG. 5 is cross sectional view of an exemplary perimeter member;

FIG. 6 is side view of a wall joint using perimeter members and a standard key to join two panels;

FIG. 7 is a front view of a standard key;

FIG. 8 is side view of a corner joint using perimeter members and a standard key to join two panels;

FIG. 9 is side view of a top wall joint using perimeter members and a top wall key to join two panels;

FIG. 10 is a front view of a top wall key;

FIG. 11 is side view of a roof ridge joint using perimeter members and a ridge joint key to join two panels;

FIG. 12 is a front view of a ridge joint key; and

FIG. 13 is a side view of an anchor utilized to secure a panel to a floor.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Persons of ordinary skill in the art will realize that the following disclosure is illustrative only and not in any way limiting. Other embodiments of the disclosure will readily suggest themselves to such skilled persons having the benefit of this disclosure.

This disclosure describes an exemplary panel structure and method of making the panel structure. The panel structure includes a set of panels coupled to form walls and a roof of a panel structure. The panel structure includes four walls made from linked panels as well as a gable roof made from similarly linked panels. Doorways, windows and optional transparent sections can be incorporated into the panelized structure.

Specialized panels make up the fundamental building feature of the panel structure. A panel comprises a perimeter member that is configured to receive and to interlock with a perimeter member of another panel, with a variety of specialized couplers or “keys.” The panel is a light weight durable panel that is easily manufactured and portable, allowing for fast setup of a panel structure.

FIGS. 1 and 2 include perspective views of an exemplary panel structure, respectively. The panel structure 10 includes a plurality of panels 12. The panels 12 interlink to form walls 14 and a roof 16. The panels 12 utilized in the panel structure 10 can have cutout portions for forming a door 18, windows 20, a skylight 22, and the like. The panels 12 of the panel structure 10 can be comprised of transparent, translucent, or opaque materials. As shown in FIG. 2, the panels 12 can be transparent allowing sunlight to pass for employment in a greenhouse 24.

It is envisioned that the panel structure 10 can be about 4 feet to about 50 feet in length and by about 10 feet in height. It is contemplated that the panel structure 10 can be of any height, width or length; the size depends upon the desired structure.

Each panel 12 has a body 25 with a first side 26, a second side 28, a third side 30, and a fourth side 32 forming a perimeter 33 of the body 25, with a front 34 opposite a back 36. The panel 12 is preferably a light weight, yet durable for constructing the panel structure 10. It is contemplated that the panels 12 can be of any size that is required to build a panel structure 10. It is preferably that the panels 12 are about 4 feet in length by 7 feet in height. The panel 12 is preferably about 1 inch to about 4 inches in thickness, with about 1.25 inches preferred.

The manufacturing of the panel 12 can be completed in several different ways. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the first contemplated process utilizes pre-manufactured sheets of material that are specially treated to create the panel 12. The sheets 38 should be a material that is light weight and durable. In a preferred embodiment, the sheets 38 are comprised of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam (e.g., “Styrofoam”). Other materials are contemplated including, but not limited to, polyurethane foam, corrugated fiberboard, expanded fiberglass, and the like. In a preferred embodiment, a fibrous material is disposed on the front side (or front face) 34 and/or the back side (or back face) 36 of the sheet 38 and then coated with a liquid material that binds with fibrous material to the sheet 38. When the liquid material hardens, the resulting sheet 38 has an interior skin 40 and an exterior skin 42. In another embodiment, the sheet 38 is coated with only a liquid material or alternatively, the sheet 38 is coated with only a fibrous material. In a preferred embodiment, the liquid material is a phenolic resin. Other materials are contemplated include, but are not limited to, epoxy resin, polyester resin, thermoplastic, and the like. The preferred fibrous material is fiberglass. Other materials contemplated include carbon fiber, organic fibers, cotton, synthetics, woven fiberglass roving, oriented fiberglass, stranded fiberglass, woven fiberglass, random strand fiberglass, fiberglass mat and the like. It is also contemplated that a fibrous material is not utilized at all, the interior skin 40 and exterior skin 42 can then be formed using other materials including, but not limited to, metal sheets, wood, laminated plastic sheets of synthetic resin such as FORMICA®, plastic, composites, rubberized stucco coating, construction paneling, and the like.

In one embodiment, an additional material 39 can be disposed on the front 34 and/or back 36 to further reinforce the panel 12 or provide weather resistance and durability or for decoration, as illustrated in FIG. 9. The additional material 39 can be configured to fit under the perimeter member 44, as illustrated in FIG. 9 or over the perimeter member 44 (not shown). Contemplated materials include weather resistant materials, decorative materials, metal sheets, wood, vinyl siding, laminated plastic sheets of synthetic resin such as FORMICA®, plastic, rubberized stucco coating, construction paneling, and the like.

In the last manufacturing step, a perimeter member 44 is attached to the edge of the first side 26 and the third side 30 of the panel 12 for later construction of the panel structure 10. In a preferred embodiment, the perimeter member 44 is coupled to the panel 12 using an adhesive that will firmly secure the perimeter member 44 to the panel 12. Contemplated materials include resin, epoxy, construction adhesive, and the like.

Referring to now FIG. 4, another manufacturing technique of a panel 12 is illustrated. The panel 12 can be assembled by use of a mold device 46 having mold platens 48 that provide a form for the panel 12 to be shaped. The mold device 46 allows for a perimeter member 44 to be held in place at the edge of the sides 26, 28, 30, 32 of the panel 12. In this embodiment, a filler material 50 is injected into the mold device 46. In a preferred embodiment, the filler material 50 comprises polyurethane foam insulating material. Other materials are contemplated including, but not limited to, polyurethane foam, corrugated fiberboard, expanded fiberglass, and the like. In a preferred embodiment, a fibrous material can be disposed on either or both face(s) 34, 36 and then coated with a liquid material that binds with fibrous material to the filler material 50. When the liquid material hardens, the panel 12 has an interior skin 40 and an exterior skin 42. In another embodiment, the filler material 50 is coated with only a liquid material or alternatively, the filler material 50 is coated with only a fibrous material. The materials contemplated have been provided above. In one embodiment, an additional material can be disposed on the front 34 and/or back 36 to further reinforce the panel 12 or provide weather resistance and durability. Contemplated materials include metal sheets, wood, laminated plastic sheets of synthetic resin such as FORMICA®, plastic, rubberized stucco coating, construction paneling, and the like.

FIG. 5 illustrates the perimeter member 44. The perimeter member 44 can be disposed on any side (i.e., 26, 28, 30, and 32) of a panel 12. The perimeter member 44 extends the length of the panel 12. The perimeter member 44 is joined with the panel 12 during the manufacturing process and is utilized in joining panels 12 together when constructing the panel structure 10. As indicated, the panels 12 are coupled together, edge-to-edge both in-plane and orthogonally depending upon the relationship of the panels 12 (i.e., as walls, as corners, as a roof, as a gable, etc.). The coupled panels 12 link together to form the walls 14 and/or roof 16 of the panel structure 10.

The perimeter member 44 functions as a rigid support member of the panel 12. The perimeter member 44 includes L-shaped flanges 52 that are coupled to the sheet 38 that has been prepared (i.e., the panel before the perimeter member 44 is coupled). The L-shaped flanges 52 are coupled to the sheet 38 with an adhesive as described above. In one embodiment, the end of the sheet 38 has been cut during the manufacturing process to receive the perimeter member 44, specifically the protrusion 54 of the sheet 38. In another embodiment, the protrusion 54 is replaced with a void 55 (as illustrated in FIG. 6).

For ease in understanding, the perimeter member 44 will be described as it is presented in FIG. 5. A U-shaped channel (or channel) 56 is formed with a wall 58 of the first L-shaped flange 52, a base member 60 and an outer member 62. The base member 60 is integral with the L-shaped flange 52 and outer member 62 is integral the base member 60. The outer member 62 extends along side the protrusion 54 and is integral the C-shaped channel (or channel) 64. The C-shaped channel 64 is formed with a wall 66 of the second L-shaped flange 52, a side member 68 and an exterior member 70. The side member 68 is integral with the L-shaped flange 52 and the outer member 62. The exterior member 70 is integral with the L-shaped flange 52. Both the U-shaped channel 56 and the C-shaped channel 64 have a receiver (or opening) 57, 65 that are smaller than the U-shaped channel 56 and the C-shaped channel 64, respectively. Further, each of the receivers 57, 65 are structured with retainers 71 that are configured to engage and hold various keys (i.e., standard key 72, top wall key 82, or ridge key 92) for securing the panels 12 together.

The channels (either U-shaped or C-shaped) have a cross section that is shaped to mate with a cross section of the keys. The open end of the U-shaped channel 56 is in a substantially different plane than the C-shaped channel 62. In another embodiment, the two channels 56, 62 open at substantially right angles to each other. The perimeter member 44 can be extruded or otherwise formed from a lightweight material with rigid structural characteristics. The preferred materials are aluminum and aluminum alloys. Other materials are contemplated, including, but not limited to, copper, steel, vinyl plastics, pultruded structural fiberglass, extruded thermoplastic, and the like).

The construction of the panels 12 including the perimeter member 44 allows for the linking of panels 12 together with ease and speed. For example, FIG. 6 illustrates the linking of two panels 12 together to form a wall. The perimeter member 44 of each panel 12 is mated together such that the perimeter members 44 are in physical communication. A standard key (or standard coupler or key) 72 is specifically designed to be inserted in both perimeter members 44 to hold the panels 12 together. The standard key 72 is further illustrated in FIG. 7. The standard key 72 can be shaped such that the cross-section form of the standard key 72 matingly fits in the cross-section of two joined perimeter members 44. The standard key 72 has a body 74 having a first portion 76 and a second portion 78 extending from the body 74. The extending of first portion 76 and second portion 78 from the body 74 creates a notch 80 on either side of the body 74 to which the retainer 71 of either the U-shaped channel 56 or the C-shaped channel 64 can matingly couple. The standard key 72 physically joins two panels 12 together. FIG. 6 illustrates joining two panels 12 together at a wall joint, while FIG. 8 illustrates the joining of two panels 12 as a corner joint. The standard key 72 is utilized throughout the panel structure 10 (i.e., extends the length of the panel) when joining two panels 12 together to create a wall. The standard key 72 is also utilized in joining two roof panels 12 together at the sides, as illustrated in FIG. 1.

The standard key 72 can be formed of materials that assume the proper cross-sectional shape, provide structural strength, and enable interlocking (i.e., joining) of the panels. Preferred materials include polyvinyl chloride, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, nylon plastics, structural fiberglass, aluminum, rubber, plastic, composite materials, extruded thermoplastic, and the like. As indicated above, the perimeter member 44 extends the length of the panel 12. Likewise, in order to provide the necessary structural strength and ability to secure the panels 12, it is preferred that the standard key 72 extends the length of the panel. It is also contemplated to utilize smaller separate portions of the standard key 72 strategically placed (i.e., intermittently) throughout the joining of the panels 12.

FIG. 9 illustrates the linking of two panels 12 together a top wall to a roof joint. The perimeter member 44 of each panel 12 are positioned together in order to matingly receive a specifically designed top wall key (or top wall coupler or key or top key) 82. The top wall key 82 is further illustrated in FIG. 10. The top wall key 82 can be shaped such that the cross-section form of the top wall key 82 fits in the cross-section of two joined perimeter members 44. The top wall key 82 has a body 84 having a first portion 86 and a second portion 88 extending from the body 84. The body 84 is angled in order to accommodate the joining of a panel 12 of a wall 14 to a panel 12 of a roof 16, as illustrated in FIG. 10. The extending of first portion 86 and second portion 88 from the body 84 creates a notch 90 to which the retainers 71 of either the U-shaped channel 56 or the C-shaped channel 64 can matingly couple. The top wall key 82 physically joins the two panels 12 together.

The top wall key 82 can be formed of materials that assume the proper cross-sectional shape, provide structural strength, and enable interlocking (i.e., joining) of the panels. Preferred materials include polyvinyl chloride, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, nylon plastics, structural fiberglass, aluminum, rubber, plastic, composite materials, extruded thermoplastic, and the like. As indicated above, the perimeter member 44 extends the length of the panel 12. Likewise, in order to provide the necessary structural strength and ability to secure the panels 12, it is preferred that the top wall key 82 extends the length of the panel. It is also contemplated to utilize smaller portions of the top wall key 82 strategically placed (i.e., intermittently) throughout the joining of the panels 12.

FIG. 11 illustrates the linking of two panels 12 together to at a roof ridge (i.e., the apex of the roof). The perimeter member 44 of each panel 12 are mated together in order to receive a ridge joint key (or ridge joint coupler or key or ridge key) 92. The ridge joint key 92 is further illustrated in FIG. 12. The ridge joint key 92 is configured to join two panels 12 together while ensuring water-tight sealing of the panel structure 10 at the roof line.

The ridge joint key 92 has a body 94 with a triangular shaped void 96 in the center of the body 94. Extending from the body 94 is a first portion 98 and a second portion 100, each having an extension 102, a first retainer 104 and a second retainer 106. Each extension 102 extends from the body 94 at an angle in order to join two panels 12 together while still matching the roof ridge line, as illustrated in FIG. 11. The first retainer 104 and the second retainer 106 extend from the body 94 proximate the extension 102, in order to matingly receive the perimeter member 44. The first retainer 104 and the second retainer 106 are physically coupled to either the U-shaped channel 56 or the C-shaped channel 64, such that the first retainer 104 and the second retainer 106 physically couple with the retainers 71 of either the U-shaped channel 56 or the C-shaped channel 64. The extension 102 and the body 94 are configured to physically communicate with the panels 12 to ensure water-tight sealing.

The ridge joint key 92 can be formed of materials that assume the proper cross-sectional shape, provide structural strength, and enable interlocking (i.e., joining) of the panels. Preferred materials include polyvinyl chloride, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, nylon plastics, structural fiberglass, aluminum, rubber, plastic, composite materials, extruded thermoplastic, and the like. As indicated above, the perimeter member 44 extends the length of the panel 12. Likewise, in order to provide the necessary structural strength and ability to secure the panels 12, it is preferred that the ridge joint key 92 extends the length of the panel. It is also contemplated to utilize smaller portions of the ridge joint key 92 strategically placed (i.e., intermittently) throughout the joining of the panels 12.

It is also contemplated to utilize additional structural attachments in order to supplement the panel structure 10, including a cable (or other tension member) 108 spanning from wall to wall attachable to the perimeter member 44, as demonstrated in FIG. 9. In another embodiment, the walls 14 can be reinforced against spreading of the panel structure 10 due to the weight of the roof 16. In a preferred embodiment, the cable 108 can be attached in equally spaced locations to ensure structural integrity.

FIG. 13 illustrates a side view of an anchor utilized to secure a panel to a floor. When constructing a panel structure 10, the panels 12 have a perimeter member 44 disposed on all sides 26, 28, 30, 32. In order to secure the panel 12 to the floor 109, an anchor (or clip) 110 can be utilized. The anchor 110 can comprise any material durable and sturdy enough to secure the panel 12 or wall 14 to the floor 109. The preferred material is metal. Other contemplated materials include, but are not limited to, aluminum, aluminum alloys, steel, wood, plastic, plastic composite, fiberglass, and the like. The anchor 110 is preferably about ¼ inch thick by about 2 inches wide and 3 inches in length. The size of the anchor 110 depends upon the size of the wall 14 or panel 12 being secured. It is contemplated that the size of the anchor 110 will be sufficient to secure the wall 14 or panel 12 to the appropriate floor 109.

The anchor 110 is configured to couple to the U-shaped channel 56 of the perimeter member 44 when a wall 14 or panel 12 is placed on a floor 109. Several anchors 110 can be utilized in order to secure the wall 14 or panel 12. The anchor 110 has an orifice 112 configured to receive a fastener 114. It is contemplated that the type of fastener 114 utilized will be determined upon having an understanding of the type of floor 109 to which the panel 12 or wall 14 is to be attached. It is contemplated that the floor 109 can comprise concrete, wood, metal, dirt, fiberglass, plastic, and the like. In one embodiment, the floor 109 can be a portable floor. The portable floor can be a trailer or other device that can be portable.

It is also contemplated to attach a hinge member 116 between at least two panels 12, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The hinge member 116 allows for the two panels to be folded together for ease in storage. A first portion of a hinge member 116 is coupled to either the front side or back side of a first panel 12 with the second portion of the hinge member 116 being coupled to either the front side or back side of a second panel 12. The hinge member 116 allows the panels to be folded and does not impede the use of a key to secure the panels 12 together. At least one hinge member 116 can be utilized but the use of several hinge members 116 is preferred for ease in folding. The hinge member 116 can be of any size appropriate to the size of the panels, with about 2 inches in length by about 1.5 inches in width preferred. The preferred material is steel, but other contemplated materials include aluminum, aluminum alloys, brass, and the like.

In operation, the panel structure 10 can be produced with relatively inexpensive durable materials by simple construction processes. The panels 12 can be packaged in unique shipping containers saving weight and materials. The panels 12 are light weight and extremely portable. Once on-site, the panels can be easily assembled in less than 30 minutes. The assembled panel structure 10 is extremely strong with a wind loading to about 80 mph minimum. The panel structure 10 can provide high insulation properties of about R9. The flexibility of the panel structure 10 provides for partition walls connecting at any wall joint.

The disclosed panel structure 10 is superior to prior art structures. The panel structure 10 can be configured for a portable disaster relief shelter. The panel structure 10 can be utilized as a hunting/camping shelter, a modular warehouse, an insulated greenhouse, a classroom, a small church, a shed, a trade show display and even as a vehicle parking structure.

While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention.