US20050284098A1 - Lightweight concrete composite wall panels - Google Patents

Lightweight concrete composite wall panels Download PDF

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Publication number
US20050284098A1
US20050284098A1 US11/208,937 US20893705A US2005284098A1 US 20050284098 A1 US20050284098 A1 US 20050284098A1 US 20893705 A US20893705 A US 20893705A US 2005284098 A1 US2005284098 A1 US 2005284098A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
lightweight concrete
concrete composite
wall panel
frame
unitary
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Abandoned
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US11/208,937
Inventor
Orbin Sumrall
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Amazon Forms One Inc
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Amazon Forms One Inc
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Publication date
Priority to US10/374,886 priority Critical patent/US6974317B2/en
Priority to US60494704P priority
Application filed by Amazon Forms One Inc filed Critical Amazon Forms One Inc
Priority to US11/208,937 priority patent/US20050284098A1/en
Assigned to AMAZON FORMS ONE, INC. reassignment AMAZON FORMS ONE, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: SUMRALL, ORBIN F.
Publication of US20050284098A1 publication Critical patent/US20050284098A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04CSTRUCTURAL ELEMENTS; BUILDING MATERIALS
    • E04C2/00Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels
    • E04C2/02Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels characterised by specified materials
    • E04C2/04Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels characterised by specified materials of concrete or other stone-like material; of asbestos cement; of cement and other mineral fibres
    • E04C2/044Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels characterised by specified materials of concrete or other stone-like material; of asbestos cement; of cement and other mineral fibres of concrete
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04CSTRUCTURAL ELEMENTS; BUILDING MATERIALS
    • E04C2/00Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels
    • E04C2/30Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels characterised by the shape or structure
    • E04C2/38Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels characterised by the shape or structure with attached ribs, flanges, or the like, e.g. framed panels
    • E04C2/384Building elements of relatively thin form for the construction of parts of buildings, e.g. sheet materials, slabs, or panels characterised by the shape or structure with attached ribs, flanges, or the like, e.g. framed panels with a metal frame

Abstract

Unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels include a frame filled with lightweight composite concrete. The wall panels may be used in the construction of either interior or exterior walls, and a wall panel may be configured as a load bearing or non load bearing. The size of a wall panel ranges from an individual wall panel forming a portion of a wall to a wall panel spanning an entire wall length, thereby furnishing a single complete wall. A wall panel may further be configured to support either a window or door.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 10/374,886, filed Feb. 26, 2003, which was a continuation-in-part of U.S. Pat. No. 6,827,570 B2, issued Dec. 7, 2004.
  • This present application claims all available benefit, under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e), of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/604,947, filed Aug. 27, 2004. By this reference, the full disclosure of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/604,947 is incorporated herein as though now set forth in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to lightweight concrete and, more particularly, but not by way of limitation, to unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • The primary building materials utilized today are wood and concrete. Wood unfortunately has become extremely expensive due to reduced supplies caused by restrictions resulting from today's environmentally conscious society. Further, wood often does not provide the structural safety available from other building materials, such as concrete. Concrete is unfortunately expensive, which restricts its use to projects requiring the structural safety advantages associated with concrete.
  • Thus, the building industry constantly seeks to reduce building costs while at least meeting or actually improving upon structural safety standards. One such improved product consists of lightweight concrete, which is composed of water, cement, and polystyrene. Lightweight concrete provides reduced costs in materials by replacing cement with less expensive polystyrene. Lightweight concrete further provides structural safety comparable to cement and improved over wood.
  • Lightweight concrete is currently formed in blocks that are stacked and then secured together to form building walls. Lightweight concrete is currently not employed in the form of wall panels, whereby one panel may form an interior or exterior load or non-load bearing wall or multiple wall panels placed side by side and secured together comprise an interior or exterior load or non-load bearing wall. Accordingly, unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels that are easy to manufacture and are suitable for use in constructing interior or exterior load or non-load bearing walls would significantly improve over current building materials.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In accordance with the present invention, a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel includes a frame and lightweight concrete composite disposed within the frame wherein upon curing the lightweight concrete composite adheres to the frame, thereby forming the wall panel. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel further includes at least one reinforcing bar disposed within the lightweight concrete composite. The frame may include apertures that receive the at least one reinforcing bar therethrough to secure the at least one reinforcing bar to the frame.
  • The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel still further includes at least one conduit disposed within the lightweight concrete composite wherein the at least one conduit includes at least one opening communicating exterior to the wall panel. The at least one conduit includes at least one end connected to an electrical box disposed within the lightweight concrete composite wherein the at least one conduit receives electrical wiring therethrough. The at least one conduit may also comprise plumbing piping or an air duct.
  • The frame includes at least a first side, a second side, and a third side. More particularly, the frame includes a top end, a bottom end, a first side, and a second side. The top end, the bottom end, the first side, and the second side each are U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite. The frame may further include a first support member coupled to the top end and the bottom end. The frame may still further include at least one second support member coupled to one of the first side or the second side and the first support member.
  • The frame may be configured to receive therein a window frame or a door frame. The frame accordingly includes a header, a first side, and a second side. The frame may further include a footer. The header, the first side, and the second side each are U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite.
  • It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels suitable for constructing structures.
  • Still other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become evident to those of ordinary skill in the art in light of the following.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to a first embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 2,2 illustrating the unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to a first embodiment.
  • FIG. 3 is a front view illustrating a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to a second embodiment.
  • FIG. 4 is a front view illustrating a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to a third embodiment.
  • FIG. 5 is a front view illustrating a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to a fourth embodiment.
  • FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating a preferred embodiment of a form.
  • FIG. 7 is an end view illustrating a preferred embodiment of the form.
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating a preferred embodiment of a cap for the form.
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating a preferred embodiment of a bottom assembly for the form including an insert therein.
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating an insert of the form.
  • FIG. 11 is an end view illustrating the form with the cap removed.
  • FIG. 12 is a perspective view illustrating a screed assembly for loading and leveling a form.
  • FIG. 13 is a side view illustrating the screed assembly for loading and leveling a form.
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view illustrating a block removal station with a cap removal assembly raised to an upper level, a dispatch assembly in a closed position, and an unloading conveyor.
  • FIG. 15 is a plan view illustrating an apparatus for manufacturing unitary lightweight concrete composite blocks according to the preferred embodiment.
  • FIG. 16 is a perspective view illustrating installation of unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels.
  • FIG. 17 is a front view illustrating a second level installation of unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels.
  • FIG. 18 is a front view illustrating installation of unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels.
  • FIG. 19 is an overhead view illustrating installation of unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • The foregoing invention is a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel. The wall panel may be used in the construction of either interior or exterior walls. A wall panel may be configured as a load bearing or non-load bearing wall. The size of a wall panel ranges from an individual wall panel forming a portion of a wall to a wall panel spanning an entire wall length thereby furnishing a single complete wall.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 120 according to a first embodiment includes a frame 121 filled with a lightweight concrete composite 127 such as that disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 09/887,369 and 10/374,886, the disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference. The frame 121 includes a top end 122, a bottom end 123, and two sides 124. The frame 121 may be constructed from any suitable material such as metal or aluminum as one continuous member or as individual members secured together. The top end 122, bottom end 123, and two sides 124 are each U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite 127. In the first embodiment, the frame 121 is comprised of metal studs secured together using any suitable means such as rivets or screws. The wall panel 120 may further include reinforcing bars 125 that are located within the lightweight concrete composite 127. The frame 121 may include apertures 126 wherein each aperture 126 receives a reinforcing bar 125 therethrough to secure the reinforcing bars to the frame 121. The reinforcing bars 125 increase the ability of the wall panel 120 to withstand shearing forces. While the frame 121 in the first embodiment is disclosed with four sides, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize the frame 121 may include three, four, five, or more sides depending upon the requirements of the wall.
  • As described more fully herein, a frame 121 is placed into a form and a form-loading station screeds lightweight concrete composite 127 into the frame 121. The lightweight concrete composite 127 is compressed and then cured thereby forming a finished wall panel 120 when the frame 121 and cured lightweight concrete composite 127 are removed from the form. As illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 16, a wall panel 120 may include electrical conduit 200 and electrical boxes 201 for running electrical wire and making electrical connections. While the first embodiment discloses electrical conduit 200 and electrical boxes 201, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any multitude of items normally used inside building walls may be substituted, such as plumbing piping, air ducts, and the like. The ability of the wall panel 120 to contain electrical conduit and electrical boxes makes it ideal for use in the construction of building walls.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 3, a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 130 according to a second embodiment includes a frame 131 filled with a lightweight concrete composite 137. The wall panel 130 provides a structure suitable for supporting a window frame. The frame 131 includes a header 122, footer 133, and two sides 134. The frame 131 may be constructed from any suitable material such as metal or aluminum as one continuous member or as individual members secured together. The header 122 and two sides 134 are each U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite 137. The footer 133 is also U-shaped to provide a surface for engaging the bottom of a window frame. Although the footer 133 of the second embodiment is not filled with lightweight concrete composite 137, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that an enlarged footer suitable to receive lightweight concrete composite 137 therein may be provided. In the second embodiment, the frame 131 is comprised of individual metal studs secured together using any suitable means such as rivets or screws. The individual metal studs comprising the frame 131 according to the second embodiment further include cross-members 135 that provide additional structural integrity. The cross-members 135 increase the ability of the wall panel 130 to withstand shearing forces. As described more fully herein, a frame 131 is placed into a form and a form-loading station screeds lightweight concrete composite 137 into the frame 131. The lightweight concrete composite 137 is compressed and then cured thereby forming a finished wall panel 130 when the frame 131 and cured lightweight concrete composite 137 are removed from the form.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 4, a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 140 according to a third embodiment includes a frame 141 filled with a lightweight concrete composite 147. The wall panel 140 provides a structure suitable for supporting a door frame. The frame 141 includes a header 142 and two sides 144. The frame 141 may be constructed from any suitable material such as metal or aluminum as one continuous member or as individual members secured together. The header 142 and two sides 144 are each U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite 137. In the third embodiment, the frame 141 is comprised of individual metal studs secured together using any suitable means such as rivets or screws. The individual metal studs comprising the frame 141 according to the second embodiment further include cross-members 145 that provide additional structural integrity. The cross-members 145 increase the ability of the wall panel 140 to withstand shearing forces. As described more fully herein, a frame 141 is placed into a form and a form-loading station screeds lightweight concrete composite 147 into the frame 141. The lightweight concrete composite 147 is compressed and then cured thereby forming a finished wall panel 140 when the frame 141 and cured lightweight concrete composite 147 are removed from the form.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 5, a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 150 according to a fourth embodiment includes a frame 151 filled with a lightweight concrete composite 157. The frame 151 includes a top end 152, a bottom end 153, and two sides 154. The frame 151 may be constructed from any suitable material such as metal or aluminum as one continuous member or as individual members secured together. The top end 152, bottom end 153, and two sides 154 are each U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite 157. In the fourth embodiment, the frame 151 is comprised of metal studs secured together using any suitable means such as rivets or screws. The wall panel 150 may further include a support member 155 coupled with top end 152 and bottom end 153 using any suitable means such as rivets or screws. The wall panel 150 may still further include support members 156 and 158 coupled with the support member 155 and with the sides 154, respectively, using any suitable means such as rivets or screws. The support members 155, 156, and 158 provide the wall panel 150 with sufficient structural integrity to serve as a load-bearing wall. In certain circumstances the wall panel 120 may provide sufficient structural integrity to function as a load-bearing wall. Nevertheless, the wall panel 150 with at least the support member 155 normally will be utilized in applications requiring a load-bearing wall. The number of vertical and horizontal support members employed within a wall panel 150 depends upon the actual load-bearing requirements of a wall. While the frame 151 in the fourth embodiment is disclosed with four sides, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize the frame 121 may include three, four, five, or sides depending upon the requirements of the wall.
  • As described more fully herein, a frame 151 is placed into a form and a form-loading station screeds lightweight concrete composite 157 into the frame 151. The lightweight concrete composite 157 is compressed and then cured thereby forming a finished wall panel 150 when the frame 151 and cured lightweight concrete composite 157 are removed from the form. The wall panel 150 may also include electrical conduit and boxes 201 as well as items normally used inside building walls, such as plumbing piping, air ducts, and the like.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 15, an apparatus 1 suitable to manufacture unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels 120, 130, 140, and 150 includes a form 10, a conveyor system 2, a form-loading station 3, a form assembly station 4, a curing oven 5, and a block removal station 6. The apparatus 1 utilizes a method for manufacturing unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panels 120, 130, 140, and 150 that includes the steps of placing a frame 121, 131, 141, and 151 into a form, loading the frame 121, 131, 141, or 151 within the form with lightweight concrete composite, curing the lightweight concrete composite, and removing a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 120, 130, 140, or 150 from the form.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 6-15, a form 10 is used to locate lightweight concrete composite within a frame 121, 131, 141, or 151 and cure the lightweight concrete composite into a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 120, 130, 140, or 150. Thus, the preferred form 10 includes a bottom assembly 11 and a cap 12. Although the preferred embodiment discloses wall panel 120, 130, 140, and 150, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that a form producing any desirable shape, such as a square, circle, or angle may be utilized.
  • In the preferred embodiment, the bottom assembly 11 is a rectangular plate 14 with two sidewalls 15 and two endwalls 16. Each sidewall 15 is hingedly attached along a respective long length of the rectangular plate 14. Furthermore, the long edge of each sidewall 15 terminates in an L-shaped lip. Also, T-shaped latches 18 are hingedly attached to each corner of each sidewall 15, which rotate between locked and unlocked positions. Those of ordinary skill in the art should understand that the interior of the bottom assembly 11 may be shaped to house any one of the frames 121, 131, 141, and 151.
  • Referring to FIGS. 6-10, each endwall 16 is attached along a respective short length of the rectangular plate 14. Catches 19 are fixedly attached by any suitable means, such as welding, at each corner and in the middle of each endwall 16 for coupling with the latches 18. The long edge of each endwall 16 terminates in an L-shaped lip, and pins 24 extend outward perpendicularly from each corner of each endwall 16. In addition, one endwall 16 defines conduit notches 23 for supporting electrical conduit and electrical boxes inside the form 10. The conduit notches 23 suspend the electrical conduit and electrical boxes at a designated depth during the curing process. Consequently, the electrical conduit and electrical boxes will reside at the designated depth in the finished wall panel 120 and 150. While three conduit channels 23 are disclosed, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any number of conduit channels 23 may be utilized to support any multitude of different objects.
  • To assemble the bottom assembly 11, the sidewalls 15 rotate up to a vertical position, thereby forming a rectangular box. Next, the latches 18 rotate to the locked position and couple with the catches 19, thereby securing the bottom assembly 11. This will be referred to as the assembled position. To disassemble the bottom assembly, the latches 18 uncouple from the catches 19 and the sidewalls 15 rotate down to a horizontal position. This will be referred to as the disassembled position.
  • Referring to FIG. 8, the cap 12 is a rectangular plate with each long edge terminating in an L-shaped lip. Two L-shaped cap brackets 20 are attached by any suitable method, such as welding, to each end of the cap 12 so that the cap brackets 20 are parallel with the two short edges of the cap 12 and face inward, thereby defining slots between the top of the cap 12 and each cap bracket 20. An L-shaped short bracket 25 is attached by any suitable method, such as welding, to a front edge of the cap 12 so that the L-shape is facing outward. An L-shaped tall bracket 26 is attached by any suitable method, such as welding, to a back edge of the cap 12 facing the same direction as the short bracket 25. A latch 18 is hingedly attached to middle of each short edge of the cap 12, which rotates from an unlocked to a locked position. The perimeter dimensions of the cap 12 match the perimeter dimensions of the bottom assembly 11. When placed onto a bottom assembly 11 in the assembled position, the latches 18 of the cap 12 couple with the catches 19 of the bottom assembly 11 to seal the form 10, which will be referred to as the locked position. The latches 18 may also be uncoupled from the catches 19 of the bottom assembly 11 to release the cap 12, which will be referred to as the unlocked position.
  • Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, an insert 13 is a rectangular plate with two sidewalls 21 and two endwalls 22. The dimensions of insert 13 are such that the insert 13 fits inside the bottom assembly 11. The two sidewalls terminate in an L-shaped lip. The insert 13 prevents lightweight composite concrete from filling the area of the form 10 occupied by the insert 13. Thus, the insert 13 shortens the overall length of the form 10 to produce a shorter wall panel 120, 130, 140, and 150. While the disclosed insert 13 shortens the form 10 by approximately ⅓, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any size insert 13 may shorten the form 10 by any length. One endwall 22 defines conduit notches 22A for supporting electrical conduit and electrical boxes inside the form. The conduit notches 22A suspend the electrical conduit and electrical boxes at a designated depth during the curing process. Consequently, the electrical conduit and electrical boxes will reside at the designated depth in the finished wall panel 120 and 150. While the disclosed insert includes three conduit notches 22A, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any number of conduit notches 22A may be utilized to support any multitude of different objects.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 12-15, a conveying system 2 routes a plurality of forms 10 in a continuous loop simultaneously through all the stations of the apparatus 1, thereby creating a time efficient process. The conveyor system 2 includes a first station conveyor 7 a, a loading conveyor 8 a, a first roller conveyor 9 a, a second station conveyor 7 b, an unloading conveyor 8 b, and a second roller conveyor 9 b. The first station conveyor 7 a is the station conveyor disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/887,369. While the preferred embodiment discloses the station conveyor in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/887,369, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any type of conveying apparatus may be utilized. The loading conveyor 8 a is a belt conveyor well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. While a belt conveyor is disclosed, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any conveying apparatus may be utilized. The second station conveyor 7 b is the station conveyor disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/887,369. While the station conveyor in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/887,369 is disclosed, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any type of conveying apparatus may be utilized. The unloading conveyor 8 b is a belt conveyor that is well known in the art. While a belt conveyor is disclosed, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that any conveying apparatus may be utilized.
  • The form-loading station 3 includes a cap removal/replacement assembly 30 and a screed assembly 40. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 13, the cap removal/replacement assembly 30 includes a lifting cylinder 31, a stabilizer bar 32, a short lifting rail 33, and a tall lifting rail 34. The lifting cylinder 31 is vertically suspended above the loading conveyor 8 a and connects by any suitable means, such as a pin, to the center of the stabilizer bar 32 so that the stabilizer bar resides in a horizontal plane. The short lifting rail 33 is an L-shaped rail that is attached to a back end of the stabilizer bar 32. The tall lifting rail 34 is an L-shaped rail that is attached to a front end of the stabilizer bar 32. When the lifting cylinder 31 extends, the short lifting rail 33 and tall lifting rail 33 lower to a position where they may engage a corresponding tall cap bracket 26 and short cap bracket 25, which will be referred to as the engagement position. When the lifting cylinder 31 retracts, the short lifting rail 33 and the tall lifting rail 34 raise to a position above the screed assembly 40, which will be referred to as the raised position.
  • The screed assembly 40 includes a frame 50 having supporting legs and screed tracks 50A attached thereto. The legs mount to the foundation on either side of the conveying system 3 by any suitable means, such as brackets attached to each leg and bolts sunk into a foundation. The screed assembly 40 further includes a screed box 41, a leveling hopper 42, an auger 43, a screed motor 44, two leveling cylinders 45, a screed cylinder 46, a filling conveyor 47, and a mounting bracket 48. The screed box 41 is a rectangular with an open top and a slot in the bottom the same size as the top opening of the form 10. The edges of the screed box 41 rest within the screed tracks 50A, which run perpendicular to the loading conveyor 8 a. The screed cylinder 46 is connected to the frame 50 between an end of the screed track 50A and a side of the screed box 41. When the screed cylinder 46 extends, it slides the screed box 41 directly over the loading conveyor 8A, which will be referred to as the loading position. When the screed cylinder 46 retracts, it slides the screed box 41 to a position adjacent the loading conveyor 8A, which will be referred to as the retracted position.
  • The leveling hopper 42 resides inside the screed box 41. The two leveling cylinders 45, which are any suitable hydraulically or pneumatically operated cylinders, connect from the screed box 41 to the leveling hopper 42 using a mounting bracket 48. The leveling cylinders 45 extend and retract their pistons to slide the leveling hopper 42 inside the screed box 41. The auger 43 is mounted inside the leveling hopper 42 using any suitable means, such as bearings. The screed motor 44 is coupled to the end of the auger 43 through a lengthwise slot in the screed box 41. The slot allows the screed motor 44 and auger 43 to slide along with the leveling hopper 42 when the leveling cylinders 45 extend and retract. Those of ordinary skill in the art should understand that the interior of the leveling hopper 42 may be shaped to deliver lightweight concrete composite into any one of the frames 121, 131, 141, and 151.
  • In operation, the first station conveyor 7 a conveys a form 10 onto a disabled loading conveyor 8 a. When the form 10 arrives at the form-filling station 3, the bottom assembly 11 is in the assembled position with the cap 12 resting on top in the unlocked position. The lifting cylinder 31 begins in the engagement position so that, as the form 10 arrives at the form filling station 3, the short lifting rail 33 and the tall lifting rail 33 engage a corresponding tall cap bracket 26 and a short cap bracket 25. Upon conveyance onto the loading conveyor 8 a, the form 10 engages a micro-switch that outputs a signal that overrides the first station conveyor 7 a. Thus, first station conveyor 7 a remains disabled during the filling of the form 10. The micro-switch further outputs a signal that retracts the lifting cylinder 31 to the raised position, thereby removing the cap 12. With the cap 12 removed, an operator inserts a desired frame 121, 131, 141, or 151 and all necessary electrical conduit or electrical boxes into the form. Next, the lifting cylinder 31, in its retracted position, engages a micro-switch that outputs a signal directing the screed cylinder 46 to extend the screed box 41 to the loading position directly over the bottom assembly 11. In the loading position, the leveling hopper 42 is located directly underneath a filling conveyor 47, which is any suitable conveyor, such as a belt conveyor. As the screed box 40 reaches the loading position, it engages a micro-switch, which outputs a signal that opens a lightweight concrete composite source and activates the filling conveyor 47 to deliver the lightweight concrete composite to the leveling hopper 42. The lightweight concrete composite source in the preferred embodiment is the lightweight concrete composite source disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/887,369. The micro-switch further outputs a signal that activates the screed motor 44, thereby rotating the auger 43 to evenly distribute the lightweight concrete composite throughout the leveling hopper 42. A micro-switch positioned within the leveling hopper 42 or the lightweight concrete composite source senses when either the leveling hopper 42 is full or the lightweight concrete composite source is empty. Upon sensing either condition, the micro-switch outputs a signal closing the lightweight concrete composite source and deactivating the filling conveyor 47 and the screed motor 44.
  • As generally illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 13, the micro-switch further outputs a signal that activates the leveling cylinders 45, which slowly move the leveling hopper 42 forward over the bottom assembly 11 to a position beyond the bottom assembly 11. When the leveling hopper 42 travels fully beyond the bottom assembly 11, it engages a micro-switch that reverses the leveling cylinders 45, which slowly move the leveling hopper 42 backward over the bottom assembly 11 to the loading position. The movement of the leveling hopper 42 over the bottom assembly 11 fills and levels the bottom assembly 11 with the lightweight concrete composite contained in the leveling hopper 42. As the leveling cylinders 45 fully retract, the leveling hopper 42 engages a micro-switch that outputs a signal resulting in the screed cylinder 46 returning the screed box 41 to the retracted position. When the screed cylinder is fully retracted, a micro-switch outputs a signal that activates the lifting cylinder 31 to extend to the engagement position, thereby replacing the cap 12 back onto the bottom assembly 11. Upon replacement of the cap 12, a micro-switch outputs a signal that activates the loading conveyor 8 a to move the form 10 forward toward the next station, the form assembly station 4, via the first roller conveyor 9 a. Upon conveyance of the form 10 from the loading conveyor 8 a, a micro-switch signals the loading conveyor 8 a to disable in preparation to receive another form 10.
  • The form assembly station 4 is a manually operated station. First, the operator depresses the cap 12 onto the bottom assembly 12, thereby compressing the lightweight concrete composite within the form. Next, the operator couples the latches 18 of the cap 12 to the catches of the bottom assembly 11, thereby sealing the form. Finally, the operator delivers the form from the first roller conveyor 9 a to the second station conveyor 7 b to convey the form through the curing oven. While a manually operated form assembly station 4 is disclosed, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the form assembly station 4 may be automated.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 15, the dotted line designates an area of the station conveyor 2 enclosed by the curing oven 5. The second station conveyor 7 b moves the form 10 through the curing oven 5, which is at a temperature sufficient to accelerate curing. As the form 10 travels through the curing oven 5, the lightweight concrete composite cures. The curing oven 5 should be of a sufficient size to allow adequate time for proper curing to occur. When the form 10 exits the curing oven 5, the lightweight concrete composite has hardened into a unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel 120, 130, 140, or 150. The second station conveyor 7 b continues to move the form 10 to the block removal station 6.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 14 and 15, the last station is a block removal station 6. The block removal station 6 includes a frame 160, a cap removal/lockdown assembly 60, a dispatch assembly 70, and a dispatch conveyor 51. The frame 160 includes four vertical bars and four horizontal crossbars attached together by any suitable means, such as welding, to form a wire-frame box directly over the unloading conveyor 8 b. The four vertical bars are attached to a base that mounts to a foundation using any suitable means, such as bolts, sunk into the foundation.
  • The cap removal/lockdown assembly 60 includes lifting cylinders 61, lifting rails 62, rail rods 63, pivot rods 64, support brackets 65, lockdown rods 66, and lockdown rails 67. The lifting cylinders 61 are vertically suspended directly above the frame for extending and retracting from a raised position to an engagement position. The lifting rails 62 are C-shaped rails attached to the ends of the lifting cylinders 61 for engaging the cap brackets 20 of the form 10. Support brackets 65 attached to the frame 160 couple with the pivot rods 64 by any suitable means, such as bearings, so that the pivot rods 64 rotate freely. The rail rods 63 fixedly attach by any suitable means, such as welding, to the pivot rods 64, thereby extending perpendicularly to hingedly attach to the lifting rails 62. The lockdown rods 66 are fixedly attached to the ends of the pivot rods 64 opposite the rail rods 63, thereby extending perpendicularly to hingedly attach to the lockdown rails 67. The lockdown rails 67 are L-shaped channels with a locking tab 68 attached in the center by any suitable means, such as welding, for engaging the pins 24 of the form 10. When the lifting cylinders 61 extend, the lifting rails 62 lower to a position where they may engage the cap brackets 20. Simultaneously, the rail rods 63 rotate the pivot rods 64, which rotate the lockdown rods 66, thereby raising the lockdown rails 67 to a level sufficient to clear any forms 10 located on the unloading conveyor 8 b. This position will be referred to as the engagement position. Oppositely, when the lifting cylinders 61 retract, thereby raising the lifting rails 62 to remove the cap 12, the lockdown rails 67 lower to engage the pins 24 of the bottom assembly 11. This will be referred to as the lockdown position.
  • The dispatch assembly 70 includes dispatch cylinders 71, mounting brackets 72, and a ram plate 73. The dispatch cylinders 71 mount horizontally to the frame 160 via the mounting brackets 72. Both dispatch cylinders 71 are hingedly attached to the ram plate 73, whereby the ram plate 73 can rotate between a ram position and a bypass position. When the dispatch cylinders 71 extend, the ram plate 73 remains in a vertical position to strike a concrete composite block 10A and push the concrete composite block 10A onto the dispatch conveyor 51, which will be referred to as the ram position. When the dispatch cylinders 71 retract, the ram plate 73 rotates to a horizontal position to bypass the form 10, which will be referred to as the bypass position.
  • In operation, the second station conveyor 7 b delivers a form 10 onto a disabled unloading conveyor 8 b. The forms 10 are spaced along the conveyor system 2 such that a form 10 enters the block removal station 6 at the same time another form 10 enters the form-loading station 3. Consequently, the block removal station 6 controls the stopping and starting of the first station conveyor 7 a. Nevertheless, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the form-loading station 3 could control the first station conveyor 7 a. Furthermore, synchronous operation of the block removal station 6 and the form-loading station 3 is disclosed, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize other control schemes for regulating the movement of the forms through the block removal station 6 and the form-loading station 3.
  • The lifting cylinders 61 of the cap removal/lockdown assembly 60 begin in the engagement position so that, as the form 10 arrives at the block removal station 6, the cap rails 62 engage the cap brackets 20 of the cap 12. Upon conveyance onto the unloading conveyor 8 b, the form 10 engages a micro-switch that outputs a signal that overrides the second station conveyor 7 b. Thus, second station conveyor 7 b remains disabled during the removal of the block 10A. In addition, the micro-switch outputs a signal that informs an operator to unlock the cap 12 from the bottom assembly 11 by uncoupling the corresponding latches 18 from the catches 19. After this is done, the operator engages a micro-switch that outputs a signal that retracts the lifting cylinders 61 to the lockdown position, thereby removing the cap 12 and locking down the bottom assembly 11. Upon lockdown of the bottom assembly 11, a micro-switch outputs a signal that informs the operator to uncouple the remaining latches 19 on the bottom assembly 11 and rotate the sidewalls 15 down to a horizontal position. Next, the operator engages a micro-switch that outputs a signal to the dispatch cylinders 71 to extend and retract, thereby pushing the finished block 10A onto the dispatch conveyor 51. Then the operator reassembles the bottom assembly 11. Once the finished block 10A is removed and the bottom assembly is reassembled, the operator engages a micro-switch, which outputs a signal to extend the lifting cylinders 61 to the engagement position, thereby placing the cap 12 onto the bottom assembly 11. Finally, the unloading conveyor 8 b advances the form to the second roller conveyor 9 b to start the process all over again.
  • A micro-switch control scheme is employed whereby the engaging of various micro-switches controls the conveyor system 2, the form-loading station 3, and the block removal station 6. The micro-switches employed are of a type well known to those of ordinary skill in the art, such as optical sensing switches, pressure switches, mechanically activated switches, and the like. Further, the use of such switches to control the components of the apparatus for manufacturing lightweight concrete composite wall panels 120, 130, 140, and 150 are well known and understood by those of ordinary skill in the art. It should be understood, however, that a computer control scheme could be implemented in the apparatus for manufacturing lightweight concrete composite wall panels 120, 130, 140, and 150.
  • To assemble the lightweight concrete wall panels 120, 130, 140, and 150 into a functional structure, four types of installation methods are used, standard installation, second level installation, framing installation, and heavy cabinet installation. Standard installation is intended for installation on the first floor of a structure. Second level installation is intended for installation of floors above the first floor. Finally, framing installation is intended for installation of doors and windows, and cabinet installation is intended for the mounting of cabinets onto the lightweight concrete wall panels 120.
  • In a standard installation, the first step is to erect a support frame. As shown in FIG. 16, the support frame 100 includes a side support 101, a base support 102, and a top support 103. All three supports are made from “C” channel, which is erected using application methods commonly known in the industry. After erecting the support frame, matching sides of the base support 102 and the top support 103 are folded parallel with the foundation. A first wall panel 104, which is either a wall panel 120 if the wall is non-load bearing or a wall panel 150 if the wall is load bearing, is placed vertically into the support frame 100 so that it rests at the farthest end of the support frame 100. Next, fasteners are applied to maintain the wall panel 104 secured to the support frame 100. The fasteners may be screws installed through the support frame 100 and into the wall panel 104 or brackets attached to the support frame 100 and the frame 121 or 151 of the wall panel 104. A second wall panel 105 is placed vertically into the support frame 100 so that it abuts the first wall panel 104. Fasteners are again employed to maintain the wall panel 105 secured to the support frame 100. The above process is thus repeated until the entire support frame 100 is filled with wall panels. At that time, the base support 102 and top support 103 are folded back to the original “C” channel shape. Alternatively, a wall panel spanning the entire length of the support frame 100 may be placed therein and secured thereto with fasteners.
  • Referring to FIG. 17, to install a second level or higher, a first or lower level must be installed as described above. Then, an intermediate support 110, which is a “C” channel, must be attached with any suitable fasteners, such as screws or brackets, to the top support 103 with the “C” facing down. Next, a base support 106, which is a “C” channel, is mounted facing up to the intermediate support 110 using any suitable fasteners. With the base support 102 mounted, the second level is installed according to the steps described above in the standard installation. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that a second level installation may employ wall panels 120 or 150 including three, four, five, or more sides as illustrated.
  • Referring to FIGS. 18 and 19, wall panels 130 and 140 may be employed to facilitate the installation of windows and doors. Illustratively, an opening for a window is cut into a wall constructed from wall panels 120 or 150. A wall panel 130 is placed in the cut window opening and secured to the wall with fasteners, such as screws or brackets. Wood framing is then secured within the wall panel 130 followed by the installation of a window using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Likewise, an opening for a door is cut into a wall constructed from wall panels 120 or 150. A wall panel 140 is placed in the cut door opening and secured to the wall with fasteners, such as screws or brackets. Wood framing is then secured within the wall panel 140 followed by the installation of a door using techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art.
  • Referring to FIGS. 18 and 19, heavy cabinet installation requires a section of wall to be installed as described above. After erecting the wall, a lower “C” channel and an upper “C” channel are attached to a block of the wall using a suitable means, such as screws. Next, a left “C” channel and a right “C” channel are attached to either the block of the wall or more preferably to the “C” channel of the support frame using a suitable means, such as screws. Then, the outer sections of upper, lower, left, and right “C” channels are folded perpendicular to the wall so that a cabinet may be received therein. Finally a cabinet is placed in the upper, lower, left, and right “C” channels and secured to the wall and the upper, lower, left, and right “C” channels using any suitable means, such as screws.
  • Although the present invention has been described in terms of the foregoing embodiment, such description has been for exemplary purposes only and, as will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, many alternatives, equivalents, and variations of varying degrees will fall within the scope of the present invention. That scope, accordingly, is not to be limited in any respect by the foregoing description; rather, it is defined only by the claims that follow.

Claims (26)

1. A unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel, comprising:
a frame; and
lightweight concrete composite disposed within the frame.
2. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein upon curing the lightweight concrete composite adheres to the frame, thereby forming the wall panel.
3. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, further comprising at least one reinforcing bar disposed within the lightweight concrete composite.
4. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 3, wherein the frame comprises apertures that receive the at least one reinforcing bar therethrough to secure the at least one reinforcing bar to the frame.
5. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein the frame comprises at least a first side, a second side, and a third side.
6. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 5, wherein the first side, the second side, and the third side each are U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite.
7. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein the frame comprises a top end, a bottom end, a first side, and a second side.
8. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 7, wherein the top end, the bottom end, the first side, and the second side each are U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite.
9. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein the frame further comprises a first support member coupled to the top end and the bottom end.
10. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 9, wherein the frame further comprises at least one second support member coupled to one of the first side or the second side and the first support member.
11. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein the frame defines an opening that supports a window frame therein.
12. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein the frame defines an opening that supports a door frame therein.
13. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, wherein the frame comprises a header, a first side, and a second side.
14. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 13, wherein the frame further comprises a footer.
15. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 13, wherein the header, the first side, and the second side each are U-shaped to maximize the surface area engaged by the lightweight concrete composite.
16. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 1, further comprising at least one conduit disposed within the lightweight concrete composite.
17. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 16, wherein the at least one conduit includes at least one opening communicating exterior to the wall panel.
18. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 16, wherein the at least one conduit includes at least one end connected to an electrical box disposed within the lightweight concrete composite.
19. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 16, wherein the at least one conduit receives electrical wiring therethrough.
20. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 16, wherein the at least one conduit comprises plumbing piping.
21. The unitary lightweight concrete composite wall panel according to claim 16, wherein the at least one conduit comprises an air duct.
22. A form for facilitating the curing of lightweight concrete composite into wall panels, comprising:
a bottom assembly that supports a frame of the wall panel therein; and
a cap that seats on the bottom assembly, whereby, upon curing, the lightweight concrete composite adheres to the frame, thereby forming the wall panel.
23. The form for facilitating the curing of lightweight concrete composite into wall panels according to claim 22, wherein the bottom assembly comprises:
walls; and
mating assemblies that couple the walls, thereby forming the desired shape that is assembled and disassembled.
24. The form for facilitating the curing of lightweight concrete composite into wall panels according to claim 23, wherein the walls comprise:
two sidewalls located opposite and parallel to each other; and
two endwalls located opposite and parallel to each other.
25. The form for facilitating the curing of lightweight concrete composite into wall panels according to claim 22, further comprising a mating assembly that couples the bottom assembly with the cap.
26. The form for facilitating the curing of lightweight concrete composite into wall panels according to claim 22, further comprising an insert that shortens the form to produce smaller blocks.
US11/208,937 2001-06-22 2005-08-22 Lightweight concrete composite wall panels Abandoned US20050284098A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

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US10/374,886 US6974317B2 (en) 2001-06-22 2003-02-26 Lightweight concrete composite blocks
US60494704P true 2004-08-27 2004-08-27
US11/208,937 US20050284098A1 (en) 2003-02-26 2005-08-22 Lightweight concrete composite wall panels

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WO2010097059A2 (en) * 2009-02-25 2010-09-02 Ivan Razl Composite structural element particularly for the construction of buildings
ITBA20100029A1 (en) * 2010-07-12 2010-10-11 Pantaleo Piumelli Counterframes, inserted into the precast concrete panels or steel and polyurethane, industrial buildings or residential buildings, adapted to accommodate retractable sliding gates ante
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US9469390B2 (en) 2012-02-20 2016-10-18 Honeywell International Inc. Monolithic acoustically-treated composite structures and methods for fabricating the same
US9738009B2 (en) 2014-04-30 2017-08-22 Bautex Systems, LLC Methods and systems for the formation and use of reduced weight building blocks forms
US9802335B2 (en) 2014-04-30 2017-10-31 Bautex Systems, LLC Methods and systems for the formation and use of reduced weight building blocks forms
US9849607B2 (en) 2014-04-30 2017-12-26 Bautex Systems, LLC Methods and systems for the formation and use of reduced weight building blocks forms
US9919451B2 (en) 2014-04-30 2018-03-20 Bautex Systems, LLC Methods and systems for the formation and use of reduced weight building blocks forms
US9993941B2 (en) 2014-04-30 2018-06-12 Bautex Systems, LLC Methods and systems for the formation and use of reduced weight building blocks forms

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