US 20010032431 A1
Insulated wall forms that remain in place and include an exterior wall covering such as stucco or a brick facade, an interior wall covering such as gypsum board or both an exterior wall covering and an interior wall covering greatly simplify wall construction using a hardenable material such as concrete and reduce steps needed to put a finished wall in place.
1. An insulated, wall form comprising a first panel segment, a second panel segment, and a plurality of connectors, the first panel segment and the second panel segment each being generally planar structures, the first and second panel segments being spaced apart from each other so as to constitute a cavity and oriented such that the first panel segment is generally parallel to the second panel segment, the connectors each having a first end and a second end that is remote from the first end, the first end being removably attached to the first panel segment and the second end being removably attached to the second panel segment, the plurality of connectors maintaining the first and second panel segments in a spaced apart generally parallel orientation, the wall form defining a cavity adapted to receive a hardenable filler material.
2. The insulated wall form of
3. The insulated wall form of
4. The insulated wall form of
5. The insulated wall form of
6. The insulated wall form of
7. The insulated wall form of
8. The insulated wall form of
9. The insulated wall form of
10. The insulated wall form of
11. The insulated wall form of
12. The insulated wall form of
13. The insulated wall form of
14. The insulated wall form of
15. The insulated wall form of
16. The insulated wall form of
17. The insulated wall form of
18. The insulated wall form of
 This Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/193,626, filed Mar. 31, 2000.
 This invention generally concerns a component and system used to build up permanent hardenable material walls in building construction. This invention particularly concerns a component and system that remains in place after a hardenable material, such as concrete, used to form the walls hardens. This invention more particularly concerns such a component and system wherein at least one, and preferably both, of the interior and exterior surfaces of the wall constitute a portion of the component.
 In North America, concrete wall fabrication typically entails several steps. First, construct form walls that establish a cavity or space. Second, pour concrete into the cavity or space. Third, allow the concrete to set or cure sufficiently to allow removal of the form walls. Fourth, remove the form walls.
 In residential construction, concrete basement wall and other concrete wall fabrication employs the above procedure. After completing concrete wall fabrication, one then builds wood framing as required on top of the concrete walls, beside the concrete walls or both. A typical next step involves inserting insulation between wood framing members. After that, one then finishes the wall both inside and out.
 The foregoing practices are time-consuming, inefficient, expensive and wasteful, particularly of materials and labor used to fabricate and then remove form walls. As common construction practices, especially in colder climates, dictate that all walls, including basement walls, be insulated, the need to remove form walls and then build and insulate wood frame walls delays subsequent building construction steps.
 An alternate procedure, practiced for several years, particularly in Europe, combines a number of construction steps by using a foam insulating material to fabricate permanent form walls. Because the foam insulating material remains in place, no further insulation need be installed and finishing materials may be applied to interior and exterior walls as desired. This procedure works for both basement walls and above-ground walls.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,657,600 discloses a building component comprising first and second high density foam panels arranged in a spaced apart, parallel relationship to each other. At least two bridging members span the space between the panels and connect the panels to each other by being molded into the panels. Each bridging member has a pair of elongated end plates oriented vertically and abutting against outer surfaces of the foam panels. The bridging member may take on an X-shape and be fabricated from a plastic material such as high density, flame-retardant polyethylene, flame-retardant polypropylene, or polystyrene.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,730,422 discloses an insulating non-removable type concrete wall forming structure, device and system for attaching wall coverings thereto. In modular synthetic foamed plastic concrete form structures, a number of pairs of modular concrete impervious forming panels are stacked on top of each other and linked end to end. The panel pairs include vertically spaced rows of T-shaped tie slots into which T-shaped ends of synthetic plastic ties slideably fit. The outer surfaces of the slot sections have embossed tie-locator indicia thereon that enable fasteners to be screwed through the panel into the synthetic plastic ties to securely anchor exterior wall finishing covering to the panels or wall sections.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,889,310 discloses an improved concrete forming system that comprises a series of opposed first and second polystyrene foam panels connected in opposed, parallel, spaced-apart relationship. The foam panels have vertically aligned tie slots defined along their upper and lower edges. Plastic ties fit into the tie slots to hold the foam panels in their spaced-apart configuration. Each tie end has spaced-apart, T-shaped inner and outer paddle members that fit against, respectively, the inner and outer panel surfaces. The tie ends may be broken off after the concrete hardens if one desires to remove either or both of the foam panels. The ties may be modular in that they comprise tie ends and a spacer strap that can be lengthened or shortened as desired to vary the spacing between the foam panels.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,936,540 discloses ties for interlocking a pair of spaced-apart form panels such as foam panels. The ties have at least one beveled end that allows it to be forced through the foam panels without first cutting a tie slot. The ties may also have an integrally formed end plate opposite the beveled end. Once the beveled end passes through both spaced-apart foam panels, a spacer may be inserted between the panels to maintain proper alignment and a gusset plate fitted over the beveled end to hold the panels in place.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,107,648 discloses an insulated wall construction using tongue-and-groove foam boards held in a spaced-apart configuration by spacer rod assemblies. The spacer rod assemblies comprise an external support plate with a rod receiving segment that passes through the foam board, an internal support plate that slides over the rod receiving segment, a spacer rod that fits into rod receiving segments of both boards and locking pins that hold an end of the spacer rod in place within each rod receiving segment. The spacer rod may take on any of a number of configurations ranging from cylindrical (both solid and hollow), through shaped (other than cylindrical) to externally screw threaded. In the latter configuration, the rod receiving segments are internally screw threaded. The external support plates provide a foundation for covering material such as gypsum board and stucco.
 The present invention is an insulated, wall form comprising a first panel segment, a second panel segment, and a plurality of connectors, the first panel segment and the second panel segment each being generally planar structures, the first and second panel segments being spaced apart from each other so as to constitute a cavity and oriented such that the first panel segment is generally parallel to the second panel segment, the connectors each having a first end and a second end that is remote from the first end, the first end being removably attached to the first panel segment and the second end being removably attached to the second panel segment, the plurality of connectors maintaining the first and second panel segments in a spaced apart generally parallel orientation, the wall form defining a cavity adapted to receive a hardenable filler material.
FIG. 1 is fragmented top-plan view of a portion of one embodiment of a panel segment.
FIG. 2 is a fragmented top-plan view of a portion of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 together with a portion of a connector.
FIG. 3 is a horizontal cross-sectional view of an insulated wall form that includes two opposed panel segments of the type shown in FIG. 1 and a plurality of connectors.
FIG. 4 is a fragmented top-plan view of a portion of an alternate and preferred embodiment of a panel segment.
FIG. 1 illustrates a portion of a wall panel segment 20 suitable for use as part of wall form 10 (shown in FIG. 3). Panel segment 20 is a laminar structure that includes inner layer 21 and outer layer 25. Inner layer 21 has an inner surface 22 and a spaced-apart, generally parallel outer surface 23. Inner layer 21 also has defined therein a plurality of passageways 24 that intersect and are in fluid communication with both the inner surface 22 and the outer surface 23. Outer layer 25 has an inner surface 26 and a spaced-apart, generally parallel outer surface 28. Outer layer 25 also has defined therein a plurality of slots 27. Outer surface 23 of inner layer 21 and inner surface 26 of outer layer 25 are in operative contact with each other. Such operative contact desirably occurs by way of an adhesive material (not shown) disposed between surfaces 23 and 26. Slots 27, preferably T-shaped, are in fluid communication with passageways 24 of inner layer 21. A combination of slots 27 and passageways 24 constitutes a plurality of channels that are adapted to receive connector ends (shown in FIGS. 2 and 3).
 The channels in wall panel segment 20, also referred to as a first panel segment, preferably comprise an elongated aperture in inner layer 21, preferably a foam layer, and a cavity in outer layer 25. The aperture and cavity are in fluid communication with each other. The cavity and the aperture each have a width. The width of the cavity is preferably greater than the width of the aperture. Such channels readily receive connectors such as connectors 30 shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 2 illustrates a fragmentary section of wall panel segment 20 together with a fragmentary cross-section of a connector 30. Connector 30 has a first end 31 and, spaced apart by way of center shaft 33, a second end 35 (shown in FIG. 3). An intermediate portion of shaft 33 proximate to, but spaced apart from, each of ends 31 and 35 is externally screw-threaded. FIG. 2 shows screw-threaded segment 32 proximate to end 31. Screw-threaded segment 34 (not shown) is proximate to, but spaced apart from, end 35 (shown only in FIG. 3). Internally screw-threaded compression fittings 36 threadably engage externally screw-threaded shaft portions 32 and 34 (not shown) so as to hold connector 30 in a fixed position relative to wall panel segments 20 and 40 (shown in FIG. 3).
 Although not shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, wall panel segments 20 and 40 preferably further comprise a sealing means that is disposed between a connector end, such as first end 31 of connector 30, and its associated compression fitting or nut 36 such that the sealing means is in operative or sealing contact with both the inner foam layer 21 of panel segment 20 or inner foam layer 41 of panel segment 40, whichever is appropriate, and compression nut 36.
 Skilled artisans readily recognize that a variety of substitutes may serve the same purpose as the combination of externally screw-threaded shaft segments 32 and 34 and internally screw-threaded compression fittings 36. By way of example only and without limit, such substitutes include one or more projections from the shaft over which a collar slides, then twists and locks or a series of rings on the shaft over which a collar with internally defined ridges or lock means slides and then stays in position. Skilled artisans also recognize that compression fittings 36 and any of the alternatives need not be solid or continuous shapes. In fact, for ease of installation, the fittings preferably have a slot that communicates between an external edge of the fitting and a central aperture of the fitting such as the internally screw-threaded portion of fittings 36. The slot allows the fitting to slide onto the center shaft 33 of connector 30 at a field or assembly site.
FIG. 3 illustrates wall form 10. Form 10 comprises wall segment 20, wall panel segment 40 and a plurality of linked connectors 30. Wall panel segment 40 may be, and preferably is, a mirror-image of wall segment 20 save for the material from which outer layers 25 and 45 are fabricated. Accordingly, wall panel segment 40 is a laminar structure that includes inner layer 41 and outer layer 45. Inner layer 41 has an inner surface 42 and a spaced-apart, generally parallel outer surface 43. Inner layer 41 also has defined therein a plurality of passageways 44 that intersect and are in fluid communication with both the inner surface 42 and the outer surface 43. Outer layer 45 has an inner surface 46 and a spaced-apart, generally parallel outer surface 48. Outer layer 45 also has defined therein a plurality of slots 47. Outer surface 43 of inner layer 41 and inner surface 46 of outer layer 45 are in operative contact with each other. Such operative contact desirably occurs by way of an adhesive material (not shown) disposed between surfaces 43 and 46. Slots 47, preferably T-shaped, are in fluid communication with passageways 44 of inner layer 41. Like the combination of slots 27 and passageways 24 shown in FIG. 1, a combination of slots 47 and passageways 44 yields a plurality of channels that are adapted to receive connector ends (shown in FIGS. 2 and 3).
 The channels in wall panel segment 40, also referred to as a second panel segment, preferably comprise an elongated aperture in inner layer 41, preferably a foam layer, and a cavity in outer layer 45. As with their counterparts in layers 21 and 25, the aperture and cavity are in fluid communication with each other and each has a width with the width of the cavity preferably being greater than that of the aperture. The channels are preferably adapted to receive connector ends such as those of connectors 30 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.
 The connectors, such as connectors 30, are preferably disposed in a number of connector assemblies. Each connector assembly more preferably comprises a lattice wherein each connector is oriented so as to be spaced apart from and generally parallel to at least one other connector. The orientation is desirably maintained by way of at least one connector link between each of two adjacent connectors within a connector assembly. As shown in FIG. 3, the plurality of connectors 30 are linked together or interconnected by way of a plurality of links 32. FIG. 3 shows two links 32 between each pair of connectors 30. While two links 32 per pair of connectors 30 yield very satisfactory results in terms of simplicity and spacing uniformity, one may use a greater or lesser number of links without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. In fact, one may eliminate the links altogether if so desired. The links 32 may be flexible to accommodate storage and handling before use as part of wall form 10. Links 32 may also be rigid to provide additional stability before disposing a hardenable material into a cavity formed by inner surfaces 22 (FIG. 1) and 42 of corresponding panel segments 20 and 40.
 Ends 31 and 35 of connectors 30 may take on any of a variety of shapes without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The shape simply needs to accommodate a slideable engagement with at least a portion of slots 27 (FIG. 2) and 47 of corresponding panel segments 20 and 40. The shape desirably provides frictional, but slideable engagement with surfaces of slots 27 and 47. Shapes include, for example, squares, rectangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, polygons (e.g. hexagons and octagons), circles and ellipses. While the shapes preferably have a thickness that is at least equal to the width of slots 27 and 47, they more preferably have a thickness that slightly exceeds that width in order to provide a good friction fit.
 A particularly preferred connector is a foldable connector such as that disclosed in U.S. Design Pat. No. 383,373, U.S. Pat. No. 4,706,429, U.S. Pat. No. 4,730,422 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,885,888. The relevant teachings of the four patents are incorporated herein by reference. By using such connectors, one can assemble the insulated wall form of the present invention and then collapse or fold it about the connectors into a flattened configuration for shipping or transport. When ready for use at a job site, one can simply unfold it about the connectors and set it into place.
FIG. 4 shows an alternate preferred embodiment of a panel segment designated by reference numeral 20′. Panel segment 20′ differs from panel segment 20 in that outer layer 25′ has no slots defined therein whereas outer layer 25 has slots 27 defined therein. Like segment 20, segment 20′ is a laminar structure that includes inner layer 21′ and outer layer 25′. Inner layer 21′ has an inner surface 22′ and a spaced-apart, generally parallel outer surface 23′. Inner layer 21′ also has defined therein a plurality of passageways 24′ that intersect and are in fluid communication with both the inner surface 22′ and the outer surface 23′. Passageways 24′ preferably have a T-shape similar to that provided by a combination of passageways 24 and slots 27 of panel 20. Although FIG. 4 shows passageways 24′ as being located proximate to or intersecting with outer surface 23′ of inner layer 21′, passageway may also be displaced toward inner surface 22′ so that it a) is entirely located within inner layer 21″, b) intersects only with inner surface 22′ and c) is in fluid communication only with inner surface 22′. Outer layer 25′ has an inner surface 26′ and a spaced-apart, generally parallel outer surface 28′. Outer surface 23′ of inner layer 21′ and inner surface 26′ of outer layer 25′ are in operative contact with each other. As with panel 20, such operative contact desirably occurs by way of an adhesive material (not shown) disposed between surfaces 23′ and 26′.
 T-shaped passageways 27 and 24′ may be fabricated by any suitable means. For example, one may use a router or other similar device to cut the passageways after placing inner layer 21′ and outer layer 25′ in operative contact with each other. A more preferred technique uses narrow (relative to outer layer 25′) strips of inner layer 21′. The outer surface 23′ of inner layer 21′ has defined therein a longitudinal step or shoulder on each side such that when two strips of inner layer 21′ are placed proximate to, but not in physical contact with, each other, they define a T-shaped passageway 24′.
 Outer panel 40 may be, and preferably is, modified in the same manner as inner panel 20 to yield an outer panel 40′ (not shown). Similarly, an alternate and preferred wall form 10′ includes inner panels 20′ and outer panels 40′ in place of inner panels 20 and outer panels 40. One may, of course, mix and match the panels to provide, for example an inner panel 20 and an outer panel 40′, two inner panels 20, 20′ or a combination of one panel 20 and one panel 20′, or two outer panels 40, 40′ or a combination of one panel 40 and one panel 40′ depending upon factors such as design choice and wall location.
 Inner panels 20 and 20′ are laminar structures that comprise at least two layers, an inner layer that comprises an insulating foam material and an outer layer that comprises an interior surface material. The interior surface material is selected from gypsum board, wallboard, wood, paneling, brick, fiberboard, vinyl boards or any other material that provides acceptable aesthetic performance, functional performance or both.
 Outer panels 40 and 40′ are laminar structures that comprise at least two layers, an inner layer that comprises an insulating foam material and an outer layer that comprises an exterior surface material. The exterior surface material is selected from wood, brick, stucco, concrete block, cementitious board laminate, fiberboard, vinyl siding, wood laminates, brick veneer, or any other material that provides acceptable functional performance and, desirably, aesthetic appeal.
 The insulating foam material may be any cellular insulating material that is rigid enough to substantially maintain its shape during the construction and use of the wall form. Preferably, the insulating foam panel is a cellular polymeric foam. It may be made from a thermosetting or thermoplastic polymer. Suitable polymers include polyethylene (including low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and substantially linear ethylene interpolymers), polypropylene, polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers, polyvinyl chloride, phenol-formaldehyde resins, ethylene-styrene interpolymers and alkenyl aromatic polymers and copolymers, including those derived from alkenyl aromatic compounds such as styrene, alphamethylstyrene, ethylstyrene, vinyl benzene, vinyl toluene, chlorostyrene, and bromostyrene. A preferred alkenyl aromatic polymer is polystyrene. Minor amounts of monoethylenically unsaturated compounds such as C2-6 alkyl acids and esters, ionomeric derivatives, and C4-6 dienes may be copolymerized with alkenyl aromatic compounds. Examples of copolymerizable compounds include acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, ethacrylic acid, maleic acid, itaconic acid, and acrylonitrile. Blends of any two or more of the foregoing or blends of any of the foregoing with another polymer or resin are suitable. Rigid polyurethane, polystyrene, polyisocyanurate and phenolic foams are preferred, with polystyrene and polyisocyanurate foams being especially preferred. The foams may be used as is or they may have an external surface mechanically modified. Mechanical modification includes operations such as sanding, scraping, planing or any other action that alters the external surface from its as-formed state.
 Suitable alkenyl aromatic polymers include those derived from alkenyl aromatic compounds such as styrene, alphamethylstyrene, ethylstyrene, vinyl benzene, vinyl toluene, chlorostyrene, and bromostyrene. A preferred alkenyl aromatic polymer is polystyrene. Minor amounts of monoethylenically unsaturated compounds such as C2-6 alkyl acids and esters, ionomeric derivatives, and C4-6 dienes may be copolymerized with alkenyl aromatic compounds. Examples of copolymerizable compounds include acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, ethacrylic acid, maleic acid, itaconic acid, acrylonitrile, maleic anhydride, methyl acrylate, ethyl acrylate, isobutyl acrylate, n-butyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate, vinyl acetate and butadiene. Preferred foams comprise substantially (i.e., greater than 95 percent) and most preferably entirely of polystyrene.
 Any conventional process may prepare insulating foam materials, with extrusion foaming being preferred.
 In order to ease fabrication of wall forms 10 and 10′ as well as decrease assembly time thereof, one may dispose a lubricating material on surfaces of connector ends 31 and 35 that will come in contact with slots 27 and 47 of wall panel segments 20 and 40 or slots 24′ and 44′ (not shown) of wall panel segments 20′ and 40′. Suitable lubricating materials include mineral oils, synthetic oils and fluorocarbons.
 Wall forms 10 and 10′ define a cavity designed to accommodate and shape a load-bearing material, preferably a hardenable material such as concrete, fiber-reinforced concrete or rebar-reinforced concrete. If desired, the cavity may further comprise a cavity liner. The cavity liner, when used, is adjacent to and in physical contact with at least a surface portion of the inner surfaces of the selected combination of inner and outer panels 20, 20′, 40 and 40′. The inner and outer surfaces are, respectively, 22, 22′, 42 and 42′ (not shown). The cavity liner comprises a film made of a thermoplastic polymer that is a polyolefin such as polypropylene, low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene or linear low density polyethylene, a polyamide, an alkenyl aromatic polymer such as polystyrene, a poly(vinyl chloride), a polycarbonate, an acrylic polymer, or a polyester. The film may be non-oriented, uniaxially oriented or biaxially oriented. The film may contain one or more conventional additives such as fillers, pigments, colorants, antioxidants, ultraviolet light stabilizers, fire retardant materials (it being recognized that all organic materials will bum under the right conditions), and process aids.
 Any load-bearing material may be used that will provide adequate strength and rigidity. In simpler or less expensive wall constructions, the load-bearing material can be, for instance, wood, stone, dirt, sand, metal, and the like. These are advantageously used in a particulate form so they can be readily poured into the form assemblage as a loose fill. However, this invention is particularly adapted for use with a load-bearing material that is poured into place after the system of wall panels, insulating foam panels and panel connectors is assembled, and then hardened. Accordingly, any of the many forms of cement such as Portland cement, aluminous cement and hydraulic cements are suitable, as are hardenable clays such as adobe, mortar, and hardenable mixtures of clays and cement. It is generally preferred for reasons of cost and properties to use concrete, which is an aggregate of a material such as gravel, pebble, sand, broken stone, slag, or cinders, in a hardenable matrix, usually mortar or a form of cement such as Portland, aluminous or hydraulic cement. Generally, any concrete or aggregate that is useful in preparing load-bearing building walls is suitable for use with this invention.