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Publication numberUS3898775 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 12, 1975
Filing dateAug 20, 1973
Priority dateAug 20, 1973
Publication numberUS 3898775 A, US 3898775A, US-A-3898775, US3898775 A, US3898775A
InventorsWebb William B
Original AssigneeWebb William B
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Inflatable arena structure
US 3898775 A
Abstract
An air pressure supported structure comprising an envelope of generally flexible sheet material adapted to be maintained in erected disposition by positive fluid pressure provided within the envelope, the sheet material forming the envelope having a generally rectangular configuration and being folded on itself with the ends secured together, the envelope having means arranged to mount the peripheral edges on a generally rectangular support plane so as to provide an erected envelope with overhanging end extensions diverging upwardly and outwardly from the support plane. Means are also provided for personnel access to the envelope, with the chamber including means for readily discharging debris from the interior of the envelope to the exterior thereof.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Webb [ 51 Aug. 12, 1975 1 1 INFLATABLE ARENA STRUCTURE [22 Filed: Aug. 20, 1973 21 1 Appl. No.: 390,092

[52] U.S. Cl. 52/2 [51] Int. Cl. E04B 1/34 [58] Field of Search 52/2, 63

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,355,248 8/1944 Stevens 52/80 3,042,051 7/1962 Mauldin 3,059,657 10/1962 Turner 3,254,457 6/1966 Gedney 3,497,606 2/1970 Caminker 52/2 3,561,174 2/1971 Schneidler 52/2 3,719,34] 3/1973 Harrington 52/2 OTHER PUBLICATIONS Popular Science, August 1971, pp. 72-75.

Primary Examiner-Frank L. Abbott Assistant Examiner-Henry Raduazo Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Orrin M. l-laugen ABSTRACT An air pressure supported structure comprising an envelope of generally flexible sheet material adapted to be maintained in erected disposition by positive fluid pressure provided within the envelope, the sheet material forming the envelope having a generally rectangular configuration and being folded on itself with the ends secured together, the envelope having'means arranged to mount the peripheral edges on a-'genera1ly rectangular support plane so as to provide an erected envelope with overhanging end extensions diverging upwardly and outwardly from the support plane. Means are also provided for personnel access to the envelope, with the chamber including means for readily discharging debris from the interior of the envelope to the exterior thereof.

5 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTEDAUBI ems 3,898,775

SHEET 1 FIG.3

INFLATABLE ARENA STRUCTURE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates generally to an improved air pressure supported structure, and more specifically to such a structure which is particularly adapted for an enclosed arena or the like. The air supported structure utilizes an envelope of sheet material having a generally rectangular configuration, with the sheet being folded on itself and joined together at the ends to form a closure, and with means being arranged to mount the peripheral edges of the envelope on a generally rectangular support. This mounting procedure provides an erected envelope with end extensions which diverge upwardly and outwardly from the support plane, so as to provide a useful area within the enclosure for elevated seating.

The air supported structure of the present invention is particularly adapted for use in combination with ice skating rinks, wherein athletic events such as hockey, figure skating, and the like may be conducted in a shel tered environment. In order to maintain the surface of the ice in proper condition for skating, means are provided adjacent the air lock chamber for effective and rapid discharge of debris from the interior of the structure to the out-of-doors. The pressure-head existing within the structure is utilized to force the debris outwardly through a collection chamber, without difficulties being encountered in the discharge.

Air supported structures have been known in the past, and have normally utilized flexible sheet material to form the envelope. This flexible sheet material is commercially available, and may be fabricated from scrim-reinforced films such as Dacron-reinforced My- Iar, or from a woven sheet material such as nylon fabric, cotton fabric, or the like. Preferably, the envelope is sufficiently impervious so as to provide ease of inflation without requiring fans of large capacity for maintaining the structure in an inflated condition. Such materials are, of course, widely commercially available. One such material which may be employed is nylon re inforced vinyl, available from Cooley, Inc. of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, under the code name Armorshell.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Therefore, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved air pressure supported structure prepared from a generally flexible sheet material which has a generally rectangular configuration, and which is arranged to be mounted with the peripheral edges disposed in a generally rectangular pattern.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved air pressure supported structure which is fabricated from generally flexible sheet material having a substantially rectangular configuration, and wherein the sheet material is mounted with the periphcral edges on a generally rectangular support. so as to provide an erected envelope with end extensions overhanging the edge of the support plane.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide an improved air pressure supported structure having means for discharging lightweight or pulverulent solid debris outwardly of the chamber.

Other and further objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a study of the following specification, appended claims, and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an inflated air pressure supported structure prepared in accordance with the present invention, and illustrating the structure disposed over a frozen sheet of ice so as to provide an ice skating arena;

FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view taken along the line and in the direction of the arrows 22 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view taken along the line and in the direction of the arrows 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a detail sectional view, with portions of the structure being broken away, and with the showing being on a slightly enlarged scale, this figure illustrating the detail manner in which the edges of the sheet material may be received within the frozen ice sheet;

FIG. 5 is a detail top plan view of the air-lock chamber utilized for personnel access to the interior of the envelope structure;

FIG. 6 is a vertical sectional view taken along the line and in the direction of the arrows 66 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a front plan view of the personnel access chamber illustrated in FIG. 5, and showing the inner door and debris-receiving trap door; and

FIG. 8 is a horizontal sectional view taken along the line and in the direction of the arrows 8-8 of FIG. 6

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, particularly as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 of the drawings, the air pressure supported structure generally designated 10 comprises an envelope 11 which is fabricated from generally flexible sheet material, sufficiently impervious so as to be capable of being maintained in erected disposition by positive fluid pressure provided within the envelope. The sheet material has a generally rectangular configuration, and has means arranged to mount the peripheral edges on a support plane, such as the support surface 12. The edges of the generally rectangular flexible sheet material 11 are mounted on support plane 12 in a generally rectangular configuration, thus providing an erected envelope with end extensions 14 and 15 overhanging and diverging upwardly and outwardly from the support plane 12. As is indicated in FIG. 2, bleacher-type seating may be provided in the area of the overhang, such as at 17, without interferring with the useful area of the enclosure, such as the ice sheet which is illustrated at 18. It will be appreciated, of course, that ice sheet 18 is coextensive with support plane 12, and may be utilized as a winter-time shelter for the ice sheet area 18. Such structures may, of course, be readily established or set up on frozen lake or river surfaces, or may, as an alternative, be disposed within a confines land surface area for the same or other purposes.

In order to provide personnel access to the interior of the envelope, an air-lock chamber generally designated 20 is provided at one end of the envelope, with this chamber preferably housing the air fan which is utilized to generate positive fluid pressure within the confines of the envelope 10. The details of air-lock chamber 20 will be discussed hereinafter.

In a conventional frozen water surface, such as a river or lake surface, the envelope may be mounted by merely cutting a channel in the ice surface 12 and is illustrated at 23, with the sheet material 11 being placed within the confines of the slot 23, and retained therein by a charge of water poured into the slot 23 and permitted to freeze normally therewithin. The structure will accordingly be readily mounted without difficulty on any frozen surface, and will remain securely locked therewithin until the spring thaw occurs.

In a preferred embodiment of the structure, the rectangular sheet material forming the envelope is prepared from a plurality of rectangular gores, sewn together so as to form a single rectangular envelope. The envelope is folded upon itself along the central elongated axis, and the ends are sewn together or otherwise sealed, thus providing a total enclosure which may be mounted in place.

As can be appreciated, the peripheral dimension of the structure is the total width of the individual rectangular gores multiplied by 2. Generally speaking, the structures have a length which is 2 times the width, thus providing a suitable enclosure for most purposes. In a typical ice skating environment, and with the peripheral edges being frozen in place on the ice surface, removal is easily accomplished by merely cutting off that portion of the envelope which is submerged below the surface of the ice. The envelope may then be retained and set in place the following season with the identical dimensions being made possible due to the exterior configuration. The only difference in the structure following removal of the submerged portions is that the ceiling height will be somewhat less, however the peripheral dimensions will always remain the same. In other words, the height of the envelope is the only change which occurs from periodic removal of the base portion. Thus, the original shape of the base can be preserved from year-to-year of seasonal use.

Also, it will be appreciated that those portions of the envelope which diverge upwardly and outwardly may be utilized for housing of fans, heaters, lights, and other equipment which is ancillary to the operation of the structure. Also, the area may be used as a maintenance equipment storage zone.

In order to provide sufficient air pressure for the sup ported structure having an envelope of dimensions 38 ft. by 104 ft., mounted on a support plane with dimensions of 38 ft. by 76 ft., a /2 horsepowder 1725 rpm. motor driving a 24-inch diameter fan blade was found to be sufficient. With different size envelope structures, of course, the mechanism for providing air pressure support may be scaled upwardly or downwardly, depending upon the requirements.

Turning now to the details of the personnel access chamber generally designated 20, attention will be directed to FIGS. 8 inclusive. The personnel access chamber provides an enclosure zone 25 which is bounded by an upper wall panel 26, and a pair oflateral side panels 27 and 28. An inner hinged door 29 and an outer hinged door 30 are provided at opposed ends of the enclosure 25 to permit persons to gain ingress into and egress from the interior of the envelope 11. A support platform 31 is provided along the wall panels 27 and 28, with platform 31 being disposed at a finite distance above the base of the side panels so as to form a debris chamber 32 below platform 31. A normally closed trap door means is provided as at 34 which communicates with the debris receiving chamber 32, and being adjacent and in line with the inner door 29. A

normally open debris receiving port is provided as at 35, adjacent the outer door 30, so as to discharge and distribute any solid debris which enters the debris receiving chamber 32 through door 34. The positive pressure-head which exists within the confines of the envelope will normally be sufficient to readily discharge and evacuate any debris through the chamber 32. Such an arrangement is particularly useful in connection with ice skating arenas, where the ice surface is treated,

from time to time, so as to remove ice chips or flakes from the surface so as to provide an improved sheet.

For materials of construction, the personnel access chamber may be provided from ordinary plywood panels, chipboard panels, or the like, the primary requirement being that these walls have generally impervious characteristics for air.

As is apparent in the description provided in FIG. 8, the inner door 29 is hinged so as to open inwardly, thus providing a generally constant seal about its periphery, as is illustrated at 37. The outer door 30 is hinged so as to permit this door to open inwardly a modest amount to provide for make-up air to be driven into the interior of the envelope by fan 38 driving blades 39 in a conventional fashion as described hereinabove.

In order to achieve further impervious characteristics for the structure, the flexible sheet material is secured or otherwise bonded to the outer surface of lateral panels 27 and 28, such as is illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 8, with the bond line being shown in phantom at 40 in FIG. 6.

It will be appreciated that the envelope structure of the present invention is useful in a variety of environments, and may, for example, be utilized in virtually any application where environmental shelter is desired.

I claim:

1. In an air pressure supported structure comprising an envelope of generally flexible sheet material adapted to be maintained in erected disposition by positive fluid pressure provided within the envelope:

a. said sheet material forming the envelope being in the form of a rectangular member with a central axis, a transverse axis and first lateral edge surfaces parallel to said transverse axis, and second lateral edge surfaces parallel to said central axis, and being folded upon itself generally along the said central axis to form a member with a generally rectangular configuration and with the superimposed portions of said first lateral edge surfaces of said rectangular member being secured together to form the envelope;

b. support means arranged to mount the second lateral edge surfaces of said envelope on a generally rectangular support plane so as to provide, upon inflation, an erected envelope with end extensions diverging upwardly and outwardly from said support plane.

2. The air pressure supported structure as defined in claim 1 being particularly characterized in that said generally flexible sheet material is formed from a plurality of generally rectangular shaped segments.

3. The air pressure supported structure as defined in claim 1 being particularly characterized in that said support plane has a length dimension which is approximately twice the width dimension.

4. The air pressure supported structure as defined in claim 1 being particularly characterized in that a personnel access air-lock chamber is provided having an 5. The air pressure supported structure as defined in claim 4 being particularly characterized in that said outer access door is hingedly mounted to one of said lateral side panels and arranged to open inwardly, and fan means are disposed within said chamber supported on said upper wall panel, and duct means establishing communication between saidfan and the interior of said envelope for establishing air flow through said outer access door and said fan means.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2355248 *Nov 26, 1942Aug 8, 1944Stevens Jr Herbert HBuilding with air supported roof and method of constructing the same
US3042051 *Aug 6, 1959Jul 3, 1962Mauldin Joseph BAir-supported shelters
US3059657 *Dec 16, 1958Oct 23, 1962Dale Turner HaroldAir-supported building
US3254457 *Dec 21, 1964Jun 7, 1966Gedney Leigh MEquilibrium (air) door
US3497606 *Oct 11, 1967Feb 24, 1970Hughes Aircraft CoCombination inflatable and hard shelters
US3561174 *Feb 19, 1968Feb 9, 1971Schneidler Jon GAir-supported structure
US3719341 *Jul 26, 1971Mar 6, 1973Himmel IInflatable form for concrete building shell
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4164829 *Nov 14, 1977Aug 21, 1979Sadler Philip MInflatable structure
US4863339 *Sep 7, 1988Sep 5, 1989Bjk Industries, Inc.Vacuum assisted method for installing a waterproof liner
US5937586 *Aug 14, 1996Aug 17, 1999Scherba Industries, Inc.Inflatable skating rink
US5970661 *May 28, 1998Oct 26, 1999Bishop; John F.Childrens play structure
US7770332 *Nov 30, 2006Aug 10, 2010Muhamed SemizStructure with space applications and methods of construction thereof
US9439329 *Mar 25, 2015Sep 6, 2016Amazon Technologies, Inc.Inflatable data center
US20070120348 *Nov 30, 2006May 31, 2007Muhamed SemizStructure with space applications and methods of construction thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/2.14, D25/21, D25/12, D21/835, 52/2.24
International ClassificationE04H15/22, E04H15/20
Cooperative ClassificationE04H15/22
European ClassificationE04H15/22