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Publication numberUS3921360 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 25, 1975
Filing dateNov 12, 1973
Priority dateNov 12, 1973
Publication numberUS 3921360 A, US 3921360A, US-A-3921360, US3921360 A, US3921360A
InventorsBaldwin Philip M
Original AssigneeBaldwin Philip M
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Structural framework and connector therefor
US 3921360 A
Abstract
A connector having a shape defining an irregular polyhedron having twelve surface portions of a regular hexagonal configuration and six surface portions of square configuration coupled elongated struts of equal length to provide a structurally stable framework or lattice type support structure. The connector and coupled struts provide for fluid and/or electrical distribution throughout the framework.
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United States Patent [191 Baldwin 51 Nov. 25, 1975 l l STRUCTURAL FRAMEWORK AND CONNECTOR THEREFOR [22] Filed: Nov. 12, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 414,906

[52] US. Cl. 52/648; 52/758; 403/171; 403/176 [51] Int. Cl. E04H 12/06 [58] Field of Search 52/648, 655, 2; 46/29; 403/176, 171, 172

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,295,833 l/l967 Everett 256/21 3,538,653 11/1970 Meckler.. 52/2 3,563,580 2/1971 Black 52/648 3,600,825 8/1971 Pearce 46/29 3,632,147 l/l972 Finger 52/665 3,722,153 3/1973 Baer 52/648 3,791,154 2/1974 Crain 52/655 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 893,969 12/1944 France 46/29 7/1957 United Kingdom 403/170 9/1954 Italy 46/29 OTHER PUBLICATIONS Dimensions Unlimited AlA File, 12-J, 1964.

Space Grid Structures by T. Borrego, 1968, MIT Library of Congress, No. 67-27342, pp. 18-21.

Zome Primer, by Steve Baer, 1970, pp. 29-34. Mathematical Models, by Cundy & Rollett, 1961, Oxford University Press, pp. 86, 87, 102-105.

Primary Examiner-Henry C. Sutherland Assistant Examinerl-Ienry Raduazo Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Kenneth R. Glaser [57] ABSTRACT A connector having a shape defining an irregular polyhedron having twelve surface portions of a regular hexagonal configuration and six surface portions of square configuration coupled elongated struts of equal length to provide a structurally stable framework or lattice type support structure. The connector and coupled struts provide for fluid and/or electrical distribution throughout the framework.

7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures US. Patent Nov. 25, 1975 Sheet 1 of2 3,921,360

U.S. Patent N0v.25, 1975 Sheet20f2 3,921,360

STRUCTURAL FRAMEWORK AND CONNECTOR THEREFOR The present invention pertains generally to structural frameworks, more particularly to structurally stable lattice type frameworks for building structures or the like, and even more particularly to a novel connector for such frameworks.

The evergrowing demand for new housing'and other buildings or structures, as well as the continuing increases in construction costs therefor, have presented a critical need for new and inexpensive methods of building construction. It has generally been recognized that, to accomplish these objectives, a minimum of construction must be carried out at the building site itself; and that the component parts of the final structure should be manufactured at a central plant remote from the building site, these component parts thereafter being transported to, and assembled at, the site. This method or technique is conventionally referred to as prefabricated construction.

One approach to prefabricated construction which affords considerable potential and advantages over conventional construction involves the erection of a supporting lattice type framework for a building or the like comprising elongated structural members or struts which can bejoined to one another at end portions thereof by connectors to form the desired shaped framework. The struts and the connectors may thus be fabricated off-site, and transported to, and assembled at, the situs where the framework is to be erected.

To date, however, there have been a number of disadvantages with this approach that have prevented it from being satisfactory for all conditions of service. For instance, while it has been recognized that such structures, in order to afford the requisite three-dimensional structural stability, must be built up of, and have the elongated struts define, closely packed sets of tetrahedra and octahedra, the configuration of the connectors themselves has required that the struts be of varying lengths and/or bent or distorted in some manner to achieve this design. Consequently, the length of the struts is not subject to standardization, the time for assembly is prolonged, and the overall objective of minimizing manufacturing and assembly costs and time, as well as the number of dissimilar parts, has not been realized.

It is therefore a primary object of the invention to provide a new and improved structural framework.

It is another object of the invention to provide a new and improved lattice type support structure for buildings and the like, which component parts may be economically fabricated at a location remote from the building site, and then quickly and economically transported to and assembled at the building site.

It is a still further object of the invention to provide an improved connector for coupling the elongated structural members or struts forming a lattice type framework, which assures the structural stability of the framework, enables the use of struts of identical lengths, and avoids the necessity of bending or otherwise distorting the struts to effect the final assembly.

It is an even still further object of the invention to have such connector so constructed to provide for fluid and/or electrical distribution throughout the framework.

In accordance with these and otherobjects, the present invention is directed to a framework or lattice type support structure formed of equal length elongated struts joined to one another at their ends by a plurality of uniquely configured three-dimensional connector bodies. Each connector, in a preferred embodiment having a shape defining an irregular polyhedron, has a first plurality of discrete surface portions adapted to receive the ends of respective struts in a manner which maintains each strut normal to its respective surface portion, the adjacent surface portions, and thus their retained struts, being disposed at 60 with respect to one another. The resulting framework is thus composed of closely packed groups of tetrahedra and octahedra, which establishes the structural stability of the overall framework. If desired, the struts and connectors can serve as fluid and/or electrical conduits.

Additional features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be readily understood by reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like numerals refer to corresponding parts, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a three-dimensional view of either the top, bottom, front, or rear of a preferred embodiment of the connector constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a three-dimensional view of the connector depicted in FIG. 1, but rotated around the northsouth axis;

FIG. 3 is a three-dimensional exploded view illustrating, from the same viewing angle as that depicted in FIG. 2, the coupling of the struts to the connector;

FIG. 4 is a generally perspective view of a structural framework formed by the connector and struts depicted in FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken along the lines 5-5 of FIG. 1, but illustrating a modification of the connector.

Referring now to the drawings, and initially to FIGS. 1 and 2 thereof, a preferred embodiment of the connector body in accordance with the principles of the present invention is broadly depicted by the reference numeral 10. Accordingly, the outer surface of the body 10 defines an irregular polyhedron having a first plurality of discrete surface portions 11 of one configuration and a second plurality of discrete surface portions 12 of a different configuration.

As subsequently described in greater detail, the elongated struts forming the framework or lattice type support structure are joined to one another adjacent their ends by means respectively disposed at the surface portions 1 1 so that the elongated axes of the struts are normal to these surface portions. It has been determined that in order to insure that the resulting'framework is structurally stable, the surface portions 11 and 12 should be of a number, shape, and angular relationship which allow all of the struts to be of equal length and the angle between the elongated axes of adjacently disposed struts to be maintained at 60 without having to bend or otherwise distort the strut itself.

In compliance with these constraints, and in accordance with a unique feature of the present invention, each of the surface portions'll is of a regular hexagonal configuration; each of the surface portions 12 is of a regular quadrilateral (square) configuration; and each surface portion 12 is bounded on all sides by four such hexagonal surface areas 11, the boundaries of the surfaces 12 being respectively congruent with the boundaries 11a of the surfaces 11, as best depicted in FIG. 2. Thus, the sides 1 1a defining the regular hexagonal surface portion 11 are not only equal to one another, but also are equal to the sides defining the square surface portion 12. To provide this equality, the surface portions 11 have respective bisected segments 18 and 19 equalangularly inclined toward the center of the body 10, as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2.

As a consequence of the just described shapes and relationships, the outer surface of the body has twelve surface portions 11 of such regular hexagonal configuration and six surface portions 12 of such square configuration. Centrally located at the surface portions 11, and extending radially inward toward the center of the body 10, are respective openings 14 having axes 15. In accordance with a unique feature hereof, the axes 15 (which bisect the angle between the intersecting segments 18 and 19) of those openings which are located in immediately adjacent surface portions 11 are angularly disposed at 60 with respect to one another; and each axis 16 (which is normal to its surface portion 12) is at a 45 angle with respect to the axes 15 associated with the immediately adjacent surface portions 11. Thus, struts axially inserted into the openings 14 have potential angular interrelationships of 60, 120, 180, etc., and 90.

Referring now to FIG. 3, a preferred method for coupling the struts to the connector 10 is depicted. Thus, each of the openings at the surface portions 11 may be internally threaded to receive intermediate coupling members 20 (illustrated in the drawings as hexagonal nuts) having openings 21 mutually aligned with the openings 14 and into which the end portions 25a of the elongated struts 25, preferably of cylindrical configuration, may be joined. As a consequence, the elongated axes of the struts 25 are normal to the plane of the openings 21 in which the end portions 25a are received; and the struts can be selectively coupled at 60 or any multiple thereof, as well as at 90, with respect to one another, with up to twelve struts capable of each surface portion 11 with the end of each strut so constructed to receive the male coupler.

As a consequence of the uniquely configured connector 10, as previously described, an infinite variety of structurally stable frameworks can be constructed having elongated struts 25 of identical lengths, and having defined therein closely packed sets of tetrahedra and octahedra. One such framework or lattice type support structure is depicted in FIG. 4 by the reference numeral 30, one tetrahedron and one octahedron being outlined by heavy lines for easy viewing thereof. Panels 40 (one such panel being depicted in FIG. 4) can then be mounted in any suitable manner against the surface portions 11 to provide an enclosure having the shape of, and defined by, the framework 30.

The connectors 10 not only enable the construction of a structurally stable framework, as previously described, but can be adapted to provide for fluid and/or electrical distribution to and from the various spatial enclosures or zones defined by the framework. Specifically, and with reference now to FIG. 5, each connecat the surfaces 11 extend through the body of the connector to intersect with juncture means 45. In addition, a passageway 50 is provided from at least one of the surface portions 12 which also intersects the juncture 45.

In order to provide for the distribution of fluids (gas, water, sewage, etc.) throughout, or between specific zones within, the framework, the juncture 45 in that instance would be a channel or open passageway in flow communication with the openings 14; and the elongated struts 25 inserted within these openings would be hollow or have elongated channels defined therein in flow communication with the openings 14, the passageway 45, as well as the passageway or channel opening 50. The passageway 50 could then serve as an inlet, for example, for the fluid to be distributed. Hot water, for example, flowing into the passageway 50 would flow through the juncture channel 45, and thereafter be distributed to locations around the framework by way of the radially projecting struts. Alternatively, the passageway 50 could serve as an outlet for fluid passing through the struts and connectors.

On the other hand, when electrical distribution is desired, the juncture means 45 would be of electrically conductive material; and a conductive insert disposed within the passageway 50 would electrically interconnect with electrically conductive extensions in the struts 25 by way of the conductive juncture 45. Power could then be applied to, or taken off, at the surface 12; the struts thus serving as an electrical distribution network, as well as defining the structural framework.

From the above description of the invention, it will be appreciated that a structurally stable framework composed of closely packed sets of tetrahedra and octahedra can be constructed using only one form of connector and struts of identical length. The connectors and struts can be fabricated from any desired material. For example, the connector can be formed of a molded glass reinforced polyester; and the struts can be formed of metal tubing, or when employed for electrical distribution as previously described, can be of an appropriate insulating material to provide the requisite electrical isolation.

Various other modifications of the disclosed embodiments, as well as other embodiments of the invention, may become apparent to persons skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

l. A structurally stable framework comprising, in combination, a plurality of elongated struts of equal length joined to one another adjacent their ends, and a plurality of connectors for so joining said struts;

each of said connectors comprising a three dimensional irregular polyhedron having a first plurality of discrete surface portions and a second plurality of discrete surface portions adjacent said first plurality, said first plurality of discrete surface portions being regular hexagons formed by adjacently disposed trapezoids inclined toward one another along a common intersection, said second plurality of discrete surface portions being squares; respective means at said first plurality of discrete surface portions for retaining the said struts in a manner which disposes the elongated axes thereof normal to the center of said first plurality of discrete surface portions{ first axes respectively normal to the center of adja-- cent ones of said first plurality of discrete surface portions being disposed at 60 with respect to one another and second axes respectively normal to the center of said second plurality of discrete surface portions being disposed at 45 with respect to the immediately adjacent first axes.

2. The framework as defined by claim 1 wherein each square surface portion is bounded on all sides thereof by four of said hexagonal surface portions.

3. The framework as defined by claim 2 wherein there are twelve of said regular hexagonal surface portions and six of said square surface portions.

4. A supporting framework for a building structure or the like comprising:

a. a plurality of identical length elongated struts, and

b. connector body means coupling said struts to provide said framework, said connector body means comprising an irregular polyhedron having a first plurality of discrete nonplanar surface portions and a second plurality of discrete surface portions adjacent said first plurality, said first plurality of discrete nonplanar surface portions being hexagons formed by adjacently disposed trapezoids inclined toward one another along a common intersection;

c. strut receiving openings axially extending into said body at the center of said nonplanar surface portions, the angle between adjacent axes of said openings being 60 and the angle between an axis passing through one of said openings and an axis normal to the center of an immediately adjacent one of said second plurality of discrete surface portions being 45.

5. The framework as defined by claim 4 wherein said respective openings intersect an electrically conductive juncture means, and electrically conductive means are disposed within said elongated struts whereby the insertion of said struts into said respective openings electrically interconnect said electrically conductive means with one another by way of said electrically conductive juncture means.

6. The supporting framework as defined by claim 4 wherein said respective openings are in fluid communication with one another.

7. The framework as defined by claim 5 wherein means are provided at at least one of said second plurality of discrete surface portions for electrically communicating with said electrically conductive juncture means.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4131380 *Aug 3, 1977Dec 26, 1978Bliquy Michael C DeShaft end coupling means
US4438615 *Nov 30, 1981Mar 27, 1984Space Structures International Corp.Orba-hub
US4766712 *Sep 9, 1982Aug 30, 1988Hale Whitney MSpace framing system
US5003741 *Jun 20, 1988Apr 2, 1991Yeh Kuo HueiStructure of multi-function frame members
US5265395 *Mar 4, 1991Nov 30, 1993Haresh LalvaniNode shapes of prismatic symmetry for a space frame building system
US5372447 *Sep 8, 1993Dec 13, 1994Chung; Ming-DarDouble-bar connecting device
US6341566 *Jun 13, 2000Jan 29, 2002Arthur HwangMovable type frame assembly
US6672789 *Feb 15, 2001Jan 6, 2004Chung-Teng ChenSpherical connector and supporting rod assembly
US7063481Aug 13, 2003Jun 20, 2006Trull Scott EConnector block for modular construction and object fabricated therefrom
US8069632 *Apr 21, 2009Dec 6, 2011Piao-Chin LiIntegrally assembled changeable framework connector used for a spatial structure
US20050036829 *Aug 13, 2003Feb 17, 2005Trull Scott E.Connector block for modular construction and object fabricated therefrom
US20060185313 *Dec 16, 2005Aug 24, 2006Yau Kwok F JBuilding units for construction
US20090313938 *Apr 21, 2009Dec 24, 2009Piao-Chin LiIntegrally assembled changeable framework connector used for a spatial structure
US20100095035 *Oct 9, 2009Apr 15, 2010Qisda CorporationPolyhedral assembly, master-slave based electronic system using the same and addressing method thereof
US20140167404 *Jul 22, 2013Jun 19, 2014Robert H. WilsonComponents for Fabrication of a Stable Base and Support Structure
US20150308095 *Mar 20, 2015Oct 29, 2015Murphy Reynolds O'NEALConstruction System
USD744599 *Sep 12, 2012Dec 1, 2015MerchSource, LLCConstruction toy set connector
EP0046030A1 *Jul 28, 1981Feb 17, 1982Colin John Stewart StephensonA framework structure
EP2175696A2Oct 9, 2009Apr 14, 2010QISDA CorporationPolyhedral assembly, master-slave based electronic system using the same and addressing method thereof
EP2175696A3 *Oct 9, 2009May 5, 2010QISDA CorporationPolyhedral assembly, master-slave based electronic system using the same and addressing method thereof
EP2883476A1 *Dec 13, 2013Jun 17, 2015USM Holding AGNode element for a furniture system with a three-dimensional supporting tubular structure
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/655.2, 403/176, 403/171
International ClassificationE04B1/19
Cooperative ClassificationE04B2001/1927, E04B1/1906, E04B2001/1957
European ClassificationE04B1/19B1