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Publication numberUS20080115432 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/800,530
Publication dateMay 22, 2008
Filing dateMay 3, 2007
Priority dateNov 7, 2006
Also published asWO2008057421A2, WO2008057421A3
Publication number11800530, 800530, US 2008/0115432 A1, US 2008/115432 A1, US 20080115432 A1, US 20080115432A1, US 2008115432 A1, US 2008115432A1, US-A1-20080115432, US-A1-2008115432, US2008/0115432A1, US2008/115432A1, US20080115432 A1, US20080115432A1, US2008115432 A1, US2008115432A1
InventorsDavid Groppe
Original AssigneeDavid Groppe
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Prefabricated buildings, components and methods of erection of prefabricated buildings
US 20080115432 A1
Abstract
This invention is a new concept in prefabricated buildings, components and methods of making the components and methods of erecting the buildings. A typical wall of the new building consists of a plurality of alternately positioned wall panels and support columns, where each support column is situated between two adjacent facing side edges of two wall panels. Coupling elements connect the support column to the two panels, and a single activation element on the support column causes these coupling elements to pull the wall panels into correct elevation and secure engagement with the support column and also secures the support column to an anchor pin in the foundation directly below the support column. This support column consists of an outer tube and a shaft slidable within the tube. First coupling elements extending from each side edge of the support column, and mating second coupling element are situated in the side edges of each panel for cooperation with the first coupling elements. Drawing the shaft upward causes mutual engagement of the first and second coupling elements and causes secure engagement of the support column with the anchor pin.
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Claims(31)
1. A prefabricated wall comprising:
a. a plurality of wall panels and a plurality of columns for supporting said wall panels, where each of said columns and panels has top and bottom parts, inner and outer surfaces and opposite side edges, and said panels and columns are adapted to be alternately spaced and joined together with each of said columns situated between two of said panels to form a wall section,
b. coupling means for each of said wall sections for releasably attaching one side edge of each of said two panels to each side edge of said column, and
c. activating means on said column of each of said wall sections for activating each of said coupling means,
wherein each of said coupling means comprises:
(1) at least one 1st coupling element situated on one side edge of said column, and
(3) at least one 2nd coupling element on the side edge of the panel being coupled thereto, said column and panels being laterally movable relative to each other until said 1st and 2nd coupling elements of said column and of said wall panels respectively come into engagement,
said activating means being adapted to drive said 1st coupling element generally vertically which drives said 2nd coupling elements generally horizontally, thus driving said side edges of said panels and column toward each other.
2. A prefabricated wall according to claim 1 wherein said column of each of said wall sections comprises:
a. an outer tube having top and bottom parts and a bore extending lengthwise, and
b. an inner shaft having top and bottom parts and opposite side edges and being axially slidable upwardly in said outer tube bore,
C. said activating means being adapted to drive said inner shaft axially between an initial open position to a closed position where said wall panels are drawn toward said column.
3. A prefabricated wall according to claim 2, wherein (a) said activating means of each of said wall sections comprises an external lead screw on said top part of said inner shaft and a mating threaded nut at said top part of said outer tube whereby rotation of said nut draws said shaft upward.
4. A prefabricated wall according to claim 2, wherein
a. said first coupling element of each of said wall sections comprises: a 1st wing that is:
(1) fixed to each of said side edges of said inner shaft and extending laterally outward therefrom and terminating in and end part which includes a cam surface inclined inwardly toward said inner shaft, and
(2) movable upward when said inner shaft is driven upward, and
b. said side edge of said wall panel defines a recess extending inward into said panel and thus extending away from said shaft, and
c. said second coupling element comprises a pin fixed in said recess in said wall panel and extending in the inside-to-outside direction, said cam surface of said first coupling element, when said inner shaft is driven upwardly by said activating means, camming said pin and associated wall panel toward to said inner shaft.
5. A prefabricated wall according to claim 4, further comprising a second wing situated on said side edge of said outer tube axially above said first wing on said inner shaft, said first wing when driven upward by upward movement of said inner shaft, capturing said pin between it and said second wing fixed to said outer tube.
6. A prefabricated wall according to claim 4, adapted to be erected on and attached to a foundation which includes anchor means secured in said foundation, wherein:
(d) said column outer tube comprises walls extending from said top part of said column downward to and engaging said foundation, and
(e) said activating means driving said inner shaft upward relative to said outer tube, puts said inner shaft in tension relative to said outer tube and puts said outer tube walls in compression relative to said foundation, said upward movement of said inner shaft relative to said outer tube also lifts said 1st wing and its cam surface therein which cams said pin and panel attached to said pin inwardly toward said inner shaft.
7. A prefabricated wall according to claim 2 adapted to be erected on and attached to a foundation which includes anchor means secured in said foundation, wherein,
a. said inner shaft further comprises 1st first means for engaging said anchor means,
b. said outer tube comprises 2nd means fixed to said outer tube for engaging and driving said inner shaft upward relative to said outer tube, which puts said inner shaft in tension and creates an opposite downward force on said outer tube when it is urged against said when outer tube against said foundation, and
c. where said upward movement of said inner shaft and 1st coupling element thereon creates a cam force for urging said 2nd coupling element laterally inward toward said outer tube when said inner shaft is moved upward.
8. A prefabricated wall according to claim 1, wherein said wall panel end edge defines therein a recess with said pin mounted in said recess, and said 1st coupling element is extendable into said recess to engage said pin.
9. A prefabricated wall according to claim 1, wherein said 1st coupling element includes an inclined cam surface for driving said pin laterally toward said column when said shaft is driven upwardly.
10. A prefabricated wall according to claim 2, wherein said outer tube is formed by walls, two of which form said opposite side edges of said column, each of these two walls defining therein an elongated slot through which said 2nd coupling element carried by said inner shaft can extend, and said wing is fixed to said side wall of said outer tube above said slot.
11. A prefabricated wall according to claim 1, wherein said wall panel is formed as a laminate having length in said top-to-bottom direction, width in said side-to-side direction, thickness in said inner-to-outer direction and has exposed side edges,
each of said side edges having a plurality of pocket-like recesses extending inwardly and spaced apart along said length, and
said wall panel further comprises in each of said recesses a pin situated inward of said side edge and extending in said inner-to-outer direction, said pin configured to be engagable by said 1st coupling element extending from said inner shaft.
12. A prefabricated wall according to claim 11, wherein each of said wall panels comprises:
a. a generally rectangular frame formed by top, bottom and side edge beams which define between then a central space,
b. a core of heat insulation material substantially filling said central space and secured therein, and
c. inner and outer skins covering said inner and outer sides respectively of said frame and core.
13. A prefabricated wall according to claim 12 wherein for each of said wall panels:
a. said frame is injection molded of plastic,
b. said core comprises heat insulating expandable urethane, and
c. said skins comprise fiber glass, KevlarŪ carbon fiber or other composite.
14. A prefabricated wall according to claim 4, wherein said top wing has a bottom surface that is generally horizontal extending outward from said outer tube and then tapers upward at its end part to easily receive said pin in said wall panel recess.
15. A prefabricated wall according to claim 4, wherein on each side edge of said outer tube and adjacent side edge of said inner shaft said top wing and bottom wing are displaced relative to each other in the inner-to-outer direction.
16. A prefabricated wall according to claim 4, wherein said top wing on one side edge of said outer tube is displaced forward of said top wing on the opposite side edge of said outer tube, and said bottom wing is displaced rearward of said bottom wing on the opposite side edges of said inner shaft.
17. A prefabricated wall according to claim 1 adapted to be erected on and attached to a foundation which is secured in the ground and includes anchor means fixed in said foundation and spaced apart to locations corresponding to each of said columns, where each of said columns comprises an outer tube with a bore extending lengthwise, and an inner shaft axially slidable upward in said outer tube bore, said inner shaft having a bottom end adapted to releasably engage one of said anchor means, and said inner shaft when pulled upwardly relative to said column, pulls upwardly on said anchor means causing tension on said inner shaft and a downward force of said outer tube on said foundation as said wall panels are drawn toward said column.
18. A wall according to claim 17, wherein said activating means further comprises adjustment means (a) to allow upward movement of said inner shaft while said inner shaft draws inward said wall panels toward said column, and thereafter (b) to couple said inner shaft to said anchor means which resists further upward movement of said inner shaft, which thereafter goes into tension as said outer tube walls go into compression.
19. A wall according to claim 18, wherein said adjustment means comprises a blade with an elongated axial slot therein connected to said anchor, and a pin mounted to said inner shaft and extending transversely through said slot, where axial movement of said inner shaft moves said pin to the top end of said slot.
20. A kit for constructing a prefabricated wall, said kit comprising:
a. a plurality of wall panels and a plurality of columns for supporting said wall panels, where each of said columns and panels has top and bottom parts, inner and outer surfaces and opposite side edges, and said panels and columns are adapted to be alternately spaced and joined together, with each of said columns situated between two of said panels to form a wall section,
b. coupling means for each of said wall sections for releasably attaching one side edge of each of said two panels to each side edge of said column, and
c. activating means on said column of each of said wall sections for activating each of said coupling means,
wherein each of said coupling means comprises:
(1) at least one 1st coupling element situated on one side edge of said column, and
(2) at least one 2nd coupling element on the side edge of the panel being coupled, said column and panels being laterally movable relative to each other until said 1st and 2nd coupling elements of said column and of said wall panels respectively come into engagement, and
said activating means being adapted to drive said 1st coupling element generally vertically which drives said 2nd coupling elements generally horizontally, thus driving said side edges of said panels and column toward each other.
21. A kit for a prefabricated building adapted to be erected above a floor area which includes anchor elements spaced apart and secured in said floor area, said kit comprising a plurality of wall panels and columns for constructing walls as defined in claim 18, each of said walls having opposite ends which are releasably joinable to define an enclosure, and said inner shafts of said columns of said walls being releasably connectible to said anchor elements.
22. A kit according to claim 20, wherein said 2nd coupling element comprises a pin mounted in said wall panel, said pin being engagable by said 1st coupling element.
23. A generally rectangular prefabricated building erected on a floor area and attached to anchor means in said floor area, comprising:
a. four walls as defined in claim 2, where each of said walls extends upright and laterally to predetermined lengths respectively and terminates in opposite ends,
b. corner columns for joining adjacent ends of two walls, and
c. a roof secured to said top parts of at least two of said walls, and
d. for each of said walls each of said inner shafts has a bottom end engagable to one said anchor elements and a top part adapted to be pulled upward relative to said outer tube top part, thereby causing said inner shaft to be in tension and said outer tube bottom part to press downward against said floor area, and said 1st coupling elements to be urged upward, thus driving said wall panels toward said column.
24. A prefabricated building according to 23 wherein, each of said columns comprises:
(1) an outer tube,
(2) an inner shaft axially movable within said outer tube,
(3) 1st means at the bottom part of said inner shaft adapted to engage one of said anchors,
(4) 2nd means carried by said inner shaft and adapted to engage said adjacent panels, and when driven upward to pull said engaged panels laterally inward toward said inner shaft, and
(5) 3rd means adapted to draw said 2nd means upward while bearing downward against said outer tube, thereby putting said inner shaft in tension and urging said outer tube downward against said foundation when said inner shaft is pulled upward and said adjacent wall panels are pulled laterally toward said outer tube.
25. A building according to claim 23 further comprising a roof truss formed of a plurality of roof beams extending across said building between the tops of two opposite walls, each of said roof beams releasably coupled to one of said columns at the top part in a haunch connection comprising:
a. a threaded rod extending upward from said inner shaft and freely through said nut plate,
b. an apertured transverse plate fixed to said outer tube,
c. a nut drawing said threaded rod and inner shaft upward, and
d. said rod extending further upward and through an aperture in said end of said roof beam, and a further nut to secure same.
26. A building according to claim 23, wherein each of said corner columns comprises an outer tube and inner shaft wherein said side edges of said outer tube are 90 degrees apart, and side edges of said inner shaft correspond to said side of said outer tube.
27. A method of manufacturing a wall panel having inner and outer sides with an injection mold having inner and outer covers and edge covers, at least one edge cover including an injection inlet means and at least one edge cover including outlet vent means, comprising the steps:
a. positioning a generally rectangular frame having inner and outer sides corresponding to said inner and outer sides of said wall panel in said mold, said frame defining within it a central cavity,
b. positioning inner and outer skins adjacent the inner and outer sides of said frame to enclose said central cavity,
c. covering said skins with said front and rear covers of said mold,
d. securing said inner and outer covers and said edge covers onto said mold,
e. injecting expandable urethane plastic into said cavity,
f. venting said cavity via apertures in said frame and mold,
g. bonding said skins to said frame,
h. cooling said mold and molded panel therein,
i. opening said covers, and
j. removing said panel from said mold.
28. A method of manufacturing a wall panel comprising the steps:
a. providing a book-like mold having movable front and rear covers for defining between them a mold space that corresponds generally to the length, width and thickness of a panel to be made,
b. positioning a generally rectangular frame in said mold space, said frame defining within it a central cavity,
c. positioning front and rear skins adjacent the front and rear sides of said frame to enclose said central cavity,
d. covering said skins with said front and rear covers of said mold,
e. covering ends of said frame and closing said mold with end plates,
f. securing said front and rear covers and said end plates onto said mold,
g. injecting expandable urethane plastic into said cavity,
h. venting said cavity via apertures in said frame and mold,
i. bonding said skins to said frame,
j cooling said mold and molded panel therein,
k. opening said covers and end plates, and
l. removing said panel from said mold.
29. A method of manufacturing a wall panel according to claim 27, comprising the steps:
a. positioning 1st, 2nd and 3rd production lines for simultaneously producing 1st and 2nd skins and one frame every minute,
b. directing from said 1st, 2nd and 3rd production lines, every minute, two skins and one frame to a final mold station where each panel is made in a few seconds, and
c. directing the output of panels from said final mold station sequentially at the rate of one per minute to 1st-10th cooling stations, so that after ten minutes the panel at the 1st cooling station is completed and this station is ready to receive a new panel to begin its 10 minute cooling phase, thus producing from 10 cooling stations together, one cooled panel every minute.
30. A method of manufacturing a wall panel according to claim 27, comprising the steps:
a. a. positioning 1st, 2nd and 3rd production lines for simultaneously producing “x” quantity of 1st and 2nd skins and one frame every minute,
b. directing from said 1st, 2nd and 3rd production lines every minute, “x” number of 1st and 2nd skins and one frame to a final mold station where each panel is made in a few seconds, and
c. directing the output of “x” quantity of panels per minute from said final mold station sequentially at the rate of “x” per minute to “y” quantity of cooling stations, so that after “y” minutes the panel at the 1st cooling station is completed and this station is ready to receive a new panel to begin its “y” minute cooling phase, thus producing from said final mold station “x” panels per minute and producing in the aggregate from said Y cooling stations “x” cooled panels per minute.
31. A method of erecting a prefabricated building using prefabricated walls, columns and corner columns as defined in claim 26, comprising the steps:
a. establishing a floor area on which to erect said building,
b. securing anchor means in said floor area at predetermined locations,
c. positioning and erecting a corner column at a corner location for said building above a corresponding anchor means and engaging said inner shaft of said corner column to said anchor means,
d. positioning said first wall panel with one of its end edges adjacent one side edge of said corner column, moving said wall panel laterally until said is 1st and 2nd coupling elements of said corner column enter said recesses of said first wall panel, and elevating said inner shaft to engage and draw-in said wall panel to said column,
e. positioning and erecting a first of said columns (“first column”) adjacent said opposite side edge of said first wall panel and positioned above said anchor means corresponding to said first column, engaging said inner shaft of said first column to said anchor means, and positioning said first coupling elements of said first column in recesses in said opposite side edge of said first wall panel,
f. elevating said inner shaft of said first column for its first coupling elements to engage and draw together said opposite side edge and said first column, and to simultaneously secure said first column to its anchor means, and
g. successively similarly attaching columns and wall panels to complete said walls of predetermined length and included corner columns to define a building enclosure.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119, 120 based upon applicant's Provisional Application, Ser. No. 60/857,732, filed Nov. 7, 2006.

I. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention is in the field of prefabricated buildings and methods of erection of prefabricated buildings.

2. Background

There is a worldwide need for buildings of all types, including homes, hospitals, school and factories, this need being particularly acute in areas of natural disasters such as occurred with the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina and in war-torn areas. The need is also great in many under-developed areas and countries and even in developed countries where cost, speed and ease of construction have become great concerns. Thus, a first set of basic objectives is for prefabricated homes that have low cost, safe and secure construction, good insulation from heat and cold and durability. Obviously, an attractive appearance would be quite desirable since many prior art prefabricated buildings have nondescript or poor appearance. Fireproofing is a still further objective, but difficult and expensive because conventional materials are primarily wood and wood products.

Vast amounts of wood materials are used and thus consumed in worldwide home and building construction for framing, inner and outer walls, floors and roofs. Thus, a worldwide wood consumption cycle is well along with no end in sight, as forests are being destroyed and wood from demolished and replaced homes is often burned or otherwise disposed of without useful recycling. Another problem in prefabricated building construction is the time to manufacture components, to transport and erect the components, and a requirement for skilled persons with professional equipment and power tools to achieve assembly and erection of the buildings. Finally, the economics of high volume usually precludes much variety or esthetic considerations.

II. OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE NEW INVENTION

This present invention includes a new prefabricated building concept, components, sub-assemblies, fully erected buildings and a method of assembly or erection of such buildings. A principal object of this invention is to provide buildings that can be erected very quickly and easily and by persons who may not be professionals in this field and who may have little or nor power equipment, and/or who may be erecting such buildings in remote and primitive regions.

A further object of this invention is to provide buildings, and housing type buildings in particular, that are extremely inexpensive as regards cost of components and labor.

Another object of this invention is to provide prefabricated housing that can be erected by persons who do not need to be trained and experienced carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, painters, etc.

A still further object of this invention is to provide prefabricated housing which is strong, safe, well insulated from heat and cold and is fireproof.

An additional object of this invention is to provide prefabricated houses that do not require wood as a basic construction component, which helps conserve the world's forests from destruction.

A related object of this invention is to provide housing having such good insulation characteristics at a reasonably low cost, that there will be a greatly reduced need for heating fuel, be it from wood, wood products, coal, oil, gas, or even electrical, and wind power. Such reduced fuel needs conserve natural resources, reduce environmental pollution from combustion and reduce operational costs of living in such buildings.

A still further object of this invention is for the components of such new buildings, particularly the modular wall, roof and floor panels, to be light weight and thus easy and inexpensive to transport and to handle during erection of the buildings.

An additional object of this invention is to use components, particularly wall, roof and floor panels, which can be manufactured in factories that can be easily set up near the locations where the building will be erected.

A further object of this invention is for the coupling elements that join wall panels and other components to be simple to understand and easy to use.

An additional object is for these buildings to be adapted for assembly in rural or even remote and undeveloped areas, including deserts and jungles, where conventional roads, machinery, equipment and skilled artisans are few or non-existent.

These and other objects of the invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following written specification, claims and appended drawings.

III. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partially cut-away top perspective view of a prefabricated building of this invention,

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a typical wall panel as used in the building of FIG. 1,

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the wall panel of FIG. 2 in its final assembled state,

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 3 showing the pocket and pin arrangement in the edge of the panel of FIGS. 2 and 3,

FIG. 4A is a sectional elevation view taken along line 4A-4A in FIG. 4,

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary and exploded perspective view of two wall panels as seen in FIGS. 2 and 3 positioned to be coupled to a Drawlock column between their adjacent edges,

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view of the two panels of FIG. 5 after they have been drawn to and coupled with the column,

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary exploded perspective view of a column of FIG. 5 to which wall panels are attached,

FIG. 7A is a fragmentary top front perspective view of the column of FIG. 7 connected to a foundation,

FIG. 7B is a fragmentary top perspective view of the column of FIG. 7 to which roof truss beams are coupled,

FIGS. 8-10 show the column in progressive stages of its coupling with wall panels, where FIG. 8 is a fragmentary elevation view showing schematically how draw pins in edge pockets of opposite wall panels approach coupling wings of the column,

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary perspective view of the column of FIG. 8 showing how the draw pins of the opposite wall panels have been drawn inward to the column and upward to their final location,

FIG. 10 is a fragmentary elevational sectional view taken along line 10-10 in FIG. 9 further showing the side panels fully coupled to the column and showing the position of the draw bar within the column,

FIG. 10A is a side elevation view in section of the column of FIG. 6 showing schematically a force diagram of forces applied to the draw bar, the column, the foundation and the draw pin,

FIG. 11 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along line 11-11 in FIGS. 1 and 10 showing the draw pins in side panel pockets fully coupled with the wing tabs of the draw bar and of the column,

FIG. 12 is a fragmentary elevational sectional view taken along line 12-12 in FIG. 10, showing the coupling of the bottom end of the draw shaft with the anchor,

FIG. 13 is a fragmentary elevational view in section, partially similar to FIG. 10, showing the top end of the draw shaft within the column when opposite wall panels are drawn-in and coupled to the columns,

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary sectional elevational view taken along line 14-14 in FIG. 13, showing the column and its coupling to roof truss beams,

FIG. 14A is a top sectional view along line 14A-17A in FIG. 14,

FIG. 14B is a top perspective view of the roof truss coupling to a wall column,

FIG. 15 is a fragmentary sectional plan view along line 15-15 in FIG. 1, showing the coupling of two wall panels to a column forming the corner construction of the building,

FIG. 16 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along line 16-16 in FIG. 1, showing a set of adjacent roof panels coupled to a column between them,

FIG. 17 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along line 17-17 in FIG. 1, showing the junction of the top ends of adjacent roof panels at the peak of the roof,

FIG. 18 is a fragmentary sectional elevation view, corresponding to FIG. 12, but showing a second embodiment of connection of the bottom of the column and draw shaft to the foundation;

FIGS. 19-21 show a sequence of stages of assembly or erection of a typical wall of wall panels and columns, and

FIG. 22 is an exploded perspective view of a bookend mold module for manufacture of a wall panel.

The features of the invention will become apparent from the following description of the exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

IV. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

For convenience and clarity in describing the preferred embodiments, similar elements or components appearing in different figures and in different embodiments will have the same reference numbers.

FIGS. 1 to 22 illustrate my new prefabricated building invention which includes: (a) an assembled prefabricated building, (b) the subassembly of a single wall or wall section formed of key structural components of wall panels and support columns, (c) a method of assembly or erection of such a building, (d) a new wall panels alone, and (e) the method of making the new wall panel.

A. General Description of the Prefabricated Building

A typical building 10 constructed according to this invention comprises side and end walls 11 formed of alternately spaced wall panels 12 and support columns 14. Such walls are secured to a floor 22 or other foundation and support a roof 15 comprising a roof truss and roof panel 18. More specifically, each side wall 11 is formed of alternately positioned upright wall panels 12 and upright support columns 14, where each column 14 is situated between and releasably coupled to facing side edges 12A of two adjacent wall panels 12. A typical wall panel has width of four feet and height of eight, ten or more feet in height. Obviously, a complete wall 11 comprising many wall panels 12 may vary in length and height, and may include doors and windows as desired. Also, as discussed later, wall panels 12, as modular units of wall 11, may have customized sound and heat insulation properties, customized esthetic interior and exterior surfaces and built-in HVAC, plumbing and electrical components. Roof 15 is constructed in a manner generally similar to that of the walls, with roof panels 18 releasably coupled to roof beams 20 situated between facing side edges of adjacent roof panels. Optionally, other roof structure is possible, but such would not necessarily employ and take advantage of the present invention. The building also has floor 22 and anchor 23 components, and may utilize floor panels, generally similar to wall panels but having properties appropriate for a floor. The support columns structurally integrate the walls, roof and floor as will be described in later sections.

B. Wall Construction of Wall Panels and Support Columns

As noted above and as seen in FIGS. 1 and 5-11, walls 11 of the new prefabricated building are constructed of alternately spaced wall panels 12 and support columns 14. For convenience, this description and the claims will refer when appropriate to a coupling means 1 which comprises coupling elements 2 and 3 for connecting wall panels 12 to a support column 14, anchor connection means 4 for securing a support column 14 to the anchor means 23, and actuation means 5 for actuating said coupling means 1.

(1) Support Column

A typical support column 14 as seen in FIGS. 5-11 comprises an outer tube 14A and a shaft or draw bar 25 slidable in tube 14A. Said outer tube 14A has top part 14T, bottom part 14B and opposite side walls 14E. Tube 14A also has front or inside wall 14C and rear or outside wall 14D that correspond respectively to interior and exterior surfaces of walls 12 of building 10.

The above mentioned coupling means 1 comprises first coupling elements 2 on each side edge of each support column 14 and second coupling elements 3 on each wall panel 12. As further described, each support column 14 has on each side edge 14E five axially spaced coupling elements 3, each comprising a set of wings or jaws 29, 30. The five coupling elements 2 (designated 2A-2E) on each side edge of column 14A are adapted to cooperate with five coupling elements 3 (designated 3A-3E) on the side edge 12A of each wall panel 12. As illustrated, each coupling element 2 comprises a set of wings, where wing 29 is fixed to side edge 14E of outer tube 14 and wing 30 is carried by shaft 25 and movable to approach wing 29 when shaft 25 is drawn upward relative to outer tube 14A. The actual number, size and form of coupling elements may vary from the preferred constructions illustrated herein.

For cooperation with these five first coupling elements 2A-2E on each side edge 14A of each support column 14 are five second coupling elements (3A-3E), each second coupling element comprises a recess 26 and a pin 43 in the side edge of a typical wall panel.

Each of coupling elements 2A-2E on support column 14 engages and locks onto a pin 43 of a corresponding coupling element 3A-3E of a panel when the panel is positioned for engagement and connection to the support column.

(2) Wall Panel

As seen in FIG. 2 particularly and in FIG. 2A, each wall panel 12 has side edges 12A, and in each side edge 12A is a series of coupling elements 3A-3E, each consisting of a pocket or recess 26 and a pin 43 fixed in the pocket. Each recess 26 and pin 43 fixed therein functions as a coupling element 3 of coupling means 1 for connecting a wall panel to a support column 14. These recesses are axially spaced apart to correspond to and receive said axially spaced apart first coupling elements 2A-2E, each consisting of a set of wings 29, 30. The central core of panel 12 is urethane foam 38.

For each set of wings the movable wing 30 includes a hook-like groove 30A. For coupling of a wall panel 12 to the support column 14, each set of wings extends laterally from the support column 14 into a recess 26 in the side edge of wall panel 12 and engages and releasably couples with pin 43 in the panel. Thus, the panel is maneuvered into position until each of the five recesses on one side edge receives therein one set of wings, with pins 43 moving between each said two wings of each set and into said locking groove 34.

As seen in FIGS. 7, 7A and 7B, in a typical set of wings the fixed upper wing 29 (a) has a tapered top edge 29A for easily entering a corresponding recess 26 in a panel side edge 14A, and (b) has a generally flat or horizontal bottom edge 29B that has with a slight upward taper 29C at the outer end 29D. As seen in FIGS. 11 fixed or top wing 29 is displaced laterally behind movable wing 30 and toward the exterior side of column 14. The movable wing 30 of each set of wings is situated below top wing 29 and is axially movable within an axial slot 31 in the side wall 14A of column 14.

Below each fixed wing 29 is movable wing 30 attached to and moved by draw bar 25. At the top edge of wing 30 is a groove 30A creating a hook-like recess to receive and capture a pin 43 of coupling element 3 of wall panel 12.

As noted above, each column 14 comprises an inner shaft or draw bar 25 slidable within said outer tube 14A. As seen in FIG. 8 and also in FIGS. 7, 7A and 7B, draw bar 25 has its own axial slots 32 to receive hook elements 33 of each lower wing 30. When assembling wings 30 onto draw bar 25, each wing 30 is moved laterally until its two hook elements 33 enter and pass through slot 31 on the side edge of outer tube 14A of support column 14, and thence each element 33 enters a slot 32 of draw bar 25 and drops down into full engagement. Later, upward movement of draw bar 25 will drive all hook elements 33 upward so that the edge of groove 30A in the top edge of hook element 33 will approach the bottom edge 29B of fixed wing 29 and capture pin 43 there between.

To achieve this arrangement of draw bar, wings and outer tube components, movable wings 30 are attached after draw bar 25 is situated within the bore of outer tube 14A and slot 32 is aligned with slot 31 of outer tube 14. As seen, draw bar 25 has five axially spaced (movable) wings 30 on each side, which operate with five fixed wings 29 on each side of outer tube 24, thus producing five sets of wings on each side of column 14. Each set of wings is one of the coupling elements 2A-2E. Axial movement upward of draw bar 25 within outer tube 14A will move each top and bottom end beam 39 and wing 30 upward toward corresponding fixed wing 29 of outer tube 14A.

Before describing how a panel 12 is coupled to column 14, first note the panel structure as seen in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5. Panel 12 consists primarily of inner frame 40 having side beams 41 with pockets 42 spaced along the length of each side beam 41. Each pocket 42 is formed by a generally triangular cup with pin 43 extending transversely across and fixed in each cup. In a manufacturing process to be described later, sheets or skins 44A, 44B are attached to frame 41 and become the inside and outside surfaces of wall panel 12.

Now, note that FIG. 5 shows two panels 12 being moved, as indicated by arrows 45, toward both opposite sides of a support column 14. Coupling elements 3A-3E, each comprising a pocket 26 and pin 43 are generally aligned with coupling elements 2A-2E, each comprising a set of upper and lower wings 29, 30. FIG. 6 illustrates a section of wall 11 where two wall panels 12 have converged laterally against a column 14. FIG. 8 indicates schematically how two wall panels (not shown) of FIG. 5 approach opposite side edges of a column 14 and become coupled thereto. In FIG. 8 the wall panels are not shown, but representing each wall panel is a circle 43A representing pin 43 as the wall panel is moved toward column 14. If a wall panel's elevation is not properly aligned with space 46 between upper and lower wings 29, 30, then taper edge 29C of upper wing 29 will guide pin 43A into space 46 and then downward into groove 30A.

FIGS. 8, 9, and 10 illustrate schematically two wall panels 12 moving and moved into engagement with both sides 14A of a single support column 14. The two wall panels are not shown; however, pins 43A or 43B represents one of the coupling elements 2A-3G in a typical wall panel. Once wall panel 12 and its pin 43 (this pin representing the five coupling elements 3A-3E) moves sufficiently inward toward column 14, pin 43 will reach the position indicated by 43B. At this time, upward movement of draw bar 25 has driven lower wing 30 upward, and tapered edge 30B of wing 30 has driven or cam pin 43 (43B) further inward toward column 14. Full upward movement of draw bar 25 drives pin 43 upward against bottom edge 29B of fixed upper wing 29, which thus positions panel 1 2 at the correct elevation relative to column 14. This guidance and capture of pin 43 by wings 29, 30 positions and secures wall panels 12 to support columns 14, creating walls of desired length. Because the proper alignment of each panel 12 is predetermined, the coupling means 1 cannot overdraw or damage pin 43 or the panel in which it is fixed.

Activation of draw bar 25 within outer tube 14A of each column 25 achieves a plurality of functions: (a) engaging and pulling the panels to be closely adjacent the column, (b) moving the panels to the correct elevation and orientation relative to the column and (c) securing the panels to the column. Said activation also releasably secures the column and attached panels to the anchor, floor or other foundation 22.

As seen in FIGS. 5, 6 and 1, each column 14 has a bottom end 14B that becomes secured to the floor 22, anchor or other foundation component and a top end 14T that becomes coupled to and supports roof 15. Each column 14 serves a plurality of different functions with simplicity, efficiency and security, as described below.

C. Operation of Draw Bar for Securing Wall Panels and Urging the Support Column Downward Against Foundation

FIGS. 9, 10, 10A and 12 illustrate a first embodiment 4A of the anchor coupling 4, and FIG. 18 illustrates a second embodiment 4B of such coupling. As seen in these figures coupling 4A consists of rod 51 having hook 52 at the bottom that engages horizontal anchor pin 53 that is securely embedded or otherwise fixed in the floor 22 or in a jack stand 100 (FIG. 9) secured in the ground. In the course of erecting a building 10, draw bar 25 is coupled via rod 51 and hook 53 to anchor pin 53, which will anchor to the ground the connected components (draw bar 25, support column 14 and attached wall panels 12), as further explained below.

As seen in FIGS. 9, 10 and 12, draw bar 25 has at its lower end, below wings 30, variable length coupling 4A which consists of rod 51 whose lower end is pivotably coupled to anchor pin 53 and whose threaded top end is fixed via locking nuts 57 to blade 56. In FIG. 18 there is a variation in the form of an upward extending rod 55 whose top end is similarly fixed to blade 56, but whose bottom end is fixed in the floor or foundation 22 with no pivoting capability. In both of these embodiments blade 56 is secured to rod 51 or 55 respectively. With locking nuts 57 the elevation of blade 56 can be adjusted so that slot 58 in blade 56 will have its top and bottom ends located at predetermined elevations relative to anchor pin 53 or to the top reference surface 100A of the anchor pad or jack stand, whichever is established as the basic reference elevation.

As seen in FIG. 12, at the top end of slot 58 is pin 59 fixed to the lower end of draw bar 25. Further, as seen, draw bar 25 is in its uppermost or second position, since pin 59 is barred from further upward movement by the top end of slot 58. In this upper position draw bar 25 has pulled adjacent wall panels 1 2 closely and securely against the support column 14.

More specifically, when upright support column 14 is positioned directly above rod 51, and draw bar 25 (slidable within column 14) has its lower end coupled to rod 51, draw bar 25 is then slidable within support column 14 within the limit of length L of slot 58.

This movement of draw bar 25 is coordinated with movable wings 30 secured thereto, so that upward movement of draw bar 25 to its limit per slot 58, will bring each wing 30 to the predetermined correct elevation below wing 29 to pull wall panels 12 inwardly to the correct tightness against column 14 and to the correct elevation relative to foundation or floor 22.

D. Actuation Means “5” To Actuate Coupling Means “1

As described briefly earlier, actuation means 5 actuates coupling means 1 which pulls draw bar 25 upward and draws panels 12 inward against support column 14. The actuation means 5 includes (a) main nut 74 on threaded rod 66 extending from the top of draw bar 25, and (b) block 68 fixed to a top portion of 14T of support column 14. As seen in FIGS. 13, 14 and 14A, draw bar 25 is drawn upward relative to outer tube 14A by rotating main nut 74. As will be further described, the engagement of the bottom of draw bar 25 via coupling 4A to the anchor means 23, simultaneously secures outer tube 14A of column 14 to the floor 22 and secures two wall panels 12 at the correct elevation and tightness to column 14, while barring over tightening forces that might be applied to pins 43 in the wall panels.

Coupling 4A has a height adjustment available via the set of locking nuts 57, whereby variations in the elevation of the floor or foundation 22 and length of rod 51 or 55 can be easily accommodated, so that all draw bars 25 in the various support columns 14 and all wall panels 12 will be at the same elevation.

E. Anchor Connection with Support Column

As seen in FIG. 13, the top end of tube 14A of column 14 includes fixed block 68. The top end of draw bar 25 includes fixed block 65. Threaded rod 66 coupled to block 65 extends through bore 67 in block 68, and rotation of main nut 74 on rod 66 pulls draw bar 25 upward relative to outer tube 14A. As seen in FIGS. 13 and 14, outer tube 14A of column 14 in this embodiment is a rectangular tube having side walls 14E, front or inner wall 14C and rear or outer wall 14D. Block 68 fixed to outer tube 14A of support column 14 is supported by resting on cut-out edges, 14X, 14Y of front and rear walls 14C, 14D where it sits between side walls 14E. Consequently, any downward pressure on edges 14X, 14Y, urges the support column 14 downward against the foundation 22.

Tightening of main nut 74 in a single step “locks down” column 14 against the floor or foundation 22 and simultaneously pulls upward on draw bar 25 and draws inward panels 12. More specifically, lock down nut 74 when rotated by a wrench, bears downward on block 68 which bears downward on edges 14X, 14Y of outer tube 24 of column 14 which has its bottom end 14B driven downward against the foundation 22.

The reason downward force on column 14 is achieved is that rotation of nut 74 causes pulling upward on rod 66. As described earlier, rod 66 is fixed to the top end of draw rod 25 whose bottom end is coupled to the fixed floor or anchor. Also, as described earlier, pulling upward initially causes draw bar 25 to move upward, as wall panels 12 are drawn inward to and against column 14. Continued upward pulling on draw bar 25: (a) cannot further lift the draw bar because such is barred and limited by slot 58 in anchor connection 5, and (b) can only apply further downward force on outer tube 14A of column 14 against the foundation. Lock nut 74 is then torqued to the proper final force for this assembly.

F. Anchor and Foundation

As seen in FIGS. 10, 10A, 12, and as described in Sections C and D above, the lower part of draw bar 25 engages a foundation or floor 22 or anchor 23 in the ground by anchor connection 4 comprising rod 51 extending downward to anchor pin 53. As seen, rod 51 has a bottom hook end 52 that engages fixed pin 53 and a threaded top end. Also shown is anchor plate 54 whose neck is situated inside the bottom end of outer tube 14A to stabilize it from horizontal slippage. As seen in FIG. 10A, tightening lock-down nut 74 atop block 65 fixed to outer tube 14A of column 14, pulls draw bar 25 upward, thus, affecting an upward force F1 in rod 66, seen as force F1′in draw bar 25, and seen as force F1″ in anchor rod 51 and thus also on anchor pin 53. This upward force generates a reaction downward force F2, F2′ in the walls of outer tube 14A of column 14, which downward forces becomes applied to the foundation or floor 22. Also, as previously described, the upward force F1 applies force vectors F3 and F4 to pin 43 for drawing the wall panels inward and upward.

A number of different foundations or floors may be employed depending on the land conditions, equipment and materials available or still other factors. For example, there may be a poured concrete floor covering the entire area of the building to be erected, or there may be only individual pilings or jack stand foundations situated at the site of each upright support column, or some combination of the above. In all cases it is necessary to establish a very strong fixed anchor element at each location below an upright support column.

FIGS. 7, 7A, 9, 10 and 12 illustrate a horizontal anchor pin 53 embedded in jack stand 100 (FIGS. 7, 7A, and 9) or embedded in floor 22 (FIGS. 10 and 12). Engaged to anchor pin 53 in each figure is hook 52 at the bottom end of rod 51. Because of the relationship of the generally round cross-section of hook 52 and round cross-section of the hook, rod 51 can easily angulate in all directions from straight to accommodate any failure of a column 14 to be situated directly over the center of pin 53 and rod 51.

The later connection of the top end of rod 51 to the bottom end of draw bar 25 has been described above. FIG. 12 shows how the slot 58 in blade 56 and pin 59 in slot 58 arrangement allows further angulation of rod 51, if necessary. FIG. 18 illustrates a rod 55 fixed in a foundation, but including blade 56, slot 58 and pin 59. A typical jack stand, as seen in FIG. 7A, has a truncated pyramid shape with a seven inch square plate at the top, and eighteen inch square plate at the bottom, and a twenty-four inch height.

G. Roof Assembly and Connection to Side Walls

FIGS. 1, 7B, 13, 14, 14A and 14B illustrate the haunch coupling of the roof truss to support columns 14. In this roof truss system horizontal roof beams 80 span the space between side walls 11, with each end portion 80A of a beam 80 removably coupled to the top portion of one upright support column 14. As seen in FIGS. 14 and 14A, end portion 80A of beam 80 rests upon block 68 which rests on cut-out ledges 14X, 14Y of the front and rear walls 14C, 14D respectively of outer tube 14A of column 14. Rod 66 extends upward from block 65 in draw bar's clearance hole 68A in block 68. Lock down nut 74, when rotated, pulls draw bar 25 upward to its maximum height set by slot 58 situated at the bottom of outer tube 14A (see FIG. 12). In this upward position, with nut 74 tightened down, adjacent wall panels 12 will be drawn in to their connect position of elevation and closeness to column 14. This fixes and stabilizes the wall panels to the column and locks down that column and panels to the floor or anchor.

Horizontal beams 80 join and support the opposite side walls 11. Each inclined roof beam 81 is situated between the facing side edges of two adjacent roof panels 18, which are drawn securely toward beam 81 by an internal draw bar similar to draw bars 25 employed in the side wall construction. Roof panels 18 are sufficiently light weight that they can be easily lifted, positioned and secured to roof beams 81. As evident in FIG. 13, the single lock down nut 74 secures the wall panels into a wall construction, and the single lock down nut 82 secures roof beams 80, 81 to the wall structure.

Roof beams 81 are partially similar to support columns 14, in that each includes a slidable draw bar and sets of fixed and movable wings for engaging pins in pockets of roof panels 12, which are generally similar to wall panels 12. A series of alternatively spaced roof panels 18 and roof beams 20 create a roof section 70. As seen in FIG. 16, which is a sectional view taken from FIG. 1, each two adjacent roof panels 18 joined by a roof beam 20 have additional sealing strip elements 71, 72 which extends from one panel toward the other and include internal gasket 74. When two adjacent roof panels 18 are drawn and secured to a roof beam 20, as seen in FIG. 16, seal strip 71 automatically slides over and resiliently locks by the hook part 73 onto seal strip 72. FIG. 17 shows an additional seal 75 for adjacent top edges of two roof sections.

The alternative roof truss system of FIG. 1 includes lower horizontal roof beams 90, inclined roof beams 91, longitudinal roof truss header beam 92, and side wall header beams 93 which interconnect the top parts of support columns 14 of the side walls. With this roof truss system that is independent of the roof panels, the roof section is assembled of panels 18 and support beams 20, one-after-another, into a roof section that lies upon and is supported by the basic roof truss system.

This arrangement demonstrates another aspect of the present invention which reduces labor, parts, and cost and thus speeds erection of the building, while assuring a reliable seal.

H. Corner Wall Structure

As seen in FIGS. 1 and 15, the corner construction of side walls 11 and end walls employs a corner upright support column 101 and draw bar 102 generally similar to a column 14 and draw bar 25, except that the wings 29, 30 in this corner embodiment extend at a right angle to each other, so that they can engage and couple to the side and end wall panels 11 respectively. Pulling up on draw bar 102 will cause wings 29, 30 to connect with pins 43 of the respective panels and to draw these panels inward against column 101.

I. Floor

The floor 22 as seen in FIG. 1 is poured concrete or other material with anchor or hold-down rods 51 or 55, as seen in FIGS. 12 and 18 respectively, embedded or secured in the floor. The floor may be as primitive as bare dirt, so long as the anchor elements 23 are strong enough and sufficiently embedded to securely hold down and stabilize the walls attached to said anchor elements.

The floor may alternatively be constructed of floor panels in a manner generally similar to construction of a wall 11, with floor beams and draw bars between facing side edges of adjacent floor panels.

Strength, heat and sound insulation properties would be designed into floor, wall and roof panels as desired. These panels may also include modular segments of HVAC, electrical telecommunication wiring, plumbing, etc. so that assembly of the panels into floor, wall and roof sections automatically creates the basic network of HVAC, electrical, telecommunicating and plumbing systems.

J. Steps in Erection of Building

For this description of the building erection procedure, it shall be assumed that a variety of preliminary steps have been completed, namely:

(a) that the components are constructed and are readily available at the erection site, these components including all the wall panels 12, roof panels 18, support column and draw bar units 14/25, and roof beams and corresponding draw bar units 20, and

(b) that all the anchor pins 53 and upward extending anchor rods 51 are positioned and secured either in a poured concrete floor or in pilings, jack stands or in other foundation means, all at the reasonably accurate elevation and distances from each other.

The next steps in the preferred method of erection of the building are as follows; however, numerous variations are possible:

1. Position a corner wall support column 101 as seen in FIGS. 15 and 1) this support column has two panel-engaging sides 90° apart, above the anchor pin in the corner location;

2. Bring the side edge of a side wall panel into close proximity with each of said panel-engaging sides of said corner column, until each set of first coupling elements (2A-3E), namely each set of upper and lower wings 29, 30 on each panel-engaging side of the corner column enters a corresponding recess 42 of one of the second coupling elements 3A-3E in a side edge of the panel, until the coupling pin 43 in each recess is correctly in the space 46 between said wings. If necessary the tapered edges of wings 29 will guide or cam pin 43 to the correct elevation, thus correctly positioning the panel as regards its orientation and elevation, see FIG. 8. Both panels 12 oriented 90° apart are now in initial engagement with corner support column 101. It is assumed at this time that the lower end 14B of draw bar 102 is properly connected to the anchor pin directly below support column 101.

3. Pull upward draw bar 102 (FIG. 15) until each pins 43 is securely positioned between each set of wings 29, 30, and the panels are drawn into proper position and secure engagement with column 101, the column being securely connected to anchor pin 43 below the column.

4. Two wall panels 11 (FIG. 15,1) at 90° to each other are now upstanding and coupled to the corner column 101, and each of these wall panels has an exposed opposite side edge remote from the side edge coupled to the corner column. Adjacent each of said exposed side edges of the panels is positioned a new support column 14. The draw bar 25 of each new support column is coupled to an anchor pin below it, which may require tilting of the column and may require momentarily sliding the bottom end of draw bar 25 out of the bottom end of the outer tube 14A. For convenience, the above-mentioned first wall panel forming the corner will be designated Panel 1. The new support column adjacent to the exposed edge of Panel 1 will be designated Column 1.

5. In addition to connecting Column 1 to its anchor pin, Column 1 is adjusted in position and orientation so that its coupling elements (2A-3E), namely wings 29, 30 are maneuvered into coupling elements (3A-3E), namely pockets or recesses 2 in the exposed side of Panel 1; however, coupling of Column 1 and Panel 1 is not yet complete.

6. A new wall Panel 2 is now positioned adjacent the other side of Column 1, until the coupling elements (2A-2E) namely, the sets of wings of Column 1, enter corresponding coupling elements (3A-3E) namely recesses 42 in the adjacent side edge of Panel 2.

7. Next, draw bar 25 within Column 1 is pulled upward which draws Column 1 toward Panel 1 and draws Panel 2 toward Column 1, until Panel 2 is upright and properly aligned, consistent with Panel 1.

8. As seen in FIGS. 19, 20, and 21, this procedure is repeated for the length of the side wall, followed by attachment of another corner column, followed by attachment of “end” wall panels.

9. With the walls 10 essentially complete, horizontal roof beams 80 are positioned with their ends 80A coupled into the top ends of opposite columns 14 in opposite side wall 10. The upstanding rod 66 of each column 14 extends through holes in said ends of roof beams 80.

10. Next, an inclined roof beam 81, which includes a draw bar assembly for engaging roof panels, is positioned with its lower end positioned adjacent the end 80A of beam 80 top wall column. Rod 66 extends through both beams, and lock-down nut 82 is installed to secure both beams to column 14. The upper ends of roof beams are supported by a header beam 92 extending lengthwise of the building, FIG. 1.

11. Next, a first roof panel 18 is positioned with one side edge and its recesses closely adjacent a first roof beams, until the sets of wings enter the pockets in the side edge of the first roof panel. The draw bar in beam 81 is pulled axially until roof panels on both sides are drawn-in and properly and snugly positioned.

12. Additional roof beam/draw bar component and roof panels are consecutively placed in a manner generally similar to the erection of a side wall and is continued to complete one side of a gabled roof.

13. A variety of subsequent finishing steps will be executed as selected, including connection of electrical, water and HVAC components through panels and columns. Various details associated with individual components and discussed above, such as connecting the bottom of each draw bar to the corresponding anchor pin, have not been described again. Also, not described here are methods of accurately positioning and establishing the correct elevation of jack stands and anchor pins.

K. Construction of a Wall Panel

Wall panels as seen in FIGS. 2-6, having the dimensions and physical properties required for a prefabricated building as described herein, may be made by numerous manufacturing processes; however, the preferred process which is consistent with concepts of the present invention:

(a) uses non-wood materials such as plastics, fiberglass and composites which reduce consumption of forests, and which have good heat and cold insulation properties and thus further reduce the consumption of wood and other natural resources and energy for heating and cooling,

(b) uses methods and manufacturing equipment that can be easily transported, set up and used to produce wall panels and support columns at very high speed and low cost,

(c) produces panels that are strong yet extremely light weight so that transport, storage, and assembly will not require heavy equipment, and

(d) produces panels which can have a great variety of textured, colored, aesthetic and functional external and internal surfaces.

The new panels seen in FIGS. 2 and 4 are manufactured by a method using a mold shown schematically in FIG. 22 which includes the following steps:

Step 1: The skins 44A, 44B of each panel are fabrics which comprise two layers of fiberglass and/or Kevlar carbon fiber (matte and unidirectional) with polyester resin which (a) may be wetted out by hand, or (b) may be wet from prepregnated resin, or (c) may have resin injected into a closed mold which already contains the fabric sheets. These panels have a Class 1 fire rating.

Step 2: The internal frame 40 of each panel comprises two identical side legs 44, each having equally spaced pockets 42 and top and bottom end legs 39 whose ends are joined to the side legs to form a picture frame; however, the top leg includes a rake angle from front to rear to accommodate the slope of the roof. Thus, the inside of the picture frame and the inside skin 44A will be slightly taller than the outside skin 44B, as seen in FIG. 4A. Instead of joining side and end legs, the legs of this picture frame can be formed in a single step mold. This frame may be made of a fiber glass and resin combination or of any other materials having suitable strength characteristics for the temperature and environmental conditions of molding and of use in buildings.

Step 3: A mold, as seen in FIG. 22, holds the fabric sheets and frame of a single panel. Urethane foam 38 is injected into the space within the frame and between the skins, the skins are bonded to the frame, and a unitary one-piece panel is created. Thereafter, holes are drilled or machined to receive pins 43 for coupling to the previously described support column/draw bar subassemblies 14. Optimally, pins 43 may be placed within the mold before injection.

Step 4: The top and bottom legs 39 of each frame include holes 86 along their length to receive injection nozzles (not shown) for entry of the urethane foam that expands 1200% in 40 seconds. Hole size depends on the volume of the cavity and the speed of the urethane. After injection, the nozzles are retracted and the holes are sealed. Heat from and during injection is about 100° F. which is maintained for about 45 seconds.

Step 5: For each panel, injection cycle time is one minute and cure time is 10 minutes. The fiberglass skin may be manually placed in the mold, or with a PFE (Precision Feed End Effector) the skin can be laid up in the mold with optional wet, dry or prepreg gel coat, or the gel coat may be sprayed inside the mold before the skin is situated therein. Preferably a robot will apply the gel coat since it is highly combustible and the robot is sufficiently explosion-proof. Also, the robot can maneuver into confined compartments or unfriendly environments and can move molds with gel coat to safer location.

Step 6: The fiber glass and epoxy mold 83 in a preferred embodiment opens like front and rear book covers 83A open from the core pages of a book.

End plates 84 of the mold overlie the top and bottom beams 39 of the picture frame 40. Holes 85 in end plates 84 are aligned with holes 86 in said top and bottom beams 39 of frame 40, so that injected foam can pass through the mold end plates and the frame end wall, into the panel cavity 87. The skins 44A, 44B will become bonded to frame 40.

Step 7: High Speed Manufacturing Sequences:

With selected number and sequencing of molds, panels can be made at the rate of one per minute or theoretically 43, 200 per month with this arrangement:

(a) skins are made at the rate of one per minute,

(b) frames are made at the rate of one per minute,

(c) two skins and one frame converge to form a panel cartridge (with injection and 1200% expansion in 4 seconds) and movement of mold to a cooling line for ten minutes, and

(d) with ten cooling lines, each taking ten minutes, a staggered arrangement will produce one panel every minute. This is illustrated in attached Appendix A.

This is all robot controlled and thus requires essentially no human labor except for basic supervision and maintenance. This panel construction is applicable for wall, roof and/or floor panels. Panel shape may be flat, curved or otherwise. Surface texture, color, graphics or other esthetic on interior and exterior panel surface is possible.

V. SUMMARY

This invention discloses a variety of embodiments of the new prefabricated building structure, components and methods of manufacture, including:

(a) a whole building comprising walls, roof and floor or foundation,

(b) the subassembly of a single wall or portion of one wall,

(c) the sub-assembly of a single support column and one or two attached panels,

(d) a single support column and slidable internal shaft,

(e) roof and floor sub-assemblies,

(f) a method of erecting a building constructed of the new panels and support columns,

(g) a method of manufacturing a single wall panel, and

(h) a kit components for assembling or erecting a building, or a wall, or a wall section.

Summaries of certain ones of the above-described embodiments of this invention are presented below.

A first embodiment of the present invention is a prefabricated wall comprising:

(a) a plurality of wall panels and a plurality of columns for supporting said wall panels, where each of said columns and panels has top and bottom parts, inner and outer surfaces and opposite side edges, and said panels and columns are adapted to be alternately spaced and joined together, with each of said columns situated between two of said panels to form a wall section,

(b) coupling means for each of said wall sections for releasably attaching one side edge of each of said two panels to each side edge of said column, and

(c) activating means on said column of each of said wall sections for activating each of said coupling means,

    • wherein each of said coupling means comprises:
    • (1) at least one 1st coupling element situated on one side edge of said column, and
    • (2) at least one 2nd coupling element on the side edge of the panel being coupled, said column and panels being laterally movable relative to each other until said 1st and 2nd coupling elements of said column and of said wall panels respectively come into engagement, and

said activating means being adapted to drive said 1st coupling element generally vertically which drives said 2nd coupling elements generally horizontally, thus driving said side edges of said panels and column toward each other.

A second embodiment of the present invention is a prefabricated wall as described in said first embodiment, wherein

(a) said first coupling element of each of said wall sections comprises: a 1st wing:

    • (1) fixed to each of said side edges of said shaft,
    • (2) extending laterally outward therefrom and terminating in and end part which includes a cam surface inclined inwardly toward said shaft, and
    • (3) movable upward when said shaft is driven upward, and

(b) said side edge of said wall panel defines a recess extending inward into said panel and thus extending away from said shaft, and

(c) said second coupling element comprises a pin fixed in said recess in said wall panel and extending in the inside-to-outside direction, said cam surface of said first coupling element, when said shaft is driven upwardly by said activating means, camming said pin and associated wall panel toward to said column.

A third embodiment is a prefabricated wall according to said second embodiment, adapted to be erected on and attached to a foundation which includes anchor means secured in said foundation, wherein:

    • (a) said column outer tube comprises walls extending from said top part of said column downward to and engaging said foundation,
    • (b) said inner shaft extends axially in said outer tube, and
    • (c) said activating means driving said inner shaft upward relative to said tube, which puts said shaft in tension relative to said tube and puts said tube walls in compression relative to said foundation, where said lifting said shaft lifts said 1st wing and its cam surface therein cams said pin and panel attached to said pin inwardly toward said shaft.

A fourth embodiment is a prefabricated wall according to said first embodiment, wherein each of said wall panels comprises:

(a) a generally rectangular frame formed by top, bottom and side edge beams which define between then a central space,

(b) a core of heat insulation material substantially filling said central space and secured therein, and

(c) inner and outer skins covering said inner and outer sides respectively of said frame and core.

A fifth embodiment is a prefabricated wall according to said first embodiment adapted to be erected on and attached to a foundation which is secured in the ground and includes anchor means fixed in said foundation and spaced apart to locations corresponding to each of said columns, where each of said columns comprises an outer tube with a bore extending lengthwise, and an inner shaft axially slidable upward in said outer tube bore, said inner shaft having a bottom end adapted to releasably engage one of said anchor means, and said inner shaft when pulled upwardly relative to said column, pulls upwardly on said anchor means causing a downward force of said outer tube on said foundation and tension on said inner shaft, as said wall panels are drawing toward said column.

A sixth embodiment is a kit for constructing a prefabricated wall, said kit comprising:

(a) a plurality of wall panels and a plurality of columns for supporting said wall panels, where each of said columns and panels has top and bottom parts, inner and outer surfaces and opposite side edges, and said panels and columns are adapted to be alternately spaced and joined together, with each of said columns situated between two of said panels to form a wall section,

(b) coupling means for each of said wall sections for releasably attaching one side edge of each of said two panels to each side edge of said column, and

(c) activating means on said column of each of said wall sections for activating each of said coupling means,

wherein each of said coupling means comprises:

    • (1) at least one 1st coupling element situated on one side edge of said column, and
    • (2) at least one 2nd coupling element on the side edge of the panel being coupled, said column and panels being laterally movable relative to each other until said 1st and 2nd coupling elements of said column and of said wall panels respectively come into engagement, and
      • said activating means being adapted to drive said 1st coupling element generally vertically which drives said 2nd coupling elements generally horizontally, thus driving said side edges of said panels and column toward each other.

A seventh embodiment is a generally rectangular prefabricated building erected on a floor area and attached to anchor means in said floor area, comprising:

(a) four walls as defined in said second embodiment, where each wall extends upright and laterally to predetermined lengths respectively and terminates in opposite ends,

(b) corner coupling for joining adjacent ends of two walls,

(c) a roof secured to said top parts of at least two of said walls, and

(d) each of said columns of each of said walls having an internal shaft with a bottom end engagable to said anchor element and a top part adapted to be pulled upward relative to said column top at, thereby causing said shaft to be in tension, said column bottom part to press downward against said floor area, and said coupling means thereon to be urged upward.

An eight embodiment is a method of manufacturing a wall panel with an injection mold having front and rear and edge covers, where at least one edge cover includes an injection inlet means, and at least one edge cover includes outlet vent means, comprising the steps:

(a) positioning a generally rectangular frame having inner and outer sides in said mold, said frame defining within it a central cavity,

(b) positioning inner and outer skins adjacent the inner and outer sides of said frame to enclose said central cavity,

(c) covering said skins with said front and rear covers of said mold,

(d) securing said front and rear covers and said end plates onto said mold,

(e) injecting expandable urethane plastic into said cavity,

(f) venting said cavity via apertures in said frame and mold,

(g) bonding said skins to said frame,

(h) cooling said mold and molded panel therein,

(i) opening said covers and end plates, and

(j) removing said panel from said mold.

A ninth embodiment is a method of erecting a prefabricated building according to said seventh embodiment, comprising the steps:

(a) establishing a (generally horizontal) floor area on which to erect said building,

(b) securing anchor means in said floor area at predetermined locations and a generally common elevation,

(c) positioning and erecting a corner column at a corner location for said building above a corresponding anchor means and engaging said shaft of said corner column to said anchor means,

(d) positioning said first wall panel with one of its end edges adjacent one side edge of said corner column, moving said will panel laterally until said coupling elements of said corner column enter said recesses of said first wall panel, and elevating said shaft to engage and draw-in said wall panel to said column,

(e) positioning and erecting a first column adjacent said opposite side edge of said first wall panel and positioned above said anchor means corresponding to said first column, engaging said shaft of said first column to said anchor means, and positioning said first coupling elements of said first column in recesses in said opposite side edge of said first wall panel, and

(f) elevating said shaft of said first column for its first coupling elements to engage and draw together said opposite side edge and said first column, to simultaneously secure said first column to its anchor means.

While the invention has been described in conjunction with several embodiments, it is to be understood that many alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the foregoing description. Accordingly, this invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications, and variations which fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7698857 *Sep 1, 2006Apr 20, 2010Rubbermaid IncorporatedRoof assembly method and apparatus
US8789335 *Jul 25, 2012Jul 29, 2014Tait Towers Manufacturing, LLC.Portable structure
US20120138218 *May 4, 2010Jun 7, 2012Mag Ias, LlcRapid material placement application for wind turbine blade manufacture
US20140026514 *Jul 25, 2012Jan 30, 2014Tait Towers, Inc.Portable structure
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/220.2, 52/261, 52/745.19, 52/745.2
International ClassificationE04G21/00
Cooperative ClassificationE04B2001/2481, E04B1/6162, E04B1/24, E04B2001/249
European ClassificationE04B1/24