Title:
SYSTEM FOR TIGHTENING FABRIC PANELS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for tightening panels between two fixed structural members. The system includes a mechanism which can selectively loosen or tighten the panels between the structural members. The system can also include flaps to conceal any gaps between the panels as well as conceal certain structural elements. A series of these systems can be used to create a covering for a frame made of a plurality of fixed structures.



Inventors:
Wenstrand, Jonathan Reed (Mt. Pleasant, IA, US)
Application Number:
14/163718
Publication Date:
07/31/2014
Filing Date:
01/24/2014
Assignee:
Hawkeye Steel Products, Inc. (Houghton, IA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/61
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MASSAD, ABE L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHUTTLEWORTH & INGERSOLL, P.L.C. (CEDAR RAPIDS, IA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for tightening panels between structural members, comprising: a housing member; a connecting member; a tensioning bracket; the tensioning bracket and connecting member are connected; at least one mechanism for selectively changing the tautness of the panel wherein the panel can be stretched to a desired tautness between the structural members.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein: the at least one mechanism is a tensioning mechanism.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein: the housing member comprises a first channel and a second channel; the tensioning bracket is placed in the first channel and a second tensioning bracket is placed in the second channel.

4. The system of claim 3, further comprising: the connecting member attachable to the tensioning member; the connecting member attachable to a receiving member; the receiving member connected to the panel.

5. The system of claim 4, further comprising: a fastener at a first end of the connecting member whereby the fastener can be tightened; the tightening of the fastener corresponding to a greater tautness of the panel between the two structural members.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein: the receiving member is a tube; the tube has at least one opening wherein the connecting member passes.

7. The system of claim 6, further comprising: a panel flap; the panel flap attachable to the panel; the panel flap attachable to the housing member; wherein the flap covers at least a portion of the housing member.

8. They system of claim 7, wherein: the tensioning member comprises a hook; the hook engageable within the first channel; the tensioning member is L-shaped, whereby the hook will not disengage from the first channel once the fabric reaches a particular tautness.

9. A system for tightening panels between structural members, comprising: a housing member; the housing member having a first side and a second side; a first panel; a second panel; the first side having a channel; the second side having a channel; a tensioning bracket having a first end and a second end; a second tensioning bracket having a first end a second end; wherein the first end of the tensioning bracket is secured in the first channel; wherein the first end of the second tensioning bracket is secured in the second channel; the second end of the tensioning bracket is connected to a connecting member; the second end of the second tensioning bracket is connected to a second connecting member; the tensioning bracket slidable on the connecting member; wherein the further the tensioning member moves relative to a first end of the connecting member, the greater the tautness of the first panel.

10. The invention of claim 9, wherein: the second tensioning bracket slidable on the second connecting member; wherein the further the second tensioning member moves relative to a first end of the second connecting member, the greater the tautness of the second panel.

11. The invention of claim 10, further comprising: a panel flap; the panel flap attachable to the first panel; the panel flap attachable to the housing member; wherein the flap covers at least a portion of the housing member.

12. The invention of claim 11, wherein: the tensioning member comprises a hook; the hook engageable within the channel on the first side of the housing member; the tensioning member is L-shaped; the hook has a flat portion whereby the hook is biased in a position that limits rotation of the hook within the channel.

13. The invention of claim 12, further comprising: a second panel flap; the second panel flap attachable to the housing member; wherein the second panel flap covers at least a second portion of the housing member.

14. A system for tightening panels between structural members, comprising: a housing member; the housing member having at least one channel; a panel; a connecting member; a tensioning member; the tensioning member receivable within the at least one channel; the tensioning member connected to the tensioning member; wherein a distance between the housing member and the connecting member can be selectively changed and a lesser distance corresponds to the panel having a greater tautness between structural members.

15. The system of claim 14, further comprising: a panel flap; the panel flap attachable to the panel; the panel flap attachable to the housing member; wherein the flap covers at least a portion of the housing member.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein: the tensioning member is a bracket; the bracket has a first end and a second end; the first end within the channel; the connecting member slidable through the second end.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein: the first end of the tensioning member comprises a hook; the tensioning member is L-shaped.

18. The system of claim 7, wherein: a plurality of tensioning members housed within the channel; each tensioning member connected to an individual connecting member.

19. The system of claim 18, further comprising: a receiving member; the receiving member connected to each of the connecting members.

20. The system of claim 19, wherein: each of the connecting members distance from the housing member can be independently changed to adjust the tautness of the panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to provisional patent application 61/756,531 which was filed on Jan. 25, 2013, and is hereby expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

In recent years, a structure or building consisting mainly of some type of fabric has been utilized for commercial, industrial and agricultural uses. The name most commonly associated with this structure is a ‘fabric building.’ These fabric buildings typically include structural elements such as a series of vertical beams, horizontal beams, and/or trusses to form a frame for the structure or building. The material used to cover the frame including the roof and/or the sides of the building is a fabric instead of steel panels. Fabrics can be utilized in a variety of applications other than buildings including awnings and boat canopies.

In smaller buildings, the cover is typically one piece and is pulled over the entire structure. In some larger buildings, however, an individual section of fabric is attached between each of the appropriate structural elements using a keder system. In order to stretch the fabric tight between each structural element, the structural elements are placed in a first position wherein one or more of the structural elements can be manipulated until each section of fabric becomes tight. The structural elements are then secured to one another, which may require cables or perlongs to be cut to length at the location of the structure. The manipulation of the structural elements is complicated, takes a relatively long time to achieve the desired tautness in the fabric panels, and adds costs to the construction of these panel fabric buildings.

It is an object of the invention to provide a system for tightening fabric between structural elements without manipulating the structural elements.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a system far covering any gaps between the fabric and the structural elements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A system for tightening panels of fabric between structural elements in which the structural elements have been previously positioned. Several embodiments are possible, including ones with different tightening mechanisms and the number of mechanisms per structural element.

The first embodiment is a mountable system on a structural member such as a vertical, horizontal, or truss-like beam. The system includes dual mechanisms for tightening fabric panels between beams. The mechanisms are tensioning bracket systems which are opposite one another. Through manipulation of the tensioning brackets and the tightening of bolts, one or more pieces of fabric, or panels, can be stretched tight between metal structures such as beams.

A second embodiment achieves similar results to the first embodiment but utilizes a webbing or ratchet strap mechanism. The system includes dual mechanisms for tightening fabric between metal structures such as beams.

A third embodiment achieves similar results to the first embodiment but utilizes a nut and bolt mechanism. The system includes dual mechanisms for tightening fabric between metal structures such as beams.

A fourth embodiment utilizes a similar mechanism to the first embodiment, however, there is only one mechanism on each beam. When there is a plurality of beams, each section between beams will contain one tensioning bracket mechanism instead of the dual systems of the first embodiment.

A fifth embodiment utilizes a similar mechanism to the second embodiment, however, there is only one mechanism on each beam When there is a plurality of beams, each section between beams will contain one webbing or ratchet strap mechanism instead of the dual systems of the second embodiment.

A sixth embodiment utilizes a similar mechanism to the third embodiment, however, there is only one mechanism on each beam. When there is a plurality of beams, each section between beams will contain one nut and bolt mechanism instead of the dual systems of the second embodiment.

All six embodiments can contain at least one flap in connection with a tube and cable which can used to conceal any gaps between the fabric panels and the structural elements.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top view of a first embodiment of a tensioning bracket based mechanism wherein there are dual mechanisms;

FIG. 2 is a top view of a first embodiment of a webbing or ratchet strap based mechanism wherein there are dual mechanisms;

FIG. 3 is a top view of a first embodiment of a nut and bolt based mechanism wherein there are dual mechanisms;

FIG. 4 is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the tensioning bracket mechanism wherein there is one mechanism;

FIG. 5 is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the webbing or ratchet strap mechanism wherein there is one mechanism;

FIG. 6 is a top view of an alternate embodiment of the nut and bolt based mechanism wherein there is one mechanism;

FIG. 7 is a top view of two dual tensioning bracket mechanisms, one on each side of a structural element;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the systems of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a top view of two dual webbing or ratchet strap mechanisms, one on each structural element;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the systems of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a top view of two nut and bolt mechanisms, one on each structural element;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the systems of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a top view of two nut and bolt mechanisms, one on each structural element;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the systems of FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is a top view of two dual webbing or ratchet strap mechanisms, one on each structural element;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the systems of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a top view of two nut and bolt mechanisms, one on each structural element;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the systems of FIG. 17.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Now referring to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a preferred embodiment of a system for tightening panels between structural beams. Panels 10 are in connection with a housing member 20 similar in purpose to what is known as a keder channel. The housing member 20 comprises at least one tensioning channel 23. The housing member 20 is secured to a structural member 24, typically with a fastener 25 such as a self-drilling screw.

A tensioning bracket 31 is placed in the tensioning channel 23. The shape of the tensioning bracket 31 is preferably one that assists in sliding the tensioning bracket 31 into the tensioning channel 23. The preferred shape of the bracket 31 is an L-shape with a hook 41 at one end. The L-shape is comprised of a first elongated member 35 and a second elongated member 38 wherein the second elongated member 38 is the longer of the two members 35, 38. The hook 41 can be slid in at any location of the channel 23 and is slid in at a high angle such that the tensioning bracket 31 will be secured once the panels have been installed. Additionally, the hook 41 preferably has a flat portion 43 which corresponds to a flat portion of the tensioning channel 23, so that it is less likely to rotate upward within the tensioning channel 23 in forces such as wind events. Once the panel 10 reaches a particular tautness, the tensioning bracket 31 cannot be disengaged from the channel 23. The bracket 31 is held in place in the channel 23 during both compression and/or tensioining events that cause force on the overall structure.

A lateral tightening pocket 12 is attached to a fabric panel 10, one on either side of the structural member 24. Each of the lateral tightening pockets 12 is attached on the other end to a lateral tightening tube 28. The lateral tightening tube 28 has openings 52 that allow the connecting member 26 to be inserted into and through the lateral tightening tube 28. One end of the connecting member 26 has a stop 50. The connecting member 26 and stop 50 are typically one piece and can be a standard bolt.

A second end of the connecting member 26 is inserted into an opening 52 of the tensioning bracket 31. A fastener 27 which can be a standard nut sized to fit the connecting member 26 is tightened until the panels 10 achieve the desired tautness. The more the fastener 27 is tightened, the tauter the panels become.

A pair of panel flaps 11 can then be manipulated to cover the structural member 24 and the tensioning brackets 31. A fabric panel flap tie down tube 29 can have a cable 30 housed inside the tube 29. The tube 29 is placed on an outside edge of the housing member 20. The panel flaps 20 is then wrapped around or put underneath the tube 29. Once the flaps 11 are secured and tightened, the cable 30 can be tightened to a foundation. The flaps 11 serve both a functional purpose as the flaps seal off the gap and the structural elements from the weather; and an aesthetic purpose as the flaps 11 conceal the structural elements of the invention and any open gaps.

FIGS. 7 and 8 further depict the first embodiment of the invention wherein there are dual tensioning bracket mechanisms 55, one on either side of each structural member 24. These figures further show the openings 52 of the tensioning bracket 31 as well as the ability of the invention to have more than one tensioning bracket 31. Furthermore, these figures demonstrate how the invention can be utilized in tandem with a number of units of the invention.

FIGS. 4, 13, and 14 show an embodiment of the invention wherein only one side of the housing member 20 utilizes a tensioning channel 23 that has a tensioning bracket 31 secured in the tensioning channel 23. This embodiment works in much the same way as the first embodiment, however, with certain differences. First the housing member 20 has two distinctly shaped channels. A first side 71 has a channel that is shaped similar to the first embodiment and can be used in conjunction with the L-shaped tensioning bracket 71. The second side 73 has a channel preferably of a circular shape and can be used to house a circular cord 75 known as a keder cord. The cord 75 is attached to a cord pocket 76 which extends to a panel 10. FIGS. 13 and 14 show several embodiments used in conjunction with one another.

FIGS. 2, 9 and 10 show an embodiment of the invention wherein there are dual mechanisms, however, the mechanisms are webbing or ratchet strap mechanisms. Panels 110 are in connection with a housing member 120. The housing member 120 comprises at least one tensioning channel 123. The housing member 120 is secured to a structural member 124, typically with a fastener 125 such as a self-drilling screw.

The tensioning channel 123 houses at least one slidable member 126 which can be a structure such as a D-ring. The slidable member 126 is connected to the panel 110 through a webbing 127. Each panel 110 is connected to a lateral tightening pocket 112 which in turn each house a lateral tightening tube 128. The webbing 127 is manipulated around the D-ring and lateral tightening tube 128 such that each panel 110 can be drawn closer or farther from the tensioning channel 123. As the panels 110 can be connected to two structural members 124 (one on either side of the panels 110), the panel 110 is either stretched tighter between the two structural members or loosened.

Due to the width of the D-rings (or the bolts in another embodiment) and the need to tighten the panels, a gap may exist between the tensioning channel 123 and the panels 110, therefore, exposing certain structural elements or having openings in the overall building design. In order to conceal the gap, flaps 111 are connected to panels 110. A pair of panel flaps 111 can then be manipulated to cover the structural member 124 and member 120. A fabric panel flap tie down tube 129 can have a cable 130 housed inside the tube 129. The tube 129 is placed on an outside edge of the housing member 120. The panel flaps 20 is then wrapped around or put underneath the tube 29. Once the flaps 111 are secured and tightened, the cable 130 can be tightened to a foundation. The flaps 111 serve both a functional purpose as the flaps seal off the gap and the structural elements from the weather; and an aesthetic purpose as the flaps 111 conceal the structural elements of the invention and any open gaps.

FIGS. 9 and 10 further depict the embodiment of the invention wherein there are dual webbing or ratchet strap mechanisms 155 one on either side of each structural member 124. These figures further show the attachment of the webbing 127 to the D-ring and lateral tightening tube 128, as well as the ability of the invention to have more than one webbing mechanism 155. Furthermore, these figures demonstrate how the invention can be utilized in tandem with a number of units of the invention.

FIGS. 5, 15 and 16 show an embodiment of the invention wherein only one side of the housing member 120 utilizes a tensioning channel 123 that is attached to a D-ring. This embodiment works in much the same way as the dual webbing mechanism, however, with certain differences. First, the housing member 120 has two distinctly shaped channels. A first side 171 has a channel that is shaped similar to the dual embodiment and can be used in conjunction with the webbing or ratchet strap mechanism 155. The second side 173 has a channel that is preferably circular and can be used to house a circular cord 175 known as a keder cord. The cord 175 is attached to a cord pocket 176 which extends to a panel 110. FIGS. 15 and 16 show several embodiments used in conjunction with one another.

FIGS. 3, 11, and 12 show an embodiment of the invention wherein there are dual mechanisms, however, the mechanisms are bolt mechanisms. Panels 210 are in connection with a housing member 220. The housing member 220 comprises at least one tensioning channel 223. The housing member 220 is secured to a structural member 224, typically with a fastener 225 such as a self-drilling screw.

The channel 223 houses at least one slidable member 226 which a bolt sized to fit and be secured within the channel 223. A lateral tightening pocket 212 is attached to a fabric panel 210, one on either side of the structural member 224. Each of the lateral tightening pockets 212 is attached on the other end to a lateral tightening tube 228. The lateral tightening tube 228 has an opening that allows the connecting member 226 to be inserted into and through the lateral tightening tube 228. One end of the connecting member 226 has a free end which allows a fastener 227 to be connected.

The fastener 227 which can be a standard nut sized to fit the connecting member 226 is tightened until the panels 210 achieve the desired tautness. The more the fastener 227 is tightened, the tauter the panels become.

Due to the width of the bolts and the need to tighten the panels, a gap may exist between the tensioning channel 223 and the panels 210, therefore, exposing certain structural elements or having openings in the overall building design. In order to conceal the gap and structural elements, flaps 211 are connected to panels 210. A pair of panel flaps 211 can then be manipulated to cover the structural member 224 and member 220. A fabric panel flap tie down tube 229 can have a cable 230 housed inside the tube 229. The tube 229 is placed on an outside edge of the housing member 220. The panel flaps 220 are then wrapped around or put underneath the tube 229. Once the flaps 211 are secured and tightened, the cable 230 can be tightened to a foundation. The flaps 211 serve both a functional purpose as the flaps seal off the gap and the structural elements from the weather; and an aesthetic purpose as the flaps 211 conceal the structural elements of the invention and any open gaps.

FIGS. 11 and 12 further depict the embodiment of the invention wherein there are dual bolt mechanisms 255, one on either side of each structural member 224. These figures further show the attachment of the bolts 226 and lateral tightening tube 228, as well as the ability of the invention to have more than one bolt mechanism 255. Furthermore, these figures demonstrate how the invention can be utilized in tandem with a number of units of the invention.

FIGS. 6, 17 and 18 show an embodiment of the invention wherein only one side of the housing member 220 utilizes a tensioning channel 223 that is attached to bolt 226. This embodiment works in much the same way as the dual bolt mechanism, however, with certain differences. First the housing member 220 has two distinctly shaped channels. A first side 271 has a channel shaped similar to the dual embodiment and can be used in conjunction with bolt mechanism 255. The second side 273 has a channel that is preferably circular and can be used to house a circular cord 275 known as a keder cord. The cord 275 is attached to a cord pocket 276 which extends to a panel 210. FIGS. 17 and 18 show several embodiments used in conjunction with one another.

A summary of the process involved in any embodiment wherein there are dual mechanisms is as follows. Once the frame which will contain any of the embodiments is erected, the housing member containing the channels is attached using self-drilling screws or bolts to the structural member. The applicable connecting members are slid into or placed within the keder channel. Location and length of keder channel, bolts, and/or d-ring inserts are based on documentation provided by manufacturer. The tube for the fabric panel flap tie down and cable are then installed loosely in the top part of the keder channel. The cable is secured on each side of the foundation. The fabric panels are rolled out. The necessary hardware is installed to the fabric panel, the fabric panel is then pulled over the structure. Once over the structure and temporarily secured at the sides, the lateral tightening tube is inserted into the lateral tightening pocket (welded to the fabric panel) on each end. If tensioning brackets, the bolts are slid through openings in the lateral tightening tube and tensioning bracket, a nut is placed on the end and is then tightened. If bolts, the bolts are slid through openings in lateral tightening tube, a nut is placed on the end and is then tightened. If d-ring inserts along with webbing and ratchet straps are weaved around the d-ring and lateral tightening tube. This is done on at all locations where the keder channel is present. The fabric panel flap (welded to the fabric panel), is then either wrapped around or put underneath the tube for the fabric panel flap tie down. The fabric panel flaps are tightened. The cable is then tightened down to the foundation.

A summary of the process involved in any embodiment wherein there is one mechanism is as follows. Once the structure is erected, the keder channel is attached using self-drilling screws or bolts to the structural member. Tensioning brackets, bolts or d-ring inserts are slid into the non-circular side of the keder channel. Location, length and direction of keder channel, bolts, and/or d-ring inserts are base on documentation provided by manufacturer. The tube for the fabric panel flap tie down and cable are then installed loosely in the top part of the keder channel. The cable is secured on each side of the foundation. The fabric panels are rolled out. The necessary hardware is installed to the fabric panel. The fabric panel is then pulled over the structure, simultaneously the keder cord and keder cord pocket are slid into the circular side of the housing member. Once over the structure and temporarily secured at the sides, the lateral tightening tube is inserted into the lateral tightening pocket (welded to the fabric panel). If tensioning brackets, the bolts are slid through openings in the lateral tightening tube and tensioning bracket, a nut is placed on the end and is then tightened. If bolts, the bolts are slid through openings in lateral tightening tube, a nut is placed on the end and is then tightened. If d-ring inserts, webbing or ratchet straps are weaved around the d-ring and lateral tightening tube. The fabric panel flap (welded to the fabric panel), on the keder cord side is put underneath the tube for the fabric panel flap tie down. The fabric panel flap (welded to the fabric panel) on the lateral tightening pocket side is wrapped around the tube for the fabric panel flap tie down. The fabric panel flaps are tightened. The cable is then tightened down to the foundation.

Having thus described the invention in connection with the several embodiments thereof, it will be evident to those skilled in the art that various revisions can be made to the several embodiments described herein with out departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is my intention, however, that all such revisions and modifications that are evident to those skilled in the art will be included with in the scope of the following claims. Any elements of any embodiments disclosed herein can be used in combination with any elements of other embodiments disclosed herein in any manner to create different embodiments.





 
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